Boldness, caution, ironies and the future

Tomorrow, with the weekend’s mid-ranked parties’ conferences over, Labour will have another go at getting traction.

Grant Robertson will unveil Labour’s “alternative budget”. Will he map a path to the 2020s?

This is potentially an existential question for Labour which has not done the root-and-branch rebuild three defeats suggest was needed.

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Injecting “investment” into “social investment” (or not)

Expect to be assailed day-in-day-out in the election campaign with “social investment”. It reverberated through the National party’s conference. Ministers can’t get enough of the sound of it.

Even Steven Joyce, as hard-nosed a capitalist as you will find in the cabinet, spread “investment” through his commentary on the budget’s “social” bits.

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National: “Continuity and stability” into the 2020s

Here’s an imaginary bill Labour and National could usefully join forces to pass after the election: tighter gun laws to stop people shooting themselves in the foot.

Bill English’s metastasising response to new evidence of questionable behaviour by junior, soon-to-be-gone MP Todd Barclay gave his conference delegates at the weekend cause to get a bit “paranoid”, as he puts it, about the coming election.

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Some numbers to worry English but not just yet

Three months out from the election the numbers are going National’s way. But are they going the right way for the longer term? How numbers are used is critical to good government, new research says.

The big-number economy story is that gross domestic product (GDP) was still rolling along up to March and in this quarter, too, indicators say, even if not rollicking at last year’s pace.

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A trend that might change the constitution

Queen’s Birthday Weekend is over and new knights and dames quiver with pleasure and honour. The quaint endures even in the digital age.

Opinion polls tell us the republic is some way off. William, Kate, George and Charlotte keep us swooning.

But constitutions evolve. We live in a republic in all but form. When here, the Queen exercises formal head-of-state functions by courtesy of New Zealand law.

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Some unfinished business from the Richardson era

Steven Joyce’s well foreshadowed reshuffle last Thursday of tax thresholds, rebates and allowances tells us there is unfinished business from the Ruth Richardson era.

That business is not yet more deregulation and trimming of the state nor another “mother of all budgets”, Richardson’s 1991 attempt to drive Sir Roger Douglas’s revolution to new heights, or depths, depending on your perspective.

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