Grant Robertson with budget cover featuring photo he took himself (Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver)
Grant Robertson with budget cover featuring photo he took himself (Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver)

The BulletinMay 19, 2022

Budget 2022: what chance a surprise?

Grant Robertson with budget cover featuring photo he took himself (Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver)
Grant Robertson with budget cover featuring photo he took himself (Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver)

The tenor of today’s budget has been well signposted but people are still hoping for something to make life less difficult, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell for The Bulletin.


All the pre-budget announcements

Today FM’s Tova O’Brien did a quick count of this year’s pre-budget announcements, identified nine and called the abundant approach “smart”. The Herald has listed ten. It’s not unprecedented though: there were 16 in 2019. Last year, there were four. This year’s included large investments in police, the apprentice training scheme, mental health and family and sexual violence prevention. The most significant of these pre-budget announcements was really the Emission Reduction Plan on Monday. Climate and health have been flagged as the budget set pieces for a while now. Newshub reported that a “significant investment in Māori health” is likely.

The chance of surprise 

As Thomas Coughlan outlines (paywalled), the budget is really three things. The Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU, a set of forecasts), a fiscal strategy report and the estimates. Those are what people tune in for. This year’s new operating allowance is $6b. Budget 2022 is titled “A Secure Future” so many are picking that the only real room for surprise is whether the government will respond to things like my petrol costing $3.12p/l yesterday. Economists are asking that anything on that front not add to inflationary pressure. The Herald’s Jenée Tibshraeny (paywalled) has a list of four things to keep an eye out for. 1 News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay also has some predictions.

What people want from the budget

Anecdotally there is a sense people want relief from everyday cost pressures and that this isn’t just about recent inflationary increases but a layering of ongoing issues like housing costs. Stuff asked 13 people what they wanted and most were looking for something to make life a bit easier – benefit increases, a reduction in GST and continuation of the public transport fare discount. A poll from Curia commissioned by the Taxpayers’ Union which surveyed 1000 people in early April found 65% didn’t want government spending to increase, but stay level. Stuff’s Susan Edmunds spoke to business leaders and their wishlist features ways to address the skill shortages and a desire to see spending reigned in. ​​

You are: disinterested/busy/a super fan

Budget day traditions will prevail. Delivery of a tie for Grant Robertson has been organised and the PM and Robertson will virtually eat a (hopefully real) cheese roll this morning. The budget lockup starts at 10.30am and the embargo lifts at 2pm. The Spinoff will have live updates and reactions from then. If you want a budget 101, Irra Lee at 1 News has an explainer. For people who are just trying to live their life, there is this A-Z of terms you’ll hear today. For budget history super fans, there is a quiz. I am not telling you my score, but it was “statistically worse than a chimp rolling dice” and lower than the average, which quizmaster Toby Manhire reports is 4/10.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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