Bud­get day at the Bee­hive

The Press - - In Depth -

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.

KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Grant Robert­son de­liv­ers the Labour-led coalition’s Bud­get in the House.

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