Budget 2018: What we all desperately want to know

Parliament and the Beehive.
Parliament and the Beehive. Photo credit: Simon Wong/Newshub.

Thursday is a big day. Huge day. Finance Minister Grant Robertson will reveal the Government's tax and spending plans. 

Here's what we want to know.

  • What about those GP visits? Before it was elected, Labour promised to shave $10 off the cost of visiting the GP. They even put a start date on it - 1 July. They've now peddled back on it, saying it will be phased in instead. Thursday we find out who will get those cheaper visits, and when.
  • Labour promised NZ First it will add 1800 police officers to the force "over three years". It's since faced a series of questions over whether it will be able to deliver on its promise. The Budget should reveal when the spending on those officers is going to happen.
  • Health. Health, health, health. The DHBs have more than a few cost pressures on their hands. There are the nurses and midwives they employ, who are seeking more staff, more pay and better working conditions. Then there are the buildings. Treasury documents show 1 in 5 hospitals are in "poor" or "very poor" condition - evidenced by the Middlemore issues. Oh and that new hospital that needs building in Dunedin. 

The Government specifically promised to give "hospitals and health workers the resources they need". That indicates they will be boosting both capital and operational health spending - AKA buildings and people.

Then there are the mental health promises - a pilot scheme providing services in some GP clinics, a promise to the Greens to provide "timely and high quality" mental health services INCLUDING free counselling for under-25s. And a promise to pilot counsellors in primary schools.

This is going to be expensive.

  • Labour campaigned on increasing support for te reo Māori in schools, the Greens wanted it funded to the extent it would be compulsory, but New Zealand First doesn't support any degree of compulsion. 

Labour also promised to invest in Māori health through Whānau Ora, and in Maori housing through a Māori Housing Unit.

This is one to watch - the Government won all the Māori seats - will it honour those voters with substantial hikes in spending on initiatives that will help Māori stay healthy, buy homes and speak their own language?

  • The past decade has seen increasing pressures on housing, especially in cities. The waiting list for state housing more than doubled in the last two years. Housing is already expensive, with big spends on the accomodation supplement and subsidies for income-related rent.
  • Homeless advocate says Government needs an 'overall strategy'
  • The big, huge (*Googles synonyms for large*) megalithic question is this: Where are the cuts? With so many spending promises, there are going to be cuts somewhere. One to watch will be irrigation schemes. 

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