National leader Simon Bridges drops more Wellbeing Budget details

The National Party has dropped what it claims are more details of the Wellbeing Budget, but once again only covering 2019/2020.

National leader Simon Bridges has claimed the Government will fund a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission as part of Budget 2019. 

"After reversing our $100 million mental health programme and spending 18 months on a working group, the Government is finally starting to take some action," he said on Tuesday afternoon. 

Earlier in the day, National released what it claimed were details of the Wellbeing Budget, including $1.3 billion for defence, $740 million for international aid, $744 million for DHBs and $139 million for forestry.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson confirmed some of the details were legitimate, but he would not say which of them were true. 

"The material that's been released - some of it's right, some of it's wrong - but you'll see the real Budget on Thursday."

National has since released more details, claiming Treaty of Waitangi negotiations will get a $4 million boost next year to $55 million. 

The party also claimed that there will be $4 million for the Minister of Fisheries for policy advice, but that there was no sign of funding for cameras on fishing vessels.

Installing cameras on commercial fishing boats was an idea proposed by the previous National-led government, and plans to install them on all boats were delayed by the Government in late 2018.

Bridges said the Budget will also include an additional $37 million for "Wellington bureaucrats" for 'policy advice, implementation of advice and Ministerial servicing'.

He said it was "millions of dollars for people to advise Ministers, which does not fit into the Government's five wellbeing measures". 

Bridges has questioned the Wellbeing Budget based on the material his party has released, such as allocating $740 million for international aid in 2019/2020, but not finding $62 million to fully fund ambulance services.

As for the $744 million boost to DHBs, Bridges said the amount will "barely be enough to cover business as usual cost pressures including deficits, let alone new initiatives".

But the material that was sent out by National only covers 2019-2020, whereas Budget forecasts are made on a four-year period.

Robertson said on Tuesday there are ways in which the Budget is cut year-by-year because it has to be paid year-by-year, "but as I say, this material is not Budget 2019 and some of the numbers are not correct".

Secretary to the Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: "Right now we're conducting our own review of these reports and the information that has been published."

He said as far as the Treasury is concerned, "the release of Budget 2019 will proceed as planned this Thursday".

When asked if the details of the material were true on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I would never take the National Party statements as read."

Bridges has refused to say if his party was leaked the material. 

"I'm not going to say how I got this information, just as I wouldn't expect journalists to do so."

The full Wellbeing Budget will be released on Thursday.