Budget 2022: Grant Robertson defends investment in Māori health

  • 21/05/2022

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has defended the amount of money allocated to Māori health in this year's budget, saying the Labour Party is on a journey "to deliver significantly better health services and outcomes for Māori." 

Robertson was appearing on Newshb Nation in the wake of his Budget 2022, which was released on Thursday. 

A major part of the Budget was a package for the new Health NZ set up and the Māori Health Authority worth $11 Billion. 

Of that money $579.9 millon was Maori health initiatives, with $168 millon allocated to the MHA to directly commission services. 

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare said on Thursday:  

"What Māori have always wanted is a health system that takes care of them and that meets their needs in a way that makes them feel comfortable, but that is not what our health system has delivered to date. 

“Māori deserve to live longer and healthier lives, and that is why this Government is reforming our healthcare system, and why we established a new Māori Health Authority as part of the reform."

However the funding has come under criticism for not being enough, including from Act who say the Government needs to be spending $3.5 billion a year on Māori. 

"This is the first time we've ever funded this level of direct commissioning of by Māori for Māori for health services and that is just a fraction of the overall budget that we're giving for Māori health," Robertson told Newshub Nation 

"We are on a journey here that will deliver significantly better health services and outcomes for Māori, and I'm certainly not going to be lectured by David Seymour about the lack of investment that would come from him if he ever got hold of the budget."

The Finance Minister also defended accusations thrown at the Budget by the National Party that is squeezed middle New Zealand. 

The surprise cost of living package revealed in Thursday's Budget meant  New Zealanders who earnt under $70,000 over the last tax year and who are not eligible for the Winter Energy Payment receive $350 over three months. It will be paid out weekly from August in roughly $27 portions.

It's was played up as targeted support for 2.1 million Kiwis in the face of the growing cost of food and fuel prices. Inflation hit 6.9 percent in the year to March, which Treasury says is the result of strong domestic demand, as well as global factors like supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.

Act leader David Seymour said the move put half of the country on welfare, while National said it didn't do enough for middle-income Kiwis who were also hurting. 

Robertson said the Budget was a response to the rising cost of living and the global inflation pressures. But he said it was about more than the Cost of Living Package. 

"The Budget balances that [cost of living package] with the big investments in health, climate change, supporting businesses, that we need to grow those high wage jobs," Robertson told Newshub Nation

"And that is the job of the Minister of Finance. We have to deal with the here and now, but we've also got to deal with making sure we deal with those issues of tomorrow. 

"And that's why I think we've got that balance right. I haven't heard a single thing from National about what they'd actually do or what they would catch in order to make sure they could pay for the bigger, longer term tax cut package."