Last week I delivered a speech which outlined what the National-led Government’s sixth budget will look like when it’s delivered on 15 of May. Our clear focus is on sustaining economic growth over the medium term, so the economy does n’t just burn brightly for a couple of years and run out of oxygen. When we talk about the economy – about things like GDP and the balance of payments – we’re ultimately talking about people’s jobs, their wages, and the costs they face in going about their daily lives and raising their families. It’s hugely important to continue the progress we’ve recently been making and that’s why there will be no lolly scramble in this year’s Budget.
In Budget 2014 we will be sticking to our new spending allowance of $1 billion – focussed on mainly health and education, on families and children. This also means we remain on track to surplus in 2014/15, as promised. In other news, the latest crime stats showed a 20 per cent drop in crime over the past four years. This is great news and is a result of increased foot patrols, and our Police having more time out in their neighbourhoods because of access to smart phones and tablets. The Police focus on Prevention First is also helping put our Police in the right places, at the right times, to prevent offending before it happens. Offences dropped by 4.1 per cent in 2013, with 15,602 fewer recorded crimes compared to the year before, and 90,994 fewer offences in 2013 compared to 2009 – this means we are making New Zealander a safer place to raise our children, and that’s important to me.
These results haven’t happened by chance. We’re staying tough on criminals, keeping record numbers of police on the beat, and ensuring the justice system focuses on the rights of victims. We’ve passed new laws covering sentencing, parole, gangs, and proceeds of crime. Our key objective is simple: to continue to reduce crime and the number of people entering the criminal justice pipeline – keeping our communities safer. National is building a safer New Zealand. It’s an important part of our plan to deliver better public services – one of our four priorities in this term of government.