Finance Minister Grant Robertson added a $1 billion cost-of-living package to his $5.9b health-focused Budget on Thursday. Experts and commentators have weighed in on some of the highlights.
Robertson's cost of living package to address immediate inflation pressures "is a good one and well-designed, politically", writes senior political correspondent Audrey Young. "The Budget cements Robertson's credentials as careful economic manager, for good times and bad, the Goldilocks manager: not too much, not too little." Read more here.
"Robertson's Budget will have many asking 'Is that all there is?'," writes Bryce Edwards. "There are myriad initiatives and there is increased spending, but strangely it doesn't really add up to much at all for those hoping for a more traditional Labour-style Budget." Read more here.
"This is a curate's egg of a budget – good in parts, but unfortunately there is no plan for how we are going to grow the New Zealand economy and raise living standards," writes Jonathan Coleman. "Labour has once again missed an opportunity to make even a few of the radical changes needed in this time of accelerating health, climate, housing and inequality crises," writes Sue Bradford. "This is the Blackadder budget that represents a cunning plan with weasel words," writes Shane Jones. Read the Budget verdicts of three political experts here.
• Health gets $13.2b boost to address inequities, sector reforms
• After families plead for help, Pharmac gets major funding injection
• Changes to benefits will see 6000 to 14,000 more children out of poverty, nearly $1b to disability sector
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• Nearly $3b to education, decile changes and pay parity
• First-home buyer loan scheme shaken up
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"This is a Budget in which Grant Robertson's foot has moved from the accelerator to the brake pedal," writes Brian Fallow. "Government spending will grow more slowly than the economy which has to support it." Read more here.
"In these high-inflationary times, the whopping $6 billion in new operating spending doesn't go very far," writes Audrey Young. "The Government was expected to come to the rescue, as it did, but in a very measured targeted way." Read more here.
"There's quite a lot going on for "middle New Zealand" in this Budget," writes Simon Wilson. "Easier access to loans for first-home buyers, a new small-business growth fund, massive new spending in both health and education, Pharmac's biggest jump in funds ever, an extension of the cuts to petrol prices and public transport fares, a stronger focus on disability services and anti-duopoly action on supermarkets. It doesn't please everyone, of course." Read more here.
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Shane te Pou believes Labour "pulled the rabbit out of the hat" with the $350 cost-of-living payment in this year's Budget. "I have to admit, I wasn't hopeful. It seemed to me that Labour had been caught off-guard by the cost-of-living crisis. National was certainly banking on Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson being too slow to react. They didn't see the cost-of-living payment coming. It blows Chris Luxon's offering of $2 a week out of the water." Read more here.
"This year's budget is like gold for the naysayers simply because Māori are finally getting what is overdue, a better health system," writes John Tamihere. "I would like to acknowledge the tenacity of our Minister of Health, Andrew Little, for having the foresight to see the considerable discrepancies towards Māori in the health sector. And not only see it, but to forge ahead and actually do something about it despite the heavy resistance he faced." Read more here.