Amid chaos, Labour’s

Jon Johansson Former chief of staff to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and now a Wellington-based communications consultant.



Stuff NZ Newspapers


As the Government readies for its penultimate Budget before facing the verdict of voters next year, it will keep telling itself that it can defy gravity and recover its previous ascendancy. Pre-Budget announcements are adding up, but the public is well used to yearly gestures of good intentions. But it’s delivery that matters. What voters will be looking for next year is results and signs their material positions have improved. Yet some months back Finance Minister Grant Robertson signalled where the big-ticket new spending was being directed in this year’s Budget – health and climate. But the health restructure will not deliver one better service by next year’s election so lacks political power, however conceptually appealing the new structures are. Meanwhile, long waiting lists for non-Covid related health services, many existential in nature, keep growing. The Budget will also direct huge financial and regulatory resource towards climate mitigation through emissions reduction. They may or may not fuel transformational change for the 50% of emissions the plan actually covers in tomorrow’s announcement. But it will also bring into stark relief agriculture being out-of-sequence with the burdens now put on other sectors. National has wisely endorsed emissions budgets while reserving its position on specific emission reduction policies. Take EVs. Judging by the endless advertisements for the feebate on EVs and the high uptake of the subsidy by urban car owners, the scheme is going gangbusters. But the feebate scheme was sold as fiscally