As it happened Budget 2018: 'Allowing all of us to have better lives' - Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivers his first budget

Grant Robertson delivered the Labour-led Government's first Budget today at 2pm. Read below the step by step moments as Robertson, National Leader Simon Bridges and PM Jacinda Ardern debated Budget 2018:

And catch all the coverage throughout tonight with 1 NEWS at 6pm and on 1 NEWS NOW .

3.30pm: In summing up the PM says she hopes Budget 2018 "sends the message that we are prepared, that we have delivered a surplus because we've prepared for the horizon."

"I hope it says that we're thinking about more than three years, that whether it's growing jobs or protecting your environment you need a plan.

"I hope it says that we know the basics are important and I hope it says we have laid the foundations for the future. I commend this budget to the House."

3.26pm: The PM brings up the future of her own child in NZ, and how she wants them to be proud of the direction her government took the country in.

"If we're not here for kids of the future of the country they live in then why are we here, and if our budget isn't for people then what is it for," she says.

3.23pm: "Today we shift the focus of government from electoral cycles to generational ones," the PM says.

3.21pm: The families package to start in six weeks time, "that was the right decision" the PM says, as opposed to just making a political decision and hanging onto that money. 

3.18pm: "We're rebuilding a government that thinks about people," the PM says in summing up her budget.

"On that side of the house there's a lot of shouty, shouty and not a lot of plan-y plan-y," the PM says to laughter from her side.

3.15pm: PM disputes Bridges' assertion that National spent more on health, saying the package for farer pay for carers forced on them through the courts should not be included.

"If we are comparing apples with apples, on this side of the house it's $3.2 billion versus $2.3 on that side," the PM says.

"This is going to be the most significant increase for our DHBs and they know it."

3.12pm: Jacinda Ardern stands and begins to speak.

3.10pm: Simon Bridges takes aim at $9 million bio-security spend: "All talk, no action," he says.

Rounding out his speech Bridges says this government is spending "less in health" where there is a crisis in that area.

"What an indictment on this country. This rhetoric over reality budget... the National Party will be ready to pick up the pieces in 2 and a half years time."

3.08pm: Provocative question form Bridges to PM Jacinda Ardern: "When the Prime Minister stands to give her speech I've got just one question I want answered. Will there be more serious sexual, violent and drug offenders living next to hard working NZ families?"

3.06pm: "Every now and again to keep NZers safe you do have to build a prison" Simon Bridges says, citing Labour's aim to cut the prison population.

3.02pm: Kiwibuild, a "flagship policy, emblematic of this government - that's why nothing about it stands up". They've promised 100,000 homes on $2 billion spend. "Already Phil Twyford's raising the white flag."

"A hoax" Simon Bridges says, government just going to stick Kiwibuild sticker on already built and commissioned developments and claim they're part of 100,000 homes promised.

2.59pm: "When Winston Peters goes to the islands he's carried up on a throne above their heads" - Bridges says criticising the $1 billion in foreign aid and funding to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this budget. "We didn't know Winston would make us do this," Bridges says - mimicking Robertson.

2.57pm: 

2.55pm: Bridges says this budget will implement $2 billion more in tax over the next four years for NZers. Whereas under National there would have been $1000 more in each working families' pocket - "a stark contrast".

2.52pm: National party leader Simon Bridges is now speaking, beginning by saying Parliament and the country has no confidence in Robertson's Budget 2018. This budget "takes us precisely as a country in the wrong direction... a borrow and hope budget... and a special form of incompetence."

2.51pm: Grant Robertson has finished presenting his first budget to a standing ovation from his side of the house.

2.49pm: 

2.47pm:

2.46pm: "Well-being approach" to Budget 2018 Robertson says. Won't use GDP as the only sign of success - "Real success means much more for New Zealanders," Robertson says. 

2.44pmBudget 2018: Here's what you need to know at a glance

2.40pm: Govt to introduce a legally binding emissions reduction target. Plus an independent climate commission to provide advice. All designed to get to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

2.38pm: $9.3 million in new operating funding for bio-security.

2.37pm: Introduction of e-invoicing enables small businesses to be paid on time. 

2.33pm: Robertson now quotes Albert Einstein: "No problem can be solved by the same kind of thinking that created it." That's why there's $1 billion for innovation over four years to finance a tax incentive for more research and development by kiwi businesses.

2.32pm:

2.30pm:

Child poverty, housing, and homelessness

$813m is going to operations and $369m to capital to address issues such as target "chronic homelessness" and to allocate grants for low-income houses to get insulation for eligible homes.

Natural resources

$649m will go to biodiversity, forestry and conservation, and also to climate change, biosecurity and environmental protection.

Culture

The government has put $534m towards "enriching New Zealand's culture and identity". It will go to crown-Maori relations and Maori development, NZ arts, culture and heritage, and to defence and internal affairs ($386m for operating funds and $40m capital).

2.29pm: 

Economic development and the regions

$2.8 billion into the promotion of "economic development and supporting the regions package".

2.28pm: $67 million for bowel screening programme.

2.26pm: 

Rebuilding critical public services

Health - $3.2 billion to operating and $850 million

Education - $1.6 billion operating, $334 million capital

Justice - $1 billion opertating, $216 million capital

Supporting at-risk families - $460 million operating, $17m capital
 

2.25pm: Free doctors' visits to everyone under 14 - in agreement with NZ First, Robertson says.

2.21pm: First step - low cost GP visits being extended to all community service card holders. Extending community service cards to all tenants of Housing NZ, and those receiveing a income supplement.

Will make doctors' visits $20-30 cheaper for half a million people.

2.19pm: operating surplus for NZ economy projected at $3.1 billion by 2017-18.

$3.7 billion surplus by 2018-19.

2.17pm: Unemployment is expected to get down to 4.1 per cent by late 2019, Robertson says.

2.15pm: "No one wants a New Zealand where children have to live in a car," but this where the country finds itself today, Robertson says. Therefore social infrastructure is crucial to the Labour-led government's funding. 

2.14pm: Low carbon economy is a priority for this government.

2.13pm: Labour is happy to work with Greens and NZ First, from different origins he admits, but both committed to improving the lives of Kiwis.

2.12pm: This Government restarted payments to the NZ super fund after nine years of no government contribution, Robertson says to applause.

2.10pm: The government's family package will make 384,000 families $75 per week better off, Robertson says.

2.08pm: Robertson says first action of this budget was to reverse the "untargeted tax cuts" proposed by the previous National government. Robertson says his government's priority is improving the lives of middle and working class New Zealanders.

2.07pm: Grant Robertson begins by saying this is a government that does things a "little bit differnetly" and this Budget 2018 will reflect that. 

"Budget 2018 lays out the foundations for NZers to have better lives in the future," he says.

2.05pm: Here's a short rundown of Budget 2018 highlights from our 1 NEWS journalists in the lock-up at Parliament, who've been looking over the document for the last few hours:

• Health receives a huge boost with $3.2 billion more in operating funding over the next four years and $850 million new capital – including $750 million to tackle some of hospitals’ most urgent building problems, the biggest capital injection in health in at least the last decade.
• This Budget commits to free doctors’ visits for everyone under the age of 14 – an extra 56,000 of our young people from the current policy. It is extending very low-cost general practitioner (GP) visits to all Community Services Card holders and extending the Card to all Housing New Zealand tenants and New Zealanders who receive an accommodation supplement or income-related rent subsidy. This will make going to the GP cheaper by up to $30 for the 540,000 people eligible for the Card.
• Elective surgery, maternity services, air ambulances and the National Bowel Screening Programme are among the health services receiving extra funding.
• New capital funding will build schools and hundreds of new classrooms. Operating funding for education over the next four years increases by $1.6 billion to address rising demand, fund 1,500 more teachers and raise teacher-aide funding. Early childhood education gets a $590.2 million operating boost over four years, benefiting over 200,000 children. A total of $284 million goes to Learning Support to allow every child with special education needs and learning difficulties to better participate in school life.
• Housing is boosted by more than $634 million in operating funds. Govt will increase public housing by over 6,000 homes over the next four years, provide more transitional housing and help for the homeless and offer grants for insulation and heating.

2.03pm: And Finance Minister Grant Robertson is underway presenting his first budget in Parliament's debating chamber. 

Was Grant Robertson's mini budget a triumph or did it simply fail to deliver?
Source: 1 NEWS

Preview

Good afternoon, welcome to today's live coverage of the 2018 Budget, to be delivered by Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The Labour-led Government has already trickled out a raft of pre-Budget announcements with big money for conservation, foreign affairs and homelessness, ahead of the Budget today at 2pm.

Mr Robertson announced on May 8 a "slightly better-than-expected" run-up to the government's first Budget, with a surplus sitting $910 million higher than forecast by Treasury last December.

He said that was an indication that business profits were higher, along with a continuation of "strong" employment growth.

1NEWS' Political Editor Jessica Mutch expects today's big winners to be health, education and state housing.

"With education, things like early childhood education we understand will be a winner, and special education," Mutch said last night.

There have been a lot of hints that school buildings will be in for a win too, adding that alot was riding on this Budget for the Finance Minister.

"He's set to deliver a higher-than-expected surplus. And he's going to be putting some of that aside in a kitty. He's going to be saving it for a rainy day for things like a natural disaster or for this Mycoplasma bovis outbreak."

The Government has already delayed some promises and our political editor says there could be more.

"We saw that with the cheaper GP visits that were promised. And we'll find out more details of that in the Budget. There could also be more that are delayed or phased in as well."

National has said the Government has inherited a very favourable position with a lot of money to spend in this Budget.

But Mutch said with that comes expectation, especially for those that traditionally do well under Labour, and we'll see if it delivers in Thursday's Budget.

This starts with making sure Kiwis have access to high quality public services, says the Finance Minister while delivering the Labour-led Government's first Budget.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Japan and NZ join forces to help Pacific

Japan and New Zealand are joining forces to speed up assistance to the Pacific region.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the strategic partnership aimed to ensure funding for development goes a lot further.

Mr Peters has had talks in Wellington with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on teaming up to ensure decisions made don't get caught up in bureaucracy.

But he said how this would be done was still a matter for discussion.

"It would mean that a country that knows more about the Pacific than any other country - namely New Zealand - would play a key role in that and we're asking countries like Japan and elsewhere to acknowledge that."

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the two countries would be linking up at various levels including ocean security and enhancing connectivity

"The Pacific island region is strategically important for both Japan and New Zealand," he said.

Japan would also like to co-operate with New Zealand to resolve the problem of Pacific island debt, the Foreign Minister said.

1 NEWS' Jessica Mutch and Benedict Collins give their opinions of the Acting Prime Minister who ran the country during Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave.
Winston Peters. Source: 1 NEWS


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John Armstrong's opinion: Simon Bridges would've been castigated as incompetent if he didn't expose Jami-Lee Ross as leaker

The confirmation — surprise, surprise — that indeed it was Jami-Lee Ross who leaked embarrassing details of Simon Bridges' travel expenses to the media has vindicated the widely-scorned decision by the National Party leader to hunt down the culprit forthwith.

Simon Bridges has copped an inordinate, unfair and just plain wrong amount of stick for what his many critics have deemed to be amateur-hour handling of something which should have been brushed aside with barely a moment’s thought such was its insignificance in the grand scheme of things. And even more so given the information in question was about to be released by authorities into the public domain anyway.

In keeping alive something which succeeded in only shifting the focus away from matters which Bridges and his colleagues should have been talking about, the former poured more petrol on the funeral pyre that has been under construction since the opinion polls indicated that the replacement for Sir Bill English was not capturing the public’s imagination.

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Even though he is not to blame for the two months that it has taken consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers to complete their investigation of the leak, Bridges should have expected the exercise would take far longer to complete than initially envisaged. That is always the case.

The flow of events has all added up to more ammunition for those who have convinced themselves that Bridges not only lacks the personal characteristics that a modern-day leader needs to win elections, he is also in deficit when it comes to the possession of the necessary political skills.

That those who feel that way are less forthcoming when it comes to declaring who exactly should replace him, that discrepancy has not diminished their desire that Bridges be dumped before election season returns.

If there is any failure of judgment on Bridges’ part, however, it is more evident on the part of Bridges’ detractors.

When it came to managing his way out of the kind of mess in which National is currently donkey-deep, Sir John Key unfailingly applied what he considered to be a golden rule: namely think hard about the counter-factual. In other words, assess what was likely to happen if a possible course of action was not taken.

The material leaked by Ross might have been of little significance. The act of leaking was another matter entirely. It was gross disloyalty on the part of the Botany MP and now ex-spokesman on transport and infrastructure matters.

That is something no leader can tolerate. It is something no caucus can tolerate. When the source of a leak remains unidentified, trust between caucus members inevitably suffers. The caucus cannot function properly. The freedom to discuss matters of crucial import to a political party is inevitably constrained by the fear that what is regarded as confidential will end up online or on the front pages of the following day’s newspapers.

Both Bridges and Ross have now made it patently obvious that the working relationship between National’s leader and his seventh-ranked MP had broken down completely since the former secured the party’s top job back in February.

Ross might have been No 7 in the caucus, but he was clearly No 1 on list of those suspected of possibly being the leaker.

Had Bridges taken the advice of his critics and chosen not to expose the source of the leak, he would have been pilloried by those same critics had Ross repeated the act of treachery.

Bridges would have been portrayed as weak. He would have been castigated as incompetent.

Bridges could not gamble on Ross not leaking again. Given Ross’s state of mind, the risks involved in doing nothing were exponentially increased.

Bridges would have realised that at some point he was going to have to confront Ross. To delay that day of reckoning was to damage both himself and the party.

As it is, Bridges is paying a price for simply doing what had to be done.

Voters will be wondering whether Ross was operating alone or in cahoots with others. They will wonder whether Bridges was being straight with them with his previous insistence that there was no connection between the leak investigation and Ross taking an extended leave of absence from Parliament for "personal health issues".

They will wonder whether this episode speaks of what life is really like in the National caucus and whether it is a veritable vipers’ nest of over-sized egos and over-inflated ambition united only by its members’ insatiable greed for power.

Above all, it will leave voters wondering just how robust is Bridges’ grip on the leadership.

The voters will not have to wonder where Ross now stands in all of this, however. He won’t have any standing. It is odds-on will be expelled from the caucus and will subsequently have his membership of the party rescinded by the board of the National Party very shortly thereafter.

Anything less punitive than that course of action would risk being interpreted by friend and foe alike as a vote of no confidence in Bridges.

National would then be looking for a new leader. While there is still much uncertainty as to how the following days might play out before this messy distraction has finally run its ugly course, that is one thing which is most definitely not going to happen.

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him". Source: 1 NEWS

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Four facing charges after massive illegal pāua bust

A massive illegal haul of pāua, mostly undersized, has been uncovered in Taranaki following an operation by the police and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Fishery officers and police discovered four people with a total of 736 pāua, 703 of which were undersized after they were stopped at a checkpoint.

A vehicle and a set net have been seized. They now face serious charges.

The Taranaki region has a lower minimum size for pāua because the shellfish are naturally small and never reach the minimum legal size that applies to the rest of the country.

Fishery officers have returned all of the shellfish to the sea.

rnz.co.nz

Paua
Paua Source: rnz.co.nz


Kiwi and Aussie police dogs fighting it out to be crowned the best in Australasia

The trans-Tasman rivalry between New Zealand and Australia will hit another gear this week, with both nations' police dogs fighting it out for the title of Australasia's best.

New Zealand's Paw Blacks are looking to defend their title, with the Australian team in Wellington looking to pinch the Kiwi's crown.

However, for those in the industry, the competition is more about setting standards than trans-Tasman oneupmanship.

"It's around benchmarking we all work together very closely with the Australians so for each state and each dog section it's just seeing how we are and of course there's a friendly rivalry as well," NZ dog coordinator Todd Southall told 1 NEWS.

For the competition though, the Australians are looking to restore some pride, with the likes of the Kiwis and Silver Ferns claiming success over their arch rivals already this week.

"All we've coped since we got here is mentions of the sporting prowess of New Zealand at the moment so we are looking to maybe right that in some very small way," Australia's Craig Charles said.

The top dog will be revealed on Thursday night.

For the first time in 20 years New Zealand’s playing host to the trans-Tasman canine competition. Source: 1 NEWS


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