Today’s $5.9b Budget 2022, unveiled by Finance Minister Grant Robertson, provides the largest allocation of new spending ever made by a New Zealand government, with the addition of the emergency $1b cost of living package proving to be one of the biggest talking points.
The package includes a staggered, one-off payment of $350 to approximately 2.1 million people, alongside an extension of the fuel excise duty reduction and half price public transport fares. The package is focused on supporting New Zealand whānau to manage the current high cost of living.
However, health was the biggest focus, with the single largest year-on-year boost, tagging $13.2b for the system over the next four years.
This includes $71m to purchase more cancer drugs, $188 million for the Māori Health Authority to commission services and develop iwi partnerships, and $157m for new ambulances and emergency helicopters.
Notably, Government has invested $148m to support industries to innovate, transition and profit from a more secure economy through Industry Transformation Plans in construction, advanced manufacturing, agritech, digital technologies, forestry and wood processing, food and beverage, and fisheries.
These industries, many of which play a key role in the Bay of Plenty’s regional economy, have significant potential to contribute to a high productivity, high wage, low emissions economy.
Adding to this, further investment in construction to boost delivery of initiatives in the Construction Sector Accord Transformation Plan, will also be heartening for businesses in this industry.
Government has earmarked $100m for a new Business Growth Fund aimed at improving access to finance and enabling small business to grow.
Accessing capital can be a significant barrier for many small businesses so this fund, while not necessarily beneficial in the short-term, will be welcome news by many for its long-term help.
To support a more sustainable tourism sector, Government has invested $54.2m in an Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery. The new programme is subject to further detailed design work, and will prioritise innovation and low-emissions projects, and support tourism recovery.
While there was little in Budget 2022 specifically for the regions and/or regional development, the Government has committed $110m over the coming year, fulfilling its original commitment of $200m in the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund.
As outlined in the pre-Budget announcement earlier this week climate change was also front of mind, with a $2.9b investment from the Climate Emergency Response Fund to tackle climate change and create a more secure economy by focusing on immediate decarbonisation and energy security.