Opposition leader Simon Bridges has delivered his rebuttal to the Budget, saying the Government has nothing to offer Kiwis except more plans to tax, borrow and spend.
The National Leader spent much of his Budget speech in the House focusing on the “legacy” his party left the new Governmen.
“The Government books are incredibly strong; the economy is growing and there is serious investment into public services.”
He says Finance Minister Grant Robertson has one of the most enviable position of any Finance Minister around the world, thanks to National.
The Budget shows the Government will have a $7.3 billion surplus by 2021/22, with economic growth expected to average at a whisker under 3% over the next five years.
“But instead of acknowledging this fine legacy, Robertson calls this the rebuild Budget – but rebuilding what exactly?”
He went on to praise the former Government’s record on job creation and economic growth.
“When this Government took office, it inherited a bustling, dynamic economy which improved the lives of everyday New Zealanders.”
He points to National’s first Budget in 2008 as a “real rebuilding budget” where National had to work to address issues created by the global financial crisis.
Bridges also attempted to drive a wedge between Labour and its Coalition partner New Zealand First.
“Winston Peters is happy because he got his billion dollars for diplomats and a new embassy in Sweden. Unfortunately, Labour has prioritised that ahead of funding the Roxburgh children’s camp and mental health.”
Bridges says Labour’s should change its slogan from “Let’s do this” to “Winston, may I do this?”
Speaking to media after his speech, he reinforced this idea.
He said the areas the Government neglected in the Budget, such as no “real money” for mental health and taking $200 million out of PHARMAC, were done to make sure Peters got the things he wants.
This included the $1 billion for foreign investment and the $3 billion for the Provincial Growth Fund.
Bridges said last year, National’s Budget had $7 billion going into public services, that was $6.5 billion this year.
But within that figure, Bridges has included the $348 million Terranova settlement, which came about as a result of court action last year.
He denies it is disingenuous to include this figure in his calculations, saying it’s “real money, for real jobs.”