Island Life by David Slack

How will Sir be paying for this?

So what will you be spending your tax cuts on? What fabulous holiday do you have planned? Or perhaps you'll be remodelling the kitchen. Maybe a new house? Don Brash might like you to invest it, but of course it's your God-given right to spray it around any old way you like. Good heavens yes.

Still, before this giddy night-before-Christmas euphoria gets the better of us, perhaps we should work out what we'll actually be getting. That is, of course, assuming the National Party and Winston get the chance to relive those glory days of 1996. And 7. And 8. And 9. Let's not dwell on that. I feel a Sideshow Bob shudder coming on.

Instead, let's give the present a good shake and see if we can work out what's inside the wrapping, because that old rascal Don doesn't want us to know too soon. There is, after all, more than one way to skin this cat. You can find anything on the Internet, and my word, it would be a poor show if you couldn't find a site somewhere that could let you work out for yourself what your tax cut might be worth. Your pals at Public Address are therefore pleased to introduce to you the online automatic Tax Cutter.

Just put in your income (or someone else's if you're shy), and choose the tax rate you want. The Tax Cutter will tell you how much extra money you can look forward to hanging on to each week.

Of course, being the killjoy that I am, I've also built in a costing mechanism. You'll get to see what your tax cut will cost the government, and how they might go about cutting spending to make up the shortfall.

That shouldn't be too hard surely? As Dr Brash says, there is no end of fat to be trimmed; no limit to the "dopey" schemes this government is hosing money at and no better time than "now" to get stuck into a surplus, notwithstanding that it's already been committed and won't actually be there next year.

Just in case I haven't trowelled the sarcasm on heavily enough, it seems to me that some small elements at the margins have been pressed into service as some kind of illustration of the way great wads of the taxpayer dollar are being spent by the current government.

There's a word for that, and it's nothing so prim as "baloney."