Budget 2013: Live updates

Finance Minister Bill English viewing a copy of the 2013 Budget, his fifth. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Finance Minister Bill English viewing a copy of the 2013 Budget, his fifth. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Today New Zealanders have learned what Bill English had to offer in the 2013 Budget.

The Finance Minister has said the Budget, his fifth, would be about getting back to surplus, addressing the risks of a housing bubble and building economic momentum.

Keep track of the latest reactions to the Budget from business and political experts, business leaders and lobbyists, and the general public.

4.14pm: We're winding down our live updates, thank you for staying with us.

John Armstrong has compiled a list of the main points you need to know about the 2013 Budget.

4.02pm: Winston Peters signs off with an election pledge: "Back us, and we'll get you off the treadmill. You will get to decide the outcome of the 2014 election.

No other party can make that promise."

The Maori Party's Dr Pita Sharples is speaking next, and he says the Budget goes some way to addressing inequalities in New Zealand.

3.57pm: Winston Peters says the swelling numbers of immigrants into New Zealand are worsening Auckland's housing and roading issues, and he declared the influx as the "elephant in the room" that only his party dares to discuss.

"We know that mass immigration is being used to prop up consumer demand on our economy. Most of these new arrivals are going to Auckland."

3.54pm: Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, says today's Budget will give business a lot of confidence.

"Employers will be delighted with the news that ACC levies are to come down.

"The extra investment going into skills and employment carry the right messages.

"Though the increased investment in research and science is pleasing will still not be enough to bring us up to OECD measures.

3.53pm: PricewaterhouseCoopers says the Budget "continues to walk the fine line between a credible path to surplus and damaging growth through the rapid withdrawal of stimulus."

"Stronger forecast tax revenues has given the Government a bit more room to move in terms of additional new spending to the tune of $5.1bn over the four year forecast period."

3.49pm: Winston Peters has produced a rodent's running wheel to describe how ordinary Kiwis must run hard just to remain in the same place - and also to describe the workload of National's Steven Joyce.

3.47pm: KiwiRail will receive an extra $94 million in this year's Budget to help make its rail freight business self-sustaining. Matthew Backhouse of APNZ reports.
3.43pm: New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused the Government of cooking the books.

"Our first reaction to this Budget was to call the Serious Fraud Office," he said.

"This is financial deceit on a grand scale."

3.41pm: Greens co-leader Dr Russel Norman said emerging imbalances in the housing sector were the most dangerous risk for the economy.

"National's new housing policy is too little too late, and will serve the interests of property developers more than it will help first home buyers and those looking for a house to call home in Auckland," Dr Norman said.

"Selling assets, massively increasing debt, a new housing bubble, and the earthquake rebuild might keep the train on the track until the election, but it will lead to major problems further down the track. It is an out of control train wreck of debt that future New Zealanders will one day have to pick up the bill for."

3.39pm: Deloitte CEO Thomas Pippos said the Budget includes an announcement that "small, innovative businesses" will be able to cash-up tax losses on R&D up to a certain limit.

The reality is cashing up of losses is just another form of government grant, he said.

"Either way, it is good news for start-ups."

Meanwhile, Bill Rosenberg, Council of Trade Unions economist, said the Budget fails to address a crisis in jobs, low wages, increasing poverty and inequality that New Zealand currently faces.

"These problems have grown over the last five years, and this Budget doesn't do enough to help solve them.

"The Budget should have been about more assistance for people who lose their jobs, productive community work programmes, and a strategy to help manufacturing and other higher value, higher wage industries grow."

3.26pm: Tertiary Education Union national secretary Sharn Riggs says this is yet another "nasty" Budget which chooses austerity over opportunity.

"This government is stripping money away from students, both directly through their loans, allowances, and higher fees, and indirectly by attacking the quality of their education."

"Instead it is subsidising $29 million to private education companies to help them make a profit rather than investing in local communities' public education institutions."

3.23pm: Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens has noted that the Christchurch rebuild remains a focus of the Government's plans, but that wariness also remains "particularly of commercial interests down the track."

He said the rising costs which would come as a consequence of revising the rebuild costs, and therefore lengthening the rebuild period, may make it difficult for many business cases to stack up.

3.21pm: John Key has concluded his speech by expressing confidence in his Government and saying he wouldn't vote for the "devilbeast" he sees in Labour and the Greens.

Greens co-leader Dr Russel Norman said it was an "angry" speech for a Prime Minister to deliver on Budget Day.

3.18pm: Nathan Argent, Greenpeace's chief policy advisor, says the Meridian sell-off could cost the economy billions.

"The global clean energy market is booming. But New Zealand's chance to use the innovation and expertise that is fostered in Meridian, and pocket the billions of dollars on offer in this worldwide industry, has just been kicked into touch," he said.

"This is not a budget for New Zealanders. This is not a Budget backing our Kiwi innovation and expertise. And it's not a Budget for our long-term prosperity."

3.08pm: The theme of Bill English's fifth Budget is "Building Momentum," the Herald's award-winning columnist John Armstong has noted.

"The finance minister should have added the words 'slowly' and 'cautiously'," Armstong said.

3.03pm: David Shearer concluded his speech with a scathing attack on the Prime Minister, John Key.

"We've had enough of game shows, and the 'Wheel of Misfortune'."

Mr Shearer went on to offer a suggestion to Mr Key, in the form of a quote a disgraced National list MP used this week while announcing his resignation: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

"You've had your chance. Follow Aaron Gilmore, and get out of the way," Mr Shearer said.

"I will lead a Government that puts people first."

"That was truly awful," Mr Key - who held up Bill English as "the envy of the Western world" - said in response.

"It was like watching MySky at half speed."

3pm: All state house tenants will have their tenancies reviewed and be forced to move on once their circumstances change, writes the Herald's Claire Trevett.

2.54pm: David Shearer continued his attack on the Government, criticising the housing plan and the partial sale of Mighty River Power, and saying 100,000 Kiwis have now fled for Australia since National came to power in 2008.

Mr Shearer has questioned why the Government won't heed recommendations for an MMP review if it's not to protect partners John Banks (Act) and Peter Dunne.

2.49pm: David Shearer says New Zealand has a "game show Government", comparing Government personalities and policies with popular TV programmes.

Mr Shearer likened United Future's Peter Dunne to a contestant on Survivor: "Sometimes he outplays, he never outwits, and somehow he outlasts."

2.45pm: Mr English has commended the Budget to the house. Labour Leader David Shearer has immediately struck back, saying this is a "blackjack budget" in which Mr English has stacked the deck against New Zealanders.

"They deserve a Government that is better than this," Mr Shearer said.

"This has always been a Government for vested interests. For casino giants, movie makers ... and National Party no-hopers."

2.38pm: Around $18 billion worth of new residential housing in Canterbury - almost half the regional rebuild - will be the key driver behind New Zealand's growth over the next four years, according to Treasury.

Bill English said the total estimated cost of earthquake damage in Christchurch has been increased by $10 billion, and is now $40 billion.

"Budget 2013 confirms $2.1 billion of additional government funding to the earthquake recovery, including $900 million of new capital from the Future Investment Fund. This will take the Government's total share of the rebuild to around $15 billion," he said."

Deloitte's Managing Partner in Christchurch says the Government is doing a "world-class" job of an "extremely complex and costly disaster recovery process."

Brett Chambers said: "Today's announcement will benefit not only the people of Christchurch, but the whole of New Zealand, as the country depends on the full economic contribution from its second largest city."

2.34pm: Bill English says "too many New Zealanders have to spend too much of their incomes on housing, and that's bad for them and for the economy."

The Government's social housing measures include a stated record $2.9 billion investment by Housing New Zealand over three years, and a bill which aims to enable the Government to work urgently with councils on streamlining resource consents for new housing developments in areas of poor housing affordability.

2.27pm: Bill English has confirmed that Meridian Energy will be the next state-owned asset up for partial sale.

In response, Nathan Argent, Greenpeace's chief policy advisor, said:

"The half-baked decision to sell clean energy gem Meridian could lose the economy billions of dollars.

"The cash generated by selling this company will look like peanuts compared to the huge rewards on offer if the Government actually backed our clean energy expertise, rather than flogging it."

Mr English said the Mighty River Power offer demonstrated that the Government's share offer programme was effective.

"It raised $1.7 billion, which will be used to invest in hospitals, schools and other assets our communities want and need.

"At the same time, 113,000 New Zealanders took the opportunity to invest in a strong local enterprise.

"Meridian will benefit from that same process, and New Zealanders will once again have the opportunity to invest in the Initial Public Offering of a large New Zealand company."

2.16pm: Finance Minister Bill English has stayed on the track set in previous years in today's Budget, writes the Herald's Adam Bennett.

2.11pm: Bill English says Budgets announced by the previous Labour Government were "illusory."

Mr English says there are four main priorities for the Government:

* Managing Government finances responsibly.
* Fostering a more productive economy.
* Delivering better public services.
* Rebuilding Christchurch.

"New Zealanders can look to the future with well-earned confidence and optimism," he said.

2.05pm: Finance Minister Bill English prepares to present the Budget.

He begins by outlining the state of the New Zealand economy at the time of the current National Goverment's first Budget in 2009, after the global financial crisis of 2008.

"The Government's plan has not involved radical change. That plan is working as international bodies like the IMF has recognised. The NZ economy grew by 3 per cent last year.

"Although unemployment is too high, attracting investment which creates jobs is a focus for the Government.

"We are on track to post a surplus in 2014-15. Budget 2013 is about building momentum."

2pm: Parliament is now in session ahead of the reading of the 2013 Budget.
1.43pm: The reading of the Budget - hashtag #NZBudget if you're following on Twitter - begins at 2pm. In the meantime, try out this app from the Maxim Institute which aims to illustrate where your income tax dollars go.

1pm: Before the reading of the Budget at 2pm, we'll help you to catch up on what you need to know:

After two budgets of zero new spending, Bill English has budgeted $800 million for new spending in the next financial year which will still end up in deficit - $2 billion at the last forecast. (Read more: Budget: English to ease purse strings)

A number of pre-Budget announcements were made in the lead-up to today's reading, including:

* An additional $21.3 million funding to curb high rheumatic fever rates in New Zealand.

* An extra $70 million to the Government's National Science Challenges.

* The Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre will be rebuilt at a cost of $5.5 million over the next four years.


* $4 million over four years for Maori affairs cadetships.

* $43 million over four years of reprioritised funding for Maori/Pasifika trade training.

* $80.5 million over four years for educational achievement.

* $12 million over four years for Kainga Whenua grants.

* $70 million over four years for aged care.

* $4.5 million for youth services, the duration of which is unclear.

* $7 million over four years for immigration visitor facilities.

* $158 million over four years for tourism.

* $20 million over four years for conservation.

- NZ Herald

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