Budget aims to transform NZ's economy to be 'sustainable, productive and inclusive' - Grant Robertson

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today laid out the framework of what he said would be the government's plan for transformation. 

"A transformation of our economy, a transformation of our public services, and a transformation of the way we work together to improve the lives of all New Zealanders," he began his speech in parliament today after the release of Budget 2018. 

"We are committed to being responsible, not just fiscally, but socially and environmentally."

"This government does things a little differently," he said. "And that will be reflected in future Budgets."

"A strong economy is important, but we must not lose sight of why it is important, and it is most important for allowing us all to have better lives."

"We will work with New Zealanders to create a sustainable, productive and inclusive economy, environment and society."

Budget 2018 focused on health and education primarily, with housing (including the KiwiBuild package announced in last year's mini-Budget) also given a nod. 

"Our priorities are different from the previous government. We are determined to turn the page on the ideology of individualism and a hands-off approach to our economy that has left too many behind."

Mr Robertson mentioned the policy changes that have already been taken by the government, including extending paid parental leave, the Healthy Homes Act and fees-free tertiary education. 

He said the outlook for the economy "is positive". 

The Government side of their house rose to applaud the Finance Minister after he presented his first Budget today. Source: 1 NEWS

"The Treasury forecasts economic growth of about three per cent per annum on average over the next four years.

"Wages are forecast to rise by an average of 3.1 per cent... unemployment is expected to fall 4.1 per cent in late 2019."

Mr Robertson spoke of the $4 billion injection into health, the $1.6b boost into education, and the Budget's $1 billion increase to housing

"I am announcing that this government is taking serious action to increase the supply of public housing by investing $234.4m in operating funding for Housing NZ and Community housing Providers."

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

"This will provide more than 6000 homes over the next four years," Mr Robertson said.

Biosecurity is to be strengthened using $9.3m "to better manage risks". 

The new Green Investment Fund gets $100m "in assets and technology to reduce carbon emissions", Mr Robertson said. 

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

"This government wants to be a world leader on climate change in urgently reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases."

"We will introduce a legally binding emissions redaction target and emissions budgets to keep NZ on track."

Mr Roberston also spoke of Maori development and supporting the teaching of te reo in schools. 

"The Budget provides $11.4m of new funding over the next four years for initiatives to provide more teachers with the necessary training and resources."