Govt considering breaking pledge to increase police numbers

Newshub can reveal the Government is considering breaking another election promise in Thursday's Budget - its pledge to increase police numbers.

The Government is pitching its first Budget as a "rebuild Budget", with big hints about big cash for old infrastructure and positive noises for nurses, midwives, teachers and police.

The Petone print shop where the Budget is printed every year will go on strike on Tuesday night – hardly a good omen for Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Nurses and midwives are also threatening strike action. They're currently negotiating pay increases, as are police and teachers.

The minister had a positive hint for them all.

"They know that the Government wants to work with them, but it's a negotiation," he said.

The Government is managing expectations after an election campaign full of big promises.

It's already delayed cheaper doctor's visits, as well as the Kiwibuild policy - and changed how much those houses will cost.

Newshub can now reveal the Government is also considering breaking its policing promise.

It promised 1800 more police over three years, but the minister has received advice about dragging that out to five years.

"This yet another broken promise," said National leader Simon Bridges.

"It's a clear breach of faith with New Zealanders."

Mr Robertson was upfront about timing issues with his Government's pledges.

"Clearly there are some areas where we're going to have to phase things in over time. People will see that in the Budget."

People will also see big bucks for old or rotting assets. Some 25,000 state houses and 38 percent of schools are more than 50 years old, while 19 percent of hospitals and health assets are in "poor" or "very poor" condition.

These are things the Government likes to blame on the previous Government.

"It's been a focus for us from well before the election, and it certainly is a priority for me," said Mr Robertson.

The Government won't want this known as the broken promises or the blame Budget, but there will be elements of both when the details are released on Thursday.

The trick will be to make the first red Budget in nearly a decade count for more.


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