Friday 4 November: Labour shows us its spreadsheet

By Toby Manhire In NZ Election 2011 Live

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4th November, 2011 Leave a Comment

Chris Slane for Listener Live


Both One News and 3 News led on the fate of Christchurch’s Hotel Grand Chancellor.

One followed that with Greece, and then the show-me-the-uncle-monkey malarkey. Next came an item about John Banks, whose proposed “vote for me to help John Key” ads have been scuppered by electoral rules – but gave him a good excuse to get on telly. Then an account of National’s law and order policy

The show-me-the-uncle-monkey malarkey was 3’s first campaign story. Law and order was covered, too, though 3 made mention, unlike their competitor, of the environmental protesters that greeted Key in Gisborne.

Nothing electiony on Close Up.

Campbell Live ran a test drive of their Worm, inviting viewers to wipe their fingers on their devices to reflect their positive or negative reaction to a reel of the week’s events. I don’t know if it was working properly; perhaps there were only two or three people taking part. But at times it looked more like a bar code than a worm.

That’s the lot for the day. Thanks for your company. More tomorrow, with the papers and broadcast and blogs and launches. And the rest.

One last thought for young Labour fans who like slogan T-shirts. Print one up with a picture of John Key, that says Show me the monkey. You’re welcome.

5.35pm: Danyl at the Dim-Post notes the “guessing game” invited by Labour’s reference to an “as-yet-unannounced policy that costs $0.7 billion/year after a couple of years”.

Something for the base, is my guess. Something in health policy, maybe.

5.20pm: In separate, short interviews on Checkpoint, Steven “slip cordon” Joyce, National’s minister of just about everything, and David Cunliffe, Labour’s finance spokesperson, have just exchanged blows – Labour stands accused of failing to account for borrowing to boost the super fund, National of ignoring lost divdends from sold assets. Joyce decries Labour’s “fiscal fairies at the bottom of the garden; Cunliffe – the man this blog unkindly described as “front-row-faced” earlier today – says National “should be ashamed of itself for screwing the scrum”.

4.40pm: A copy of the new Metro magazine has landed on my desk. On the cover is an ageing disc jockey leaning invasively into the personal space of what appears to be a young female student, probably on a lunch break from the local teachers’ college, who is adjusting the volume on her personal music player.

But enough of that. Inside are lots of political pieces, includinga Sean Plunket column, David Slack channeling a slick Bill English and Steve Braunias dining with all the party leaders. Hard to believe, I know. If you make it past the orgy of celebritism, Simon Wilson‘s lunch with the women competing for Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern (or Nikkinda, as they shall henceforth be known) is a good read. And there’s an intriguing feature applying game theory to politics, too.

4.10pm: As Lyndon Hood, an editor at Scoop, notes, we have an early favourite in the race for press release headline of the campiaign. From Phil Goff:


Don’t be surprised if the ACT party leader tries to elbow his way into the tussle, with something like:


4.00pm: A Christchurch friend flags up this piece from the Star, which reveals that sexually explicit tweets were broadcast on a giant screen behind the party leaders during the debate in Christchurch on Wednesday. The Star leaps at the chance to tut its rival

The Press, which organised the event, have been criticised for the decision not to pull the plug on the live Twitter feed, which degenerated into a rolling screen of profanity and slanderous accusations.

3.45pm: The New Zealand Herald has a useful summary of the crucial points of contention between Labour and National, as well as a video clip of Phil Goff at the press conference earlier: “Hi, I’m not Jerry Maguire, but I am here to show you the money.”

I understand that Bill English and David Cunliffe will be squaring up on TV One’s Q+A on Sunday morning. It should produce some tasty, and important, moments.

3.30pm: BLOGGERS

Keith Ng is essential reading at Public Address on “accounting burlesque”. Among his conclusions:

The most important thing to come out of today’s annoucement is a tally of costings for Labour’s policies: Most of them are chump-change. The big ticket items are changes to KiwiSaver and “Policies yet to be announced”. So it looks like the biggest spending programmes are yet to come.

Gordon Campbell reviews the week at Scoop:

Labour will end this first week of the campaign where it didn’t want to be – on the defensive, and counter punching from the back foot. It will have achieved next to nothing, either in getting traction on National, or in halting the erosion of the centre left vote to the Greens – who have quietly done well out of this initial round of campaign activity.

For Cameron Slater of Whale Oil, it’s “Funny Friday Money Hour”.

Michael Cullen worked so hard to give Labour a veneer of respectability on finacial matters and Phil Goff and David Cunliffe have a few short days destroyed that veneer utterly.

And Danyl Mclauchlan of Dim-Post tweets on John Key’s name-calling:

Drunken sailor. Monkey’s uncle. Is our Prime Minister supernaturally possessed by my third form latin teacher? #explainsalmosteverything

3.10pm: AUDIO Here’s Jane Clifton‘s take on Labour’s release today of its numbers (If the player isn’t showing, click here).

“The tragedy for Labour is that it had always planned to do its own opening of the books today,” she says. “But because they were  caught out without a good answer when Key did his “show me the money” pitch in the Christchurch Press debate, it now looks like they’re scrambling around to provide a reaction.”

2.05pm: POLICY

National has released its law and order policy – or at least the first part of it. In the words of John Key, it will “double the penalties for breaches of protection orders, fund a programme of security improvements for the homes of family violence victims and continue to improve services for victims”. More here.

Meanwhile the Greens have unveiled their conservation policy – one of their marquee offerings – centered on empowering and boosting funding for the Department of Conversation. The release. And the policy, in PDF form.

1.45pm: A reference to the poor man of the eurozone was inevitable today, and John Key obliges, saying the Labour must have done their numbers on a “Greek calculator”.

All of this is as nothing, however, compared to the big revelation of the day: Coro is going back where it belongs.


More on Labour’s big fiscal strategy release.

A Labour government would borrow $15.6bn in its first term, $2.6bn more than National’s current forecast, with borrowing peaking at $4bn more than under National’s plan.

Labour say they will return to surplus under their plan by 2014/2015, and it will clear debt in 10 years, thanks to revenue from its capital gain tax, assets (which National would partly sell) and its superannuation fund.

The Labour release and documentation can be found here.

If it’s actual spreadsheets you’re after, you can find them here in PDF form.

11.45am: The TV3 site has an early report on the Labour costings. It will take a while for the figures to be parsed and assessed. Responses and analysis in a bit, along with details on National’s law and order policy, announcement of which is imminent.

11.30am: More on the mighty spreadsheet soon. In the meantime, here’s some


A couple of bloggers are arguing the National has its own questions to ask on showing-money matters

At the Standard, Eddie says that even a layman can spot holes in National’s sums.

At Pundit, Rob Salmond has been chewing through National’s numbers.

I found $8b worth of clear errors in National’s spreadsheet [PDF]. And I’m sure I didn’t find everything there is to find. These are errors that have the effect of roughly doubling the impact of Labour’s manifesto on net debt. That isn’t much good for National’s credibility.

(See also John Pagani.)

Imperator Fish has discovered the secret to National’s economic plan: magic beans.

Danyl Mclauchlan at the Dim-Post says “Damage done”:

It really doesn’t matter if Labour’s books balance or not. When you’re opposition leader, an election campaign is a job interview to be Prime Minister, and the public are judging you on how you’ll perform under pressure, how you’ll represent when speaking for the nation, or negotiating with other national, political or business interests. If you’re not up to the job then the public doesn’t want you, no matter how well your staff follow up on your behalf.

Pundit’s Tim Watkin weighs up the poll numbers.

At Kiwiblog David Farrer pokes fun with his top 10 reasons Labour have not presented costings.

Morgan Godfrey rounds up the Week in Maori politics at Maui Street.

11.20am: Phil Goff is showing off his eagerly awaited spreadsheet. The Herald’s Claire Trevett is tweeting from the kindy (correction: from parliament, after returning from the kindy) where Goff is detailing Labour’s fiscal plan.

Goff begins his presser with “I’m not Jerry McGuire, but I am here to show you the money today.”

Goff says asset dividends, capital gains will mean an extra $19 bill by 2026 – but $2.6 bill more debt in short term under Lab.

Goff says Key’s claim of $17 bill hole in Labour’s policies is not true – will pay off debt quicker.

11.00am: POLICY

Labour will ensure ACC remains a state insurer, and impose a flat rate on employers to pay for occupational conditions such as RSI. Here’s the relevant release.

8.50am: Human-interest stories dominate the front pages of this morning’s newspapers, and humans aren’t that interested in spreadsheets. But there’s much to be found within the pages of our dead-tree friends. Here is Phil Pinner’s morning paper review.

8.20am: John Key’s YouTube video campaign diary from yesterday has so far amassed 76 views. Every vote counts.

7.55am: Don Brash is doing Breakfast. Explaining their poll results, which he accepts are poor, Brash says Act does well when National does poorly. Only the briefest of mentions of John Banks and Epsom. Brash did, though, plead with John Key not to bogart the joint to explicitly back Banks.

7.35am: Radio New Zealand Morning Report leads at 7am on Greece and Europe and the terrified G20 delegates and financial apolcalypse. Next is last night’s debate in Queenstown between Bill English and David Cunliffe, which reportedly majored on asset sales. If so, well played Cunliffe. We’ll see what others have to say about that debate in a bit.

Following a review of the week in the election, Morning Report goes to political editor Brent Edwards, who notes that the latest polls show little movement. “With three weeks to go to the election that’s particularly worrying for the Labour party,” he says.

TV One Breakfast begins with Greece, too, and on to the G20 summit. Then the health ministry ruling out a vaccination programme for Meningococcal C following the death of a student doctor in Auckland. That’s followed by the Cera issue of a demolition order for the ChristChurch cathedral (a “procedural matter”). Next is a boating accident, then the fate of the Aratere, then the fate of the Rena (boats, boats, boats).

Still waiting for a mention of the election as we go to Alan Hubbard’s widow being removed from statutory management. Pakistani cricketers jailed. The Black Caps. Basketball. Hang on, we’re into the sport. This campaign is dead to Breakfast, Dead.

The young woman filling in for Petra is so young she hasn’t heard of Bananarama. Or Rick Astley. Oh lord.

On TV3’s Firstline, Greece and the hapless Papandreou kick things off, then to the election here, focusing on the pressure on Labour over its financial plan. Fourth comes an account of an article in the NZ Medical Report criticising the New Zealand government’s “vague” and unsatisfactory action on climate change.

After the bulletin, Linda Clark reviews the week. National, she says have been pushing the perception of Labour as having a “soft underbelly when it comes to economic credibility”. She interestingly avers, too, that Paula Bennett is “not that comfortable” with the policy she released on sole mothers’ being obliged to seek work (see Tuesday).

6.55am: Good morning. Welcome to Listener Election 2011 Live, on a Friday morning in which a nation awakes shuddering from a series of strange dreams dominated by a leader of the opposition and his front-row-faced finance spokesman swimming out to the Astrolabe Reef to salvage a Commodore 64 from a stricken ketch. Or was that just me?

We’re all looking forward though – aren’t we? – to the great unveiling of Labour’s laggardly spreadsheet, with detailed costings of its plans, this morning, at about 11am, I think.

The morning bulletins soon, swiftly followed by the papers, and all the day’s developments. Jane Clifton will be on the line early afternoon with her take as the first full-blooded week of campaigning draws to a close.

Yesterday’s action here.

More by Toby Manhire

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