Hooton on the Budget and Labour’s inept response

Matthew Hooton writes at NBR and contends that Steve Joyce’s budget is brilliant, not for what is in it, but for the politics of it.

It began immediately when Andrew Little gave the worst budget speech by a leader of the opposition that anyone can remember. It was as if everything in the budget had come as a complete surprise to the poor startled rabbit.

That night?s TV news then featured archetypal Labour Party families praising Mr Joyce?s munificence. Perhaps most embarrassing for Mr Little, he found out the same time as everyone else when his putative allies, the Greens and NZ First, suddenly decided to vote for Mr Joyce?s families package, leaving Labour the only party opposed. His morning media interviews the next day were all catastrophes and Labour broadly vacated the playing field for the next two days. ?

Then, on Saturday, Jacinda Ardern cancelled a planned rebuttal of Mr Joyce on TV3?s The Nation, presumably for fear of comparisons being made with her hapless leader. Labour insiders have since put it about that they regard the show?s host, Lisa Owen, as irredeemably pro-National. Grant Robertson then diminished his status as finance-minister-in-waiting with a goofy joint appearance on TVNZ?s Q&A with Green co-leader James Shaw. Winston Peters insisted on being interviewed on the same programme alone.

But what has ministers chortling most is Labour?s desperate decision to simply begin lying about what the budget contains.

Labour can’t help themselves but to lie.

On Monday, Labour decided to launch on what it considers its in-house radio programme, RNZ?s Morning Report, what it dubbed the government?s ?teenager tax.?

According to Mr Little, there were ?up to? 6000 families with children aged 16 and 17 who might be worse off under the families package if the increases to the accommodation supplement are ignored.? Unfortunately for him, RNZ was unable to replicate Mr Little?s maths and he was humiliated by Morning Report?s Susie Ferguson, who will presumably now join Ms Owen on his enemies list.

Labour just look ridiculous, but their lazy clown of a finance spokesman shows almost daily that he hasn’t done a single thing since being appointed to?the role.

Most pathetically, Labour has now decided to redefine the word ?cut.? Henceforth, Labour says that if it thinks Sir Michael Cullen might have increased an area of spending by, say, $500 million, and National has increased it by only $400 million, then National?s $400 million increase is in fact a $100 million cut.

I know…unbelievable, but they can get away with it because of the Media party and their lack of holding the opposition to account.

That is, the highly intelligent imbeciles who work for Mr Little think that they can construct a spreadsheet, build in whatever assumptions they think are relevant, reach whatever conclusion they think follows, and insist that the rest of the world agree. Unsurprisingly, the media prefers to deal with the actual numbers appropriated by Parliament. What Mr Little?s brains trust has managed to do, just weeks before the start of the election campaign, is ensure that no one in the media, except for the most partisan pro-Labour hacks, will take at face value anything Mr Little says again.

These people may have PhDs in the tactics of parliamentary question time (one of them actually does, although you wouldn?t know it from Mr Little?s performances) but their parents clearly never read them The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

If brains were dynamite Labour wouldn’t have enough to blow their noses.

Labour?s best tactic right now is to accept that Mr Joyce completely dorked them with his budget last week and to change the subject as quickly as possible. That, however, would require a degree of basic situational awareness that is completely beyond the Labour muppets who still think they?re on track to form a government in a few months, with Mr Peters and their little green friends.

Dorked is the correct term.