Budget focus needed on teachers, health, police

In just seven days we’ll learn what the Government’s major investment priorities are when it unveils Budget 2019.

In a strong and growing economy we have options about how we assist people who are in need. One key part of the workforce that’s been forgotten for too long is our public school teachers.

They have a massive responsibility and do an often thankless job in difficult circumstances. Many of them in Auckland are struggling and even failing to make ends meet on their current salaries.

We must always remember the most important goal in education should be to lift achievement levels of children across the country.

But the teachers we rely on to ensure New Zealand’s young people have the skills they need to become successful adults are underpaid and overworked.

That must be corrected and putting more funding into the sector is one way to do it.

Another area that needs more investment is law and order. Our local east Auckland community is well served by the brave men and women of Counties Manukau Police.

But this is a fast-growing area that already contains more than 520,000 people. Providing the vital funding to get more Police on our streets in order to keep us all safe would be a welcome inclusion in Budget 2019.

And we cannot forget the dire need that exists to pump more money into the mental health sector, especially toward programmes and services that will help reduce our tragic suicide statistics.

Staying on health, the Government this week announced it will provide St John and the Wellington Free Ambulance service with a one-off financial boost of $21 million over two years.

That’s a tiny drop in the bucket when you consider that last year St John put in a funding bid to the Government of more than $350 million over four years.

St John paramedics save Kiwis’ lives every day of the week. It is a vital service that this country cannot do without.

This is a first-world country and an organisation as important as St John should not have to rely on the goodwill of New Zealanders through donations to keep operating.

Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany