COMMENT:

So all eyes on Grant Robertson today. This will be, at least until now, the biggest thing he's ever done.

It's a bit late, should have been at least a week ago if you subscribe to the argument that a week is a lifetime in business.

Without wanting to read between too many lines, if you look at what Australia did last week at a bit over $20 billion, those numbers translated down to our economy would be about $4 billion. And yet the Prime Minister has said it's the biggest package she will ever announce.

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PM Jacinda Ardern displays a graph during a press conference on March 14, 2020. Photo / Getty Images
PM Jacinda Ardern displays a graph during a press conference on March 14, 2020. Photo / Getty Images

And given she's already rolled out the $12 billion for infrastructure, that would mean it's over that. But then yesterday on our show when presented with those facts, she seemed to baulk. Unless, of course, she tries to say the $12 billion already announced is part of it, and then she adds another lot today for the grand total of who knows what.

Whatever it is the key is effectiveness as opposed to size.

The first thing they did a week or so back was drop the stand down period for benefits. That, although logical, is favouring welfare. Their argument would be all welfare money is spent, therefore it's worth it. Counter argument is welfare money grows government, we don't want to grow government, and every dollar the government handles loses economic potency every time it's handled.

That's why Australia did the right thing. Massive and instant write-offs on the purchase of plant and equipment. Things to encourage the economy, to keep people spending.

Obviously the banks and tax office play their role. Delay of payments, suspension of interest - there are no shortage of mechanisms if you're so inclined.

But no one has a chequebook like a government. And now is the time to flood the economy with spending power. And the key is to look forward. This isn't a patch up, it's not retrospective, because for many nothing has actually happened. It's a band-aid to cover a gap, it will be okay.

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The real key, the magic to all this, is to be in a place where you can put the foot down when the bounce back comes. So wage subsidies to keep people at work are critical. We already had labour shortages, we don't want more. We need to keep businesses open.

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That's why I worry so much about sport. If teams fail, you don't "magic up" new teams on the Saturday after the Friday things came right.

This is a holding pattern, where many will need help to stay afloat while they hold. But the key is not to panic, shrink, sack, or close. Of course, some tragically will, that's what a recession does.

But for Robertson today it's time to put his money where his mouth is. He's said the economy is in great shape, debt is low and we are prepared.

So let's see it.