Winners in new Labour-led Government's first Budget set to be health, education and state housing, says 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch

The winners in Grant Robertson's first Budget on Thursday are set to be health, education and state housing, says 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch.

In health, $8 billion over four years has been promised - a big injection - and things like mental health are due for a win too, Mutch said.

"With education, things like early childhood education we understand will be a winner, and special education," she reported.

There have been a lot of hints that school buildings will be in for a win too, she added.

"With housing, we understand more state housing will be promised to be built as well."

But the word is don't hold your breath or get too excited.

"That's because the Government has already promised a lot of those just after the last election in the mini budget - things like the $75 a week families package," Mutch said.

She said a lot is riding on the Budget for the Finance Minister.

"He's set to deliver a higher-than-expected surplus. And he's going to be putting some of that aside in a kitty. He's going to be saving it for a rainy day for things like a natural disaster or for this Mycoplasma bovis outbreak."

The Government has already delayed some promises and our political editor says there could be more. 

"We saw that with the cheaper GP visits that were promised. And we'll find out more details of that in the Budget. There could also be more that are delayed or phased in as well."

National has said the Government has inherited a very favourable position with a lot of money to spend in this Budget.

But Mutch said with that comes expectation, especially for those that traditionally do well under Labour, and we'll see if it delivers in Thursday's Budget.

Grant Robertson will deliver the new Labour-led Government's first Budget since taking power tomorrow. Source: 1 NEWS

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Jacinda Ardern uses Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage Kiwis to be more 'open' regarding struggles

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has encouraged New Zealanders – and particularly Kiwi men - to be more open with each other regarding their mental health struggles.

Asked to share her thoughts today during Mental Health Awareness Week, Ms Ardern called for Kiwis to speak more openly about day-to-day issues.

"There's something to be said for us speaking more openly around just the issues that people face day-to-day...being much more open with each other around the stress and strain that people feel in a modern environment," she told media.

"The large majority of people never come to the attention of our mental health services and yet take their own lives and so the first step is seeking help and encouraging people to be much more open particularly, males in our community."

Ms Ardern said the stress and strain she felt were largely related to her job.

"Without wanting to overstate it, whatever I experience it probably just reflects the job that I’m in and not necessarily more than that," she said.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7)

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

Safe to talk National Sexual Harm Helpline - 0800 044 334, www.safetotalk.nz

Victim Support National 24 Hour Helpline 0800 842 846, www.victimsupport.org.nz

·         Rape Crisis National 24 Hour Helpline 0800 883300

The Prime Minister spoke about the issue during Mental Health Awareness Week. Source: 1 NEWS

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Government set to crack down on loan sharks with fines of up to $600k for lenders who break rules

The Government is set to crack down on loan sharks, introducing a range measures designed to stop the lenders exploiting vulnerable or financially-naive people.

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi announced the measures today, which include a cap on the amount of interest that can be charged, as well as a cap on fees.

There will be "stiff" penalties for lenders who break the rules, Mr Faafoi said, and lenders, door-to-door salespeople and truck shop operators will now be vetted with a "fit and proper person" test.

"The 2015 amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) did not go far enough in protecting our most vulnerable consumers from loan sharks," Mr Faafoi said.

"The introduction of an interest and fees cap on high-cost loans will prevent people from accumulating large debt from a single small loan.

"For example, if you borrow $500 you will never have to pay back more than $1,000 in total, including all fees and interest.

"The changes also lift the level of professionalism across the industry, by requiring directors and chief executives of lenders offering consumer credit contracts to pass a 'fit and proper person' test in order to register as a Financial Service Provider.

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

"Any lenders breaching the responsible lender principles will face stiff new penalties of fines up to $600,000 under the strengthened enforcement provisions in the CCCFA.

"We listened to consumer advocates and the finance sector's feedback and will also be seeking increased resources for enforcement and monitoring to ensure lenders who break the law are detected and stopped."

The new measures will also strengthen the legal status of "do not knock" signs on premises, to combat uninvited salespeople.

Mr Faafoi said the new measures will come into effect from 2020, subject to Parliamentary timeframes.

The Government is cracking down on loan sharks and truck shops who sometimes prey on financially-vulnerable people. Source: 1 NEWS

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Cold snap to bring snow to low levels in South Island, chilly weather set to hit further north

A wintry blast expected to hit the country later today could affect travellers on some South Island roads.

MetService is warning the cold front set to move over the lower South Island will bring snow to low levels.

Inland parts of Otago and south Canterbury are under a heavy snow watch with snow levels dropping to 400m, and snow is expected down to 200m for Fiordland and Southland today.

MetService issued snowfall warnings for several roads, including the Crown Range and Milford roads where snow showers are expected from mid-afternoon. On Lindis and Haast Pass light snow is expected later this evening.

The road to Milford Sound has been closed because of avalanche risk.

Heavy rain and low-level snow are forecast as a front moves north-east over Fiordland and Southland this morning.

State Highway 94 from Te Anau is likely be closed all of today at this stage.

The weather front producing the snow only reaches upper South Island at midnight, so the North Island is forecast to be mainly fine and dry today.

Heavy rain is due in the ranges of Buller and Nelson, and the Richmond Range tomorrow.

Later in the week the strong, cold south to southeasterly flow is expected to spread across the North Island, bringing high winds to parts of Wellington and coastal Marlborough, and possible snow above 600m in the central North Island high country and the ranges of Hawke's Bay.

The Desert Road and the Napier to Taupo Road are likely to be affected.

rnz.co.nz

Lake Tekapo is situated in the heart of MacKenzie Country, halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown. The crystal clear turquoise waters of the Lake, contrasted with the snow capped peaks of the majestic Southern Alps will surely captivate you. Lake Tekapo also has one of the world's most spectacular night skies. It is amazing how clear it can be and the number of stars visible to the naked eye during one of those nights is incredible.
Source: istock.com


Commerce Commission taking Auckland power lines company Vector to court over excessive outages

The Commerce Commission is taking Vector - the Auckland power lines company - to court for excessive power outages in the region.

Vector is not contesting the charge which relates to its performance during the 2015 and 2016 financial years.

Vector is accused of failing to adhere to good industry practice in a number of areas, which the Commission says led to increased outages.

The company says increased stormy weather was a factor, as well as increasing congestion, which meant contractors are less able to quickly travel to sites where work is required.

In a statement to the NZX, Vector said the Commission was alleging that the company had fallen behind on the expected outage resolution times for each year.

"The commission found that Vector breached this quality standard by 51 minutes in the 2015 regulatory year and 13 minutes in the 2016 regulatory year," the company said.

Vector faces a fine of up to $5 million.

The Commission is also currently prosecuting Aurora - a lines company in Otago - for allegedly under-investing in the maintenance and renewal of its network.

A map showing the location of a power outage in Auckland