GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Grant Robertson is delivering a $3.5 Billion surplus but there is ” no more money for teachers” says the Minister of Education.


We have the third lowest government debt in the OECD yet Greens co-leader James Shaw advocated the “Fiscal Responsibility” rules both parties signed which pushes already low government debt even lower, while private debt ( I’m talking things like tertiary education debt, household debt credit card debt that kind of thing ) is sky rocketting.

No attempt to close the untaxed wealth loopholes while we continue to tax food ! Something which affects low income families the most.

For all its PR words of “wellbeing” this is a business as usual budget that does nothing to increase the amount of public money for the good of all by making wealthy individuals and companies pay a fairer share of their wealth to the society that allows them to become rich.

(Because you cannot get rich on your own – you need to live in a sociey to do that.)

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In short you cannot have ” the politics of kindness” and try to fund it with the economics of selfishness.

That’s why I organised The People’s Budget last Friday.

I asembled some of the sharpest minds in the country and frontline workers to give you the alternative view of how to really run socialy meaningful budget . A view you are not hearing in parliament .

Why? Because they don’t want to upset the wealthy.

What’s wealthy ?

Well the base salary of an MP is $160,024 is more than twice the average salary.

I haven’t done the count recently but in 2017 Stuff reported that “116 of our MPs own or had an interest in 302 properties and more than three quarters boast a portfolio of anywhere between two and 12 properties.”

I’d say that if you own more than once house and you earn double the average salary you should be contributing a hell of a lot more to the “well being ” of the society you are privileged to live in.

You can find The People’s Budget event here:

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. It might actually be a $5B surplus for the year.

    An extra billion or two. Of course that does not translate to the extra money also being available in the following year.

    But it is easily sufficient to cover a write-off of tertiary debt held by teachers. That involves

    1. collecting no more debt repayment by teachers while they work as teachers in New Zealand
    2. writing down the debt 10% per annum while they work.

    Incentivising them to remain in teaching here.

    • Easier than that . Just restore parity between a teacher at the top of the basic scale and a backbench MP. Teachers put up with, accepted, derisory increases less than the cost of living or inflation over many years, while MPs had their salaries automatically adjusted by the higher salaries commission without a murmur. And the NZEI and the PPTA need to own their part in this. Go teachers. Stick to your guns – and put the unions on notice as well.

  2. I wonder how many Bunnings flat pack houses, or factory built small homes that can be moved by truck could be built for a few hundred million dollars – for emergency housing.

  3. We have so many idealists from pre ’84 like you, Bryan. What happens after you lot? The people who ignored their childhood principles outnumber ‘us’ 10 to 1 as it is. Look at those who delivered us to the feet of the rich for example. They bore an inappropriate name.

  4. I think Robertson might be on to something. Is he looking at the end game?
    I don’t know what that means even though I wrote it.
    ‘End game’ ?? What is an ‘ end game’ ? An American – ism?
    Is robertson looking way beyond the current petty politics? Where we see a scant few homeless and wayward kids born of poverty? Bit of a dip in property values?
    What he sees, instead, is the frightening and terrifying view of the End of Times, as christian God botherers spout out between bouts of hypocrisy.
    If the end of civilisation is due in about 31 years? Then don’t you think a whole new approach is necessary? A new kind of panic? A whole new way to shriek?
    Baton down the hatches? Bolster the ramparts? Throw out the virgins and while they’re being ravaged? We make good our escape? Read the news? It’ a thing.
    This time, however, it’d be for real for us.
    I get this sinking feeling, that those of us who are well used to expecting the worst, will get to see worse still.
    That, is what Robertson sees too. I bet.
    Almost 8 billion people are soon to be trying to survive on a dying planet.
    Pull up a chair. It’s going to be quite the show.

    • “That, is what Robertson sees too. I bet. ” Some words of wisdom in there, Countryboy.

      “Then don’t you think a whole new approach is necessary? A new kind of panic? ” More wise words – I think Robert Frost has said this too, I’ll read him in bed tonight – and a lot of the poor damned WW1 poets mused on these things.

      But do not underestimate Robertson or any neolib whose God is Mammon. Do not be surprised if they announce that children are to be subjected to online learning – at home – or robots – as part of the our dehumanising – which I first identified when Telecom started flogging call centre systems in lieu of humans at counters, but I was a bit slow on the uptake there.

      Only a fool would argue that our children do not deserve to have good teachers, and Grant Robertson can’t be that big a fool – or can he ? More than ever, all our kids need to be acquiring skills and knowledge, and learning to process it, and to problem solve,
      and what’s to stop the current govt reversing National’s tax cuts to the rich ? Only themselves.

      As in everything, it is the children of the poor who miss out again, and again, and again.

  5. Perhaps the private sector is spending beyond its means and Robertson needs a surplus to offset that. However I’m only guessing.

    • So what, Bert ? Labour’s on a roll and can carry this. Nat’s won’t gain much traction by objecting to teachers being better paid. I think it would have generic public support.

      Grant needs to put his thinking cap on here and decide whether he represents all NZ’ers, or not. A glorious spree would be totally glorious – Simon would bleat, but everyone’s so used to Simon bleating now that Simon is losing his efficacy – or would be if he had any.

      Don’t worry about the Greens – if they were centipedes they’d still be shooting themselves in all of their feet – they do that well, and have left people like me now party-less.

  6. The lesson of the Clark govt is not to present a target at elections. As reiterated at the Australian election. Realism. In the immediate (3years).

    Can our ultimate/medium term/ pretty damn soon needs be met in that framework?

    Shall we continue to rely on the wisdom of focus groups rather than the unwieldy, unbalanced fury of idealists? Yes, the cost of the latter must always be assessed as a possible 40 years in the wilderness. So not the present leaders.

    But we’re not immune to the sudden Trumpian subjective as objective 180 degree switcheroo. Don Brash nearly pulled it off a version of it in 2005. And we and the 1930s Germans always prefer a finger-click nice simplicity to a difficult to understand … reality.

    Time haint endless. And now is as much the best moment as ever, Jacinda and Grant. Whoever you think you are you can try to become the people we need. And that will be good enough.

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