COMMENT by Michael Cullen

As Minister of Finance, for nine years I went through the strange ritual of the presentation of the Budget, including the financial statements and proposed and estimated expenditure for the fiscal year ahead.

The Budget was, and is, surrounded by much secrecy, political speculation, informed (or otherwise) comment and excitement about its contents. For the media this usually means that what the Press Gallery decides ought to be in the Budget determines their judgment of whether it is up to expectations.

Only modest change has occurred since I first went into Parliament in 1981. Then the