OPINION: They served sausage rolls and lamingtons at this year’s budget. There was tomato sauce too. But I missed out because they didn’t order enough food.
Treasury bureaucrats were supposed to escort us to the toilet so that nobody leaked information from the annual lock-up. I snuck past them and did manage a leak of sorts.
- Live updates: Budget 2019 to be released after week of drama
- Budget 2019: Billions of dollars for mental health, children, beneficiaries - and trains
The best part was Winston Peters’ five minute rail rant. "Rail is back on track," he proclaimed while announcing a billion bucks for Kiwirail.
Defence also did well. This budget was as much about Air Force planes and trains as it was mental health and child welfare. Who voted for more Air Force planes and train tracks at the election?
Cash for gender reassignment surgery, artists in schools and insurance for Chinese statues are among the top five things you probably won’t hear much about from today’s coverage.
1. New pensioners and war veterans are going to miss out on cash from next year. Total number of people affected by 2022: 6300. At this stage, Treasury can’t say how much money they will miss out on.
The Government is closing the non-qualified partner provision for NZ Super and Veterans pensioners, which gives extra cash to those whose partners don’t yet qualify for Super. Those currently receiving the extra money will continue to do so, but those who would have qualified from next year will miss out. How much will future war vets and pensioners miss out on?
2. The long waiting list for gender re-assignment surgery may be about to shrink, with the government promising $3 million to fund surgeries. Always a controversial spend, but some say it’s vital.
3. Under the headline “Improving Child Wellbeing”, $7 million is being spent to put artists into Maori schools to teach kids about the arts. Paint your way out of poverty.
4. The racing industry will get $46 million to help it reform. A totalizator duty, usually paid to the government, is being axed. Tax cuts for horses.
5. More than $100m was set aside for indemnity in case anything happened to China’s Terracotta Warriors while they visited New Zealand. If you break, you buy.
For a full, comprehensive wrap of Budget 2019, Grant Robertson, James Shaw, David Clark and Simon Bridges are live on The Ryan Bridge Drive Show from 3pm.