New Zealand ‘landmark’ budget prioritises the vulnerable over growth

30 May 19

New Zealand hails a “landmark moment” as it unveils its budget focused on citizen wellbeing over economic growth.

The budget will prioritise mental health, child poverty, the environment and domestic violence, according to the country’s minister of finance Grant Robertson.

“We’re taking mental health seriously, breaking the cycle of child poverty and domestic violence, supporting Māori and Pasifika aspiration, transforming our economy and building a productive nation,” Robertson said.

“I am proud of this wellbeing budget – it is a landmark moment for this government and New Zealand,” he added.

The government will spend NZ$3.8bn per year on reaching targets in these area, up from NZ$2.4bn in the 2019 budget.

New Zealand’s budget document predicts a NZ$3.5bn surplus in 2018-19 rising to NZ$6.1bn by 2022-23.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Today’s budget shows you can be both economically responsible and kind. We are turning the corner on issues others have written off as too hard for too long – while keeping the books in order.”

There will be a record investment of NZ$1.9bn into mental health while $1bn will be put into the “long overdue redevelopment of KiwiRail” - New Zealand’s state owned train service.

“Today’s investment of over a billion dollars into mental health will transform the way kiwis access mental health services, but also try and prevent people needing services in the first place,” Ardern added.

Leader of the National opposition party Simon Bridges argued that the budget would disappoint New Zealanders and that the government was not taking steps to tackle a slowing economy.

He said: “The economy is sharply declining and the government is doing nothing to encourage growth.

“This budget is style over substance. It might have a glossy cover with nice pictures but it’s hollow inside. This botched budget is not transformational and will be a disappoint to New Zealanders.”

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