Monday, June 24, 2024

Doing basics well

FROM LABOUR PARTY LEADER PM CHRIS HIPKINS

I know things are tough for many New Zealanders right now. That’s why this year’s Budget is practical and does the basics well. It focuses on easing the cost of living pressures New Zealanders are facing, while making targeted investments that will grow our economy into the future.

When I became Prime Minister, I made a commitment to reprioritise the Government’s work programme to focus on the bread and butter issues; supporting New Zealanders with the cost of living, working to drive down inflation, and responding to the recent severe floods and Cyclone Gabrielle. That’s what this Budget does.

Budget 2023 provides cost of living relief across some of the key expenses that older New Zealanders, parents, students and households experience.

We’re helping with health costs by removing the prescription charges for medicines, making it easier and cheaper for Kiwis to access the medicines they need. Removing the $5 co-payment will benefit an estimated three million people, particularly those who have multiple prescriptions to fill on a regular basis.

We’re also making childcare cheaper, permanently cutting the costs of public transport for young New Zealanders and reducing power bills by making Kiwi homes more energy efficient.

This package addresses the immediate cost of living challenge households face without exacerbating inflation pressures, as tax cuts would. At the same time, Budget 2023 makes investments where they are needed most. We’re tackling pay and workforce pressures in the health system for the future with a billion dollar boost to increase pay rates and the number of nurses, including funding for 500 more nurses, a major investment to reduce waiting lists, and money to provide care closer to people’s homes.

We’ve allocated significant funds to build back with greater resilience following the January floods and Cyclone Gabrielle. We’re also making targeted investments in areas I believe are critical to growing our economy and improving productivity into the future – skills, science and technology and infrastructure.

This is my first Budget as Prime Minister, and I believe it strikes the right balance. It delivers the targeted and affordable investments New Zealand needs right now, providing support for today and building for tomorrow.

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