Late last month, Finance Minister Steven Joyce delivered his first Budget, which was also the first Budget of Bill English's term as prime minister and Leader of the National Party.
It was a Budget to be proud of, delivering for Kiwis, as it does, by providing an economic dividend for hard-working families, improving public services, and funding more infrastructure for a growing country.
It was such a good Budget that two Opposition parties -- NZ First and the Greens -- decided they should back at least parts of it.
But for petty political reasons, Labour decided it didn't want the families of New Zealand profiting from this Government's careful stewardship of the economy since the Global Financial Crisis. If that's how they feel about Kiwis doing better in life -- and being able to keep more of their own money -- heaven knows what they'd do if we ever let them near the Treasury benches.
We must all work hard to ensure that that doesn't happen. It would put in jeopardy all that the National-led Government has toiled over nine years to achieve.
As you'll know by now, the Budget's centrepiece was the Family Incomes Package, which shares the fruits of a strong and growing economy with the people who have created it. The package means Kiwis will have more cash in their pockets from next April to make choices and to meet the demands of raising their families.
It is worth $2 billion over four years and includes:
- Changes to low and middle-income tax thresholds;
- Increases to Working for Families Family Tax Credits, especially for larger families and families with younger children; and
- Increases to the Accommodation Supplement for those facing the stress of high-rent properties.
- Under the package, more than 1.3 million Kiwi families will receive, on average, an extra $26 a week after tax. And the sum is obviously higher for those facing high rental costs and/or with larger families. In some cases, families will be better off by $150 a week.
And Labour wants to stop that happening. Incredible.
Other highlights of Steven's first Budget were:
- More than $32 billion will be invested over the next four years in infrastructure, such as new schools, classrooms with greater capacity, new hospital facilities, more government housing and, of course, major roading and public transport projects.
- And $7 billion to contribute to even better public services, including $3.9 billion on Health (that includes the settlement for care and support workers' pay), $1.1 billion for education, and $1.2 billion in the Justice area, which includes $500 million for extra police resources.
The Budget is a great example of "compassionate conservatism" in action and I'm proud to be part of a Government that introduced it.
If you want more information about how the Budget's provisions will affect you and/or your family, visit here.