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RICHARD PREBBLE: An 86-year-old has better budget policies

A “pakeha budget” would not cut the NZ Symphony Orchestra funding and maintain funding to Te Māngai Pāho. The agency’s CEO in a press release said the budget “signaled good news for the te reo sector…continuity of funding” for Maori media.

A “pakeha budget” would not fail to fund the election promised new cancer treatments while lowering the bowel screening age for Māori and Pasifika from 60 to 50 years old.

In a multi-racial country it is dangerous for politicians to claim, as Labour’s Willie Jackson did in his Herald article, that this was “the most anti-Māori Budget in a generation”.

Few Maori will be affected by the spending cuts. Virtually all Maori households will receive tax cuts. Maori, like the rest of us, will have to repay the borrowing that funded the tax cuts.

The key budget statistic is that the government is projected to take 33.5 percent of the economy, down marginally from Labour’s 34.5 percent.

The question is, will the coalition keep to its spending limit?

Nicola Willis took just three days to announce unfunded spending, promising a decision this year to fund new cancer treatments.

Nicola Willis, like Grant Robertson, will find it impossible to keep within the budget’s spending limits.

“Project optimism” is why projects cost more and take longer than estimated. Nobel prizewinning economist Daniel Kahneman said it is because the unexpected happens.

The treasury, in the budget documents, lists 20 pages of fiscal risks that could derail the budget’s projections.

It is likely that the risk that up ends the budget is not listed, Treasury did not predict Covid-19 or the Ukraine War or most of the economic shocks that have blown budgets. The event that sinks this budget is probably something we have not thought of.

History is repeating. Labour governments massively increase spending. National, in opposition, oppose the increased spending. National in government adopts Labour’s spending while promising to manage better.

There is only one proven way to reduce government spending and that is to stop doing things.

7.5 percent spending cuts like “sinking lids” can slow but cannot stop the rise in government spending.

Labour’s finance spokesperson Barbara Edmonds says that Labour would have reduced government spending but without any job losses. It is a claim that has no economic credibility.

Last week it was left to an 86-year-old, Sir Roger Douglas, to produce alternative policies. See

Roger says:

“The New Zealand Government’s problems fall into two main parts:

• ONE – New Zealand’s poor financial position, highlighted by Treasury in its Long-Term Fiscal Projections (2021-2061)

• TWO – The New Zealand Government owned institutions in the social services area, have all been performing poorly for the last 60 years."

“Unfunded liabilities which stand today at more than one trillion dollars, are set to become New Zealand’s most serious financial problem."

“Fifty-Two years ago," Roger writes, “I introduced a private members bill into the New Zealand Parliament with the support of the entire Labour party caucus, that would have made a lump sum superannuation policy available to every New Zealand worker.”

Labour MPs, that once sought to solve issues, now make fantasy claims.

Roger writes:

“Superannuation and health spending alone are expected to go up by 6.4% of GDP. Add education, and the expected increase in government expenditure becomes 8.1% of GDP. With total government expenditure increasing by 12% of GDP, by 2061 we are expected to be running a negative operating balance of 13.3% of GDP. That would make us technically bankrupt.”

” We cannot increase taxes to the level needed to meet our obligations without destroying economic growth further.”

Roger outlined three principles for the budget:

“Principle One – Each generation must pay for themselves.”

Roger’s solution, compulsory superannuation.

“Principle Two – Every New Zealander should provide for themselves as far as possible.”

Lower taxes so people can purchase their own superannuation, health, and education with the poor assisted to make their purchases.

“Principle Three – Choice and competition."

“Competition is the force that encourages providers to operate efficiently and cater for their customers’ needs – as well as to improve products they produce on a continuous basis”.

“Fundamental to the reform of the New Zealand Government’s social service institutions is the introduction of competition to all social service areas including education, healthcare, welfare and housing."

“Competition is just as important in government as it is in private sector markets. The lack of competition, over the past 80 years in government-owned social service institutions, is why they are doing so badly today, when compared to say Singapore’s institutions.”

Those are an 86-year old’s solutions. Where are the Opposition’s?

The Opposition has two dangerous ideas.

First, that New Zealand can tax its way to prosperity.

Second, an even more dangerous proposition, that New Zealand has two classes of citizenship depending on our race.

The Honourable Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.

3,056 views83 comments


There are two plans that any government can use to balance the books, one is short term, the other long term. Superannuation is long term, cutting spending is short term and should have started immediately after the coalition started. The coalition should have known before the election what the priorities were. Eight months after the election, what cuts have been made? Has the coalition pulled out of the Kyoto accord and the Paris agreement and every other UN money sinkhole the last bunch of Marxist losers signed us up for? Why haven't the farmers been given freedom from all of the restrictions and obstructions imposed by previous governments to allow them to do what they do best, create wealth and…

Jun 06
Replying to

I heard the latest from the UN: all advertising from fossil fuel companies has to be banned. Getting rather big for our boots aren't we?


To me, the problem is staring us straight in the face.

Look at the wasteful and frivolous attitude towards ratepayers , the utter disdain shown towards the contributions these people make, not spent on core services, oh no, but gaily frittered away, given to each and every useless bloody grievance industry with an axe to grind. Why so?

Extrapolate that out and you'll find that successive governments past and present behave in exactly the same way.

To effectively and efficiently run a government is exactly the same as running a business, you cut the unnecessary and nice to haves, and you cut your cloth to fit, like all business has to do to survive.

If you borrow, you do it…

Jun 06
Replying to

Agree - long overdue for review (a real one).


I agree strongly that superannuation should be compulsory. As a relatively small percentage of weekly wages, it's a painless way to save. Employee contributions should also attract a matching contribution from the employer. Ideally, people should be able to purchase annuities on retirement.

Ian Boag
Ian Boag
Jun 05
Replying to

Sounds really good. Save for your own pension like you did in the 1800's. Whatever. In the meantime, keep paying enough tax to fund your parents' super which is a benefit you will never get. Figure that one out ....


just watching Luxflakes congratulate the crap out of himself, Willis and the National Party, nearly made me throw up....he was preaching to the converted, his band of sycophants all clapping and stroking his ego........

How come, when he is in front of the media he adopts a pathetic, apologetic approach, constantly dodging their arrows and repeating himself like a stuck record?

He is puffed up with power and status and is NOT dealing with the real issues that face this the behaviour in the house of the Maori Party, threatening takeover, the bleeding of money into Maori 'projects' - he is terrified of the backlash from the radicals and so puts a big spotlight on "look how great we…

Replying to

Luxon like Key is a fence sitter

Play both sides and feather own nest

Let the coalition parties do the heavy lifting


The Hon. Mr Prebble touches on a critical point that is coming into being via the Government's failure to address Law Commission flawed advice recently to the coalition-Government

i.e. "Second, an even more dangerous proposition, that New Zealand has two classes of citizenship depending on our race."

Refer: A Treaty in Conflict with UNDRIP (that few wish to address) vs Democracy and Maori self-determination in pursuit under UN initiated expectations


It is deeply concerning to see how government and politicians seem to ignore the legal and political conflicting nuances between the Treaty and the desire to adopt all UN directives.

Not to forget the actual introduction of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into…

Replying to

A few links aligned to "who is really running the country" for ease of research !

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