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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all of his statements and policies?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes, in the context they were made and delivered, including my statement welcoming the Opposition’s stated policy of “moving away from the non-specific ‘do you stand by all your Government’s policies and statements’ questions.”, and my later statement at 11 a.m. this morning expressing regret that the member missed the memo.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he stand by his response to my question on Tuesday, which asked how much additional spending he had so far planned to announce before the general election in September, “As the member knows, the Government has been very flexible all the way through our response to ensure we meet need as it arises, but I don’t have any specific plans in that regard.”?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I stand by all of the statements I made in that answer, and I think the member’s impression wasn’t too bad just then.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How did he not have any specific plans for new spending on Tuesday and then have his Government announce $400 million of new spending on Wednesday?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The basis of that spending was in the Budget and the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund announcements we made.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why can’t he give a straight answer to the question of how much additional spending he has planned to announce before the election when he clearly has large spending announcements planned for virtually every day?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I do find it difficult to give straight answers—sometimes, anyway—for obvious reasons. Only you and I are getting this joke, Mr Speaker, but it’s good that the two of us are sharing it anyway. We’ve been very clear that we’ve announced $30 billion worth of spending from the response and recovery fund. The remaining $20 billion is available for spending as necessary. It doesn’t mean it won’t be spent, but it doesn’t mean that all of it will be spent either.

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: Does he think he can just dismiss questions about his intentions for billions of dollars of spending?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, and I haven’t.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can he assure New Zealanders that he’ll keep a substantial part of the $20 billion spare from the COVID fund as a contingency in the case of a later outbreak?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I, in fact, talked exactly about that when I announced it on Budget day. I note that the member and his party have already tried to spend about $10 billion of it in the last two weeks.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How long is he planning to keep up his average of announcing $200 million of new spending a day since the Budget, and how does he think New Zealand will pay for it?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I would have to go back and look at the figures that the member has just put forward there. What we have done throughout the last 2½ months or so is what New Zealanders wanted us to do, which is cushioned the blow of this virus on both our economy and our society, and we will keep doing that.