From funding euthanasia to managing 'people of extreme risk': Budget 2021's overlooked bits

Aptly named the 'Blockbuster Beneficiary Booster Budget' by Newshub's Tova O'Brien, Budget 2021 will be remembered for giving beneficiaries a $3.3 billion bump.

But behind the headline-grabbing bonanza - including a not-so-satisfactory $200 million Pharmac top-up - are other areas of spending that got overlooked, like funding for euthanasia and managing people "of extreme risk".

Remember the End of Life Choice Bill? ACT leader David Seymour's legislation to legalise assisted dying in some circumstances passed its final reading in Parliament in November 2019. It then went to a referendum last year and Kiwis voted in favour.

The End of Life Choice Act will come into effect in November, allowing for safeguards and processes outlined in the legislation to be established. In Budget 2021, $11.8 million is allocated to implement assisted dying services until June 2022.

The Budget also includes funding to keep people "of extreme risk", like the Christchurch mosque terrorist who was sentenced to life behind bars, under maximum security.

The Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit, set up four months after Brenton Tarrant murdered 51 worshippers in March 2019, has been given $6.4 million over four years to "continue to effectively care for, and manage" high-risk criminals.

The 2019 Christchurch terror attack shocked the country to its core and in December, the Royal Commission of Inquiry made 44 recommendations covering both national security, and wider social community matters, to help the victims heal and prevent a similar atrocity. 

More than $4 million has been committed to "building community trust and confidence" in response to the inquiry's recommendation to establish an Implementation Oversight Advisory Group. 

A further $2 million will go towards standing up a counter-terrorism unit within police to coordinate prevention work, including "providing wraparound services and support to individuals at risk of radicalisation".  

The Christchurch terrorist took the lives of 51 worshipers.
The Christchurch terrorist took the lives of 51 worshipers. Photo credit: Getty

But the Christchurch terror attack isn't the only disaster the Government is retroactively dealing with. More than $18 million has been set aside for legal costs and adventure activity policy reform in the wake of the Whakaari / White Island eruption.  

And then there's Mycoplasma bovis, the bacterium that affects cattle, which popped up in 2017 after New Zealand had been considered free of it. The Government is putting $66 million into surveillance, culling infected herds and compensating farmers. 

The Budget also includes funding to carry out the Government's policy promises, like healthy homes standards. All private rentals must comply with the standards, such as having a fixed heater in the main living room, by July. 

Almost $16 million has been allocated for officials to undertake "proactive investigation and enforcement" of the standards, and to ensure they're actually making a difference in the Government's fight to eradicate poverty.

Helping first-home buyers into homes is another Government promise. In March the eligibility requirements were expanded for first-home buyer products, with income caps and house price caps lifted. The changes will cost almost $50 million, Budget 2021 shows.  

The Government hopes to help first-home buyers into the market.
The Government hopes to help first-home buyers into the market. Photo credit: Getty

The Government also promised a new public holiday during the election campaign last year: Matariki, which heralds the start of a new year for Māori. But who'd have thought it would cost $5 million to implement?  

Another Government promise, the Clean Car Import Standard coming into effect next year, has been given more than $40 million in funding, while $300 million is leftover from previous Budgets to incentivise uptake of low-emissions vehicles.  

And after all of National leader Judith Collins' fears about water ownership, amid plans to reform the delivery of water assets by giving management to new multi-regional entities, we now know how much it's going to cost: $296 million.  

Other interesting bits in Budget 2021:

  • $5 million to ensure the tax system is operating fairly
  • $14 million for Stats NZ to undertake iwi-led data collection for Census 2023
  • $8 million to establish an Aged Care Commissioner 
  • $3 million to meet the financial entitlements for victims of serious crime
  • $31 million to continue the issuance of passports to New Zealand citizens
  • $36 million to accelerate progress towards Smokefree 2025 
  • $3.2 million to address cost pressures and maintain the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
  • $1.57 million to avoid "significant cuts" to the Royal New Zealand Ballet
  • $56 million for the Christchurch schools rebuild programme
  • $85 million to purchase new land for schools
  • $66 million to redevelop Waikeria Prison, which is due for completion in 2022
  • $100 million to continue the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care 
  • $53 million to implement the Independent Taskforce Tomorrow's Schools recommendations
  • $5.5 million to address findings of the Francis Review into behaviour at Parliament