Labour's Backwards Budget

I have spent the past 24 hours trawling Grant Robertson’s fifth Budget for any sign of meaningful investment into Canterbury and there’s nothing. Not a brass farthing.

Since 2017, the powerhouse of the New Zealand economy has been overlooked and ignored by this Government. And yesterday, despite announcing the biggest Budget blow-out in New Zealand’s history, Grant Robertson has delivered nothing to the regions.

Not content with a $6 billion per year spending spree (by far the largest ever), he’s also raided future budgets – spending $2 billion from Budget 2023 and $0.4 billion from Budget 2024. That’s before you count climate spending and the cost of living payment – which are on top, taking the total spend-up to more than $9 billion per year of government spending.

Since Labour came to power, Government spending has increased by 68% - they will spend a whopping $127 billion this year, up $51 billion.

Surpluses have been delayed until 2025. It is no surprise when you’re spending at these hyper levels, you have to borrow more and government debt has therefore nearly tripled to $173 billion.

And that means Kiwis will be paying $4.9 billion by 2025 just in interest on that debt – twice what we spend on Police.

Be very clear; Grant Robertson’s out of control spending has caused the cost of living crisis that is gripping us all. This Government has lost the culture of fiscal discipline that economic heavyweights like Bill English, John Key and Steven Joyce imposed on the public service.

We say Labour’s spending is wasteful – here are just a few examples of what we’ve seen in the past year:

  • Health reforms – at least $680 million for the new bureaucracy (across this Budget and last year)
  • Cash for corporates to reduce emissions - $650 million
  • Working groups to develop future climate plans - $85 million
  • $250 million on Light Rail in Auckland before construction even starts (and then $15 to $30 billion once it does!)
  • $50 million on planning the (now shelved) Auckland harbour cycle bridge
  • $24 million for Kainga Ora’s office renovations
  • $1.8 billion a year more on public service salaries

For that sort of spending, New Zealanders have a right to expect better outcomes – but this simply isn’t happening. Outcomes are going backwards. Labour is all spin, no delivery. All spend, no results.

  • Education – spending is up $5 billion per year under Labour but literacy is going backwards – and more and more kids aren’t even turning up to school.
  • Welfare – where despite low unemployment there are 40,000 more people on a job-seeker benefit under Labour.
  • Kiwibuild – where barely 1% of the 100,000 homes have been delivered
  • Immigration – where 500 additional bureaucrats have been hired but waiting times for a visa have got way worse.