STEVEN JOYCE: Budget 2017 - Delivering for New Zealanders
Last month I had the privilege of presenting my first budget and the National-led Government’s ninth. Budget 2017 is all about delivering the benefits of strong consistent economic growth to New Zealanders.
Kiwis have worked hard over the last eight years turning the country around in the most difficult of circumstances. We have successfully overcome the impacts of both the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury Earthquakes and we are building a more confident and robust country. We now have a great opportunity to build on the economic platform we have all created and create a more prosperous future.
This budget is about maintaining that growth, and delivering more of the public services, the infrastructure, the resilience, and the incomes that New Zealanders need to get ahead and to provide for their families.
The Budget outlined solid economic growth, expected to average around 3.1 per cent over the next five years. That translates into strong job growth, and steady moderate increases in incomes, and provides an opportunity to raise living standards for all New Zealanders. The Budget sets out the next steps in our plan to deal with the opportunity that a growing economy presents for permanently shifting the country on to a more prosperous path.
A key part of the Budget is a $2 billion a year family incomes package, which is designed to ensure New Zealand families share the benefits of a growing economy. The package makes changes to tax thresholds, Working for Families, and the Accommodation Supplement to help Kiwi families get ahead. It lifts the incomes of 1.3 million families by an average of $26 a week, and for lower income families with higher housing costs by considerably more than that. It was good to receive strong support for the Family Incomes Package from across the Parliament with only the Labour Party voting against it.
Another big feature of the Budget is the very large infrastructure spend it contains. We’re investing an additional $4 billion in building the infrastructure that we need for a growing economy. That extra money means we’ll invest a total of $32.5 billion in new infrastructure over the next four years, including the biggest investments in decades in new roads, schools, and hospitals. This investment is 40 per cent larger than the last four years, which was already a big step-up on the normal levels of capital investments by governments in the previous decade.
This year’s budget includes $7 billion in new investments to sustain and expand important public services in health, education, law and order and social development, as part of our commitment to deliver better public services for a growing country. The health spend of $3.9 billion over four years is the biggest in more than a decade, providing more money for DHB’s, disability services, mental health services, pharmaceuticals, primary care, elective surgery, and the double crewing of all ambulance services.
The Budget also includes $320 million in social investment initiatives for our most at-risk New Zealanders with the most complex needs.
Budget 2017 takes four significant steps to bring the benefits of a stronger economy to all New Zealanders. It makes a big investment in public services, it makes a record investment in new infrastructure, it improves the resilience of our country to future shocks, and it strengthens families by lifting their incomes.
We’re pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received so far for the Budget from a wide range of community, family, and business groups. If you’d like to know more about the changes, do have a look at the budget.govt.nz website.
It is important to remember that the Government only gets to make the investments in this budget because we have a steadily growing economy supported by a strong and consistent economic plan. It is only by sticking to our strong economic plan that we can keep delivering for all New Zealanders.