Budget day at the Beehive
Robertson was beaming. ‘‘The outlook is good,’’ he said, going through his excellent growth forecasts and widening surplus, even as his Government spent more and more.
This was the businessfriendly portion of the speech, every slide a line graph, before he got to the bullet points of what he was going to change.
‘‘As I’m sure you’re all aware,’’ he said as he smiled, ‘‘we have five Budget Responsibility Rules.’’
Everyone was getting very bored with talking about the rules, hated by the Left because they hinder huge spending and hated by the Right because they go against the image of Labour as reckless spenders. But Robertson will be very happy to have these rules become a part of the furniture, especially during his first few years as a finance minister without much real finance experience. They make him look serious and restrained – more Michael Cullen than David Cunliffe.
Then came questions. ‘‘For some balance, let’s take the first question from the National Party pollster,’’ Robertson said, pointing to David Farrar, who asked something fairly boring about those same Budget rules. Plenty more pointy-headedness followed.
Finally, with questions done and just an hour until the embargo lifted at 2pm, the food rolled out.
There were mountains of sausage rolls, but not enough sauce to go around. The tricolour lamingtons spilled all over colleagues’ laptops. Also on the menu was some kind of ham sandwich and vegetarian tartlets. And right in the corner, a small sign that said ‘‘special diets’’ – with absolutely no food behind it.
But reporters can’t quite complain as, unlike in Australia, the Treasury provides the food. I guess the Government is good for something.
In comes the posse: Grant Robertson heads for the lockup with his coalition colleagues.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivers the Labour-led coalition’s Budget in the House.