From the Minister of Finance
Wellbeing Budget 2022 - A Secure Future charts the course for economic security and a high-wage, low‑emissions economy as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealanders worked hard through lockdowns to protect each other while the vaccine was rolled out, and while testing and therapeutics were put in place. Our public health led approach to COVID-19 has not only saved lives, but also put us in a better economic position than much of the rest of the world.
Our economy is one of the strongest in the world, with Triple-A credit ratings, record-low unemployment and lower debt than Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
However, despite those positive results, we know the global inflation pressures are hurting some New Zealanders, and the world remains an uncertain and volatile place. That is why Budget 2022 provides further relief to those on lower and middle incomes, to help pay the food and energy bills until inflation is brought back under control.
Budget 2022 shows the economy is expected to be robust in the near term. It is expected to strengthen from the second half of this year, with annual growth peaking at 4.2 per cent in June 2023.
Our strong economy means we can invest to do the basics right, in health, education and housing.
Budget 2022 makes the most significant reform to our health sector in a generation. We are establishing a nationwide health system that will provide quality care wherever you live - one which will address the longstanding inequities in the system, including through the establishment of the Māori Health Authority.
Aotearoa New Zealand's economic security depends not only on addressing the near-term challenges of the cost of living, supply chain disruptions and skill shortages, but also on a clear and deliberate transition to a high-wage, low-emissions economy.
This Budget provides significant support to small and medium enterprises and to building strong foundations for the industries that will drive job growth.
Climate change is not something that is happening in the future - it is here now. An up-front investment in climate change now, provided through the Climate Emergency Response Fund, will not only deal with an environmental emergency, but will also open up opportunities for innovation, better jobs and higher wages. It will mean a more secure economy as we move towards energy independence by cutting our reliance on volatile global oil markets.
As I said last year, one Budget cannot solve all of Aotearoa New Zealand's challenges; a longer-term approach is smarter, more logical and provides more certainty. This is reflected again in the way investments have been rolled out in Budget 2022, with multi-year allocations for both Climate Change and Health.
We are also introducing two pilot Clusters, in the Justice and Natural Resources sectors. These bring Ministers and agencies together to pursue shared goals, and they will receive multi-year funding to achieve them.
We are doing all of this while carefully managing the books. We have introduced new fiscal rules on surplus and debt to ensure we get the balance right - returning to a surplus quicker than National did after the Global Financial Crisis and creating the room to increase infrastructure investment to future-proof the economy.
The last few years have been challenging for everyone, and some of those challenges are still with us. This Budget strikes a careful balance, building on our successful response to COVID-19 in continuing to support New Zealanders through a tough period, but also looking forward, to support New Zealanders to seize the opportunities of a more secure future.
HON GRANT ROBERTSON
Minister of Finance