When I left my much-loved job as principal of Merivale Primary I said it was because I felt I could do more to improve the lives of children if I was in Parliament. Budget 2018 delivered by the Government that I am proud to be a part of has certainly confirmed that I made the right decision.
Jacinda Ardern said she wants to make New Zealand the best place to be a child. I think that's a sentiment we would all agree with.
This Budget is about building the foundations for the future by focusing on the critical public services all of us need and deserve such as health, education and police.
Education will receive a 45 per cent increase in operating funding, and early childhood services will receive its first universal increase in a decade. Schools will get an extra $203 million in funding.
This will mean hundreds of new, modern classrooms and 1500 more teachers, so kids get the attention they need and aren't in overcrowded and understaffed schools. There will be major increases in funding for learning support for those kids who need extra help. My former colleagues will be so glad to hear this news.
Housing has been a major concern for us in Tauranga, and this Government wants to see an end to homelessness. Two billion has been allocated to get families into starter homes through Kiwibuild, 6400 more state and community houses will be built, 1400 emergency housing places will be created, so no child has to sleep in a car. And $143 million has also been allocated for home insulation and heating for low-income earners meaning fewer sick children.
Health is a big winner in this budget too. After years of chronic underfunding there is much to do to rebuild our health system and we are starting now with an additional $3.2 billion for more doctors, nurses and treatments and $750 million to fix our hospitals.
There will be cheaper or free GP visits, and medicines for 600,000 kiwis and funding for the air ambulance service will be boosted by $83 million. Community midwives will receive a big boost to their incomes. This will come as a big relief to them and also to the expectant parents they look after. We cannot afford to have any more midwives leaving the profession.
Police numbers will increase by 1800 making our communities safer.
This Budget follows on from our Families Package, 384,000 families will be better off by an average of $75 per week.
The Provincial Growth Fund to regions will see this Government investing $1 billion a year on projects that will enhance economic development, create sustainable jobs, enable Maori to reach their potential and help us meet our climate change targets.
This Budget is also about being fiscally responsible. The economy remains strong under the Coalition Government's plan. Unemployment is forecast to drop to 4.1 per cent in 2020; there will be 203,000 more jobs by June 2020 and GDP will average 3 per cent making our labour market one of the strongest in the developed world.
At the same time we are reducing debt and running a good surplus, money needs to be put aside in case we face future economic shocks or natural disasters.
I think we are definitely on the road to building a better future for everyone.
- Tauranga Labour list MP Jan Tinetti s