Quakes & Hades: What John Key and Ken Ring share

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" this year, on TV ONE's Q+A .

The earth moved further yesterday, when John Key confirmed his hints, saying there would be no "new money" - or very little - in the May Budget for almost all government services.

The $600-800 million needed to boost health and education, he said, would come from cuts to other parts of the public purse. And to cap it off, 120-odd Christchurch businessmen broke through the cordon encircling Christchurch's CBD, fed up with their inability to get access to their own buildings, and the stock, equipment and paperwork inside.

Until now, grief and decency has kept a thorough public debate at bay, but with Friday's memorial service behind us folk have felt more able to ask the big questions and express their disquiet.


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