Grant Robertson: Five things I'd do if I was Finance Minister

Grant Robertson is Labour's Finance spokesperson and the MP for Wellington Central. He slams Budget 2017 and lists five things he'd focus on if he became Finance Minister

OPINION: Budget 2017 is a let-down. National has squandered the chance to fix the housing crisis and re-build our battered health and education systems. Instead, they've gone for an election year Budget with an eye for September 23, not the 21st Century.

As a politician, I can look at the Budget and see there are some clever politics here. But it doesn't have the vision or the solutions that New Zealand needs. This Budget doesn't have new thinking in it, it doesn't show how our economy is going to create decent work with higher wages, it doesn't support Kiwis to get the knowledge and training opportunities to participate in the new economy.

And it doesn't properly deal with the need to build affordable homes for first home buyers, or ending homelessness, or many of the social foundations so that all New Zealanders can share our prosperity.

The Government have said they want to double crew ambulances, but sadly those ambulances are still parked at the bottom of the cliff.

The Budget that I would present in 2018 as the next Finance Minister of New Zealand would be about giving every New Zealander a fair shot at success. Here are five examples of the areas I'd focus on:

  • Housing: Building houses for first home buyers that they can afford. Labour's KiwiBuild programme would deliver thousands of homes sold at cost to first home buyers, with the proceeds used to build more affordable homes.
  • Health: Labour would fund health properly for our growing population and start to restore the $1.7 billion of funding cuts that have left our health system in crisis, especially in mental health.
  • Education: Labour believes in an education system that prepares people for the 21st century. This starts with better funding for Early Childhood Education so our kids have the best start they can have, through better school funding beyond. Labour's Three Years Free post-secondary school education and training will help all New Zealanders adapt to the ever-changing world of employment and careers.
  • Equality: Labour commits to supporting the most vulnerable New Zealanders - they're missing out completely by the tax package that's in this Budget. The fact is that the tax benefits in this budget support the wealthiest already, while a single person on a cleaner's wage stands to benefit only $1 more a week.
  • Water: Labour would invest more into cleaning up our waterways. It's every Kiwi's birthright to enjoy our beautiful landscapes and swim in our rivers. National's belated response to nine years of mismanagement and ignorance was simply to change the E.coli standards. That's a gross abrogation of the Government's guardianship of our environment. Labour would make our rivers swimmable.

A Budget that I deliver would be a Budget to give all New Zealanders security and opportunity, not just in the run to an election, but for the long term.

Grant Robertson has been the MP for Wellington Central since 2008, and is Labour's spokesperson for Finance and Employment.