MP: Wellbeing Budget contains nothing to improve the lives of Pakuranga residents

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson. Photo Health Central

The Labour/NZ First/Green Government’s so-called “Wellbeing” Budget is anything but and is simply another example of a government with no plan to improve the lives of everyday New Zealanders, says Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga.

“This is not a wellbeing budget. The hardworking people of Pakuranga will be left asking what’s in it for them. Local families want more money in their weekly budgets for food, petrol, and rent, but instead, their taxes are going towards rail, the defence force and trees.

“NZ First has once again shown that it holds the purse strings with today’s announcement of a billion dollars on rail that nobody wants and even more for forestry. The cost of this coalition is not worth it for New Zealanders with what they’re getting in return, and it certainly isn’t improving anyone’s wellbeing.”

“It’s no wonder the Government has had to drop its self-imposed debt target and increase the spending limit by $17 billion so they can fund the Government’s bad spending decisions. This is likely to lead to higher taxes in future to pay off the extra debt when middle-class New Zealand is already struggling to get by.”

“Yet with all this extra spending there’s still no funding for health, with no money for midwives or free GP visits and less of an increase for elective surgeries than last year.”

“Yesterday, teachers marched on Parliament demanding a pay rise but there’s nothing for them today. The Budget has funding for classrooms, but what good are classrooms if there are no teachers to work in them?

“The economy is slowing down and the Government is doing nothing to encourage growth. Business confidence is at record lows because of its poor policy decisions and this Budget shows they still have no plan to grow the economy.”

“Their poor economic management means there are fewer jobs, more people on a benefit and needing hardship assistance, huge increases in the numbers of people without housing and more people missing out on elective surgeries.”

“This simply isn’t good enough for a government that inherited one of the strongest economies in the world, built on the back of hardworking New Zealanders like those in Pakuranga. They deserve to reap the rewards of that effort, but this Budget means they’ll be forced to wait.”

Robertson on New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget

The Wellbeing Budget signals a new approach to the way governments work, by placing the wellbeing of New Zealanders at the heart of what we do, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson says.

This approach is a significant departure from the status quo. “We are measuring our country’s success differently.  We are not just relying on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also how we are improving the wellbeing of our people, protecting the environment and strengthening of our communities,” Robertson says.

“In this first Wellbeing Budget our priorities are focused on tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand,” “We’re taking mental health seriously, breaking the cycle of child poverty and domestic violence, supporting Maori and Pasifika aspiration, transforming our economy and building a productive nation.

“Alongside these priorities we are balancing the need for fiscal sustainability for future generations, and making long-term infrastructure investments, like in our schools and hospitals.”

The Budget priorities were based on evidence of what would make the greatest contribution to the long-term improvement of New Zealand’s living standards and wellbeing, he says. This Budget required extensive information about the wellbeing impact of initiatives and more scrutiny of initiatives than has been the case in the past.

It is different from what has gone before, including the use of a more collaborative approach by ministers with more joint programmes and initiatives.

To deliver these commitments, the Government increased the annual operating allowance in Budget 2019 from $2.4 billion to $3.8b. The operating allowance for Budget 2020 has also increased from $2.4b to $3b. A further $1.7b has also been added to the multi-year capital allowance for future Budgets.

The Budget Economic and Fiscal Update released today shows the Government’s books remain in good shape. Net core Crown debt as a percentage of GDP is forecast to be 19.9 per cent in 2021/22, and the operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) remains in surplus across the forecast period, growing to $6.1b by 2022/23.

“The Government has delivered the critical investments needed to help address the long-term challenges facing New Zealand, while remaining in line with our self-imposed Budget Responsibility Rules,” Robertson says.

“I am proud of this Wellbeing Budget – it is a landmark moment for this Government and New Zealand.”