Collins' Comments: 22 May 2017
On Thursday this week, Minister of Finance Hon Steven Joyce will deliver Budget 2017, his first in the role. Already, there have been a number of pre-Budget announcements which outline the Government’s commitment in areas like education, tourism, conservation and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.
In his pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce on 3rd May, Prime Minister Rt Hon Bill English announced that the Budget will include a $321 million Social Investment Package with 14 initiatives designed to help our most vulnerable to improve their lives. These initiatives include an extra $40.7 million over four years, to help children in our education system at risk of poor learning and social outcomes. Click here to read more.
Budget 2017 will continue the Government’s commitment to New Zealanders’ access to high-quality medicines, with an additional investment of $60 million in Pharmac over the next four years. Since 2008 this National-led government has increased Pharmac’s budget by $220 million, and this latest investment takes their budget to a record $870 million for 2017/18. Click here to read more.
The Department of Conservation will receive an investment of $21.3 million to help this year’s beech forest mast increase in rat and stoat numbers. These pests pose a significant threat to our most vulnerable native bird species. The Battle for Our Birds 2017 campaign will use the new operating funding to undertake predator control programmes across 800,000 hectares of land. Click here to read more.
DOC will also receive $76 million through Budget 2017, as part of a $178 million tourism infrastructure package. This extra investment will enable better management of the impact visitor growth, while also protecting our biodiversity and threatened species. This means upgrades and developments to tourist facilities and our fabulous DOC estate, as well as the expansion of the Great Walks network to include two new Great Walks. Click here to read more.
To further support growth across New Zealand, the Government will allocate $11 billion to build new capital infrastructure over the next four Budgets, in addition to spending already included in government agency baseline infrastructure projects, bringing the total spend to $53 billion.
It is great to be part of a Government that is prepared to act to protect the country from financial shocks or natural disasters occurring in the future. That’s why, along with improving public services, investing in the infrastructure needed for a growing economy, and sharing the benefits of economic growth, we’re working to reduce net debt to 20% of GDP by 2020. We are also looking further ahead to reduce net debt to between 10 and 15 per cent of GDP by 2025.