20 May 2015

Tempers flare in Parliament ahead of Budget

7:50 pm on 20 May 2015

Tempers flared in Parliament this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's Budget.

Grant Robertson

Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Disagreements over the Government's promise to return to surplus and whether the Budget will include more money to tackle child poverty had MPs yelling at each other across the debating chamber.

Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson was also thrown out of the House after a heated exchange with the Speaker.

The Finance Minister was asked by Mr Robertson about the Government's plans to get to surplus.

"Is it correct that Treasury advised him that the surplus that he will promise tomorrow for next year is only possible if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?"

Bill English refused to answer, instead saying Mr Robertson would have to wait until tomorrow.

Clearly annoyed, Grant Robertson tried a further three times to extract an answer from Mr English, but after numerous interjections and points of order, the speaker David Carter had obviously had enough.

Outside the House, Grant Robertson said he did not understand why Bill English was being obstructive, as he had tabled the Treasury advice in the House last week.

He said the Government was clearly very tense about not reaching surplus.

"I think the Government doesn't want to face up to the fact that it is failing the political test that it set itself and for seven budgets in a row we've had deficits from this Government.

"They're sensitive about that because Labour had nine surpluses in a row."

Bill English will deliver his seventh budget at 2pm tomorrow afternoon.

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