Today is the day of the big reveal for Treasury. Today is the day that it reveals the state of the New Zealand Government coffers. Today is also the day that the election campaign writ is issued, enabling the formal period of campaigning to begin.
But back to the Treasury’s books. If not today, tomorrow or in the next couple of days is when, based on what the individual political parties know, to expect substantial policy announcements. The major policies relating to tax, investment and spending priorities will be arriving shortly.
I expect that Labour will focus on health, education and investment in jobs creation. New leader Jacinda Ardern has promised that there will be significant moves made to address climate change and has also mentioned an emphasis on railways.
We have already seen a major signal from National that its priority is road transport in its $10.5 billion announcement on roading projects. The party will also be trying to woo voters by appearing serious about policing, health and education in an attempt to shore up its voters.
New Zealand First made a major announcement in 2016 at its convention that year about its Upfront Investment policy for tertiary education, which was costed at $4.6 billion. It has mentioned several times that its major transport plan will be to improve railways.
We can expect significant policy announcements to follow from the Greens, A.C.T. and Maori Party in the next few days as well. I expect that A.C.T. will focus on reducing taxes and red tape, as well as ways of implementing its promise to build 600,000 new homes. The Green Party will have social welfare, the environment and climate change at its core, and I expect some significant policy from them on mental health. And the Maori Party will be looking at ways to improve socio-economic indicators for Maori in education, health, social welfare and crime – none of which have done very well in the last nine years..
Once the books are open and we can see what shape they are in, I will make recommendations on what the spending priorities for New Zealand should be. Although I showed at the weekend my general drift on where I think New Zealand should be heading, I have not yet mentioned in depth policy. That will come when I have an idea of the state of the Treasury books.