PM promises major investments for critical core services, infrastructure in 2018 Budget

The Prime Minister today delivered a pre-Budget speech vowing "significant" investments into core services while announcing her government was joining forces with Business NZ and Council of Trade Unions to prepare the business community for the future.

Jacinda Ardern spoke to Business NZ in Wellington today to outline the country's economic plan ahead of the Budget 2018, on May 17, "without giving too much away, of course", she said.

"We have already spelled out our ambitious agenda to improve the wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders through sustainable, productive and inclusive growth. Now we want to work with business and investors to get on with it and to deliver shared prosperity for all," Ms Ardern said.

The Budget

Despite keeping Budget 2018 cards close to her chest, the PM said New Zealand will see "a clear plan to build a robust, more resilient economy", with "significant investments" into critical core services. 

"We know we have to live within our means and we will."

"We will operate budget surpluses, bar significant events like a Global Financial Crisis or an earthquake. We will get net Crown debt to 20 percent, Crown spending will sit at roughly 30 percent of GDP, and at the same time we will invest in the infrastructure we need," she said. 

Ms Ardern said the Budget will have increases in public investment, alongside incentives for business. 

"This Government will make targeted investments to address our social and infrastructure deficits. The critical public services we rely on, such as transport, health, housing and education, must be adequately funded so they function well."

Alongside the already revealed $28 billion boost with Auckland Council to improve the city's transport, Ms Ardern mentioned the existing $1 billion per annum investment into the Provincial Growth Fund. 

Future of Work Forum

"I'm very pleased to announce today that we are establishing a tripartite Future of Work Forum, bringing together the three key partners in the economy, the Government, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions," Ms Ardern said. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is to lead the forum, which is set to look at emerging issues such as new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and robotics. 

"The forum will be focused on helping us shape the policies we will need so workers and businesses can be equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of work."

Ms Ardern mentioned security and trade, and her desire to create a trade agenda "that is both progressive and inclusive".

"We have recently embarked on a consultation process with the public on our new Trade for All Agenda so we can build consensus for the framework we take into future Free Trade Agreement negotiations."

She spoke about the "reworked" Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and described the benefits as being "so clear that apparently even the United States, amongst many others, is talking about the deal". The Trump administration pulled out of the initial TPPA agreement.

Business Confidence

Ms Ardern said she expects economic growth "to remain strong" over the next four years, with unemployment forecast to fall four per cent, and wages to rise over three per cent each year. 

"We are in good shape," she said. 

Ms Ardern said the government will report their annual progress "against a range of measures in a living standards framework which tracks the wellbeing of our people and our environment alongside the traditional measures of economic growth" from 2019 onwards. 

"Together, we can do this," Ms Ardern said. 

Ms Ardern said the Budget will have increases in public investment, alongside incentives for business. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: Newest MP pays tribute to 'hero' Kiwi parents, as Sir John Key watches on

New Zealand's newest Member of Parliament delivered her Maiden Speech last night, paying homage to Kiwi parents, farmers, and her feminist great-great-grandfather.

All as Sir John Key made a special trip to Parliament and watched on. 

National's 55th member, Nicola Willis, made it into Parliament initially during the 2017 election, after an unsuccessful bid for the Wellington Central seat. 

However, she was one of the two National MPs [along with Maureen Pugh] bumped off after special votes came through, making way for Labour's Angie Warren-Clark and Green Party's Golriz Gharaman.

After Bill English's resignation made way for Ms Pugh, Ms Willis got her chance when Steven Joyce stood down after the National Party's leadership contention. 

Ms Willis delivered her Maiden Speech last night, landing a slight jab on Speaker Trevor Mallard.

"Mr Speaker, I acknowledge your mana.  I do so with trepidation, recalling the many Official Information Act requests I wrote to you in your former role as Minister of Education.  I intend to be less of a nuisance to you as a Member of this House," Miss Willis said.

She had previously worked for Bill English when he was the Opposition education spokesperson, and then for Sir John, as well as Fonterra. 

She thanked Sir John for his support and "belief in me and your constant ribbing".

"My time with Bill and Sir John was the best political apprenticeship I could have hoped for."

Ms Willis talked about her great-great-grandfather Archibald Willis, who was an MP the year women's suffrage came before Parliament.  

"My great-great-grandfather voted yes," Ms Willis said. "Today I follow in his feminist footsteps."

She called Kiwi parents the "heroes of New Zealand’s homes". 

"Too often our public institutions and services ignore the realities and demands of modern family life.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes:  one parent, two parents, four; grandparents as caregivers; blended, gay, married, not married, adopted, whangai.

"What matters is the strength of the bonds, the shared values, the getting up at 2am to change the nappy or give the feed, cheering on at assembly and from the sidelines, asking the questions when progress stalls at school and providing the comforting words when worries loom at night. Support. Belonging.  Unconditional love.  No Government intervention can replace it."

Sitting beside Sir John was former MP Steven Joyce, and former politician Hugh Templeton. 

Nicola Willis said she’s following in her great, great grandfather’s "feminist footsteps". Source: 1 NEWS


Hundreds of midwives arrive at Parliament to deliver huge petition and demand a pay rise

Hundreds of midwives have marched on Parliament today to beg Health Minister David Clark to boost funding for the sector.

Midwives and supporters gather at Parliament to hand in a petition asking for improved pay and conditions.
Midwives and supporters gather at Parliament to hand in a petition asking for improved pay and conditions. Source: Emily Cooper/1 NEWS

The midwives are calling on the government to take urgent action around fair pay and working conditions ahead of the upcoming budget.

A petition was delivered to the Beehive at midday, and rallies around the country in Auckland, Hamilton and Dunedin are also underway.

Laura Cox will be one of many marching today on Parliament demanding better pay and conditions for midwives. Source: Breakfast

Midwife Laura Cox spoke this morning on TVNZ 1's Breakfast to explain their demands.

"In the Waikato region there are 30 to 40 midwives that have left in the last six months," Ms Cox said.

"People are leaving in droves. We don't have that practical care for women available for them.

A petition will delivered outside the Beehive at midday, and rallies are expected around the country. Source: Breakfast

"We have worked ourselves to the bone and tried to keep as quiet as possible because we don't want to alarm the public but this is a crisis point."

A petition is being handed over to parliament carrying more than 13,000 signatures. Source: 1 NEWS

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS