Robbo spends nine years complaining about rising debt, and now he’s in charge public debt is low

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Grant Robertson is a complete twat. He’s spent nine years complaining about National’s economic management, constantly issuing press releases criticising rising public debt.

Then, yesterday, he decided that we actually have low public debt:

Low public debt and a strong labour market will buffer the economy from current turmoil, Finance Minister Grant Robertson claims.

Treasury officials were recalled from their day off on Waitangi Day to brief Robertson on the global turmoil, but indicated they believed the economy was resilient.

Robertson told RNZ on Wednesday that while there may be some turmoil on the sharemarket this week, that he was confident the wider economy would cope.

​”When you look at the fundamentals of global economic growth, and indeed of the New Zealand economy, I’m reasonably reassured by that,” Robertson said.

Essentially the low level of public debt is a really important part of it,” Robertson said.

Just two months ago in parliament Robbo was saying:

This from a man who said that under National debt had “skyrocketed”. Barely two months ago he told Parliament he “will not be lectured” by his predecessor Steven Joyce about debt levels.

“If there is anyone in this House who needs to take responsibility for debt levels, it’s that member,” Robertson said of Joyce, which presumably now means he is in awe of his arch-rival.

And he said this on 23 May 2016:

Long term the economy should be able to generate solid operating surpluses on a consistent basis, and certainly that should be our goal. But there will be times when it is not reached, when the need is greater to give people some hope and opportunity and make the long term investments in our future well-being. The same applies to reducing debt. We are fortunate, in part due to the excellent work of Dr Michael Cullen, that we survived the Global Financial Crisis with relatively low levels of government debt. The failure of the Government to put much of a dent into that debt is concerning, even bearing in mind the Canterbury earthquakes.

And on 23 May 2015:

We’ve got a government that will not be paying down any debt until 2019, and the consequence of that – no money for the Super Fund, either.

And on 22 November 2016 he said:

Don’t believe the hype – debt has skyrocketed under National

The reckless dangling of tax cuts by the National Government is all the more irresponsible when it is put alongside the failure to pay down debt or put money aside for future superannuation costs, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.


Debt has actually risen by more than $50 billion on National’s watch. In Parliament on the 11th of October, Bill English acknowledged in response to a question from me that they have not paid down any net debt in dollar terms.

And on 14 October 2015 he said:

First surplus a blip on radar screen of debt

Bill English’s first surplus is just one black drop in a sea of red, with New Zealanders still paying over $10m a day in interest payments, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Finance Minister has finally found a surplus needle in his haystack of debt. Despite promising a ‘significant’ surplus, it’s just $414m. That’s less than 0.2 per cent of GDP – a rounding error, not a surplus.

Gross debt is more than $86 billion – the highest since Rob Muldoon stalked the corridors of the power. Interest payments alone are now $13 million a day and rise to $15m a day in three years.

And on 1 March 2016 he said:

NZ’s $60b debt big concern for possible recession

New warnings of a global recession places the spotlight on New Zealand’s $67b net debt, leaving the economy in a much worse state than before the 2008 downturn when net debt was zero, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Despite claiming the figleaf of fiscal responsibility the latest government accounts show that National has racked up over $67b in net debt. With Citigroup warning of a global recession that level of debt will be an albatross around the neck of the government if the downturn occurs.

“Bill English likes to pretend New Zealand will be insulated from any international downturn, saying we came through the previous one better than other countries. That’s because Michael Cullen had reduced net debt to zero – for the primary purpose of preparing New Zealand for a ‘rainy day’.

After seven years of National, the finances are in a much worse state to deal with any recession.

As you can see, Grant Robertson is someone who says one thing in opposition and once he is the Finance Minister it turns out that the apparently parlous state of the country’s finances is actually not bad at all.

There are plenty more examples; those are just the first few I found when searching.

What amazes me is how the media fail to hold blatant rubbish like this to account. What is even worse is that the muppets in National aren’t holding the fool to account either.


-Fairfax, Scoop

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.