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Welcome to your May edition of PolitiPal: no bull, no spin, all truth, monthly insider newsletter!
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Every house sitting week the Leader of the Opposition (LoO) asks the Prime Minister (PM) questions, also known as holding the Government to account. If question time is on, we are watching it so you don't have to! This month, a variety of topics were covered.
These included the progress on KiwiBuild, job and employment growth, the success of the fees-free policy and reforming polytechs, tax revenue to pay for essential public services such as St John, in addition to speculation over the Budget and its contents.
The Wellbeing Budget has finally been unveiled!
Yesterday Finance Minister Hon Grant Robertson announced the Budget at 2pm. Here are the big numbers...
Total new spend is $25.6b over four years, with the operating allowance growing from $2.4b each year to $3.8b.
This time around, the Government is tackling the mental health crisis head on with $1.9b over the next five years across a number of portfolios. The funding goes towards a range of initiatives such as:
- New universal frontline service ($455m);
- DHB funding for mental health and addiction services ($213m);
- and the establishment of a mental health and wellbeing commission ($8m).
Children and schools are also a highlight, with $1.1b going towards Oranga Tamariki to help children transition out of state care. School donations will also be removed for schools falling in deciles 1-7.
In terms of the economy, a new $300m fund will aim to retain New Zealand startups. KiwiRail will receive $1b for its redevelopment.
A few more things:
- There will be new funding to make public transport cheaper for low income households who hold Community Services Cards.
- Budget will allocate $56.1m over four years to the Whenua Māori Programme, which will support Māori landowners, trustees and whānau.
- Support will be provided to the Office of Ethnic Communities to promote social cohesion, diversity and inclusiveness.
- The largest ever investment into fighting family and sexual violence is a major feature.
Zero Carbon Bill passes first reading: The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill has passed its first reading in Parliament with near unanimous support. The next stage for the Bill is to pass through select committee in the second half of the year. New Zealanders are welcome to make submissions to select committee on the final shape of the legislation. More information here.
Funding announced to support ambulance services: The Government has announced an investment of $21m into ambulance services over the next two years. The one-off funding is designed to ‘relieve immediate pressures and provide certainty while St John and Wellington Free work with the Ministry of Health, ACC and District Health Boards on the long-term sustainability of their services’, according to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Progress being made on Hamilton-Auckland train: Transport Minister Phil Twyford has visited the KiwiRail workshop to view refurbished locomotives and carriages. The service is expected to launch in 2020 with two morning services from Hamilton, two return evening services each weekday and one service on Saturdays. More details here.
Sustainable tourism growth strategy launched: The New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy was launched by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage earlier in the month. This strategy sets out five key outcomes for the direction of tourism in the future, with specific considerations towards New Zealand’s natural environment, cultural and historical heritage, to ensure sustainable growth for the tourism industry. Further information here.
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