Budget 2017 creates New Road Map for progress
I am proud to lead a Government that cares about people, and gets results.
Our ninth Budget, which Finance Minister Steven Joyce delivered on May 25, is clear proof of the benefits a strong and growing economy can bring.
Budget 2017 is about delivering for New Zealanders. It recognises the hard work of so many over the last eight years to turn our country around despite some challenging circumstances.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank New Zealand’s Indian community for its significant part in helping build an economy – and a country – that has become the envy of many in the developed world.
The position we are in today gives us choices that a few years ago we simply did not have.
One of the choices we have made is to significantly increase our investment in making New Zealand the safest country in the world.
Budget 2017 does this by investing $1.2 billion in new operating expenditure over the next four years and $785.6 million of capital funding for law and order.
This includes the $503 million Safer Communities Package which I announced earlier this year, alongside Police Minister Paula Bennett. This package will boost police staff by 1125 including 880 extra frontline officers across all police districts in New Zealand.
It also ensures a 24/7 patrolling police presence for more communities, provides for 80 additional officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine and 20 new ethnic officers who will specifically support ethnic communities affected by crime.
I think it is important to acknowledge that while increasing police numbers is vital, it is only part of the solution.
We are also keenly focused on preventing crime from occurring in the first place. Evidence tells us that if we want to reduce offending we need to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction rather than just respond to the symptoms. Critically, we want to help set young people who are at-risk of offending onto a more productive path.
Budget 2017 provides funding to help achieve this.
Social Investment Package
The $321 million Social Investment Package is one example. This package aims to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable people by focusing on these four key areas: mental health, helping kids have a better start in life, addressing barriers to employment and independence, and reducing reoffending.
The whole point of this Social Investment Package is to get in earlier with the right interventions to set at-risk people back on the right path.
Our strong economy has made these choices possible.
But there is no room for complacency. We need to keep focused on delivering a strong economy because if we slip back, these opportunities will quickly disappear, and our choices will become more difficult again.
National has a clear plan to keep this country on track, including further investment to support our growth and in core public services that New Zealanders rely on – all the while significantly reducing our debt.
By maintaining our focus, we will be able to deliver a more prosperous country for all New Zealanders.
Bill English is Prime Minister of New Zealand. The Picture here shows him with Finance Minister Steven Joyce prior to the Budget Session in Parliament on May 25.