Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Budget 2013: Opposition reacts to Budget

David Shearer responds after the reading of the Budget. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Shearer responds after the reading of the Budget. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Opposition parties have criticised the Budget, saying it delivered nothing to middle New Zealand and, despite pre-Budget hints poverty would be a major focus, the initiatives amounted to little more than tinkering.

Labour leader David Shearer said that the Budget did more for National's "vested interests" while the measures for those on low incomes were little more than "scraps falling off the table."

He said it did nothing for young families trying to get into their own homes beyond more tinkering with the Resource Management Act, or those facing poverty. Instead National had delivered "scraps" by offering pilot programmes for low interest loans and for a 'warrant of fitness' for rental homes, which would initially only apply to state homes.

"What we have heard today in the Budget is about tinkering. It is about pilot projects. There are more pilots in this Budget than the entire workforce of Air New Zealand."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman also said the Budget had failed to address both the economic and social issues faced by New Zealand and under Treasury forecasts it was heading towards the second worst current account deficit in the world by 2017.

He said despite apparent hints that food in school would be included, only three of the Child Poverty Advisory Panel's 35 recommendations were acted on.

"It is more important to National to deliver a 0.05 per cent surplus than deliver for our poor kids."

Finance Minister Bill English said that the Government response to that panel's report would be made in a few weeks' time, along with any food in schools measures.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said the Budget did more for National's "fat cat mates" than ordinary New Zealanders who faced skyrocketing costs and limited wage increases. "They have to run faster and faster to stay in the same place." He said of the 170,000 jobs National had promised, it had delivered only 8000 and of those, 400 were for extra Work and Income staff to deal with the unemployed in the dole queues.

Mana leader Hone Harawira also criticised the Budget, saying that not only had it failed to deliver meals in schools, it had delivered "only crumbs."

The Government support partners were also underwhelmed, although for different reasons. Act leader John Banks said it was "good but does not go nearly far enough" while United Future leader Peter Dunne said it was remarkable that a return to surplus was possible, but otherwise the Budget was "a pragmatic, sensible, well-shaped Budget-one adequate for the times."

- NZ Herald

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