Frankly, it should have happened a lot sooner than this.The budget proposition to have free medical care for under-13s, from next year, is a stunning move by the Government.

Frankly, it should have happened a lot sooner than this, either by this Government or the previous one. It means about 400,000 children can now go to the doctor for free.

I'm guessing it is a reflection on the surplus the Government says it has to dish out, but it's also an election year, and a family-friendly budget can score points with the voters and yet again take the wind out of social policies Labour may have wanted to broadcast, or already mooted.

Labour have argued that the Government is "borrowing" from Labour's policies for this budget, and sure, probably.


But while I was wondering if they would give some love to paid parental leave, the free doctors' visits and prescriptions for under-13s was a surprise.

I know there will be those who say the paid parental leave, although extended, still hasn't gone as far as Northern Hemisphere countries. The trouble is, we're not as rich as those countries.

On the negative side of the budget, it seems a bit concerning the police budget has been frozen for the fifth consecutive year. The Government says a "smarter approach" to policing has reduced costs.

In the long term, funding social schemes, providing better housing, better education and better health probably does mean a drop in crime, and it is good to think about the future health of the country. But it's very long term, and I don't think we should thin the blue line this soon.

Andrew Bonallack is the editor of the Wairarapa Times-Age.