Budget 2018 sets the path for meeting promises
May 17, 2018 saw the Coalition Government deliver its first Budget.
It saw the implementation of many key election pledges and built the foundations for a better and fairer New Zealand.
There are major social and infrastructure deficits that need to be addressed, and while we cannot do all these in one year, we do have a plan.
This Budget sets out the first steps.
The Key Budget initiatives include
The Families Package was introduced in our mini-Budget just before Christmas and will come into effect from July 1, 2018.
It represents the government’s alternative to National’s tax cuts and targets support to those who need it most: (a) Changes to Working for Families, meaning that 380,000 low-middle income families will on average be $75/week better off (b) A Winter Heating Allowance for all pensioners and beneficiaries to ensure that low income households keep warm and healthy over winter. This will be $450 for a couple this winter and $750 in following winters and (c) The Best Start payment of $60/week for families with a new-born baby (universal in year one and targeted in subsequent years).
Delivering on the Labour/NZ First commitment to fund 1800 more Police to keep our communities safer. These numbers will be split between community-based Police who will be highly visible in local areas and specialist police who will focus on organised crime, which is at the root of many of the violent attacks on shops we have seen in recent years.
Major Investment in Health
A major investment ($3.2 billion of new funding) in the health sector, both for capital investment and to make doctors visits more affordable for families.
These initiatives include (a) Capital funding to rectify failing and inadequate facilities such as Middlemore hospital (b) An increase of 8.9% for community midwives and (c) Cheaper or free GP visits for around 600,000 people. 13-year-olds will now be eligible for free GP visits (previously only up to 12 years old) while other low and middle income earners will see doctors fees reduce by $20-$30.
Significant funding across the sector to cater for growth and support everyone’s right to a good education: (a) 1500 new teachers funded (b) Hundreds of new, modern classrooms (c) 8000 more children with added learning needs will get additional support including funding for 1000 new ORS students.
In addition to the Kiwibuild plan for 100,000 affordable homes for first home buyers over 10 years, Budget 2018 funds 6400 new state and community houses over the coming four years for lower income households who need a decent home.
Labour’s vision is for a New Zealand in which all people can thrive and reach their potential, regardless of background. The investments made in Budget 2018 are all about providing that opportunity.
We have been able to make those investments while managing the books responsibly. The Budget delivers a $3 billion surplus, we are putting away money into the Super Fund, and debt as a percentage of GDP continues to drop.
Budget 2018 responsibly places the foundations for a better and fairer New Zealand, and we look forward to building on that progress in the years to come.
Michael Wood is Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Ethnic Communities and MP for Mt Roskill. He held a Budget Brief over breakfast on Monday, May 21, 2018 in Auckland.
Budget Graphs and Tables from The Treasury