Shane Jones has defended the absence of a "trophy" announcement for businesses in yesterday's Budget - bragging that they already got it in the form of a cancelled capital gains tax.
Speaking at a post-Budget event hosted by Grant Thornton in Auckland, the Associate Finance Minister and New Zealand First MP said business leaders had raised the lack of pro-business measures in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's pre-Budget speech last week.
"A number of you ... have privately communicated to me that you were disappointed as a business audience that the Prime Minister did not make a trophy announcement of a business nature.
"The reality is, you already had that announcement. And none of you rang to thank me for New Zealand First killing off the capital gains tax."
A tax working group recommended the introduction of a capital gains tax earlier this year but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled it out in April, saying Labour could not reach agreement with NZ First and the Greens.
Jones said the Budget priorities announced yesterday reflected a "genuine MMP government".
"Obviously my colleagues from the Green Party are a party that genuinely believes that the economy needs to be expedited on the transition journey to reduce carbon emissions.
"The Prime Minister ... epitomises the need for governments to address areas of neglect and equity. She has campaigned on that. This Budget shows the level of her preparation and her vision that she brought to politics.
"And the party I belong to are a pro-industry party. We believe that infrastructure has been allowed to languish for far too long and we need to be a lot more robust and innovative in how we peel back the layers and ensure that we use innovation to fund the capital."
The key business announcements in the Budget were $1 billion for KiwiRail, $229m to clean up waterways, $107m to help reduce carbon emissions, and $49m for the forestry sector.
The largest new spend overall was a $1.9m boost to mental health services.
"We all campaigned, and are awfully afraid of the way in which New Zealand communities and society across all ethnicities and levels of wealth are being afflicted by this awful spread of mental health debility," Jones said.
"So rightly or wrongly this Budget is proudly branding itself as a substantial step towards dealing with that overdue issue."
Jones also defended the focus on child wellbeing in the Budget.
"I find that in a lot of our business audiences that's often regarded as the private domain ... of [their] household.
"But the reality is if we are going to tackle equity ... we have to be honest about the types of interventions the states needs to make."
He said the value of the Wellbeing Budget was not captured by "orthodox money measurements".
"The real test as to whether or not wellbeing has taken root and captured the hearts and minds of the nation will be at the next election."