Australian Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey is in town. And as he ponders the sea of red ink in the books he is trying to balance, a legacy of Labor/Green profligacy across the ditch, the politics of envy have reared their head, in the nicest possible way; TVNZ reports:
Joe Hockey has called New Zealand's economy "the envy of the world" during his first visit here as Australian Treasurer.
Mr Hockey told TV ONE's Breakfast today that Australia could learn some lessons from their Kiwi neighbours.
"New Zealand has done a splendid job, the Key government is a standout government around the world and as a result of that it is heading towards a surplus," he said.
"New Zealand is starting to live within its means."
Delivering his first budget this year, Mr Hockey said he was forced to slash spending by $10 billion because of the previous Labor government's overspending.
"They took us to a position where if we don't take immediate action we will face much bigger debts," he said.
"If you make the difficult but important decisions up front then you get the benefits down the track. We've got a long way to go to catch up to the budget position of New Zealand."
Joe Hockey started out in the same position that Bill English was when he inherited the New Zealand books in 2008. At the time, Treasury was forecasting a Decade of Deficits. History will show English's parsimonious financial management has done the job, and the books are headed back into the black four years ahead of prediction.
It's rare that our trans-Tasman cousins are so effusive about New Zealand, but on the issue of the respective economies, Joe Hockey has little option. He inherited a mess from Kevin Rudd, and he could do much worse that take some advice from Bill English as to how to get his books in order.
In the meantime, migration to Australia has almost dried up as the former Lucky Country is down on its luck. Thousands of those who left New Zealand during the recession to try their luck over the ditch are returning as New Zealand returns to economic prosperity, and as the Australians recover from their Rudd/Gillard hangover.
Who's the Lucky Country now Joe?