The public are owed transparency

As expected Trevor Mallard has attacked Westpac’s analysis as “extremist and scaremongering”. Never mind that every economist in NZ would disagree with Trevor that interest rates do not affect borrowing. I mean it is like saying wage rates do not affect employment. Mad!

Now Labour’s have said a definite costing is not possible because it is hard to predict what students will do. This is again simply not the case. The Government has a legion of staff whose job is to do exactly that – predict what students will do based on past actions. They are the experts who put together the excellent student loan annual report. They are required to project long-term borrowing, and if Labour implement this policy (if re-elected) they will publish their predictions.

Labour refuse to get the policy costed by officials, and debt projections calculated. Claiming it is a Labour policy not a Government policy is absoloute spin and nonsense. When you are the Government, such distinctions are entirely voluntary.

I worked in the PM’s Office when National was in office in 1999. We looked at (and did) bringing forward by a year the introduction of interest write-offs so 50% of all payments (after inflation) would go towards principal. This was costed by officials, models were done, implementation timetables considered even though it was only announced a couple of months before an election and to take place after the election. It is entirely allowable for the Government to announce future policy, which of course is contingent on their re-election.

So people should be under no doubt. Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard can get their policy costed, and debt projections made in a split second. They merely have to ask their officials by declaring this a Giovernment policy.

The *only* reason for them not to do so, is so voters do not know the true costs.

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