The Labour Government has a "spending addiction" and is taking New Zealand "backwards", National leader Christopher Luxon says as Budget 2022 is unveiled.
He also accused Labour of "shifting the goal posts" to allow for more spending, referring to the altered debt rules - a cap of 30% of GDP - the Government announced earlier in May.
“With inflation at a 30-year-high and prices running laps around wages, Kiwis are experiencing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. The forecasts today show inflation is rampant for years to come," Luxon said.
“More and more Kiwis are falling behind each week, squeezed by growing costs and a Government that refuses to offer them meaningful income tax relief while ramming through the biggest spend-up in New Zealand history."
He said that “Labour’s spending addiction means the books are going backward".
"Not content with a $6 billion spending spree, they’ve also raided future budgets – spending $2 billion from Budget 2023 and $0.4 billion from Budget 2024. And that’s before you count climate spending and the cost of living bandaid – which are on top."
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the multi-year funding packages that drew from the operating allowances Budget 2023 and Budget 2024 reflected the fact it cost more to deliver core services.
Robertson said the Government was also taking a "balanced approach to fiscal policy" while also addressing long-standing challenges around climate change, child poverty, productivity and housing.
Greens welcome initiatives but say more can be done
The Green Party is welcoming funding to respond to climate change.
“The Green Party is also pleased that the Budget includes additional support for people on low incomes which will also help reduce emissions - particularly the extension of half-price public transport and a new fund to support community renewable energy projects," Greens co-leader James Shaw said.
“But there is so much more that needs doing. The Greens have made no secret of the fact that we want more rapid action to cut climate pollution."
Shaw said Budget 2022 also showed the Government wasn't moving fast enough to eliminate child poverty, and that this was "concerning".
“Child poverty is a political choice. The Government can eliminate poverty by being bolder on tax and boosting peoples’ incomes."
The Prime Minister also admitted on Thursday that sole parents on benefits have for decades "been denied money that is rightfully theirs by an outdated rule that has seen the Crown retain their child support payments". Budget 2022 would reverse this from mid-2023.
ACT says inequity not solved
ACT leader David Seymour thinks the Budget gives too much for Māori initiatives.
“The Government’s decision to slice up over $1 billion based on race will not solve inequality,” says Seymour.
“The $1 billion is not even close to full spending on Māori Health. Māori are 14 per cent of the population, with a health budget or $24 billion, we would expect around $3.5 billion to be spent on healthcare for Māori."
He says the Government’s "large and powerful Māori caucus has flexed its muscle".
“The emphasis should be on getting value for every dollar and fitting services to every New Zealander. Our population is more diverse than just Māori and non-Māori, but you wouldn’t know it from this Government’s priorities."