If you think you've heard all the pros and cons about Steven Joyce's maiden, Labour-heavy Budget, think again.

The reams of paper used to produce the document would require the felling of a good sized forestry block. The hot air expounded in Parliament's bear pit to vilify or venerate Joyce's effort would be enough to send a giant hot air balloon into outer space.

The grizzlies in the pit have a full 15 hours to have their say, even though those who really matter have already had theirs.

The cost to the taxpayer is hard to quantify, although the last time someone did the sums filibustering (which is when MPs make full, frank and meaningless arguments) cost well over half a million bucks an hour, enough to build an "affordable" home.


The Budget debate will continue to dominate this week and it's certainly more about point-scoring than making meaningful change - that's the Government's business.

In fairness, it'll give Labour's leader Andrew Little a bit more time to be measured than his first response to the Joyce recipe, given that Labour gets the Budget document just an hour before it's delivered in Parliament (whereas journalists and analysts paw over the documents in a lockup for four hours).

They say knowledge is power - which means when the Labour leader stood to deliver his opening shot he must have felt powerless.

Of course Labour agrees with helping people pay their ever increasing rents, as increases in the accommodation supplement do and with putting a bit more money in the pockets of those who're struggling to bring up their kids.

But it doesn't agree with shifting the tax brackets for low to middle income earners,
which they say was poorly focused, giving less money to the poor and twice as much as those earning up to the top rate of seventy grand.

We're talking a difference of ten bucks here but the poorer you are the more you get through the other benefits.

Still, they'll be able to flesh out their argument over the next few weeks and while they're unable to change anything, at least they'll be able to make their argument to the electorate.

Arguing against them is the joined at the hip Greens - who like the tax relief, and probably much of the Budget.


Little has made light of the difference, saying if they're privileged to form a government, there'll be "a level of jointness in our platforms" - code for the Greens having to toe the line.

But if Winston Peters gets to be part of that formation, and that's a strong possibility given that he's described the Nats as a bunch of has-beens, Labour and the Greens are more likely to end up more disjointed that joined, given his loathing of the latter.