The Prime Minister said the Budget was all about jobs and that was sort of true. The focus is clearly on jobs. But, remarkably, this Budget, forged in a crisis, is more than that. It contains more seeds of transformation than Jacinda Ardern's Government would have delivered even if it had been able to govern for a long benign decade. Global meltdown sure focuses the mind.
The funding and training for jobs will push the economy in new directions. One indicator of that: the $900 million allocated to "support Māori", which will see a more sustained effort for Whanau Ora and health, jobs and training, housing and education than any Government has delivered in years.
There's nearly $200m in new spending for kohanga reo and another $200m to "support Māori learners and Te Reo". Various business, training and employment packages will receive nearly $250 million. Much of that will be spent in the regions.
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The jobs focus isn't about keeping every job alive. That's good too. The $3.2 billion extension of the employment subsidy is only for an extra four weeks – into late July. That's about allowing businesses the time to get back trading through winter, to see what's happened to their customer base and get some sense of their future.
It also allows time for a massive number of new training programmes to be set up. The return of night classes! So many people will be rethinking what we want to be and the Budget has anticipated this well.
It's also made the right noises about housing. The commitment is to build 8000 new houses, of which 6000 will be social housing and 2000 will be "transitional". That's more than twice the number built by the Government in its first two years combined.
The focus now, clearly, is on social housing and not KiwiBuild. Warm, dry and safe homes for those who need them most. That's transformation, baked into the planning, right there.
Of course, as we know from bitter experience, saying you're going to build houses is not the same thing as building them. Will Kainga Ora, formerly Housing New Zealand, be up to it? Will it power up the non-government sector? Fingers crossed on all that.
Housing also benefits from the $56m commitment to the insulation and heating programme Warmer Kiwi Homes. It'll help, but it's not a lot. The Green Building Council estimates there are half a million damp homes in this country.
Grant Robertson might be the Minister for Sport but never forget he's also Associate Minister of the Arts: his inner poet got a run in the Budget speech.
We live in a "green and pleasant" land, he told us, reaching for inspiration to the first Labour Government. He said he was quoting "my predecessor Peter Fraser": both were the MP for Wellington Central.
Fraser himself was quoting the English poet William Blake. In the poem we know as "Jerusalem", Blake contrasted the "dark Satanic mills" of the Industrial Revolution with an England in which people were allowed to work with dignity, didn't all have to live in a big city and, implicitly, appreciated the environmental virtues of the countryside.
Blake would have been a militant environmentalist, for sure, although it's far too clumsy a word ever to use in a poem.
Fraser quoted Blake to conjure the kind of decent society that could be built from the rubble of the Great Depression in New Zealand. Robertson did it for the same purpose, with Covid-19 now the blight over us all.
In the green and pleasant land, there will be a major spend on green jobs: $1.1b for people to restore wetlands, trap pests, plant native trees and clean up waterways. That's so splendid, I may have run around the garden jumping for joy.
It's a great win for the environment, for jobs, for economic resilience and for rural and urban communities. More transformation, baked in.
Transport was goodish. No new spending was announced on roads, which is also great, although there's $3b for big new infrastructure projects, TBA, and some of them will be roads. Railways got $1.2b. Not enough for a genuine transformational approach to freight and passenger services, but a strong contribution.
There was nothing transformational in urban transport, even though it's critical. Some of that $3b for infra will have to be spent here, too. As for Auckland light rail, it already has a budget allocation, if only Cabinet can find the time to agree exactly what project to spend the money. That's another story.
The two biggest things missing from the Budget are welfare reform and tax reform. While 200,000 children will benefit from the "free and healthy" school lunch programme, there is no rethink on benefit levels or their abatements and other complications, and that's tragic. Such an opportunity lost, especially when there's such goodwill to beneficiaries right now.
As for tax, maybe it's coming. Because just as welfare needs to be stronger, tax levels need to be more steeply progressive. Labour's missing a trick on not going into the election with that as a promise.
No word on a campaign to get everyone to buy local, so we can create a powerful circular economy. And no insights into which industries might become the ones to help us prosper in the new green and pleasant land.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges says we now have a "tsunami of debt". Well, yes, the debt levels will be high: over 50 per cent of GDP. But how about a little context? In the US, even before Covid-19 struck, it was 80 per cent. In Britain after the war, with the rebuild programme that created the National Health Service, it climbed to 200 per cent.
And yes, people in the future will have to repay this debt but they will also benefit from the spend.
Earlier this week I listed 10 points on which to judge the Budget. High scores, then, for green initiatives, housing, business and employee support, attention to training and articulating a vision. They're all so important.
But a fail for welfare reform, a buy local campaign, clarity around new regulations, courage about shifting the Auckland port. And it doesn't seem like anyone who rips off the rebuild programme will go to jail. Ah well, we can still ridicule them.