Rotorua Weekender: Budget 2015 Announcements

Thursday, August 13, 2015

On Thursday next week, Bill English will deliver the Government’s seventh Budget. This will be as important as the first budget, which helped New Zealand deal with the Global Financial crisis and our own recession. It will focus on continuing to carefully manage the government's books, growing the economy and helping those least fortunate to get ahead.

It will also be in stark contrast to Australia where their government is facing difficult decisions and a very large budget deficit.

Already there have been a few early announcements including around an afforestation programme to plant more trees, a $500m reduction in ACC levies which will see car registration fees fall from around $330 to $195 this year to $120 per year next year, and more investment in health and corrections. 

Last week Health Minister Jonathan Coleman announced an extra $98 million will be spent so more New Zealanders will receive operations. This will be welcome news for local people waiting for their hips or knees to be done.

Despite tough economic times, this increased investment in Budget 2015 adds to six years of increased health funding. Improved access to elective surgery has been one of our top priorities while in office. In 2014, 44,000 more people received elective surgery than in 2008 – up a huge 37 per cent thanks to this increased funding and the hard work of local DHB’s. Overall, this means that more Rotorua people will be able to get surgery in a more timely fashion.

We've also announced a further $6.5 million towards preventing reoffending in our communities. The funding will be in addition to the $192 million the Government already spends, and will further assist corrections in re-integrating offenders back into the community to keep people safer.

Out Of Gate is a new programme being introduced that will give Corrections additional tools to stop people reoffending. It will mean that more prisoners are supported into training and jobs with the sole function of better reintegration, making sure they are working and therefore less likely to reoffend.

Results so far have shown that for every percentage point drop in reoffending, a benefit of $5.5 million is passed on to the justice sector. The programme has potential to have a benefit of up to $44.5 million in avoided costs such as housing prisoners and others. This money can instead be spent on other things and means that our communities are safer.

There will be many more announcements in Budget 2015 that are good for Rotorua. Health, education and a sustainable growing economy will continue to be a central theme. One thing for sure our Budget will offer much more than that announced in Australia this week.