National MP David Bennett has slammed the 2019 Budget, calling it a loss for the Waikato, after losing out on crucial infrastructure projects.

The Government's 2019 Wellbeing Budget was announced last Thursday, with a record $1.9 billion package for mental health.

Rail projects across New Zealand also were boosted by a $1.6 billion injection; with $300 million of that to go on regional rail.

Mr Bennett, MP for Hamilton East, said the Waikato had lost out on key funding, such as a proposed Alcohol and Drugs court in Hamilton, and further roading projects.


"The rail spending that is in the Budget had already been identified with the Hamilton to Auckland rail, there was nothing new for the Waikato in the budget," Mr Bennett said.

"Hamilton City Council, and Mayor Andrew King had worked very hard to get a drug and alcohol court in the city, and that was rejected."

"There was only enough money there to continue the Auckland one for another year."

In January 2019, Mr King announced his support for a drug and alcohol court, which is for people whose crimes are fuelled by an addiction to alcohol or drugs, with a focus on treatment. Jail time can be replaced with treatment and monitoring, leading to a community-based sentence.

"The council had been advocating very strongly for that court to come here, but they have been very disappointed in the last month that they have not had any response," Mr Bennett said.

Mr Bennett said there has also been a petrol tax increase of eight cents in the budget for Waikato road users, with that tax going to fuel projects outside of the region.

"That will be spent on Auckland rail and trains. The projects up there have gone over budget so basically the Waikato motorists are paying to subsidise Auckland rail. That is probably what the Waikato got out of the budget."

Labour list MP Jamie Strange, however, said the Waikato continues to be a strong growth point for New Zealand, and that the region will see investment.

Jamie Strange, Labour List MP, Photo / Supplied
Jamie Strange, Labour List MP, Photo / Supplied

"There is $300 million for regional rail, we have the Hamilton to Auckland rail service starting next year already, and I will also be lobbying hard for a metro rail between Hamilton and the wider Waikato towns," Mr Strange said.

Mr Strange said that the region would also benefit from the record $1.9 billion mental health package, saying spending will go toward supporting 5000 more young people with the nurses in schools programme.

The programme will be expanded from decile one to four schools to include decile five schools at a $19.6m cost over four years.

In the Waikato there are two decile five schools, Te Aroha College and Fraser High School.
The increased mental health funding was welcomed by DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle who hoped it would include sufficient support for rural communities.

"The agricultural sector is facing changes to the way it operates, as well as increased regulations. People deal with changes in different ways and there is a growing awareness of the importance of mental health and resilience for those in the rural sector. We need to ensure our rural communities have better access to mental health professionals when additional help is needed, he said

"We look forward to seeing more detail on how this funding will be applied to be accessible and practical for rural communities, and especially for our more isolated farmers," Dr Mackle said.

Education was also boosted in the wellbeing budget, with Mr Strange saying no breakdown has been done yet, but expects the Waikato to receive funding for further classrooms and upgrades to school.

Mr Bennett said that Rototuna High School was looking for $20 million from the Government to continue with their upgrade, but has yet to see any break down in figures.