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Bill English’s first surplus will be his last

On Wednesday it is almost certain the Government will announce a surplus for the last financial year – when it was at the peak of the economic cycle – but will be on course to break its promise for surpluses in the years ahead, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“It would have been inconceivable for National to post a deficit at a time when people were calling the economy a rock star. That they only just managed to scrape together a surplus at all is poor financial management.

“In the last Budget Bill English promised surpluses over the next three years but with economic growth flattening out and major industries like dairy struggling, this year’s books and the years after will be in the red.

“National’s financial management will go down in history as one small surplus out of nine Budget deficits. At the top of the economic cycle New Zealanders would rightly expect the Government to post a surplus, especially with the dairy payout double its current forecast

“At the peak of the cycle the previous Labour Government was able to post a surplus of $7 billion and ran surpluses every year. National likes to say it’s the party of economic credibility but on the surplus score it’s 9-1 to Labour over the last two governments.

“Bill English did everything he could to reach a surplus last year by pushing a large amount of spending out into later years. Delays in the Canterbury rebuild and overcharging for ACC are just two examples of money that should have been spent last year but were put off in the interests of a surplus.

“John Key and Bill English might want to pop the champagne corks for finally getting a surplus but in the absence of a plan for regional economic growth, decent work and higher wages it will feel pretty flat for most New Zealanders,” Grant Robertson says.