John Armstrong writes:
It being election year, Phil Goff has decided to hold a press conference every Monday to counter the Prime Minister’s use of his weekly media briefing to set the political agenda. Yesterday’s first effort was hardly an unqualified success.
Instead of setting the agenda, Goff found it being set for him by the media. The questions had a recurring theme – where is the money coming from to fund Labour’s seemingly ever-expanding list of promises.
I am amazed that Labour has embarked on this strategy to dent its credibility. At a time when deficits and debt are so high, you can’t just announce spending plans with no way to pay for them.
Goff’s reluctance to provide detail beyond saying Labour would ditch some projects – such as the scheduled $875 million missile upgrade for the navy’s frigates – turned the 18-minute press conference into the media equivalent of shooting a rather large fish in a relatively small barrel.
Having got rid of any offensive capability for the Air Force, it seems they want to do the same for the Navy. Regardless the $875m is a one off capital cost – these upgrades probably happen every 30 years or so. You can’t fund much operational expenditure from delaying a capital upgrade.
One example suffices. Goff gave a “heads up” on families from today having to pay an extra $25 to $35 a week in early childhood education fees, something he described as a “tragedy” for childhood learning.
So would Labour restore funding to previous levels? Goff confirmed it was a “priority”. Almost in the same breath, though, he said that would happen as spare revenue “becomes available”. Given other priorities, Labour would not be able to restore those previous levels in its first Budget.
That begged the question of when is a priority really a priority or when is a priority just something on a long list of things a new Labour Government would want to do if it had the money.
I think John has absolutely analysed it correctly – a priority means “would like to do it if we could”
Unwilling to say exactly where the money would come from, Goff sounds like someone who not only thinks he can have his cake, but also eat more of it than exists.
Labour faces a conundrum. It has no choice but to say where it stands to have any hope of jolting the polls. Goff’s reluctance to say how Labour will pay for it all is fast turning a question of credibility into a credibility problem.
There’s a reason we refer to it as Goofynomics. It s lacking in credibility.