The National Party has leaked what it claims are details of the Wellbeing Budget.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern disputed the leak on Monday just after National released the document with the alleged Budget details.
National claims Budget 2019 will spend:
- $1.3 billion on defence
- $740 million on international aid
- $744 million for DHBs
- $139 million for forestry
National has claimed it’s the recipient of a massive Budget leak, detailing the spending promises the Opposition understands Labour has made to NZ First.
Among the biggest apparent gains for NZ First’s minister’s is $1.3 billion for defence assets, and the doubling of “Vote Forestry” – the total budget for nearly all forestry initiatives being funded by the Government. NZ First ministers Ron Mark and Shane Jones hold both portfolios respectively.
But it’s unlikely National’s claims will be proven either way, until Thursday’s Budget is revealed. In relation to a potential defence spend, that document is released separately to the Budget itself, although that’s widely expected to be released mid-June.
Leader Simon Bridges said it “made a mockery” of the Government’s Wellbeing Budget.
“The Government will announce a total of $1.3 billion for the purchase of assets in Vote Defence Force in 2019/2020, up from $641 million last year. This has nothing to do with the Government’s wellbeing priorities. It shows the Prime Minister has yet again had to throw her principles out the window to buy off Winston.
“Vote Forestry has doubled. There will be an extra $139 million, for a total of $277 million in the first year. Again, this doesn’t fit in with the Government’s five Budget priorities of wellbeing,” Bridges said.
“It makes a mockery of the Government’s inability to settle the teachers strike and refusal to fund more for dentistry – there’s money for tanks but not for teachers, there’s money for trees but not for teeth.”
While Government ministers are downplaying the accuracy of the leak, National has had success with similar reveals in the past.
The five “Budget Priorities” which were detailed by the Prime Minister in a speech last week, were leaked with near complete accuracy to National, in December last year.
The Opposition also identified each portfolio minister would be required to review their portfolio(s) and identify at least one per cent of expenditure, within baseline, that was not in line with the Government’s objectives, or is the lowest priority.
Recently the Government confirmed its flagship Fees-Free policy, for tertiary education, had not achieved what it was intended and that ongoing spending has been canned.
National’s bombshell was specifically timed for what’s known as Caucus Run, which happens every Tuesday of every sitting week. It’s when politicians in both major parties head into their weekly caucus meeting, but run the gauntlet of political reporters on their way in, to talk on issues of the day.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was blindsided by the release, but has refused to comment.
State Services Minister Chris Hipkins questioned the veracity of the leak.
“I don’t imagine they’d do have much in the way of detail,” he said. “I haven’t seen any evidence and it’s a matter for the Minister of Finance.”
“My area and concern is around legislation and I haven’t seen any evidence of a leak.”
Just hours earlier, Finance Minister Grant Robertson had taken part in a conference with media, at a printing press in Petone, Lower Hutt, to unveil the front of cover of the Budget, hot off the press.
These lefties have forgotten who put them into power.
They find $740 million for international aid, what about the Teachers, dentists, vaccinations ,Pharmac, the list just goes on and on. Well being for kiwis, yeah right. Year for delivery? I don’t think so.