Don Brash's promise of "tax cuts by Xmas" if National is elected underlines the complete reversal that has occured in New Zealand politics. Once upon a time, National were supposed to be the responsible economic managers - but now they're promising to blow the budget with no thought for the future. Meanwhile, it is Labour that is carefully ensuring that the government's books are balanced, that it has enough for bad times as well as good, and that today's spending is not simply a transfer of wealth from our children. The fact that they're able to do this without compromising on social spending makes it all the more remarkable: it shows that National's claim that such spending is unsustainable is simply rubbish.
By contrast, it is National's promised tax cuts which are unsustainable. While they look good against record surpluses, those are expected to disappear as economic growth slows; the OBERAC (effectively the rise in the net value of our assets) will drop by $2 billion next year, and the government will start running cash deficits again. This means that a significant tax cut would have to be followed by deep cuts to government spending - which given where the money is spent, would have to come out of the core areas of health, education, and welfare. Unless they sell assets, of course - or borrow (something they seem disturbingly comfortable with). Either way, future New Zealanders will be paying for it - whether it be as serious illness, poverty, and crime, as lost income, or as outright debt repayments. We're still paying for the last time National did this (why are we having to spend so much on rebuilding hospitals and roads now? Because National didn't do it during the 90's. Why are we having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on bribing teachers and doctors and nurses to stay here and educate our children or care for us when we are sick? Because National didn't do it during the 90's). We shouldn't let them do it again.