David’s slingshot misfires

That David Cunliffe feller thought he was on to something in Parliament yesterday, banging on about Treasury’s advice to our Bill English not to remove the research and development tax credit, remove the $700 million Fast Forward Fund, or reduce KiwiSaver contributions.

And yep, it’s true that Treasury gave advice to keep the research and development tax credit, to maintain the Fast Forward Fund in the form proposed by the previous Government, and to make no changes to KiwiSaver.

But we Nats had prepared our policy positions long before the election.

Among them: we would remove the research and development tax credit, remove the Fast Forward Fund, and change KiwiSaver contributions.

Voters knew what we would do when they voted for us. Overwhelmingly.

Now we are doing what they voted for us to do.

If we dumped our policy planks on the advice (always open to challenge) of a bunch of bureaucrats in the Treasury, Cunliffe would be the first to kick us around for breaking promises.

But the real purpose of the great lug Cunliffe’s parliamentary question yesterday was to accuse Bill of trying to stall the release of the Treasury advice.

He demanded: Why did the Minister suppress the Treasury briefing that was critical of these moves, and release it at a time designed to minimise public awareness?

And he got his comeuppance.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Labour Party complaining about compliance with the Official Information Act is like Jack the Ripper complaining about community violence.

Bill proceeded to enlighten us all on the matter of Treasury advice to finance Ministers…

The Treasury advice is, as always, mixed. Some we agree with, some we disagree with. Treasury has given us other advice, such as the need for extensive review of the Resource Management Act, which the Government has followed, and a Resource Management Act Amendment Bill will be in Parliament within a few weeks. Treasury has also given us the advice that the performance of the Public Service needs to be improved significantly, and I would agree with that. After 10 years of bullying and manipulation, it can do a lot better and we will make sure it does.

Cunliffe is a persistent bugger, of course. But he couldn’t get past English’s admirable straight bat.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Why did the Minister not have fortitude equal to that of the previous Minister of Finance and release the Treasury briefing at the same time as other briefings to incoming Ministers were released?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Treasury briefing to the incoming Government has been released. There are absolutely no secrets in it, and I am surprised that in the context of the most significant economic recession in 90 years, this is what the Labour Party is focused on.

Alf isn’t surprised.

Labour’s failure to focus on things that matter is why we Nats are in government (aided and abetted by ACT and the Maori Party).

In the memorable words in 2005 of an unmemorable Minister of Finance – anyone remember who he was? – “We won, you lost, eat that…”

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