Building Stronger Communities

Mr Speaker

This Government is committed to making our communities safer. We want to reduce crime and slow growth in the prison population.

We are increasing the Police budget by $298.8 million over four years so we can recruit more Police officers towards the goal of an additional 1800 police as provided for in the Coalition Agreement between Labour and New Zealand First.

We’re also giving Police and Customs the staff and resources they need to crack down on gangs and organised crime and drug trafficking. We want Police to have the time to investigate crime and deal with the underlying causes of offending, as well as focusing on victims and improving their connections with support services.

This Government is committed to doing things differently when it comes to criminal justice.  We know that the approach that has delivered to New Zealand one of the worst incarceration rates in the world, cannot go on. Our goal is to stop the spiralling prison population and reduce it by 30 percent over the next 15 years. 

Budget 2018 begins this journey.  We will invest in improved reintegration programmes including housing and support for training and development and better support people on probation and community sentences.

To respond to unavoidable short-term pressures, this Budget will fund accommodation for 600 more prisoner places in rapid-build modular units. Meanwhile, initiatives are being developed to reduce the number of people in prison, while keeping New Zealanders safe.

We are looking to improve youth justice also. Another $139.5 million will be provided over four years to go towards changes allowing 17-year-olds to be included in the youth justice system. Oranga Tamariki will be funded for a year’s trial to improve the Family Group conference process for tamariki Māori. Support for frontline family violence services and for survivors of sexual abuse will also increase.

This Government wants a more effective, efficient and humane justice system.

Mr Speaker

New Zealand should be a nation in which all communities are valued and empowered; a nation of fairness and equal opportunity.

This Government will work with Māori in pursuit of their aspirations for sustainable economic development, better health, better housing, and better education for their rangatahi.

Budget 2018 includes an additional $37 million over four years for Māori Development, with a focus on papakāinga housing, development of Māori land, and providing training opportunities and support to rangatahi who are not in education, employment or training.

The Budget also provides $11.5 million of additional funding over four years to investigate and process the growing number of claims for recognition of customary rights under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

We will support the teaching of te reo Māori in schools. This Budget provides $11.4 million of new funding over the next four years for initiatives to provide more teachers with the necessary training and resources.

Mr Speaker

This Government recognises that the arts, culture and heritage make a significant contribution to our identity as a country and a people.

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Heritage New Zealand and the New Zealand Music Commission are all supported with new funding in this Budget. 

This Budget begins the establishment of modern public broadcasting for New Zealand. We have set aside $15 million to implement the initial recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Public Media. Further funding will follow in future Budgets to ensure New Zealanders hear and see their own stories and creative talent.

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