UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne describes Budget 2016 as “pretty boring”.
He says that despite the lack of excitement, the Budget deserves credit for its focus on health, vulnerable families, and more effective social investment, issues UnitedFuture has long been interested in.
“I am delighted that at last the government is tackling the plight of vulnerable children and at-risk families head-on, and it is great to hear it talking of putting children at the heart of social policy, and being prepared to make radical changes to existing structures, rather than just pump more money into propping up a clearly failing system.
“The Minister of Finance is right to challenge a system that has seen rising social expenditure, but at the same time tolerated deteriorating social performance.
‘That cannot be allowed to continue, and I hope the government will be prepared to match the rhetoric with ongoing action,” Mr Dunne says.
Mr Dunne says the Budget’s more than $2 billion investment in health over the next four years is welcome, but says that will need to be sustained.
“Rapidly advancing medical technology, expensive new designer medicines, critical workforce shortages and rising public expectations will require nothing less, and this Budget’s decisions should be seen as really a down payment on future health requirements,” he says.
Mr Dunne is disappointed the Budget is not as bold as it could have been for those struggling to get a foot onto the property ladder.
“I repeat my call for an all-sector National Housing Summit to develop an overall strategic plan to deal with housing affordability in New Zealand;
“The Budget recognises this problem, but we are yet to see a long-term national plan that recognises that this problem is multi-faceted.
“It is all very well to boost emergency housing benefits but that is a Band-Aid solution to the wider issues facing housing.”
“We need everyone on board to resolve this issue – it cannot continue in the vein of the political slanging match it has become in recent weeks.
“Not one extra person is housed as a result of National’s and Labour’s sniping,” he says.
Mr Dunne says that, as Minister of Internal Affairs, he welcomes the more than $300 million additional funding set aside for the establishment of the new national fire service, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
“The bringing together of paid firefighters, volunteers, and rural firefighters into an integrated national service for the first time represents the biggest single change to the structure and delivery of fire and emergency services in New Zealand since the late 1940s, and I am delighted and proud to have secured the funding to make this change possible form the middle of next year,” he says.
But Mr Dunne says the biggest change the Budget introduces is also likely to be the most unheralded aspect of it – the deliberate shift to an investment approach to all aspects of government services from social service delivery, through to capital expenditure and procurement.
“This is the most fundamental shift in the way the government does its business, since the introduction of the Public Finance and the State Sector Acts in the late 1980s, and its impact well be no less dramatic.
“Coupled with the rising Budget surpluses forecast for the next few years, and the government’s 10 key result areas, it is likely to lead to more sharply focused and measurable government social services in the years ahead, better targeted to critical areas of need, as well as holding out the prospect of meaningful tax cuts in the medium term.
“While the ‘Boring Budget’ may not appear all that earth shattering or exciting – it will be profound in its impact,” Mr Dunne says.