It’s been a bit confusing trying to follow the government’s priorities lately, so Scoop thought it was about time to catch up with our old mate Bill English and get the beltway insider skinny over a few beers.
He didn’t seem to get our Facebook messages, but here’s how we reckon it would have gone down.
SCOOP: So. Unbudgeted costs, eh?
ENGLISH: Don’t get me started.
S: Trying to tell you how to spend money.
E: Too right.
S: Who’s Finance Minister?
S: Too right, mate, you mate. Wanting budget changes.
E: ‘kin eh.
S: Big ones?
E: You wouldn’t read about it.
S: And you only just put out the actual budget.
E: Some people.
S: What were they thinking?
E: Though really, I knew it was coming.
S: Did you?
E: Oh, totally. No really I did.
S: But you didn’t put it in the budget?
S: Why not?
E: I didn’t feel like it.
S: Chose not to.
E: Too right.
S: And then when you have to veto it, they complain.
E: Sorry, what?
S: I mean you’d be giving little kiddies the best possible start in life all over the place if the money was there, right?
E: I thought we were talking about not taking the Housing New Zealand dividend.
S: No, no mate, extending paid parental leave, mate.
E: Right then.
S: Though come to think of it, not taking the dividend is a significant unbudgeted change, isn’t it?
E: A bit significant I guess. But we’ll find the money somewhere.
E: Cos we actually want to.
S: Well you said you were in favour of extending paid parental leave in principle. And…
E: … not in favour of letting Housing New Zealand keep the dividend, yeah. But it turned out the dividend thing was really important.
S: More important than whatever had you making unprecedented use of your power as Finance Minister to override the will of parliament?
E: Mate, Steven Joyce said on Twitter we weren’t taking a dividend. We can’t have Steven Joyce being wrong on Twitter.
S: So you’ve rearranging the world to make Steven Joyce right instead?
S: That’s much less embarrassing.
E: I call it “strong economic management”.
S: Your round, I think, mate.
S: I believe it’s my round.