New Zealand Labour Party

A history of supporting New Zealanders

As a Government, we know that fixing long-term problems needs fresh thinking and energy. We need to fix the immediate problems facing New Zealand, but we also know we need to look thirty years ahead, not just three - all while being economically responsible.

As we prepare to announce this year’s Budget on Thursday 17 May, here’s a quick look at how, throughout history, Labour has always properly funded the public services we know are the foundations of a strong economy and strong communities – and how we continue to support New Zealanders and our public services today. 


The first Labour Government launches a major state housing scheme. The McGregor family moves into the first state house in Wellington in 1937. (It's still standing in Miramar!)


Having a baby or being treated for a serious illness becomes a lot more affordable when the Labour Government introduces free maternity care and free hospital care in 1939.


The Government introduces free prescription medicine, making it easier for Kiwis to get well and stay healthy.


Free textbooks for primary schools are introduced, ensuring all Kiwi kids have the resources to learn.


A year later, Labour announces free, universal secondary education, opening up more opportunities for young New Zealanders.


It becomes a lot easier for Kiwis to visit the dentist when free dental care in hospitals is launched in 1947.


The Government introduces the Capitalisation of the Family Benefit scheme, which makes it easier for families to buy their own home.


The Labour Government creates the Accident Compensation Commission (now known as ACC) to provide free treatment for all accidental injuries and workplace diseases.


The Guaranteed Minimum Family Benefit is introduced, helping working families afford the essentials.


Labour ensures more Kiwis can access tertiary education by introducing student allowances.


Getting a degree becomes more affordable when the Labour Government removes interest on student loans while studying.

The Government also removes market rents for state houses, replacing them with income-related rents.


Helen Clark’s Labour Government introduces Working for Families, providing extra support for middle- and low-income families.


Interest-free student loans come into effect, removing all interest for borrowers living in New Zealand.

We’ll be building on this legacy in Budget 2018. We've got a plan to rebuild and properly fund our important public services like health and education, which were neglected during National's nine years in government, while also making sure to run a surplus.

Look out for all our Budget Day announcements on 17 May. In the meantime, keep updated on our Facebook page.