As the Budget approaches, just two weeks away, we can expect the normal round of "pre-budget announcements" from Ministers. And true to form, Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen made his announcement to the Chartered Accountants Institute yesterday where he said voters need not expect to have money thrown at them saying "the truth is, tax cuts cannot be huge".
So, the truth is out. I'm sure Cullen's words were delivered through gritted teeth given his long-standing reluctance to reduce the tax burden on all New Zealanders, especially those who get no relief from Working for Families. The Herald also notes:
"Nor would polls scare him into spending up large, despite media commentators arguing a decent Budget was one of Labour's last chances for a boost in support.
"We will not buy into media spin that a big-bang Budget is vital to electoral success when delivering such a Budget would be a recipe for economic failure."
He said the lack of tax cuts in previous years had funded policies dear to Labour's heart, such as paying off debt, Working for Families, increasing pensions, a stronger benefit system and investing in government services such as health. It had also enabled the country to better withstand the current global economic pressures."
So if the lack of tax cuts in previous years was to fund the above, where does Cullen's $665m train-set fit in? New Zealanders are well-aware of Cullen's idealogical objection to tax cuts - why doesn't he just come out and admit it?