'Feel-good' Budget promises to slash child poverty and make nearly 400,000 families better off by $75 a week

The Government is promising to cut in half the number of children living in poverty within the next five years.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivered his mini-budget outlining a families package to lift 88,000 children out of poverty. Source: 1 NEWS

Labour's flagship Families Package – outlined and costed in a mini-budget – will turn around the lives of 88,000 children.

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Around 384, 000 families will be better off by $75 a week.

"We will take action on child poverty and to reduce homelessness," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

"We are very, very proud of this package."

The Working for Families tax credit will go up from July next year.

Judge Andrew Becroft said the fact 70,000 to 80,000 Kiwi children are living in "hardcore" poverty must change, but there is room for "cautious optimism". Source: Breakfast

The eldest child rate goes up by between $575 (for 16-18 year olds) and $1056 (for under 16s) to $5878 a year.

The rate for subsequent children goes up by between $920 and $1400 to $4745.

More families - up to 39,000 by 2021 - will also be eligible for those tax credits because the Government will increase the income threshold.

Other new benefits include a $60 per week baby bonus, for children born after July 1, next year.

Beneficiaries can access a winter energy payment of $450 for single people, and $700 per couple. Pensioners are also eligible.

It’s a critical time for the New Zealand government, and provides a look into the country’s future financial decisions. Source: 1 NEWS

It won't be means-tested, but people can opt out.

But around 600 families will lose out – and the Government has set up a "transitional" fund to help them out for a year.

Labour says the poverty package will cost just over $5.5billion dollars.

It will pay for it by reversing National’s promised tax cuts, which were due to kick in in April.

Repealing the tax cuts will save $8.36billion, leaving the Government an extra $2.84billion to play with.

Labour says tackling child poverty is "at the heart" of the Government agenda.

Ministers will update on how many children have been lifted out of poverty at every Budget, starting next year.

And instead of assessing the economy by GDP growth, Mr Robertson says the Government will measure it by wellbeing and living standards from 2019.

"This is world leading work," Mr Robertson said.

"It is important work."

From tomorrow, the Government will also resume contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund, starting at $500m.

Treasury says inflation – i.e. prices – and interest rates will start to go up from next year.

But wages are also predicted to grow by just over three per cent over the next five years.

"We want New Zealanders to feel rewarded by the wages that they earn," Mr Robertson said.



From the back-streets to the art gallery canvas: How an Auckland art collective is changing young lives

Nathan Cole admits he used to get up to a fair bit of mischief on the Auckland back-streets, and eventually the police caught up with him.

But the outcome was not quite what he expected.

"Yea got caught tagging and the cops must've seen something in me and instead of sending me to court they sent me to Kakano," he says.

"Once I got to Kakano they literally turned my life around."

The "Kakano" Nathan is talking about is the Kakano Youth Arts Collective in West Auckland, an community group which aims to steer teens in the right direction.  

Nathan is one of Kakano collective's founding members and the influence it's had on his life has been dramatic.

"I've achieved a six month foundation course and a year long certificate in design and visual arts at Unitech that was all because of Kakano," he says.

Nathan's work is now on show at the Kakano Art Exhibition at Corban Estate Art Centre, West Auckland, until this Sunday.

And he says his work is definitely a case of art imitating life.

"I just kind of make it real because my life has been wild and all over the show," Nathan says.

"So I kind of keep it like that but now it's all reigning in I try and keep the foreground nice and detailed cause I'm trying to figure out what I want to be."

One of the organiser's of Kakano, Mandy Parmore, says it was self-evident youth in West Auckland needed something to redirect their energy.

"I was constantly getting calls from youth services like child youth and families, police, alternative education providers," Mandy says.

The Kakano Youth Arts Collective in West Auckland has transformed Nathan Cole’s life, and he’s now staring in a gallery exhibition. Source: 1 NEWS

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Auckland Council vote in favour of Wynyard Basin development for 2021 America's Cup site

A full meeting of the Auckland Council has voted for its preferred option for the America's Cup syndicate bases, with the Wynyard Basin development gaining support.

The Council has explored a range of complex and expensive options around the city's harbour to create a central hub for event in 2021.

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It will also be home to what's expected to be eight challenging syndicates.

Two options were on the table for the vote – one favoured by the government and one preferred by the council.

Both involved the development of Halsey and Wynyard Wharves and cost more than $100m.

The Wynyard development was the preferred option of Emirates Team New Zealand, but 1 NEWS understands it is a scaled back version of their initial proposed idea.

The Council vote has enabled its officials to get on with the time critical process of lodging resource consents.

However, the government has indicated a preference for a second option involving greater use of Wynyard Wharf.

This option remains on the table when government and council officials get together to negotiate the final plan for the next America's Cup defence.

The Auckland Mayor says the new plan is about $40m cheaper than TNZ's idea. Source: Breakfast

Talks will now continue with the government, who favoured the other option in the vote, about hammering out costs to present a final plan for the 2021 regatta.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told this morning's meeting that the government's preferred option might not end up being the least expensive option.

"On paper, 'yes', in practice 'no'," Mr Goff said.

"I'm being careful what I say. I don't want to paint the government into a corner."

The Council's development arm, Panuku Developments, has done some more work on the government's preference that would see a modest 15m extension of Halsey Wharf instead of the 74m proposed in the Council's option.

However, the reworked plan only allows for seven syndicates rather than eight.

Panuku Developments has also raised concerns over the costs, time frame and lack of legacy in the Wynyard Point option, and urged the government and council to make a decision as soon as possible.

"We can't stress enough how critical getting a decision is," Director of Design and Place Rod Marler said as he outlined a tight resource consents time frame.

"Things cannot shift, they cannot be pushed out. We must be ready to go by the time teams start arriving in late 2019."

The Auckland Council today took a step closer to finalising where the team bases will be built. Source: 1 NEWS