Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Sludge Report #71 – Old Mother Hubbard’s Budget

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at sludge@scoop.co.nz. The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/myscoop/ to subscribe... Sludge Report #71

Old Mother Hubbard’s Budget

Question: Why are we spending more on new computers for the Department of Work and Income than we are on protecting our children by implementing the Judge Mick Brown report?

Answer (Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen): We have to have computers to pay the benefits. That’s just the way it is. I can tell you I wasn’t delighted either when I was told this spending was necessary.

Q: Is this then symptomatic of this budget, is this in fact old Mother Hubbard’s budget?

A: The cupboard is not bare. And next year we are forshadowing $850 million of extra spending. So the cupboard isn’t bare and neither will we be having an election year spendup.

******

Dr Michael Cullen is being disingenuous about this budget and he knows it. How long he maintains the pretext that he is in fact proud of it is a moot point. Certainly his media monitors don’t like this line of questioning anyway.

******

Q: Are you caught in a straight jacket by the Fiscal Responsibility Act?

A: No. I don’t see it that way. Though it would be fair to say that we caught a little by the perceptions of the financial markets about these things.

A: Would you have liked to have spent more?

A: Would I have liked to spend more money on protecting children? Would I have liked to spend more money on education? Would I have liked to reduce student fees? Would I have liked to spend more on infrastructure and roading? On health? Yes. Of course I would have.

(Media Minder from the back of the room) last question please.

Q: Why didn’t you increase spending by more then? Is this budget too prudent?

A: We can’t just borrow against the interests of future generations.

Q: But we have recorded surpluses for the last eight years. Isn’t the truth that it is irrational of the markets to describe a tiny increase over planned expenditure as a budget blow out.

A: That’s not an expression I have ever used. And it’s true we have had had a long run of surpluses, yes.

Q: What are you scared of?

A: Who me?

Q: Yes. Are you scared that if you spent more that the markets would send the NZ Dollar even lower? Wouldn’t such a move by the markets be irrational given that the increase of spending by the government is lower even than inflation?

A: Certainly as a percentage of GDP government expenditure is forecast to fall.

******

Today’s budget is definitely not made from the cloth of socialist revolutions. This budget is prudent, conservative, responsible and thrifty. It is in short an ultra-careful-as-she-goes, lets-get-ourselves-re-elected-by-centrist-voters-in-2002 budget.

On the bottom line total government expenditure is forecast to increase at just $1085 million this year or 2.8% over what it was in the financial year just finished. This is around the level of inflation during the same period and is, Sludge reckons, the smallest ever bottom line increase in government expenditure.

But while the cut of this budget maybe sack-cloth and ashes, considerable effort has gone into the styling.

The government has tried to do its best of a bad lot and the budget comes equipped with several catchy slogans designed to make it more palatable.

In addition, and for this the government deserves credit, a focus on improving the lot of at risk children is definitely evident, even if the $56 million provision is embarrassingly overshadowed by $71 million for new DWI computers.

Anti©opyright Sludge 2001

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Betraying The Kurds

The Americans have now callously thrown the Kurds under the bus and created the ideal conditions for Islamic State to mount a comeback – all done so that Donald Trump can brag on the 2020 campaign trail that he brought the US troops home. How is the current fighting likely to proceed? More>>

ALSO:

Expert Comment: Online Voting Won’t Mean More Engagement

“Overseas experience is that online voting tends to be popular with those who are already likely to vote and who have high levels of digital literacy. It does little to help add new people to the voter pool, and this holds even for young voters.”More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Saudis (Not) Getting Away With Murder

On October 2nd last year, the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, by a hit squad of assassins acting on the orders of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman. More>>

Ellen Rykers on The Dig: Community Conservation – The Solution To The Biodiversity Crisis?

It’s increasingly clear that a government agency alone cannot combat the biodiversity crisis successfully. These grass-roots initiatives are a growing resource in the conservation toolbox. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Saudi Oil Refinery Crisis

So the US and the Saudis claim to have credible evidence that those Weapons of Oil Destruction came from Iran, their current bogey now that Saddam Hussein is no longer available. Evidently, the world has learned nothing from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when dodgy US intel was wheeled out to justify the invasion of Iraq, thereby giving birth to ISIS and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog