I'll give this to Grant Robertson; he's slick with the spin. In another life he could have been a magician.
I heard and read a couple of versions of his magic $1 billion he's managed to find and will be handing out on Budget Day.
One version was on the radio news, they called it savings. They called it savings because Robertson called it savings and too many journalists these days don’t understand basic economics and parrot the government.
The other version was the headline "Robertson's $1 billion bonus for Budget Day." What Robertson did that was clever was convince enough headline writers that he actually had any money at all.
He did that back at the start of Covid when he carved out an astonishing number, he thought he might need to spend to get us through this and out the other side. It was pure guess work. No one knew what they were dealing with, so they panicked and went hell for leather.
Same story across the Tasman. The media is full of stories this past week about how Josh Frydenberg's budget over a period of several years will in fact turn out to be $98 billion better than they thought. They didn't think anything, they were in blind panic.
Back here, Robertson had Adrian Orr put the ink in the printer, make money basically free and Robertson spent like a drunk. We are now $100 billion in debt and growing. The printing is still going, and the money is still free.
So, Robertson doesn’t actually have a bonus at all. His overdraft just isn't growing as quickly as he thought. There are no savings, because there is no money. Going out to the shops with less than nothing, and not spending the $100 you didn’t have in the first place doesn’t mean you saved anything.
If he was being honest, he would have said, "We didn’t have to borrow as much as we thought. As a result, we won't be as in much debt."
Instead of that, because it's all on spreadsheets and driven by his ideology, he's found $900odd million that might have been borrowed but doesn’t need to be, but nevertheless is going to spend it anyway.
That's not good news, and it's certainly not a bonus. Because wake up, nothing has changed.
You can't, on one hand, applaud yourself saying the debt and spending isn't as bad as we thought, and then having confessed that, spend what you didn’t have any way as though it's some sort of bonus.
We aren't out of Covid, the economy is still a mess, and we still need to print and spend. He's spending what he said he would.
All he's done is make a speech, issue a press release, and suck you into believing he didn’t have to do what he just did.