Budget 2018: Health, housing and education the big winners

The 2018 Budget has promised to be one based on health, education, and housing with few surprises.

Labelled, 'Foundations for the Future', Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Budget 2018 would pump funding into the critical public services, giving them "serious overdue investments".

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch says there was no lolly scramble in Wellington today. Source: 1 NEWS

"We cannot fix all the problems we face in one Budget," Mr Robertson said today in Wellington.

"Budget 2018 makes responsible investments for the future while delivering a surplus of more than $3 billion and taking a responsible approach to debt reduction."

Health

The health sector was allocated an additional $3.2 billion boost over the next four years, with an extra $850 million in new capital, which includes $750 million to "tackle" urgent building issues in hospitals.

As per the coalition agreement with New Zealand First, free doctors visits have been extended to those under 14.

Mr Robertson said this would mean 56,000 children would be covered under the new policy.

Budget 2018 also includes an extension of "very low" GP visits to Community Service card holders, and allocates the card to all Housing NZ tenants, Kiwis who receive an accommodation supplement or other rent subsidies based on income.

"This will make going to the GP cheaper by up to $30 for 540,000 people eligible for the Community Services Card." 

It comes amid criticism of the Labour Party's failure to meet its election promise to implement cheaper GP visits for all New Zealanders by July 1.

Minister of Health David Clark previously told TVNZ1's Q+A this would need to be "phased" in due to issues such as infrastructure requirements of hospitals.

Extra funding also goes to elective surgery, maternity services, air ambulances and the National Bowel Screening Programme.

Education

The government has increased operating funds for education by $1.6 billion to increase teacher numbers by 1,500 and to increase teacher-aide funding.

The boost is set to address the strain put on the education sector due to population increases.

Capital funding has also risen in order to build new schools and classrooms.

Early childhood has increased by $590.2 million, and $284m has gone to Learning Support, intending to "allow every child with special education needs and learning difficulties to better participate in school life".

Housing

Housing was allocated $634 million in operating funds to increase housing by 6,000 homes over the next four years, to provide more transitional housing "and help for the homeless and offer grants for insulation and heating".

KiwiBuild was previously given $2.1 billion in the government's mini-Budget.

In a pre-Budget announcement, $100 million was given to tackling homelessness.

Business 

$100 million has been put into a Green Investment Fund "to help our economy's transition".


Budget 2018 also puts $1 billion into business innovation, through a research and development incentive, and Mr Robertson said the $1b per year Provincial Growth Fund would support and grow regions.

Grant Robertson showed off the front page to journalists in Wellington.
Source: 1 NEWS

 

Grant Robertson showed off the front page to journalists in Wellington.
Source: 1 NEWS

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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Prince Harry and Meghan arrive in Australia, ahead of NZ visit

Australia is preparing to welcome Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan Markle just days after Princess Eugenie tied the knot in a lavish ceremony.

The royal couple touched down in Sydney this morning in a low-key arrival - with the first of their 76 engagements across Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand to begin tomorrow.

The pair are set to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday October 28.

Their four-day visit will include trips to Abel Tasman National Park for a tree planting; a gumboot-throwing competition in Auckland; a Kiwi hatchery in Rotorua, where they will name two chicks; a review of the newly unveiled UK War Memorial at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park; and a Wellington café where they will meet young people from a number of mental health projects.

It’s just over a month before the newlyweds touch down in Aotearoa. Source: Seven Sharp

But first comes Australia. Harry and Meghan, who became the Duchess of Sussex when she married the royal redhead in May, will visit Sydney, Dubbo, Melbourne and Queensland's Fraser Island as part of the couple's first major royal tour.

The tour coincides with the Invictus Games in Sydney, which runs from October 20-28. The sporting event founded by Prince Harry in 2014 gives sick and injured service personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

The couple will mark the games' launch and closing ceremony in Sydney.

Jacinda Ardern said they are still working through the details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s trip. Source: 1 NEWS

Harry and Meghan's tour of Australia is seen as a key one for the royal couple who, during a TV interview to mark their engagement last November, spoke of their desire to promote humanitarian causes close to their hearts across Commonwealth member countries including Australia.

The visit comes six months after Prince Charles made his 16th official visit to Australia, primarily to open the 21st Commonwealth Games on Queensland's Gold Coast.

The royals touched down this morning in Sydney, part of their first tour as a married couple. Source: Associated Press

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Person still on the run following gang-related death in Canterbury over the weekend

At least one person is still on the run after a man was shot dead in rural Canterbury over the weekend, according to police.

The 28-year-old's body was found on the side of the road near Charing Cross at about 3.30pm on Saturday, and police said a firearm was involved.

They haven't confirmed the man was a gang member but said his death is gang related. For that reason, a heavy police presence remains at the scene more than a day later.

Detective Inspector Corrie Parnell spoke to media in Christchurch Police Station today. Source: 1 NEWS

Members of the public witnessed the incident and were part of the first response team, Detective Inspector Corrie Parnell said in a press conference yesterday.

"As you can well imagine (it was) a traumatic event for them," he said.

Several cars have been seized and are currently under guard while inquiries continue.

"A number of forensic scene examinations are underway in Grange Road and Telegraph Road," Mr Parnell said yesterday, explaining that they are likely to continue this week.

One person has died in the rural area of Selwyn this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

Police said the person or people at large do not pose a risk to the public.

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Two dead in overnight crash near New Plymouth

Two drivers were killed last night after their vehicles crashed near New Plymouth, police confirmed this morning.

The accident occurred around 10pm on State Highway 3, between Raleigh St and Richmond Rd in Waitara.

Both drivers died at the scene.

Police said today they are still working to notify next of kin.

They are also seeking witnesses who might have seen a blue Mitsubishi Diamante travelling towards Waitara from the direction of New Plymouth prior to the crash.

Anyone with information has been asked to call New Plymouth Police at 06 759 5500.

The drivers were the only people in the vehicles when they collided near Waitara. Source: Breakfast


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