Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s fifth budget ‘in some ways the toughest’

Finance Minister Grant Robertson was in Dannevirke to talk about the budget. Photo / Leanne Warr

New Zealand is well placed to be able to look after people, according to Grant Robertson.

The finance minister and deputy prime minister was in Dannevirke on Wednesday to speak to community members about the 2022 welfare budget.

Protesters outside the Hub's main entrance hoped to catch the minister.  Photo / Leanne Warr
Protesters outside the Hub’s main entrance hoped to catch the minister. Photo / Leanne Warr

Robertson said the budget had been difficult.

“This is the fifth budget I’ve done and in some ways the toughest,” he said.

“The reason this budget is so difficult to manage is the uncertainty and volatility of the world we live in right now.”

Things like the war in Ukraine have put significant pressure on various elements including the price of oil and the supply chain, which has led to increased pressure in construction and other industries in New Zealand.

Robertson said that within 24 hours of his budget speech, inflation in the UK had risen from 6.9% to over 8%.

“The Dow also lost about a thousand points that night.”

It was an uncertain and volatile time for the world.

He said the good news for New Zealand was that the country was probably in one of the best positions of any economy in the world to handle this.

“It’s because of, I believe, how the country got to where we are with Covid.”

Ensuring businesses and households were supported to get through means the country has rebounded in a way that other economies have not been able to.

Robertson said to do this the government had to borrow a lot of money for things like the wage subsidy program which has made a huge difference in how New Zealanders have fared.

He said in 2020 just over 70% of jobs in the economy were supported by the wage subsidy program and in 2021 it was around 47%.

“It made sure that people stayed in their jobs, that businesses had cash and some confidence.”

One of the indicators of New Zealand’s position of strength was that unemployment had fallen to 3.2%, which Robertson said was one of the lowest levels ever.

“It’s the result of working together to make sure people stay at work.”

One such initiative was free apprenticeship vocational training and approximately 190,000 New Zealanders had benefited from apprenticeship and vocational training.

He said the budget is about striking a balance between getting a strong fiscal position, how the government can support people with the cost of living and how they invest and create a good highway to the future. employment in the future.

Overall, New Zealand’s economy was in relatively good shape, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that individual households, individual businesses and communities are doing hard, Robertson said.

“There are people doing things hard, but what that means is that as a country we are in a good position to be able to take care of people and move forward.”

Robertson said one of the budget’s targets was supermarkets, saying New Zealanders were paying too much for food.

“It’s quite infuriating to walk into an Australian supermarket and see a block of New Zealand cheese cheaper than what you and I will pay. There’s a reason for that and the reason is that we don’t have competition in the supermarket business that other companies are doing.”

Robertson said another major area of ​​spending was on resetting the healthcare sector, wanting to ensure New Zealand had a healthcare system that actually delivered to New Zealanders.

“We make sure that we actually deliver services at the grassroots level that work for New Zealanders and are delivered in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

Over the next five years, the government would invest $61 billion in infrastructure, Robertson said.

“We haven’t invested in New Zealand infrastructure for probably decades.”

He said the population had gone from 3 million to 4 million in 30 years and it had risen to 5 million in 16 years, but more roads and houses had not been built.

“This investment is essential to ensure that we unleash the productivity of regions and cities across New Zealand.”

Protesters during the interrupted presentation asked a number of questions, including food prices, roads and health.

Police confirmed that no arrests had been made.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty accompanied Grant Robertson on his tour of the area.  Photo / Leanne Warr
Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty accompanied Grant Robertson on his tour of the area. Photo / Leanne Warr

Robertson was accompanied on his tour of the region by Kieran McAnulty.

Comments are closed.