Budget 2011

Bill English's third Budget has laid foundations. For a couple of short-term goals, in particular. But what's the point if those foundations are being undermined even as they are laid?

In his barn-storming, even cocky, address to the House yesterday, John Key let slip what this budget was really all about - twice. Was it growing the economy? No, that's not the work of conservative governments. Was it saving jobs? Nope, that was last year's message. Was it savings, as he had promised it would be in his address to parliament in February?

So, a record deficit huh? The scene is being painted for a chop-chop Budget, but is our public debt really that bad? Let's take a look at our history...

So, in two days time Bill English will announce that we have the largest deficit EVER by a New Zealand government. All round the world folk have seen stories of how our deficit will be $15-17 billion. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Budget - zero or otherwise- has suddenly become even more important than ever, as the government tries to borrow without incurring debt and cut spending without taking money from the economy

The political ground was always going to move after the Christchurch earthquake, and on Sunday we saw the first rumblings, with the Prime Minister unable to rule out TVNZ's Guyon Espiner's suggestion of a "zero Budget

The government’s austerity measures are exactly what they ruled out in 2009. And so is their defence of cutting taxes in a fiscal hole. This tells us more about backroom dealings in the Beehive than about a good plan to get New Zealand back on track.

The government has signaled that it plans severe austerity measures for this year’s Budget. Those measures will likely cover almost every aspect of the government’s work – even health and education, which will have nominal funding increases,

The earthquake will ask some tough questions of all politicians this year - What will they cut? How much can they borrow? Either way, the government's austerity plans are on hold

Even as the funerals begin, the release of names continues to give flesh and blood to the tragedy and grief keeps clutching at us, the political and economic reality of this earthquake is starting to come to the fore. Like liquefaction.