Tova O'Brien: Budget 2019: Somewhere between the Well-meaning Budget and the Blunder Budget

The "Wellbeing Budget" is at best the "Well-meaning Budget" and, at worst, the "Blunder Budget".

The mental health spend is an impressive $1.9 billion over the next four years, with a big focus on boosting the workforce because we simply do not have enough mental health workers in New Zealand. 

It will mean in five years time there will be trained mental health workers in medical facilities around the country which is expected to help 325,000 people. Good job.

Beneficiaries will be better off with indexing, so too parents of children in low and middle-decile schools with the axing of school donations - but hells bells Winston Peters comes off very well indeed.

Tova O'Brien: Budget 2019: Somewhere between the Well-meaning Budget and the Blunder Budget
Photo credit: Newshub.

New Zealand First will be giddy over the $2 billion on trains in the next couple of years and $2 billion on planes and Defence.

The P8 Orion aircraft are of course a long term investment but this mental health spend should be too.

And in this Budget - the Wellbeing Budget - the government is spending as much on Defence as it is on mental health.

All the mental health initiatives were foreshadowed yesterday which meant the Budget just showed us the price tag.

Axing some school donations is new and so is linking benefits to wages but a fair chunk of this Budget is as expected, already announced, or just steady-as-she goes standard Budget fare dressed in pretty 'wellbeing' frock.

Which, unfortunately for the government, means it's ripe to be overshadowed by another story perhaps dressed up in an even more dazzling frock.

Tova O'Brien: Budget 2019: Somewhere between the Well-meaning Budget and the Blunder Budget
Photo credit: Newshub.

Cue Simon Bridges, an epic Treasury fail, hacking allegations and Budget leaks.

This has been a Budget like no other - the Leader of the Opposition delivering an edict this morning that Grant Robertson and the head of Treasury must go.

The fact the Finance Minister put out a statement just before the Budget was released expressing his extreme disappointment in the Treasury was exceptional.

Government confidence in the treasury is waning on the Treasury's most important day of the year.

It makes it hard to take the Budget seriously when even the Finance Minister won't express confidence in the Treasury from the Budget lock up.

This Budget is a great news for mental health but that's not how it will be immortalised in the political annals.

Budget 2019 will be remembered for the blunders, the botch-up and the epic beating from Bridges.

Tova O’Brien is Newshub's Political Editor.

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