Robbo’s big fat fail

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Grant Robertson has laid a complaint with the Speaker’s Office, alleging that John Key misled parliament.

Prime Minister John Key is facing a breach of privilege complaint over his claim Inland Revenue told him changes to the KiwiSaver scheme “will not make a blind bit of difference” to enrolments.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said Budget papers released on Thursday showed Key had been told the opposite, and the party would make a complaint to the Speaker.

As part of the Budget, Finance Minister Bill English announced an immediate end to the $1000 payment the Government gives to anyone who signs up to KiwiSaver, known as the “kickstart” payment.

The decision, which will save $500 million over four years, immediately came under fire as cutting the incentive to join the highly popular scheme, particularly for children who are not entitled to other credits.

Questioned about the move in Parliament, a week after the May Budget, the Prime Minister said it would have no impact.

“[T]he removal of the $1,000 kick-start contribution will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver,” Key said on May 26.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei asked Key in response: “What evidence does the Prime Minister have that the sign-up rates for KiwiSaver will not be affected?”

“That is the formal advice from the Inland Revenue Department,” Key said, adding that the scheme was well organised in the workplace and providers were “extremely” well organised.

“We have got about 15,000 to 20,000 people joining in a month. I would be very, very surprised if it changes at all as a result of this.”

I have bolded the pertinent part, because it seems to have escaped Robbo.

[D]ocuments released on Thursday were given to the Government in preparation for the Budget.

A regulatory impact statement written by Treasury in consultation with Inland Revenue provided just a single line on the impact on enrolments saying it would lead to “lower numbers of KiwiSaver members (particularly among the self-employed and children)”.

The Prime Minister’s office has not yet provided any alternative “formal advice” from Inland Revenue.  It has pointed to a separate Cabinet Paper which claimed the changes would have “only a limited effect (if any)” on enrolment rates.

This may well be news to the man in the cardy who would be Finance Minister but Inland Revenue is NOT treasury. Of course a trifling matter of different government departments hasn’t worried Robbo who has rushed off to complain to the Speaker for a breach of privilege.

Robertson said that the advice given to the Government was so light in detail that it suggested a lack of concern over enrolments, but what did exist pointed to a plunge in the numbers signing up, which was what appeared to have happened.

“Instead of reflecting this advice, the Prime Minister simply made a blanket statement claiming the IRD backed his position,” Robertson said.

“The Prime Minister has a fundamental requirement to tell the truth to Parliament. Blatantly misrepresenting advice he receives brings the integrity of Parliament into question.”

Again, IRD and Treasury are not the same thing and the documents released don’t prove a single thing…other than perhaps showing that Grant Robertson would make Bill English look like a member of Mensa.

Of course the genius reporter at Fairfax, Hamish Rutherford, also missed the obvious as he took dictation from Robbo.

Robbo has not managed to lay a hit on anyone yet, except himself of course.


– Fairfax

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