In all the time I’ve been hopping around Parliament I’ve never heard a statement more extraordinary than this one:
The numbers from Treasury are nonsense. Treasury can’t tell us what the deficit is going to be in December let alone what’s happening in 2030 or 2040.
Now, I’ll admit to having a go at Treasury forecasting myself from time to time, most notably about oil prices. But the thing that is extraordinary about this statement is that it didn’t come from here at the lily pad, or from a Green or Labour MP. It was made by none other than the Prime Minister, in response to Treasury advice on Nick Smith’s limp excuse for an Emissions Trading Scheme.
That’s right – John Key expressing a complete lack of confidence in a Government Department that he is ultimately responsible for.
Nick Smith chimed in too, unusually for him somewhat more moderately:
Figures beyond the first decade are highly speculative and dependant [sic] on assumptions about future international agreements, the carbon price and the growth of industry.
What a pity Smith didn’t apply that sort of logic to the other debacle he currently presides over – the gutting of ACC, where he is himself using highly speculative figures about the cost of claims decades in the future to justify levy increases and cover and entitlement cuts now.
Here’s what Treasury had to say about the regulatory impact statement for the ACC-gutting Bill currently before Parliament:
The Treasury Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Team has reviewed this regulatory impact statement (RIS) and considers that it does not meet the RIS requirements. The RIS does not contain the required information and the analysis is incomplete in a number of key areas. For example, some of the proposals to remove ACC entitlements will shift costs onto other government agencies or onto individuals but the RIS does not quantify these costs. The proposal to introduce experience rating and risk sharing in the Work Account will increase administrative and compliance costs for business and for the ACC Scheme, but these costs have not yet been investigated. In addition, the RIS consultation requirements have not been met.
Pretty damning stuff, but Smith will no doubt blunder on with this ill-conceived Bill and Treasury can expect another serve from the PM for providing advice which is embarrassing to the Government.