State of play
Books not pretty picture: Cullen: The pre-election fiscal update on October 6 is set to show debt levels exceeding the target Finance Minister Michael Cullen is comfortable with as tax cuts kick in and economic forecasts worsen.
Dr Cullen said yesterday - after confirmation the country was in a technical recession - there is "quite significant deterioration" in the books compared with the Budget in May.
"About two-thirds of the change that you'll see on Monday week is due simply to economic factors," he said.
* Start on Wednesday.
* Will give workers an extra $12 to $28 a week.
* Will be accompanied by boosts to Working For Families and New Zealand Superannuation payments.
* Will be followed up with more tax cuts in April 2010 and April 2011.
- These tax cuts will have a positive effect for Labour, but the amount of people getting the top end $28 a week will not off-set National's tax cut promises, so the overall effect of the extra money will be too small to dent National's lead. The Prefu release will give Bill English a soapbox upon which to hail Cullen's fiscal management as reckless and justify slashing some aspects (usually nebulous because they don't want to court direct attacks from the entrenched positions within the govt. sector) of govt. spending.
NZ in Recession: Dr Cullen says it is almost certain that economic activity fell in the nine months of 2008 to date. However, he expects tax cuts coming into effect on 1 October and lower petrol prices will help boost economic growth in the last three months of the year.
- And English will most likely claim that Cullen has caused a recession by directing tax dollars into unproductive parts of the govt. sector. It's not a favourable climate for Cullen to go into an election, but his claims that NZ is merely part of a worldwide slow-down that is not of his making will have a lot of resonance with the public. I can't see them blaming Cullen for what they will view as Wall Street's problems. But let's wait to see what sort of a hit the Kiwisaver portfolio has taken - the vast majority of it is in off-shore securities.
Bernard Hickey on US farm lobbyist resistance to a free trade deal: Here was the initial response from the National Milk Producers Federation. It called for the full exclusion of New Zealand’s dairy products from the P4 trade agreement. Not just a few extra tariffs or quotas. Full exclusion. I’ll let them hang themselves below...
- The diary farmers of America are shit scared of Fonterra and will use their congressional support to stymie the "free" in free trade.
Clark & Key only to appear on TV debates: TV3 and TVNZ wanted the leaders of all eight parties represented in Parliament to take part in an MMP debate, which has happened in previous campaigns. But the two leaders refused, and did not change their minds when both networks asked them to reconsider.
- Remember the farce last election when a High Court judge played programme director and let Anderton and Dunne onto a TV debate? I am assuming/hoping that all the parliamentary leaders will have at least one televised debate - if they do not - and it is only a couple of set piece interviews with Clark and Key then that would be a catastrophe for this election campaign. There is a role for a one-on-one styled "debate" - but not at the expense of excluding the players that will actually determine who will be PM.
Key likely to wash hands of NZ stocks when blind trust finally set up.: "I'm moving to ensure that all of my investments in totality are managed in a blind trust where it'll be totally blind. I'm establishing that at the moment."
Mr Key said he had not yet set the conditions for the blind trust, but would probably prevent it buying local shares.
Eyebrows were raised around Parliament this week when Mr Key said Mr Leggat could buy shares with his money in the trust without first asking him.
- Key has actually managed to scrape through this week without too much damage on this issue. It does not help that Labour frames the criticism in terms of Key being wealthy - rather than the traditional "slippery". They try to work both themes in - but the more I hear the ugly class antagonism from Cullen and Clark the more of a turn off I realise it must be for many other voters.