Local political leaders dissect the Budget

By Matthew Martin

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Rotorua MP Todd McClay
Rotorua MP Todd McClay

Yesterday's budget announcement drew mixed responses from Rotorua's politicians.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said the Budget ticked all the boxes for Rotorua - with improved healthcare and education services being big winners.

He said the Lakes District Health Board would receive an extra $15 million in funding taking the total to $322 million for 2016/17.

"The DHB has underperformed in some key health targets lately. In discussions with them we've agreed this extra funding will help them get back on track.

"Rotorua's young people are also set to benefit with annual education investment exceeding $11 billion and $43.2 million will help students most at risk of educational under-achievement, $42.1 million for students with high and special needs and $882.5 million to school property."

He said trades trading got a boost too.

"More than $14 million will go to increasing apprenticeship training, along with an additional $9.6 million for more Maori and Pasifika trades training places for students.

There's a renewed focus on social wellbeing, with $258 million extra for social housing and $49 million to strengthen whanau-centred services."

But New Zealand First list MP, based in Rotorua, Fletcher Tabuteau said it was "the band-aid" budget and there was nothing meaningful for the regions, including Rotorua.

"New Zealander's taxes continue to be used as a band-aid on the Auckland problem meanwhile, Rotorua misses out on real roading investment dollars, certainly a clear bone of contention after the large response I received from recent articles.

"Unlike the recent Australian budget, that recognised the importance of small to medium locally owned businesses, this Government continues to ignore the true wealth generators in Godzone and favour the corporate elite.

"And so, the one per cent thrive whilst hard working Kiwi's continue to live week to week. It's time to make a noise and hold them to account," Mr Tabuteau said.

But, Waiariki MP and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said it was a win for Maori as the party built on its gains for "whanau, whare, whenua and whakapapa".

"We are particularly pleased with the extra $40 million for Whanau Ora, the $35 million we've invested in te reo Maori and the additional $41 million we're putting toward emergency housing.

"Unlike National and Labour, our focus is not on placating middle New Zealand, we are unashamedly in Government to break down the inter-generational disparities between Maori and non-Maori.

"One of the key themes in Maori Party policies is mana motuhake - helping Maori and other communities determine their own destiny with a hand-up from the state."

He said the party had secured more gains for Maori than any other party in eight years as a support partner.

"Imagine what the Government budget would look like without the Maori Party needling the conscience of the government on areas like social development and housing," Mr Flavell said.

Labour Party spokesman for Rotorua Tamati Coffey described it as "another conveyor belt budget" where Rotorua received little.

"Filled with promises that will take multiple election wins to deliver and ambulance at the bottom of the cliff ideas all wrapped in talk of 'sound economic management' so full of holes you could use it as a kitchen sieve.

"Favouring Auckland at the expense of the regions, mismatched priorities are everywhere. IRD gets $857 million for computers, while schools struggling with providing healthy environments for our kids get just $880 million for new classrooms.

"Where are the promised tax cuts and growth? Lakes District Health Board gets $15 million, but that won't address the chronic waiting lists highlighted in this newspaper.
"Smokers get hit hard, while nothing is done to control home ownership quickly moving out of reach for hard working Kiwis."

He said it was "classic National", playing New Zealanders off against each other by heavily taxing lower income earners while "the super rich buy another house for the portfolio".

- Rotorua Daily Post

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