Thursday 20 May 2021

Do less, well.

Budget day's today; I'll be in the lock-up after 10. 

The best pre-budget take I've seen thus far is from Harman at Politik, or at least I hope he's right.

The Government has run out of bureaucratic capacity to undertake any more substantial reforms. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson conceded this yesterday and suggested it would influence the Budget on Thursday. 

In other words, the Budget is unlikely to contain any new broad initiatives.

The public sector has had a lot of crazy stuff thrown at it over the past few years, and not just because of Covid. Things like massive tax shifts on investment properties that weren't well-canvassed with the bureaus before being launched. A complete restructuring of the health system in the middle of a pandemic. An immigration system that's falling apart. Series of absolutely absurd spending initiatives in minor climate change things that will do not a lick of good because they're covered by the ETS's binding cap, but will require bureaucratic time and effort to sort out. 

And more:

But what is likely to be missing on Thursday will be a big new initiative in any policy area. 

And that is because the “big” departments are already flat out on a number of major reforms — the Resource Management Act replacements; the Freshwater reforms; the response to the Climate Change  Commission; the Health reforms; the Immigration review; three waters reforms; the local government review and the future of work as well as big changes in education.  

“Along with the focus on our three core areas of housing affordability, climate change and child wellbeing, we have a complete overhaul of the health system, a complete overhaul of our planning laws and a complete overhaul of the way we manage water,” said Robertson.

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly. 

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