Government in contentious discussions about whether to put surplus on red or black

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is the only Cabinet member in favour of putting it all on green.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is the only Cabinet member in favour of putting it all on green.

As Finance Minister Grant Robertson finds himself with an enormous $7.5 billion surplus, the Government has begun intense, at times contentious conversations about whether to put the money on red or black at SkyCity Casino later this year.

While most Cabinet ministers agree that a 50% chance of having a $15 billion surplus is “pretty attractive,” there isn’t much in the way of consensus about which roulette wheel colour would produce that surplus.

Just over half of Cabinet believes that the obvious answer is black, due to the ongoing Rugby World Cup, the fact that black absorbs more light and therefore “probably more little balls”, black is the desired colour of a budget, and that black is currently the “cold” colour on most of the casino’s tables, so it’s probably due.

But a significant minority is of the view red would be a far safer decision, due to it being the colour of the Labour party, “a faster colour”, the better Pokemon game, currently the “hot” colour on more of the casino’s tables right now, and the fact that if they choose it the Government will then be in the red either way.

But as deliberations continue, opposition leader Simon Bridges is saying either decision would be wrong, and the Government should return the $7.5 billion to taxpayers so they can decide how to gamble it themselves.

“This Government should trust New Zealanders to make the right choice about whether to put their money on red or black,” he said. “Or alternatively, to play Blackjack, where they will be provided with the illusion that whether they win or lose money is based on the merit of their own decision-making.”

Bridges was asked whether he thought all New Zealanders would make the right choice.

“Well, no,” he said. “I mean, obviously, obviously half of them will lose.

“More than half if they play Blackjack.”

A decision on which colour the money will go on will be publicly announced by December. It is understood the Prime Minister will not play any role in her ministers’ decision, due to the disruption this would cause to plans to blame them afterwards.