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Budget 2018: The pros and cons

Barry Soper, Yvette McCullough, Georgina Campbell,
Publish Date
Friday, 18 May 2018, 5:00a.m.
The Prime Minister will address a business lunch in Auckland while Finance Minister Grant Robertson will do the same in Wellington. (Photo \ NZME)
The Prime Minister will address a business lunch in Auckland while Finance Minister Grant Robertson will do the same in Wellington. (Photo \ NZME)

The smoke has cleared from the budget reveal yesterday, and today the Government will be seeing what the reaction will be.

Newstalkzb political editor Barry Soper says the Prime Minister will address a business lunch in Auckland while Finance Minister Grant Robertson will do the same in Wellington.

It will be the first opportunity for both leaders to get an idea of how the important community is feeling about their budget, called 'Foundations for the Future'.

However, Robertson says he thinks the 2018 Budget has been received relatively well.

He says he wasn't nervous delivering his first Budget, but excited.

He says he hopes not only the business community but others too will see the Budget for what it is.

"This is the first foundation budget. It sets the parameters, it sets the foundations. Two more to go this term, and we will build from here."

The budget has not gone down well with the Opposition, which is picking apart the funding and debt levels.

National says it's staggering that in the face of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak biosecurity didn't get more in the Budget.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has been allocated just over $9 million over the next four years to improve its offshore biosecurity systems.

Leader Simon Bridges says that's surprising given the government has been painting the outbreak as a major crisis.

"I wouldn't have been surprised if it got $250 million frankly from this budget, awash in cash. It's just not there, it's just another example where the rhetoric and the reality just don't match up."

Bridges is also sceptical about how low the Government's debt levels are.

It came in well under its Budget Responsibility Rules in yesterday's Budget, with forecast surpluses meaning core Crown net debt is on track to fall within the Government's target.

But Bridges says it doesn't include additional debt in Crown entity arrangements.

"They are meeting their budget responsibility rules but actually it's in a reasonably sneaky way, because off those crown books there's another $6 billion of debt New Zealanders still have to pay, and that takes us to ten grand per household debt."

Surprisingly, one of the Government's coalition partners is not satisfied with the funding he got.

Winston Peters says he should've got more money for Foreign Affairs.

New Zealand First's Budget haul includes a tax break for the racing industry and Veterans and Defence being given an almost $368 million boost.

But the crown jewel was the billion dollar spend on Foreign Affairs and aid.

Peters said in parliament yesterday he hopes in the next budget that portfolio will do better.

"I've got to say this to my colleagues and the Prime Minister. We should have got more. If you realise the problems we face out there and how they have been subject to such long neglect, we should've gotten more.'

The health sector was another big winner in the budget yesterday, with more than $3 billion allocated, including a nearly nine percent 'catch-up' funding for Midwives.

However, there was no mention of the nurses, who earlier this year threatened to strike over their pay.

The Health Minister Dr David Clark says the nurses pay dispute is ongoing, and the Government is awaiting the outcome of the independent process.

But he's assuring that the health kitty isn't dry.

"The Government has set aside money and contingencies for a number of different eventualities in the health system."

One thing that may make the Opposition feel better is the promise of some independent assessment on whether the government's telling us the truth about the economy.

Grant Robertson wants to set up an independent body to assess government forecasts and the cost political party election promises.

"[It's] very common in other countries. UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia have all got one, it's time for us to get one."

Robertson says consultation over setting up the body will start in August.

ON AIR: Marcus Lush Nights

8p.m. - 11:59p.m.