Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her ministers will today begin the process of selling their Wellbeing Budget to New Zealanders after announcing some big increases to social spending and mental health.
Ardern said the Budget represented a "systematic change" while Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, called it a "significant departure from the status quo".
But National leader Simon Bridges said the Budget showed a slowing economy and was all style over substance.
"This is not a Wellbeing Budget. Most New Zealanders will be left asking themselves what's in it for them."
The Government also stands accused of prioritising trains over teachers, after earmarking $1 billion for KiwiRail.
But the Budget would come as particularly good news to parents, many of whom now need not worry about having to pay school donations.
It's also good news for beneficiaries who can look forward to having their benefits increased, starting next year.
Overall, the Budget provided for an extra $25 billion of new spending.
Much of that is focused on social spending, delivering on some of the areas Labour campaigned on in 2017 and has since been accused of moving too slowly on.
Almost $2 billion across five years will be spent on addressing mental health issues.
More than $455 million of that funding has been put towards expanding access to mental health and addiction support, particularly for those with mild to moderate mental health needs.
"We said that we would be a Government that did things differently, and for this Budget we have done just that," Ardern said in the House.
"Today we have laid the foundation for not just one Wellbeing Budget, but a different approach for Government decision-making altogether.
The funding announcement comes a day after the Government revealed it would be adopting 38 of the 40 recommendations in the He Ara Oranga report on mental health.
The Government also announced it would spend $1 billion on a package to help reduce child poverty.
At the centre of that package was a surprise move to increase benefits.
Benefit levels are currently indexed to inflation, but from April next year they will be indexed to the average wage – as is currently is the case for NZ superannuation.
The policy is expected to cost $320.2 million over four years, and is forecast to see a benefit increase by $47 a week by 2023 – that would see an increase for 339,000 people.
The Government will also spend $266 million on decile 1-7 schools so parents no longer have to pay donations.
Robertson said this amounts to a saving for parents of $150 per pupil per year across 1700 schools – benefiting half a million school kids.
As part of the Budget, for the first time, the Government has produced a child poverty report – that showed the number of Kiwi kids that fall into the material hardship category is 13.3 per cent.
The Government is targeting 10.3 per cent by 2021 and to 6 per cent by 2028.
Robertson said the focus on Wellbeing meant the Government was no longer basing its success on a "narrow set of economic indicators".
"The old way of doing things have left too many people behind."
But the increase in social spending has led the Government to significantly increase the amount it is allowing itself to spend, with the annual operating allowance increasing this year from $2.46 billion to $3.8 billion.
The expected Government surplus has shrunk too.
Independent economist Cameron Bagrie has raised questions around how sustainable the spending increase is.
"If spending continues at the current pace the books will be in the red in two to three years," he said.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson also welcomed the Government's Wellbeing Budget.
"The wellbeing of our people and environment should be at the centre of everything the Government does. I am pleased to see the Government is starting to take this approach for the first time."
New Zealand First was also a winner in today's Budget, with KiwiRail securing $1 billion over the next two years.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the funding would get rail "back on track" after it had been neglected under the last Government.
The spending was welcomed by KiwiRail CEO Greg Miller said the Budget "builds a solid foundation for the future of rail in New Zealand".
The delivery of the Budget was slightly overshadowed by questions around whether or not Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf had offered his resignation to the Finance Minister.
On Tuesday night, Makhlouf said Treasury had been hacked – but early Thursday morning, he admitted that an unknown person, or persons, appeared to have "exploited a feature in the website search tool".
Bridges called for him to resign – despite the fact his tenure as Secretary ends in just under a month.
When asked if he had offered to resign, Makhlouf refused to answer questions.
Ardern also avoided the question when pressed by media this afternoon.
Although she refused to say if he had offered her is resignation, she did confirm she had not, in fact, asked him to resign.