Budget 2019

The Coalition Government's second Budget divvies up $111 billion.

While Finance Minister Grant Robertson has allocated $9b more spending than last year's Budget, not everyone is happy.

Here's what people had to say about the spending.


A $1.9b package over five years across a range of portfolios including health, education, corrections, justice and housing was announced today.


But the rest of the health sector gets just enough to keep it ticking over and there is little joy for those hoping for a boost for Pharmac.

A new free, universal frontline service will be rolled out over five years, with 325,000 people a year expected to be accessing the services by 2024.

More details would be confirmed later this year, including which regions it would be rolled out in first. Click here to read more about health.

Recreation Aotearoa applauded the Budget announcement, saying the decision to fund school physical activity advisers is money well spent.

"So many of the country's problems – mental health issues, obesity – require a joined-up approach across Government departments. We hope to see more inter-ministry initiatives of this nature in the future," chief executive Andrew Leslie said.

Meanwhile, Policy and Research for the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) director Lyndon Keene said the funding falls about $300 million short.

"More money has been directed at community-based services, including an additional $61m for National Mental Health Services, which is managed by the Ministry of Health," he said.

Focus: PM Jacinda Ardern talks mental health at Mangere Health Centre

"However, the estimated shortfall in DHB funding means many hospital services will continue to struggle with increasing demand, and current unmet need for services is unlikely to be addressed.



The Government wants to scrap school donations for low- and middle-decile schools in an effort to put more cash in the hands of parents.

It is also acknowledging a child obesity problem and wants schoolkids to eat healthier and have more exercise, putting $47.6m to develop a programme for schools and early learning centres.

It is part of an extra $1.56b over five years for education, which includes $1.2b fund for a 10-year school property investment plan, revealed in today's Budget 2019 announcement. To read more about education click here.

ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander said the Budget shows the Government does not register the early years of education as important.

"It's not ideal for the care and learning of vulnerable and young children to be in situations where staff, managers and owners are reporting that their service is just trying to survive," she said.

Meanwhile, BestStart Educare deputy chief executive Fiona Hughes welcomed the increase in early childhood education subsidy rates but is disappointed it doesn't address the "chronic teacher shortage".

Universities New Zealand chair Derek McCormack said any increase in funding is a step in the right direction for tertiary education.

"Investment in universities and the education they provide would mean that the universities can deliver the skills needed for teacher education, working with children and for new frontline staff in mental health," McCormack said.

"We can also make improvements in teaching quality and research, benefiting students, whānau and the wider community.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson leading his six ministers as he leaves after his Wellbeing Budget 2019 presentation in the lock-up at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Finance Minister Grant Robertson leading his six ministers as he leaves after his Wellbeing Budget 2019 presentation in the lock-up at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell


The Government will pump more than $200m into a new programme aimed at cleaning up waterways.

Today's Budget included a $229m Sustainable Land Use Package designed to protect and restore at-risk waterways and wetlands, and offered support for farmers to use land more sustainably.

The state of New Zealand's waterways has increasingly become a battleground environmental issue. To read more about environment click here.

Forest & Bird has welcomed new funding dedicated to research, protecting and restoring the natural environment.

"In general, this year's Budget is acknowledging the importance of nature in New Zealand by devoting more money to natural heritage protection and devoting funding to transition towards a more sustainable economy," chief executive Kevin Hague said.

Meanwhile, Federated Farmers are questioning why the Government has left a critical gap in its commitment to conservation.

"We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25m per year," arable and biosecurity spokeswoman Karen Williams said.

"It's a $25m problem growing at 20 per cent per year. We are not even going to hold our own at $10m."


More than 300,000 beneficiaries will see up to $17 extra every week by 2023, with a boost to benefits announced today in Budget 2019.

The announcement will be a welcome surprise for welfare advocacy groups, as it is an unexpected addition to the Government's response to the welfare expert advisory group's report announced earlier this month.

Benefit levels are currently indexed to inflation, but Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced that they will be indexed to the average wage - as NZ superannuation is - from April next year.

That will see increases for 339,000 individuals and families. To read more about welfare click here.

Children's Commission Andrew Becroft said he was heartened by the plan to link benefits to wages.

"This is something we've been calling for some time. It is unquestionably both the right and necessary thing to do. The need now is for the link to be set at the right level," he said.

However, Auckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator Ricardo Menendez said the lift in welfare payments would not make a difference for a few years.

He was "very disappointed" that payments were not lifted further, and more urgently.


The Government-owned KiwiRail was one of the major winners in today's Budget, receiving a $1b boost.

A third of that has been allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund and represents the biggest single spend from the fund to date.

Speaking to media inside today's Budget lockup, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the spending means "rail is back on track". To read more about KiwiRail click here.

KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said the funding sets a solid foundation for the future of rail in New Zealand.

"More than a billion dollars over two years is an outstanding level of investment from the Government. It's a real shot in the arm for KiwiRail, and a clear recognition of the value rail can add to New Zealand's transport system," he said.

"This funding will allow us to improve the resilience of the rail network and invest in much-needed wagons, locomotives and improve the productivity of our workshops so that rail services can be more reliable and operate more competitively in the market."


Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) is disappointed there were no new announcements addressing housing supply in the budget.

Chief executive Bindi Norwell said home ownership is at its lowest level in New Zealand in 60 years and needs to be properly addressed.

"Housing affordability is another area that has seemingly been ignored in today's Budget," she said.

"Additionally, just a few weeks out from the Healthy Homes legislation coming into effect there is minimal support for landlords to make their homes warmer and drier and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

"Given Minister Twyford's announcement about the Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities Bill yesterday, we were surprised no additional funding was announced today to ensure the long-term financial wellbeing of Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities."


Business industry heads say the budget delivered no surprises and there was little to get excited about, aside from a new $300 million investment fund.

Craig Hudson, Xero New Zealand country manager, said he was pleased with the sentiment of the budget which allocated $1.9 billion over the next five years for mental health, an issue which plagued the small business sector.

"A better person makes a better employee which makes a better business," Hudson said.

Meanwhile, Business Mentors chief executive Craig Garner said $300m funding allocation to keep start-ups homegrown was a win for the sector.

"Part of the problem with investing in businesses is they get to a certain stage and they leave and we don't financially benefit from their ongoing investment or infrastructure that goes around it, so I think that is a very good move with positive implications."