Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Budget 2012: Drama may be yet to come

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File

Bill English has been true to his word and has delivered a Budget with no dramatics.

That's unless you're a smoker who hasn't been following the Budget speculation around the price of cigarettes - and it is a spectacular rise to over $20 by 2016.

The drama may be yet to come depending on whether Greece exits the Eurozone and if it does so in and orderly or disorderly manner.

In the meantime, let's not panic until we have to. That was English's message. It is restraint as usual.

The promised surplus for 2014 - 15 is there but at $197 million, could be described as cigarette paper thin.

The delay of auto-enrolment for Kiwisaver helps achieve the forecast surplus but nobody will be marching in the streets about that.

The biggest Budget surprise and the one will likely to be most unpopular is the freeze on early childhood subsidies.

The 20-hours free remains but ditching inflation adjustments means that unless the providers absorb rising costs, fees to parents will increase.

Education, health, welfare, law and order and science and innovation get more but not that much. Restraint is permanent.

With more reasonable forecasts than last year's English's plan to get the books under control appear more credible.

The potential variation between the promise and the reality looks likely to be exploited by the Opposition.

- NZ Herald

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Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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