The Dim-Post

January 26, 2016

So just to recap . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:32 pm

The Greens proposed an independent body to properly cost political party policies, and Key vetoed it because he reckoned it would cost more than the Greens reckoned it would cost but couldn’t actually say how much it would cost.

32 Comments »

  1. What do you mean by “independent” and “properly”?

    I’m skeptical that controversy can be removed from politics quite so simply.

    Costs are forecasts based on assumptions. People will argue over the assumptions and the future often doesn’t conform to those anyway.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

  2. NeilM is channelling his inner John Key …

    Comment by gregpresland — January 26, 2016 @ 6:57 pm

  3. Neil. just imagine if someone in Treasury could say ‘actually, the Greens estimate is a bit low, but not by much,it’s in the ballpark’. Would that be better info for you than ‘John Key reckons it would cost quite a bit more than that’?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

  4. Also, the Twitterati has attacked the Greens because costing policies is, you know, so neoliberal.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — January 26, 2016 @ 7:16 pm

  5. No they haven’t Hoots, you’re being as silly as Key. Gio reacted, (but not really as you say) but other than that people are mostly laughing at Key’s response.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 7:20 pm

  6. Have the Greens given an estimate of the cost?

    Personally I think it’s up to political argues to sell their own policies. Having some part of govt acting as an arbiter doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

  7. Political parties

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

  8. “Have the Greens given an estimate of the cost?” yes.

    And the unit wouldn;t be acting as an arbiter, it would be estimating the costs of proposed policies. It’s not really much of a stretch, it’s really just a natural extention of the good ideas in the Public Finance Act.

    Why don’t we just scrap the Treasury units estimating the govt’s finances and just let the parties make up their numbers? Because that turned out to be silly as everyone was motivated to lie when it worked like that.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 7:32 pm

  9. John Key’s latitude to just make shit up could be under threat here, so obviously he needs to thwart it by making some shit up.

    Comment by Adrian — January 26, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

  10. There has been a degree of controversy over Treasury forecasts and advice.

    The proposal is for an arbiter in the sense that it would some how independent and have proper methodology. Have a problem with the costs of our policy – take up with the Treasury unit.

    Parties already cost out their policies, it’s up to them to convince the public of the reliability of that analysis.

    That’s politics, farming it out to Treasury is wishful thinking.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

  11. Matthew.. stop it..

    The Twitterati don’t exist, I know this because they told me….each one of them..

    Comment by Thingy — January 26, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

  12. I tghink you just don’t like it coz the Greens came up with it Neil.

    It seems fairly obvious to me that this would give voters some information that would be worthwhile in an area that is pretty arcane. If parties quibbled, they could judge the parties on that. But in general I think it would remove much of the silliness and give voters a non partisan, ok, ‘arbiter’, on some of the matters many get confused by.

    Would it remove all politics? No but no one is claiming it would, the claim is that would remove some of the silliness, and be valuable information.

    So Do you think the public is generally capable of costing policies themselves?

    Do you think the public would have more faith in Treasury doing costings in a nonpartisan manner, than they would in the parties’ estimates of their own policies?

    Yes/no for each please.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 7:58 pm

  13. Answer honestly please. Do you think you could reliably analyse a PWC report on a political party’s manifesto costings to see what they missed or what have you? If not, then how do you judge the reliablity of the analysis, which is a thing you claim voters should do.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 8:01 pm

  14. Even DPF likes it

    ‘Sounds a very good idea to me. An NZ equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office.”

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 8:06 pm

  15. Do you think the public would have more faith in Treasury doing costings in a nonpartisan manner, than they would in the parties’ estimates of their own policies?

    I can’t speak on behalf of the public but personally I probably might agree sometimes and disagree sometimes with Treasury conclusions.

    How does one judge the reliability of Treasury analysis?

    I don’t think many political issues can be formulated as a straight forward cost benefit trade off in an unambiguous, non- controversial manner.

    And even if they could I doubt there would be political consensus enough on just who would be independent and what methods they would implement that could be objectively “proper” enough not to lead to the political squabbling it’s meant to avoid.

    If that were possible then we wouldn’t have politics. But I don’t think we enough philosopher kings.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

  16. Could you provide a link for the Green proposal? I don’t understand what they are actually proposing, how much they said it would cost, or why….

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 26, 2016 @ 8:26 pm

  17. So do i take it from that Neil, that you do your own costings of policies?

    But anyway, the question was which would you have more faith in, if you wanted to not spend a few days hunting down all the data to do your costings? I’m not asking if you would have absolute faith.’More faith’. Would you find a nonpartisan source helpful (not decisive)?

    Treasury, or the Party?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 26, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

  18. I’m not sure if the CBO is any different from our Treasury but if its job is to

    …take the argument about $$ out of the dominant debate, leaving the rationale instead.

    as the Greens would hope, then it hasn’t exactly been that successful.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

  19. Would you find a nonpartisan source helpful (not decisive)?

    I may or may not depending on the issue and circumstances. But going from the quote from Turei above, the expectation is such a unit would go much further than being helpful but would alter political discourse.

    I’m not convinced about that.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 8:46 pm

  20. Australians never waste an opportunity to celebrate themselves.

    They have a fireworks display every time there’s a wave at Bondi.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 10:05 pm

  21. Yes, well, maybe a kind person could put it in the right tread.

    Comment by NeilM — January 26, 2016 @ 10:14 pm

  22. Thank you for clarifying that, Neil.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 26, 2016 @ 10:49 pm

  23. The problem I have with it is it assumes the Treasury is an apolitical bunch of technocrats who never cost something with a political outcome in mind. In fact, we all know Treasury is the high temple for the priesthood of neoliberalism. The Greens assumption that all policies would get a fair costing is either stupidly naive, or evidence of a party that under James Shaw is happy to embrace the current consensus in return for a comfy limo our three. Either one is a scary thought.

    Comment by Sanctary — January 26, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

  24. I think this is a superb strategy. It throws a sop to those who are anti-national because it appears to promote the ‘You can;t trust John Key’ narrative, but would actually damage Labour, which is traditionally more ‘spendthrift’ in the public perception – hence positioning teh Green Party as a ‘responsible’ ‘conservative’ and capable co-cabinet in waiting. National will love this idea.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 27, 2016 @ 6:58 am

  25. National will love this idea.

    That explains why John Key said at his post-Cabinet Press Conference “I don’t think it it’s a terribly good idea”, as Danyl intimated in his original post.

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 27, 2016 @ 8:05 am

  26. In the past few years Treasury advice has mostly been a weapon deployed against the Nats, ie that English’s capital gains tax wouldn’t be effective, that they’re not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or reduce child poverty etc. so they’re ‘neo liberals’ that want to tax the wealthy and redistribute it and prevent climate change. So whatever. Still, I’m glad Gio et al found something to be outraged about on Twitter. Otherwise what would they have done all day?

    Comment by danylmc — January 27, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  27. I may or may not depending on the issue and circumstances.

    NeilM – I bet you can’t walk past a fence without taking a load off!

    Comment by Gregor W — January 27, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  28. “Still, I’m glad Gio et al found something to be outraged about on Twitter. Otherwise what would they have done all day?”

    Maybe go a bit easy on the ad hominems, Danyl?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — January 27, 2016 @ 10:00 am

  29. In the past few years Treasury advice has mostly been a weapon deployed against the Nats, ie that English’s capital gains tax wouldn’t be effective.

    They’ll start charging for OIAs soon, don’t you worry!

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — January 27, 2016 @ 10:05 am

  30. Michael Reddell on the policy:
    http://croakingcassandra.com/2016/01/27/an-independent-policy-costings-unit/

    Comment by MeToo — January 27, 2016 @ 11:14 am

  31. Yes Flashing – I’m aware of what the post stated. But I also believe that Stephen Joyce, PM in-waiting and famous National sock-puppet David Farrar thought it should be explored

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 27, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

  32. Probably a bloody good thing Key turned it down. I mean, have the Treasury, that impartial and broad minded department (not) cost and disapprove of opposition party policies?

    I’m not surprised that Farrar likes it – in general, if the right like something, it’s a bad idea.

    Comment by richdrich — February 1, 2016 @ 3:50 pm


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