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Upton-on-line April 11th

Extensive debate and questioning of Dr Michael Cullen has revealed that his proposed Super Fund will soak up unknown billions to fund an unknown share of future super liabilities through unknown investments as part of a 'diversified' portfolio.

Reviewing the Budget Policy Statement, upton-on-line was struck by the breathtaking scope of the new policy. By 2003, over $1 billion a year of taxpayers' funds is to be invested in the super fund even though the Government has failed to say what the money would be invested in or explain why such a strategy is better than paying back debt.

Investment advisers are stunned that such a clever man should be proposing such a crazy strategy. The whole thing amounts to a spectacular gamble on overseas stockmarkets with other people's money.

It will be interesting to see how other parties supporting the Government react to the inexorable logic of a tidal wave of taxpayer-financed offshore investment. There is nowhere else the funds could rationally go. But if they decide to pump money into New Zealand stocks, the heavy weight of foreign ownership simply means that the rise in share prices (that buying pressure ensures will follow as night follows day) will largely be a windfall for off-shore owners!

Upton-on-line is sure of only one thing: the uncanny silence coming from so many in the financial community suggests that fund managers just can't look a gift horse in the mouth. If directors and managers haven't been able to create any wealth in recent years perhaps Dr Cullen can by flooding the market with money...

>From the Plains of the Serengeti

The Valley has been closed to visitors for the next three weeks so that Ministers can finish off their Budget and backbenchers can undertake overseas fact-finding missions. It is time then to provide a report card of likely survival prospects at the end of the first session.

Survival Assured:

Helen Clark Crisp, collected and brutal Trevor Mallard Crisp and brutally good-humoured Michael Cullen Crisp, sarcastic and positively purring with superior intellect Phil Goff Comprehensive, measured and cool Jim Sutton Whimsical, quirky and accidentally funny

Days Numbered:

Steve Maharey Wordy, obfuscatory, saccharine and fatallycompromised by his lofty assertion that you can say one thing in opposition and another in government Annette King Clouds of bossy bombast, harrumphing indignation and a habit of answering questions in precisely the terms she ridiculed as the opposition spokesperson

Hard to Categorise

Tariana Turia Magically candid from the Opposition's point of view; hopelessly unreliable from the Government's Phillida Bunkle Supremely oblivious to the effects of her answers which generally drive the Opposition batty but are occasionally aimed at unsuspecting and thin-skinned Greens on whom the Government must rely

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