If there is one message coming loud and clear from opposition politicians it is - "Hey Bill, we have plans to spend your Budget surplus".

The Pre-Election Fiscal Update (Prefu) - out today - will outline just how much headroom there is for the parties to spend on election policies.

Some of these will inevitably fall into the bribe category (it is amazing how generous politicians can be with our money, which is what tax revenue is).

And - judging by Jacinda Ardern's comments - she plans to use some of that fiscal headroom to increase the size of Labour's electoral bids.


National's Bill English has already announced some major policies including $10 billion on new state highways.

English was finance supremo for eight of National's nine years in Government. He leads the strongest political team - on paper.

But he is far too well-versed in the art of self-deprecation to openly promote his financial stewardship as having led to New Zealand being relatively highly ranked among OECD economies. Particularly on the NZ economy's performance since the global financial crisis.

In the Herald's PM Job Interview English stressed how his plan for the next three years would build on National's prior success, focusing on issues like housing, transport, infrastructure and poverty.

Bill English's full uncut job interview with the NZ Herald this morning.

English talked about hope and aspiration. His was a collegial approach - more "we" than "I" - compared to Ardern.

When it came to hot issues like housing affordability, he believed that rising incomes and a flattening out of the housing market would over time improve things for Kiwis.

There was plenty more beside which essentially came down to 'judging us on our record'. The problem English has to address is that voter urgency has built for a lift in Government tempo in addressing such issues head on.

A further reality is that when economies are on the upswing that is the time when voters feel more comfortable in taking risks.

Particularly when the party in power leads a three-term Government.

In her own Herald PM Job Interview, Ardern took steps to emphasise that it was she who is making the captain's calls.

Jacinda Ardern's full uncut job interview with the NZ Herald this morning.

It was Ardern who reopened the thorny subject of capital gains taxes; policies which her predecessor Andrew Little cast aside claiming they had helped cost Labour the previous election.

A tax working group will address the issue if Labour leads the next Government. Ardern all but said capital gains taxes will be introduced in Labour's first term. She said National had done similarly when it increased the GST without first taking it to the electorate for endorsement. The voters could give their verdict in 2020.

The bright line test which National imposed will also be extended from two to five years.

Then there are the other imposts Labour is promoting - fuel levies, water levies, other possible wealth and asset taxes, the list goes on. The problem is there is no detail.

While the tide is going out with National, the question is whether voters will give Ardern a blank cheque when it comes to new taxes to fund Labour's policies?