The script have changed

The Press - - In Depth -

might will act as a sort of lax­a­tive.

Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Bridges was eu­phoric in his dis­ap­point­ment. ‘‘This is an almighty hand­brake on New Zealand’s econ­omy!’’ he bel­lowed.

It wouldn’t be Bud­get day with­out some­one say­ing ‘‘Tax and spend!’’ and ‘‘Bor­row and hope!’’, so Bridges got them both out of the way quite quickly.

He con­grat­u­lated the Gov­ern­ment for a big-spend­ing Bud­get, which nev­er­the­less broke so many spend­ing prom­ises.

‘‘In our Bud­gets, we al­ways looked for ways to make the boat go faster! This Bud­get is drop­ping an­chor on the New Zealand econ­omy,’’ he boomed.

In fair­ness, the 2018 Bud­get is at least de­signed to make horses go faster. Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters has scored more money to en­cour­age the breed­ing of rac­ing studs. He barely men­tioned this tri­umph in his speech, as he was un­able to stop talk­ing about the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment’s Bud­gets. As Robert­son an­nounced each item, Peters sat quirk­ing his eye­brows and smirk­ing tri­umphantly at Bridges’ team, mut­ter­ing with great sat­is­fac­tion. Of­fi­cial trans­la­tion is un­avail­able, but Win­sto­nol­o­gists take this sort of be­hav­iour to mean: ‘‘How d’ya like them ap­ples, sun­shine?’’

Peters’ favourite words, at least, have not changed. He gave us – about Na­tional, rather than the Bud­get – ef­fron­tery, vacu­ity, flim-flam, dere­lic­tion and per­fidy. He said Na­tional agri­cul­ture spokesman Nathan Guy must have copped ‘‘too much of some­thing from un­der the cow’s tail in his ears when he was farm­ing’’, later clar­i­fy­ing this to ‘‘bull dust’’.

Robert­son’s two small in­au­gu­ra­tions were to wear a red rose­bud in his lapel, and to fin­ish his read­ing by naming in ad­vance the 2019 Bud­get as ‘‘the Well­Be­ing Bud­get’’.

Soon-to-be act­ing prime min­is­ter, though, Peters couldn’t wait till next year for the telling slo­gan. To dou­ble-takes from even his own troops, he thun­dered: ‘‘We’re go­ing to make New Zealand great again!’’

❚ Jane Clifton is mar­ried to the Speaker, Trevor Mal­lard.

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