Over the past week I’ve attended a number of events around New Zealand, which has given me the chance to talk to Kiwis and hear what they had to say about the announcements made in Budget 2015. A lot of people had many positive things to say, with a number saying they were pleased to see a National-led Government committed to doing more about child poverty in New Zealand.
This Budget included a $790 million package over four years to reduce hardship among children living in some of the poorest families in New Zealand. A $25 a week increase in benefits for families with children and an increase of $12.50 a week for other low-income families will make a difference to around 160,000 of the…… lowest-income families. I’m proud to lead the first Government in 43 years to raise benefits above the usual inflation adjustments. Budget 2015 also included significant investments in the areas of education and health. A good education provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead.
Budget 2015 invests an extra $686.7 million over the next four years in education. This brings our total investment in education to a record $10.8 billion next year. This Government also remains committed to supporting our public health services, which is why we will be spending more on health than ever before. A further $1.7 billion investment over the next four years takes health spending next year to a record $15.9 billion. And we’re getting better results for New Zealanders from that investment. For example, we’re delivering 44,000 more elective operations a year compared to when we first came into government and immunisation rates for babies are at record highs.
Last weekend, I was at North Harbour Stadium cheering on the New Zealand U20 football team as they kicked off the FIFA U20 World Cup tournament, taking on Ukraine in the opening match. This is a major event, one that will boost tourism for New Zealand and put the spotlight on our corner of the world, as well as providing a fantastic event for football fans. The tournament will be broadcast to more than 100 countries with a global television audience of more than 170 million. Between 7,000 to 10,000 international visitors, including players, staff and media are expected to visit. Hosting this major event also shows how far the ‘beautiful game’ has come in New Zealand with football continuing to grow in popularity.