Election promises shaky ahead of Govt's first Budget

A fortnight out from delivering his first Budget, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has made a concrete promise to keep the Government's books in surplus.

But keeping that promise means Labour will have to break another one: to bring down the price of doctor visits by $10.

That was supposed to happen on July 1, but the government is now saying they haven't got enough money to make it happen.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she "absolutely rejects" the idea that a broken promise budget is coming.

The policy still stands but it now has to be phased in. Newshub understands the Government will announce it will go to lower income families first, before the discount is extended to the rest of the country in later Budgets.

The Government would not officially confirm this.

During the campaign, Labour promised to put an extra $846 million into health in this year's budget. On Tuesday Newshub asked the Finance Minister whether he'd stick to that.

"There's no such thing as Labour's fiscal plan anymore," Mr Robertson told Newshub.

So what's stopping them? The Government says DHBs are in more debt than they expected, but they're also determined to stick to their budget responsibility rule to keep the books in the black.

The Prime Minister and her Finance Minister didn't stick to the same line when asked if healthy finances or healthy New Zealanders are more important.

Ms Ardern said healthy Kiwis, while Mr Robertson said both were important.

The balancing act is made all the more difficult with two other parties in government, so managing expectations is key.

Mr Robertson hinted that other election promises may have to be rolled out in stages too.

"You don't solve nine years of neglect in one Budget."

National Party leader Simon Bridges was critical.

"They played Santa before the election," he said.

"If they got their priorities right and they had a bit of discipline, they should be able to deliver on promises."


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