New Zealanders want the Government to spend its surplus on infrastructure, health or education - instead of saving it or giving tax cuts.
By Katie Bradford and Anna Whyte
The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll asked: "The Government currently has a $7.5 billion surplus. This means it has collected more money than it has spent. Which of these do you think should be the Government’s priority for the surplus?"
|Saving it for the future||7%|
|Tax cuts for New Zealanders||14%|
|Spending it on things like infrastructure, health, or education||77%|
|Don’t know / Refused||2%|
The Government announced in October the surplus increased to $7.5 billion for the 2018/19 year, up by $2 billion from last year and $4 billion higher than forecast. Net debt fell to 19.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 19.9 per cent – decreasing further below the 20 per cent target promised in the Budget Responsibility Rules.
The groups of people more likely than average to feel the Government should spend the surplus were Green Party supporters, people with a household income of more than $100,000 and people aged 50-59.
The group that was more likely than average to say the surplus should be used for tax cuts were people with household incomes of less than $30,000.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the poll result showed "clearly there's a big need for spending in infrastructure".
"We've had a decade of under-investment," he said.
When asked if there had been a shift from the public wanting to spend the surplus instead of save, Mr Robertson said he thought "New Zealanders still want a balance between making sure that we manage the economy carefully but there's an obvious need for us to correct the infrastructure deficit".
"We're doing that and we're going to do more. This is a good time to do it. The cost of debt is low, the books are in good shape and we're prepared to go out and do this because it's the right thing to do."
National leader Simon Bridges said the results show having the $7.6 billion surplus "isn't something to be proud of".
"With that sort of surplus they're probably pulling in too much. They could provide tax relief and they could invest in things that really matter to New Zealanders - health, education and infrastructure."
On why National were proud of their surpluses while in Government, Mr Bridges said "we came from a position of GFC and earthquakes and deficits, so to get back into the black is a good thing".
"I'm not saying we should be running deficits. I'm simply saying when it blows out and you see it's $7.5 billion, you got a problem, Houston."
The Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update is to be announced today, with the Government set to make infrastructure announcements.
On November 30, the Government announced it was fast-tracking an infrastructure package, which the Finance Minister described as "significant" and said it will have a direct impact on growth and will create jobs. One of the projects was the $400 million package to fix up old school buildings.
Between November 23-27, 1006 eligible voters were polled by landline (504) and mobile phone (502). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.