Manawatu Standard

Columns
Friday, May 22, 2015

Finance Minister Bill English presented his seventh Budget on Thursday and is able to see New Zealand out from under the threat of recession, well on the way with a very expensive Christchurch rebuild and on the way to surplus. We are not yet without challenges and the current drop in dairy prices is likely to test the Government accounts further over the next year or so.

On the other side we are seeing both interest rates and the NZ dollar moving to a more favourable space for the export sector.

This is the type of Budget a responsible Government can deliver when it's following a plan that's working. Budget 2015 contains $1 billion in new spending. It continues to support New Zealanders and help families while responsibly managing the growing economy and the Government's finances.

The Rangitikei Electorate will receive benefit from the reconstituted Afforestation Grant Scheme, which receives $22.5 million, and which in its last iteration led to the planting of some 900ha of trees in the electorate.

Dropping ACC levies will also impact positively on provincial New Zealand as will increased spending on animal welfare, Biosecurity, UFB and rural broadband and regional research centres, which will implement the strengths of the regions they are located in.

A continuing concern for the Government is those people and children living in very poor conditions, with very low income and no work. The Government will continue building on what we've put in place to address the drivers of hardship.

This approach is working - there are now 42,000 fewer children in benefit dependent families than three years ago. So our $790 million child hardship package designed to assist our 160,000 most deprived families will make a difference to those who receive it, while at the same time respecting the taxpayers who pay for it.

The increase of $25 per week is the first increase in benefit payments since 1972 that is not CPI adjusted.

Whanau Ora is also receiving a significant boost ($50m) to navigator funding to improve the lives of whanau and families who need help. The ministry itself receives some $56m extra to assist with children in our most deprived families.

Health, education, police and defence all have increases in budget expenditure to continue providing the great services they do to New Zealanders.

To achieve some of the Government's objectives it has been necessary to alter some priorities and this has affected the start up payment for KiwiSaver, which is held by 2.5 million Kiwis today, and introduce a levy at the border to boost biosecurity at the border of $6 to $16 per person.