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Pressure to share out the surplus

Opinion Piece

Followers of New Zealand and world politics had a bonus week in the past seven days and more is promised for the near future, probably leading all the way to the crucial mid-term elections in the United States on November 6.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson started the week with a surprise, announcing a $5.5 billion budget surplus resulting from more tax revenue than expected.

The challenge for him now will be to avoid the curse of the surplus and keep that handy sum available to use in future financial turmoil, as Michael Cullen did in 2008.

The pressure is already being applied, with angry motorists, who Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says are being fleeced by the oil companies, joining a queue that is headed by the nation’s teachers — to whom the Government has already made an offer of an extra $500 million.

And with homelessness growing and continuing demands from the health sector, Robertson is going to face pressure to loosen the purse strings. That could be short-sighted in a world where things like a possible trade war cast a cloud over the New Zealand economy.

While Ardern will have won support for her stand against the oil companies, her chief rival Simon Bridges will probably be nervous as he awaits the result of the investigation into who leaked details of his travel expenses. If conjecture that it was a National MP or even a staffer proves correct, he will have well and truly shot himself in the foot.

In the US Donald Trump lost the most senior woman from his administration, United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley. While it was a surprise, the two seemed on cordial terms as they held a joint media conference.

In a stark contrast even Trump seemed bemused at the rant he experienced from rapper Kanye West, something the Oval office would never have been host to before in its history. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

At least rugby league’s Kiwis and netball’s Silver Ferns made the week end on a high note for New Zealand sport fans, with drought-ending wins over Australia.

What will the next seven days bring?