We asked political veterans from the left and the right to give us their Budget 2021 wish-lists. Now they're back with their verdicts.
The significant funding of $380 million for building more housing for Māori and ringfencing $350m for infrastructure will make a difference.
Iwi in general have the land and the means to make this happen and home ownership for those that currently see it as out of reach is a good thing for all New Zealanders.
They have the systems in place now to get some momentum on housing supply so let's hope they use the current partnerships and get spades in the ground as quickly as possible. (If they want to give a few councils a swift kick to move quicker too then a few of us will line up to help.)
I don't believe there will be a New Zealander alive who won't applaud the extra $200m to Pharmac. Is it ever enough? No, but it is significant and will make a difference.
I also support the benefit increases. Housing costs, particularly for the poor, have gotten so high so quickly that there has to be additional support for those who are struggling.
What I haven't seen yet is how we are going to get out of debt. Spending feels good, planning to open the borders, bring in necessary workers, reduce taxes for business so they invest more is harder but necessary.
Overall, and having not read all the details, I think this is a smart Budget that supports those who need it most.
Paula Bennett is a former deputy PM, former deputy leader of the National Party and former National MP for Upper Harbour.
It is hard to be all things to all people, especially when supporting Māori who have significant needs, relative to most across the community. Yet too much help can inspire claims of special privilege and foster "divisiveness".
The Government has done a good job in managing these competing agendas with this year's "recovery" Budget. Recovery is a term that addicts often use and one hopes that addiction is not on the cards for Finance Minister Grant Robertson in regard to the high debt that will be needed to help fund budgets until an expected 2027.
This is the first year of our three-year political cycle and it is the best year for the Government to target funding at areas where there is risk to its popularity and backlash from those voters in the majority - who live in the centre politically, ideologically and economically.
So targeting beneficiaries, Māori and the vulnerable - many of whom cover all three categories - are worthy and timely priorities for this Government.
The biggest increase for Māori has been $380m in new funding towards a Māori housing package. The Government will look to work with Māori and iwi providers, to help turn around the low 31 per cent Māori home ownership rate, well down on the national average of 52 per cent.
Another big-ticket item is $98 million to support the establishment and initial operations of the Māori Health Authority, alongside $127m for an initial commissioning budget to develop kaupapa Māori services that meet Māori needs.
Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson wants a "by Māori, for Māori" approach in areas like justice reform, health and education. He and the Māori Caucus have leveraged big gains across priority areas for Māori in this year's Budget.
The hard work now begins in putting those funds to work to bring about much needed change and improvement for Māori.
Jon Stokes is a strategy and communications adviser to Māori and iwi organisations and a former NZ Herald reporter on Māori issues.
Grant Robertson parades this Budget as a worthy counterpoint to Ruth Richardson's Mother of all Budgets 30 years ago. It is nothing of the sort, with any sense of "transformation" lost in the ether.
While people on income support will be grateful for the cold charity of an extra $20 a week, when you're on Jobseeker Support of $219/week that $20 does not go very far. The Finance Minister carefully blurs the issue when he talks about raising benefits next year in line with the Welfare Expert Advisory Group's report. The WEAG's recommendations, already years out of date, were mostly well above the total $55/week increase some people will receive by 2022. To add insult to injury, the long promised return of the Training Incentive Allowance for undergraduate education is delayed until next year.
Apart from a welcome but limited increase in support for some Māori housing initiatives, it is clear the Government relies on its earlier Housing Acceleration Fund to somehow address the current housing crisis. It even projects a decrease in spending on homelessness services over the next four years. Neither Cabinet ministers nor officials seem to have got their heads around the sheer scope and urgency of the problem.
Labour's refusal to resource state and community housing at a scale necessary to end homelessness or to lift benefits to adequate levels is a sad indictment of a party whose proud origins lie in the welfare and housing reforms of the 1930s.
Sue Bradford is an activist, academic, and former list MP representing the Green Party.
Emotion and pride are not common feelings while watching Parliament TV, but as Grant Robertson read his Budget speech it was hard not to be moved.
The Budget's benefit increase of over $100 a week for many families is truly historic. Whatever other numbers and graphs are thrown around in the post-Budget analysis, what matters is there will be food on the table, shoes on kids' feet and some dignity for families doing it tough.
Robertson noted in his speech that he was reversing the cuts of Ruth Richardson's Mother of All Budgets 30 years ago. He has also reversed the political logic: this Budget shows we don't have to be cruel to society's most vulnerable to have a strong economy.
With growth picking up to 4.4 per cent by 2023, unemployment trending down and wages rising, the opposition's claim that a focus on low incomes means Labour has no plan for economic prosperity just isn't credible - particularly when debt is set be paid back faster than National had promised before the election.
As with any Budget though, there's room for improvement. On climate change there was little to grasp on to, perhaps due to the fact the Government is still waiting for its Emissions Reduction Plan at the end of the year. But there is no time to wait – our planet is on fire and a bit more urgency here would have been welcome. Still, it was a bold Budget that will make a real difference to people's lives. I give it 8/10.
Neale Jones is the director of Capital Government Relations. He previously served as chief of staff to Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and former leader Andrew Little. His clients' interests include both EVs and conventional industry.