Six months in and the government has had its first public spats, its first political stumbles, its first management failures. The icing, though still very thick, is beginning to melt here and there. A suitable time for the first budget.
Growth has given the government a little more leeway but Michael Cullen is determined not to spend the “growth dividend” from good times and leave himself short in the next downturn. In any case, having missed the fine print in the pre-election fiscal update, he has a lower baseline than he campaigned on and so fewer funds for new social programmes. That sets up a difficult start to the next budget round starting in October.