Expectations have been as carefully managed as the day itself but it is still an election year. Here’s what we can expect from Budget day and what to look out for from Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
The day ahead
Budget day. One of the most ritualistic days in the political year. The finance minister has already posed with a copy of this year’s budget and as with last year, the photo on the cover was taken by Grant Robertson himself. Robertson understands Hipkins will gift him a tie as Jacinda Ardern did but opted for “no comment” when asked if he trusted the prime minister’s fashion sense. RNZ has this very good guide on what to expect today. Journalists will enter a lock up at 11am and The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive will be there. We’ll have live updates and reactions from 2pm once the embargo lifts.
Not too much, not too little but just right
This year, expectations have been even more carefully managed than last. Before its “Support for today, Building for tomorrow” title was revealed yesterday, Budget 2023 has been ascribed the no-frills moniker for a few weeks now. Writing for The Post, Luke Malpass describes (paywalled) Robertson’s dilemma this year as the “goldilocks” problem. The cost of living must be addressed but it mustn’t be inflationary. We very clearly have some large infrastructure demands with an estimated $210b infrastructure deficit but right now, the focus is on the basics of cyclone recovery. Describing “the iron law of New Zealand politics where the National party will make an impossible promise to cut taxes while maintaining services as is; and the Labour party will make an equally impossible promise to maintain taxes as is while increasing services”, Morgan Godfrey writes that while the well-signalled restraint of this year’s Budget is sensible in the short-term, the continued deferral of infrastructure spending is reckless.
What’s been announced and a few picks on what to look out for
The government has already announced a nearly $1b flood and cyclone recovery package, as well as funding for climate change, the New Zealand Defence Force and education. BusinessDesk’s Pattrick Smellie has a very good rundown (paywalled) on what to look out for in the fiscal and economic forecasts that accompany the Budget. The Herald’s Thomas Coughlan makes his picks on what to expect today across a range of areas including health, transport and infrastructure, housing and climate change. Also on the Herald, Simon Wilson (paywalled) has a list of six rabbits he thinks Grant Robertson needs to pull from the hat, one of which is former Te Whatu Ora chair, Rob Campbell. Wilson also makes a final bid for tax reform but we’ve been told many times, tax is off the agenda for today’s Budget.
Tax will still be a major election issue
It might be off the agenda for today, but as Stuff’s Susan Edmunds writes, tax will still be a major issue for this election. Edmunds has a good rundown of seven tax proposals that are likely to be in the spotlight this election including the need to adjust tax brackets. Deloitte tax partner Robyn Walker said “if tax thresholds weren’t addressed in the Budget, there would be pressure on the government to reveal a policy on the issue soon after.” The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll showed more than half of voters want a wealth tax. Following National’s fiscal discipline measures announcement on Monday and requests for more detail, National party leader Christopher Luxon has said he is waiting for the latest economic figures before the party releases its tax and fiscal plan.