Budget Speech

The Budget Speech is the Budget Statement the Minister of Finance delivers at the start of Parliament's Budget debate. The Budget Statement generally focuses on the overall fiscal and economic position, the Government's policy priorities and how those priorities will be funded.

Budget Speech
Published: 30 May 2019
Also published on the Treasury website.

Budget Priorities, part 2

Mr Speaker, our second priority is to Improve Child Wellbeing.

We know that every year, almost 300,000 children are affected by domestic violence. Within the State care system, nine out of 10 children and young people have had a family violence incident in their lifetime, half within the last year.

Addressing family and sexual violence requires working in new and different ways across government, with communities and with Māori. Through the Wellbeing Budget process, eight government agencies have taken shared responsibility for this issue through a joint venture, and developed a single, whole-of-government package of initiatives to address New Zealand's long-term record on family and sexual violence.

The $320 million package includes funding and support for:

  • sexual violence crisis support services for children and young people;
  • enabling victims of sexual violence to give evidence in alternative ways to reduce the risk of experiencing further trauma;
  • dedicated funding for a kaupapa Māori response to sexual violence; and
  • covering one million New Zealanders with Integrated Safety Response sites.

There has never before been investment of this scale in preventing and responding to family and sexual violence. I want to particularly acknowledge the leadership of Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie in pulling together this ground-breaking package.

Mr Speaker,

If all New Zealand’s children are to do well, we must do more to break the cycle and stop our most vulnerable from falling through the cracks.

The Wellbeing Budget starts to deliver a new system by targeting investment towards providing the very best care for children at serious risk and in the most need of help. I want to thank the Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, for her strong advocacy for children in care.

A new Intensive Intervention Service will use highly skilled support workers to help families and whānau of children most at risk of entry into the State's care to remain safely at home.

This will cover around 150 families and 400 children in its first year. In addition, the Budget provides $26.7 million for the Ministry's NGO partners currently providing early intervention services.

This Budget is investing $525 million into care to back new National Care Standards. We're also investing in extra capacity, with 350 additional frontline staff including social workers, and more caregivers.

Legislative changes mean most 17-year-olds will be included in the youth justice system from 1 July 2019. The Wellbeing Budget provides extra funding to make this transition successful and to improve the outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children in our care.

Mr Speaker,

This Government is committed to ensuring the welfare system is fairer and upholds the dignity of New Zealanders that need support from it.

We have already announced that we will increase abatement thresholds for those on benefits who work in line with increases to the minimum wage and to remove the punitive sanctions for those women who do not name the father of their children.

Today we add to that by taking the decision that the Government will index main benefits to average wage increases. In 2017 the Children's Commissioner, Andrew Beecroft said the single best thing that the government could do to combat child poverty was the indexation of benefits. Today that is exactly what we will do. It is estimated that around 329,000 individuals and families will be better off as a result.

Mr Speaker,

Evidence tells us that educational outcomes early in life are linked to child wellbeing, and the potential for positive outcomes later in life.

Through the Wellbeing Budget, this Government is delivering a number of significant investments to improve New Zealand's education system. This includes investing in more teachers, including training an additional 2,480, employing more than 600 Learning Support Coordinators in schools, and increased funding for operational grants to meet demand and cost pressures.

This Budget will also reduce the financial pressure on families when it comes to their children's education. The idea of a free education has been compromised by ever-increasing so-called voluntary donations.

So from the start of the next school year, all decile 1-7 state and state-integrated schools, will be eligible to receive $150 per student per year if the school agrees to stop requesting donations from parents. Nearly half a million children at 1,700 schools will benefit from this.

Meanwhile, more than 145,000 households are estimated to benefit from the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee that families pay every year for around 168,000 secondary students.

Mr Speaker,

Evidence also shows how children's nutrition and physical activity are linked to their academic achievement. I am particularly proud that this Budget provides a $47.6 million investment for an innovative joint initiative from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sport New Zealand to promote healthy eating and physical activity for children.

All schools and early learning centres will be supported with new resources including health promotion guidelines and staff, and school physical activity advisors. This is an excellent example of the joined-up government approach to wellbeing, with the project a true collaborative effort from the three agencies.

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