Grant Robertson Spends Up Large – On The Establishment!


I’VE BEEN WATCHING The Crown on Netflix. The fifth episode in the latest series, “Coup” exposes the 1968 plot hatched by furious members of the British Establishment to overthrow the Labour Government of Harold Wilson. The plotters included not only the pugnacious media-mogul, Cecil King, but also the Queen’s second cousin (and recently laid-off head of the UK armed forces) Lord Louis Mountbatten. Obviously, the planned coup never eventuated. I mention it only because the drama provides a forceful reminder of how the Establishment responds to genuinely democratic-socialist Labour governments.

I think it’s safe to say that after Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s announcement of the Government’s proposed infrastructure spend-up, the New Zealand Establishment will be plotting nothing more dangerous that inviting the Minister to celebratory end-of-year drinks. Out of the $12 billion Robertson has set aside for infrastructure investment, $8 billion will be allocated to specific projects, with the balance of $4 billion held in reserve. That the Establishment feels able to relax is attributable to the fact that 85 percent of that $8 billion is to be spent on “transport projects” – by which, of course, Robertson and his colleagues mean “roads”.

Oh, sure, Robertson’s media release refers to roads and rail, but unless something profoundly “transformative” has occurred within the present Cabinet, the amount spent on New Zealand’s publicly owned railway network is unlikely to represent even a sixth of that $6.8 billion. Which means that this Government, supposedly committed to purposeful action against Climate Change, is proposing to spend billions and billions of dollars on making our roads safe for the road haulage industry’s heavy trucks and the middle-class’s gas-guzzling SUVs. The Establishment doesn’t organise coups against Labour ministers who do it favours like that – it nominates them for knighthoods!

Robertson’s announcement comes after months of just about every major banker and businessperson, every mainstream economic and political commentator, earnestly begging the Finance Minister to take advantage of the unprecedentedly low cost of borrowing to fiscally stimulate New Zealand’s sclerotic economy. I suppose we’re obliged to congratulate Robertson for his discipline. A less cautious politician would have taken the  policy initiative – along with the consequent kudos. But not Robertson. Determined that only good headlines would greet his final determinations, he waited until the pressure for some sort of major fiscal intervention became irresistible. Unsurprisingly, media criticism has been … muted.

But, if Robertson’s caution is bad, then the Greens’ response to his announcement is just plain sad. To be clear, their transport champion, Julie Anne Genter, has been humiliated. The road transport lobby has effortlessly outmanoeuvred whatever policy wonks she’s had pitching the case for rail. The tires on the wheels of the big rigs chewing up our roads are all humming “Hallelujah!”

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But, are the Greens’ outraged? Are they cutting-up rough? Not soze you’d notice. How’s this for a media release?

“The Greens in Government have today won a significant investment to help move the public sector estate onto clean, renewable energy, Green Party Co-leader, James Shaw, said today.”

Seriously? Yes, seriously. And, it gets worse:

“As part of the Government’s capital investment package announced today, the Government will support the public sector to reduce its carbon footprint through an infrastructure spend of $200 million.”

Oh, wow! Really, James! A whole $200 million! So the Public Service can buy a few more Prius cars? How can we ever express our gratitude? A Labour-led government, with $12 billion to spend, allocates a breath-taking $200 million to making the Zero Carbon Act mean something. Are we supposed to be grateful? What would Greta say?

And Metiria – what would she say? Twelve additional billions of dollars to spend and from what’s been released today it would appear that not one cent of it is to be spent on beneficiaries. Never mind the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. Never mind that the Job Seekers Allowance is simply too meagre to live on without falling deeper and deeper into debt. Never mind that pouring money into the pockets of our poorest citizens is the fastest and most effective way of delivering our economy a much-needed shot of adrenaline. No, never mind all that. Finance Minister Robertson and Social Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni have no intention of upsetting the Establishment by giving beneficiaries anything remotely resembling a Christmas present.

So much for our “transformational” government: our Prime Minister’s “politics of kindness”. The saddest part of this very sad story isn’t just its courage and compassion deficit; or even its complete failure to register the scale of the opportunity that’s been lost. No, the saddest aspect of this disgraceful announcement is that young people will receive it as the best the Left can do. It’s not, kids. Truly. Genuine Labour governments, genuine Labour Prime Ministers, have done way better than this. If you don’t believe me, then take a few minutes to watch this. 

Before concluding, however, I’d like to leave you with this quote. Appropriately, given the way this post began, it’s about Harold Wilson. What he stood for and why, eventually, the Establishment was successful in driving him out of office. (The quote itself is from Smear! Wilson & the Secret State by Stephen Dorril & Robin Ramsay. Published in Great Britain in 1991 by Fourth Estate Limited.)

“Wilson embodied the radical end of the wartime social contract, which not only saw that a dynamic mixed economy demanded a producers’ alliance, but also saw that such an alliance could not succeed with an ascendant City of London. The extraordinary hatred that Wilson provoked on the British right was not irrational: Wilson was a serious threat; he knew who the ‘enemy within’ actually was. And they knew he knew; ‘they’ – the banker in the City with the elder brother in MI6 and a cousin in the Army – ‘they’ knew that Wilson, virtually alone among Labour leaders of his generation, had pulled aside the wisps of mystification which hid the British Establishment and seen the power of finance capital at its heart.”

If Grant Robertson and his colleagues ever followed the financial sector’s twisting labyrinth to the Capitalist Minotaur’s hidden lair, it wouldn’t be to slay him, but only to slap him on the back, shake him by his bloody hand, and invite him to the Treasury’s next cocktail party.




  1. Agreed Chris, the country’s lower classes can’t eat roads or improve their health and situation with this lolly scramble / hot air vent. Grant will no doubt eat well this summer

  2. ( As I’ve written before ad nauseam. )
    I know a little. But that little that I know is eclipsed by that which I don’t know. So bear with…
    I was forced, by circumstance, to leave St Peters College the day my odometer clicked over to fifteen years old. I was just a kid. No kid should ever be forced to leave their childhood behind. That, is the responsibility of the child to achieve and that moment is a lay point to becoming an adult. One should never rush these things.
    And I would argue that it was at that point that my education began and I’ve never stopped learning. I’m aiming to learn something new and enlightening on my death bed just so as I can bore some pour soul with it in the after life.
    This is what I’ve learned.
    The problem grant robertson has, in regard to his role as finance minister, is that he’s jammed into a corner and he’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t.
    He’s jammed into a corner by past criminals and swindlers who’ve deliberately tanked our society and our economy to hide [their] stealing’s and now? As our biosphere heats up, gee,thanks C02, our economy will too heat up because of the demand for foods etc and will deliver $-amounts of money that were always there but was never allowed to show up on the books because that’d lead to questions and that’d lead to answers and our criminal class would be done for.
    It could be argued in some quarters that our criminal class are now too big to fail.
    Well, isn’t that what all narcissistic criminals would want us to believe of their awesome selves?
    I would invite anyone to drive between, say, Invercargill/Dunedin/Alexandra/Queenstown/Christchurch/Timaru/Fairlie etc etc ( Apols to the Nth Island. I don’t know you very well. ) and see the skeleton of our rail infrastructure. Now, no more than what look like river embankments with gaps now and then where there were once rail bridges.
    What happened? Who deliberately sabotaged a world class rail infrastructure into our agrarian primary industry? Pig Muldoon was a prime suspect. He trumpeted how he was the farmers best mate while he thought Big and pulled up rail to our primary industry’s front door.
    It’s thanks to Kiwi-As crooks that our government has to work very, very hard to hide just how wealthy AO/NZ is lest it leads to uncomfortable questions of past and present politicians and their private sector mates.
    The trucking industry? The power companies? The LTNZ? AIR NZ? The Big Four Banksters? The fishing industry? The Forestry Industry?
    They’re Mafia. They are our very own Mafia with a couple of important differences.
    Our mafia make far more money than the traditional mafia and they have us rendered so powerless we only acquiesce as if in a trance to lie down in the gutters, beaten, spent and defeated believing that we are unworthy because that’s what They tell us to believe.
    While we have homelessness and child poverty with $12 billion to spend why is grant robertson not running while screaming?
    If he argues he’s saving up for hard times? He’s lying.
    What he really means is he’s saving up OUR money to pay out the foreign banksters when the myth that is our borrowed-funds, property-speculation, money-laundering swindle goes tits up.
    It has NOTHING to do with our financial safety and security. It never has done.

    • And i cant forgive or forgive the dereliction of the northern rail system. We have lost, all over NZ, passenger and freight SERVICE.

  3. A Labour-led government is not a “genuine Labour government”.
    Still needs agreement from it’s coalition partner(s) to get legislation across the line, be it anti-establishment in nature or whatever.

  4. If they keep this sort of crap up, i am beginning to see very little difference between them and the nasty nats.
    That being the case, i will vote or not vote accordingly.

    • @ GAP
      There is hardly any difference in policy between the Natz and Labour, they are both pro trade before sovereignty, both self interestedly pro lazy immigration so they can both pretend we are a rock star economy (while making it worse when the Ponzi pops because there will be more damages to more people and the public coffers), more interested in business and banks than society going forward and being more interested in bad Trade deals to pretend they work, so they keep our exports going strong than bothering to create a robust economy of high value goods from NZ (and for NZ business not the increased overseas owned NZ based NZ business) that can compete with the world…

      The key differences between labour and the Natz are:

      Natz will, reduce and make it harder for beneficiaries, in particular vulnerable ones

      Make the environment worse and pollution higher

      Turn a blind eye and encourage nepotism, corruption and kleptocracy.

      ‘Reform’ public services by saving money on things like
      Break the Silence: Government axes $800,000 Lifeline contract

      Add more cars and trucks to the roads for the road transport lobby group.

  5. Political slogans…

    Labour proudly supporting Construction before Community.

    Thanks for Banks, now obligatory at the start of all prayers in parliament.

    Followed by policy supported by

    National for Nepotism.

  6. Not quite at Animal farm yet, but going in a similar direction from Nat Lite, to Nat Friendly on TPPA, globalism, trade before sovereign territory, pro immigration to reduce labour costs for industry and lazily prop up the economy so less noticeable as wages and jobs decline….

    From Wiki

    ‘Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945.[1][2] The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, however, the rebellion is betrayed and the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.”

    “The Seven Commandments are abridged to just one phrase: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” and the maxim “Four legs good, two legs bad.” is changed to “Four legs good, two legs better.” Napoleon holds a dinner party for the pigs and local farmers, with whom he celebrates a new alliance. He abolishes the practice of the revolutionary traditions and restores the name “The Manor Farm”. The men and pigs start playing cards, flattering and praising each other while cheating at the game. Both Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington, one of the farmers, play the Ace of Spades at the same time and both sides begin fighting loudly over who cheated first. When the animals outside look at the pigs and men, they can no longer distinguish between the two.”

  7. You have failed to factor in the sheer incompetence of Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

    Robertson can promise road building until the cows come home, his idiot transport minister on the other hand has proven spectacularly incapable of delivering a single promise from the last election or anybody his own announcements much less finding his own shoe laces.

    And just once maybe, Phil’s uselessness may just work for us.

  8. Well said Cris in NZ just like any other capitalist society just do as they say on wall street a follow the money and where it leads will be to the biggest player in the market which is the oil companies and there klingons the auto industry and the road transport lobby with the highest per capita car ownership in the world what A market they have created and of course state sponsored oh to be saudi oil sheik with labour in power if and of course try finding out who pays for the parking of all this transport thats another bit of KIWI financial wizardry
    the whole 19000 hecs of it

  9. Good take Xray but Phil is a sly fox as he uses words to fool national according to the reply he gave to Chris bishop today.

    Chris take a bloody breath will you, and read our press release sent to government today.”But in signing off;

    I agree with you that the quote; “Who deliberately sabotaged a world class rail infrastructure” it was the trucking lobby of course and funded by truck builders and oil companies.

    Lastly the trucking lobby is so powerful now and they need to be broken up.

    We hope this government has the balls to finally do this urgently!!!!!

    Here is our press release to Government today so enjoy it and send it any where you want.

    Merry Xmas.

    CEAC – climate change issues for rail transport plans
    Thursday, 12 December 2019, 9:11 am
    Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
    Climate change crisis; – “transport emissions are a major culprit causing horrendous weather events.”
    At CEAC; we will watch with interest of how the transport funds will be used to improve our transport infrastructure and lower our climate change emissions.

    CEAC- climate change issues for rail transport plans.
    “The lion’s share of that $8 billion – $6.8 billion of the new spending – will be spent on transport projects with a “significant proportion” of that to be spent on roads and rail.”
    How do we stop climate change affects in NZ?
    The shock of an alarming release of the report at the Climate Change conference in Madrid COPs 25 last week on the discovery loss of widespread ocean oxygen linked to climate change was yet another watershed moment that we must now take seriously as dire for our future survival. – Look up (IOD) “Indian Ocean Dipole”
    Why hasn’t our Government ‘spending policy’ been focused on a solid “climate change” policy?
    Our preferred policy for the reasons for spending quote;
    “$6.8 billion of the new spending – will be spent on transport projects with a “significant proportion” of that to be spent on roads and rail.”
    CEAC says; “regarding climate change emissions we consider;
    Our response to the *headline above; – Yes to rail, – and no to roads.
    • Giving public subsidies to ‘private road freight’, will only encourage an increase massive greenhouse emissions.
    • This increase of truck freight will only make climate change more unstable.
    • While investing in ‘public owned rail’ will help stabilise our unstable climate going forward.
    • A common sense policy.
    CEAC has always advocated to Government for our land transport to return again to using rail as our prime mover ‘of people and freight’ around our country as was the case 40yrs ago before the 1980’s.
    With rail we have no serious ‘climate change transport emissions to deal with’.
    Also – “the elephant in the room now is tyre ‘micro-plastic’ emissions”.
    Tyre dust pollution is now globally considered as a ‘micro-plastics pandemic’, and is seen as the worst enemy causing climate change in the articles below.
    These two documents below provide the evidence to show about “road dust from tyres is an overlooked pollutant of our environment and waterways.
    Tyre dust is micro-plastics.
    • If the world is to limit the effects of global warming, drastic changes must be made and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report Executive Summary.
    • All must be taken seriously now along with; “Comparison of Tire and Road Wear Particle Concentrations in Sediment for Watersheds in France, Japan, and the United States by Quantitative Pyrolysis GC/MS Analysis” report on sediments for watersheds.
    QUOTE: “Comparison of Tire and Road Wear Particle Concentrations in Sediment for Watersheds in France, Japan, and the United States by Quantitative Pyrolysis GC/MS Analysis
    So less ‘transport micro-plastic dust’ is considered as a major plus – and only ‘steel wheels on a steel track’ will do the job to deal with Climate change.
    So if we lower the micro-plastics and climate change emissions in our environment we will make our lives and environment healthy again.
    So we advocate that our Government use the $6.8 Billion dollars to restore rail again to become the ‘prime mover of NZ’s freight and passenger service again.

  10. Turning the tide.

    Speaking in terms of civilized adaptation the status quo will only change if there is a radical ecological and social platform to the left of the present party structure.

    Still, both Labour and Greens do not experience sufficiently organized creative dissatisfaction (or inspirational support, pending on how one wants to see it).

    The share in the population supportive to socioeconomic and environmental ‘change now’ is much larger than anticipated by classical political fortune telling. A mounting share.

    One day the whole matter implodes ….. still remember Gorbachev? The ill-preparedness of the Left for things to come was a main reason for the global neo-liberal triumphal march.

    Transformational change – effective short steps whilst going for the impact of the long haul. The practical use of the 12 billion NZD must be put in this context.

    The calls on expected deliverables are consistent, clear and well evidenced by different disciplines of science (…..and spirituality).

    System Change. Now.

    Roger Waters.

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