Finance Minister Bill English has been quite clear – there is no money for an election year spend-up.
Prime Minister John Key is equally sure that tax and spend policies aren’t what the country needs. The message in an exclusive interview with the NBR he reinforces that message:
An even tighter rein on new spending than the current $1.1 billion cap is likely over the next few years, Prime Minister John Key says.
A much more aggressive approach to lowering New Zealand’s high national debt levels appears to be under way, with an emphasis on getting government spending under more control as well as on pushing greater private savings. . .
Mr Key said that as the economy recovers this year there is room to push harder on lowering government spending as a proportion of the economy.
Contrast that with Labour. The first policy announcement for the year came from Annette King who promised to extend paid parental leave and increase Working for Families’ payments.
How can a party which wants to be taken seriously ignore the need to reduce government spending? And why would a party which purports to represent poorer people start the year with policies most likely to benefit middle and upper income earners?
If ever there was an election when the party which plays Scrooge is likely to benefit it is this one.
When households are spending less and saving more they’re hardly likely to be receptive to a party which shows itself unwilling to demonstrate similar restraint.