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PoliticsSeptember 22, 2020

The week in memes: The fiscal hole is back and this time it’s definitely real


Too much news? Welcome to the only round-up you need.

The election was supposed to be over by now. We were all supposed to be free but instead we’re back talking about fiscal holes and house prices. Bit of housekeeping: there’ll be no more yes, no, huh? in this column as politics isn’t binary. Unlike Judith Collins when asked about a National error over the weekend, I will happily admit my failings and move on.

National tax cuts

National announced its big tax plan on Sunday and promised tax cuts for most New Zealanders. National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said the temporary (they will only be in effect for 18 months) tax cuts would be a “stimulus”, meaning the money would likely end up back in the economy. Stimulating the economy is nice, and the people with the least money are the ones most likely to spend a cash boost (think of someone saving for shoes/clothes/appliances suddenly being able to buy them). Unfortunately National’s tax cuts won’t be the most effective economic stimulus because they’ll be giving minimum wage earners a whopping *triple checks notes* $8.10 per week. Meanwhile, those earning $90k per year (and therefore less in need of immediate cash to spend) will get an extra $58.10 per week.

National’s $4bn fiscal hole

THE HOLE IS BACK. Long live the hole. Remember in 2017 when National was obsessed with the supposed $11.7bn hole in Labour’s spending plan? That hole stuck around the entire election despite there being a general consensus that it didn’t exist in any real sense. Well now we’ve come full circle and National have fallen into the fiscal hole they themselves dug. On the day of National’s campaign launch, Grant Robertson instead got the win by pointing out that someone had miscalculated future NZ Super Fund contributions and therefore predicted a $19bn saving in halting them when really it would be a $15bn saving. I swear I tried to make that sentence sound less dry but it was impossible. The point is, National embarrassed themselves by miscalculating a pretty basic equation and now they have a hole.

Paul Goldsmith owned the mistake but not before noting that National’s external reviewers had also overlooked the mistake. That doesn’t make it better, Paul!

Jacinda, don’t stand so close to me

After months of reiterating the government’s “go hard, go early” approach to the pandemic response, Jacinda Ardern has faced criticism for posing with a large group of supporters on the campaign trail, flouting social distancing and mask guidance. It was a slap in the masked faces of Aucklanders who are still required to limit gatherings to 10 and maintain distance wherever possible. But it’s the campaign!

Ardern has since admitted that taking a group photo with a dozen people pressing faces together was a “mistake” but also hinted that things can get awkward when she refuses to shake supporters’ hands. There’s only one way for Ardern to earn back her credibility when it comes to Covid restrictions and that’s to adopt a Claire-from-Fleabag stance of actively repelling any and all forms of human contact.

Simon Brigdes

Simon Bridges is living a relaxed life. So relaxed that he failed to notice he’d misspelled his own name on his campaign flyers.

Bill English is back-ish

Would National have a better chance at winning this election if Bill English were the leader? Probably doesn’t help to speculate. Also probably doesn’t help to continuously praise your opponent’s predecessor, which Grant Robertson has been doing in his digs at the current opposition. “Once again the new National Party leadership prove they have left behind the considered and moderate approach that John Key and Bill English took to the economy,” he said, apparently trying to criticise the National Party? I’m sure Bill English is even happier than Simon Bridges these days so the late compliments are just a bonus.

This dog having a VIP meet and greet with Judith Collins

There’s something so deeply funny about this sad-looking dog bumping into Judith Collins in the halls of parliament. She (the dog) looks guilty as hell, like a kid whose parent has made her get a photo with someone who might be famous. And to look straight down the lens for the photo? This dog is trying to tell us something but I don’t know what. Blink twice if you can hear me.

I am this dog

New Zealand’s cockroach housing market

In a depressing and unsurprising turn of events it has been revealed that the only sliver of New Zealand to not be negatively impacted by a global pandemic is the housing market. Westpac Bank last week reassessed numbers and released a prediction that housing prices would see “an increase of 3.5% between March and December 2020”. With no comprehensive changes in the pipeline and interest rates practically on the ground, there’s no end in sight for property buyers here in paradise. When paradise itself sinks into the sea, as it eventually will, New Zealand’s leaky homes will somehow remain. And they’ll still cost about 10 times the median income.

Keep going!