Government's big day: Jacinda Ardern celebrates extended parental leave, $3bn in shovel-ready projects

It was a big day for the Government as the Prime Minister celebrated extended parental leave and $3 billion in shovel-ready projects - but the Opposition took aim at Auckland's regional fuel tax kicking in.

The Government is raining money across New Zealand with its $3 billion fund for infrastructure, which is estimated to create 20,000 jobs across 150 projects.

Auckland gets $500 million, Northland gets $150 million, Otago $260 million and Canterbury $300 million. The money is going toward projects such as 80 apartments run by Auckland City Mission and town centre rejuvenation in Whangarei, Taupo and Invercargill.

One of the projects receiving funding is the Christchurch Coastal Pathway, a post-earthquake project which is now 80 percent complete.

There's nothing like a brisk walk along the Christchurch coast for local woman Lauren Sokolik, but her walks have been cut short by the unfinished walkway.

Now, cash from the Government will get the job done. It's getting $15 million from the Government and will employ approximately 100 people over a 12 month period.

"It's wonderful to be able to walk along this path," Sokolik told Newshub. "Having it connected will be great for the Sumner residents."

Others agreed.

"I've actually been looking for nice long walks to take my new dog for a walk so it's cool that it's now being extended," a local woman told Newshub.

Another said, "This will be absolutely brilliant."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also celebrated on Wednesday paid parental leave being extended to 26 weeks. During a celebration in Parliament, she joked about influencing the women in her office to have babies. 

"Every time I look at all of the pregnant women in my office.. I don't know what I've started, but it's just rife."

But Auckland's regional fuel tax kicked in on Wednesday, too - and the Opposition did not let the Government forget it.

"Tax, tax, tax," National leader Todd Muller shouted during a speech in Parliament.

The Government's infrastructure spend has been hailed by Business NZ as the "first step towards recovery", with the regions each getting a slice of the $3 billion infrastructure cake.

But Alan McDonald from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) told Newshub it's a good start, but not enough.

"It's great for the regions but we still need more."

There are also concerns that the $500 million earmarked for Auckland is nowhere near enough.

"Auckland could have done with a whole lot and probably not addressed any of the main issues that we have - I mean, $3 billion would be a drop in the bucket for Auckland's needs," McDonald added.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson pointed out that all the projects are ready to go within a year. For some, like Christchurch's coastal walkway, work is already underway.

"There are projects that could be underway in three months and then projects that will be closer to the end of the 12 month timeframe," Robertson said. "All of that adds to a pipeline of jobs that will carry on."

There were just a handful of projects announced on Wednesday - one in each region. In Rotorua, a roading project that will mean 1100 more houses can be built, while Invercargill's city renovation gets a top up.

The rest will be drip-fed.

"I think it's only fair for the different regions to all have their day in the sun," Robertson said.

He denied drip-feeding the projects ahead of the election is cynical politics.

"Not at all."

Robertson's speech in Parliament on Wednesday was political, however. He relentlessly took the mickey out of Muller and the resignation of former National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett who danced her way out in a kimono with comedian Tom Sainsbury.

"When it comes to Todd Muller, the emperor has no kimono," Robertson said to laughter in the House. "The favourite word of Mr Muller is shambles - well there's only one shambles and it's over there," he added, pointing to the Opposition.

Muller shot back in his follow-up speech, by pointing at the Government benches and saying: "The definition of shambles is that rambunctious group."

But that so-called rambunctious group has $3 billion to hand out in the lead up to Decision 2020.