Budget 2019

The Budget will be a disappointment to Kiwis, National leader Simon Bridges says.

"This is not a wellbeing Budget. Most New Zealanders will be left asking themselves what's in it for them. Families want more money in their weekly budgets for food, petrol and rent.

"Instead, their taxes are going towards rail, the defence force and trees, Bridges said today.

The Budget showed New Zealand First held the purse strings once again, with funding for rail and forestry, he said.

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"The cost of this coalition is not worth it for New Zealanders with what they're getting in return, and it certainly isn't improving anyone's wellbeing.

"But Winston hasn't got everything he wants, there's no money for free healthcare for seniors, which was part of his coalition promise. In health there's also no money for midwives, free GPs visits and there's less of an increase for elective surgeries than last year," he said.

Bridges said the economy was in decline and business confidence was at record lows.

"This Budget shows the Government still has no plan to grow the economy.

"Under this Government there are 13,000 more people on welfare, the time it takes to get into social housing has doubled, people are missing out on elective surgeries, rents are up an average of $50 a week, hardship assistance has increased by $48 million in the past year, there were an extra 70,000 requests for assistance for food in the last year alone and there is more strike action than we've seen in decades," Bridges said.

ACT leader David Seymour said the Budget 2019 failed to provide the fiscal policies needed for stronger economic growth.

"If wellbeing is the Government's focus, it should ditch policies that will actively harm the economy. The Zero Carbon Bill and oil and gas ban will cut incomes and drive emissions overseas. KiwiBuild is diverting precious time and effort from solutions that would solve the housing crisis. Fair Pay Agreements will empower the unions and tie firms up in red tape," Seymour said.

"Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson dismiss economic growth as a primitive concept, but they're deeply misguided. Economic growth alleviates poverty, creates new opportunities, improves happiness, and lengthens lives."

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Growth in productivity and GDP per capita had been almost non-existent and the Government had no policies that would reverse the trend, he said.

Ardern told Parliament the Government had laid the foundation for a different approach to decision-making. She spent most of her Budget speech speaking about the Government's $1.9 billion funding over a number of portfolios to tackle mental health and addiction issues.

"We will ensure every person in New Zealand will be able to access the support they need, when they need it, by rolling out a whole new workforce of trained mental health workers in doctors' clinics, iwi health providers and other health services across the country. It is a new service targeted specifically at the mild to moderate mental health support that so many in the middle miss out on. It is for all of us and it will be a game changer," Ardern said.

She said there was no point targeting mental health if the Government didn't also target homelessness, family violence, poverty and other issues that contribute to stress in life.

"That's what this Wellbeing Budget has done.

"There is so much more to say about this Budget but one message I want to repeat is this - I have always said that politics is all about priorities. You have a limited budget and you have to try and balance the need to grow the economy, create jobs, balance the books, and look after our people and our environment. This Budget shows that you can do all of those things."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said a growing Gross Domestic Product did not by itself deliver a fair society or a healthy environment.

"Our economy has grown even while homelessness increased dramatically and our waterways became too polluted to swim in. But GDP growth has been treated as the ultimate goal for decades.

"This Wellbeing Budget starts to change how we think about our economy," he said.
"I have to say it is a sign of how things have changed over the years that this way of thinking is becoming mainstream."

Shaw said the Greens were proud to be part of a government that had committed an extra $1.9 billion over the next four years to turning the tide on the mental health crisis.
"The road will be long. It will be hard. But, from this day, it gets better."