Last week, the National-led Government delivered our eighth Budget. It’s a Budget all about investing in a growing economy and supporting families with new funding for infrastructure, innovation, health and education. New Zealand’s economy is performing well. We are on track for rising surpluses and falling debt and solid economic growth of almost 3 per cent a year for the next few years. More than 200,000 jobs have been created over the past three years and a further 170,000 new jobs are forecast by 2020. By then, the average wage is expected to be $63,000 a year – that’s $16,000 more than when we came into government.
Budget 2016 is a forward-looking Budget that builds on the good progress we’ve made and invests in ensuring this strong growth continues. It also focuses on initiatives to strengthen communities. Health remains the number one funding priority, with an extra $2.2 billion…… investment into new health initiatives over four years, bringing next year’s health spend to a record $16.1 billion. This includes $96 million to deliver even more elective surgeries so New Zealanders can live free from pain. It also delivers more money for Pharmac to fund more lifesaving medicines for New Zealanders, bringing its total budget next year to a record $850 million. Pharmac is independent but this extra funding will enable them to look at funding new treatments for advanced melanoma, Hepatitis C, and brain tumours. Budget 2016 also invests $39.3 million to start the roll out of a national bowel-screening programme, which will see 700,000 New Zealanders screened every two years once fully implemented. Around 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and it is one of our leading causes of death.
National is committed to ensuring every child gets a great education. It provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead and make the most of their lives. Budget 2016 invests an extra $1.4 billion into education over four years; bringing next year’s spending on childhood, primary and secondary education to a record $11 billion. This extra money will be used for a range of initiatives including building nine new schools and 480 new classrooms across the country, to fund 14,000 more children in early childhood education, and to ensure children with high and special needs get the support they need in the classroom. Budget 2016 also includes a $761 million Innovative New Zealand package for science, skills and regional development initiatives to help grow and diversify the economy. As a country, New Zealand is more confident and the economy is growing solidly. Budget 2016 invests in New Zealand’s future, while ensuring we continue to support New Zealand families by investing in the public services that matter to them.