A budget for the ‘squeezed middle’ – but will it be the political circuit-breaker Labour wants?
A group of academic experts, including University of Canterbury Director Business Taught Masters Programme Stephen Hickson, provide their opinions on the latest Government budget for The Conversation.
First, Labour needs this budget to do an immediate job – address concern with the cost of living. Following two years of pandemic-dominated politics, Robertson had to tell a compelling story about his plans for tackling mounting fuel, food and other prices.
Reminding people that some of this is beyond the government’s control is not a winning strategy. Handing out something tangible was imperative today – hence a NZ$1 billion cost-of-living package, including a one-off $350 cash payment for some 2.1 million low- and middle-income earners, and extended public transport subsidies and fuel excise cuts.
But the government also wants a reset in its head-to-head with a resurgent National Party. Many voters have moved on from the pre-Omicron phases of the pandemic. And with a genuine contest looming at next year’s election, Labour and the Greens will be hoping today’s announcements serve as a political circuit-breaker.
Some of the big-ticket items – chiefly the health reforms and Emissions Reduction Plan – speak to the longer term. We can imagine the government will be closely watching the Australian federal election this weekend to see how much climate policy influences voters’ choices.