It's getting closer and closer to Budget Day! This week we've seen a number of pre-Budget announcements, alongside the Prime Minister's Christchurch Call in Paris, and further action on transportation in Wellington.
- We're working to eliminate the spread of terrorist and violent content online
- We're breaking the cycle of homelessness
- We're supporting equal pay for working women
- We're strengthening NCEA and removing fees
- We're getting Wellington moving
- We're creating a sustainable forestry sector
Warm, dry housing is basic human right.
Yet, far too many New Zealanders still struggle to get into any permanent housing at all.
Last Sunday, we announced that we're boosting support for Housing First for a second-year running, as part of our commitment to tackle homelessness. The investment will help long-term homeless people into permanent, warm, and safe housing, while also linking them up with health and social services such as mental health counselling, drug and alcohol addiction support, and budgeting advice. It's about breaking the cycle - getting people the help they need to ensure they never become homeless again.
Budget 2019 will turn around the lives of more than a 1,000 long-term homeless people by helping them into permanent homes – the largest government investment ever in addressing chronic homelessness. This will raise the number of people the programme can help to 2,700.
We are putting the free back into free education.
Families of secondary students will no longer have to pay fees for NCEA and NZ Scholarship, in one of a raft of changes announced this week to strengthen NCEA and pave the way for more young people to succeed.
More than 145,000 households are estimated to benefit from the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee that families pay every year for around 168,000 secondary students.
"As part of the Wellbeing Budget we are abolishing these fees to make things a bit easier for families to make ends meet and ensure every student who achieves NCEA can receive their qualification," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.
This change comes shortly after we announced we're addressing teacher supply by helping support thousands more teachers into jobs.
The Prime Minister has been in Paris this week promoting the Christchurch Call.
The conference, co-chaired by Prime Minister Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, saw an unprecedented group of global leaders in government, public service, and tech industry come together to sign the Christchurch Call pledge. This pledge seeks to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, to stop the internet being used as a tool for terrorists.
While in Paris, the Prime Minister also attended the Tech for Good Summit, and met with a number of world leaders.
We're getting Wellington moving.
Our Government is tackling the long-term issues and this 20 year plan is a step change for transport in Wellington.
We’ll reduce congestion by integrating modern rapid transit, walking and cycling upgrades, and better public transport with the city’s motorways and roads.
Better public transport infrastructure and more services will encourage people out of their cars – freeing up the roads for those that have to drive.
We're supporting working women to get equal pay.
Pay equity means women and men who perform work of the same value should be paid the same, even though their jobs may be different.
We're delivering a practical solution to gender discrimination in the workplace in the Wellbeing Budget. We welcomed the Select Committee’s report on the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, and a new investment in pay equity tools and guidance. Due to this investment, women who aren’t paid the same as men for similar jobs will be given the tools to make a pay equity claim.
The Equal Pay Amendment Bill makes it easier for workers to raise a pay equity claim by replacing the court-based approach with an accessible process based on the existing bargaining framework.
"The Coalition Government is tackling our long-term challenges and building an inclusive economy by addressing inequities in pay for women," said Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway.
We're creating a sustainable forestry sector.
The Wellbeing Budget will enable further transformation of New Zealand’s forestry sector after the successful rollout of the Government’s One Billion Trees programme, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.
Forestry plays a key role in many of our Government’s priority areas – enhancing regional development, supporting Māori to realise the potential of their land, improving water quality, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs.
The One Billion Trees programme is ahead of target. The Wellbeing Budget is delivering $58 million in funding to ensure this remains the case while also catalysing further transformation of such an important sector. The funding will allow Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) to increase its regional presence to ensure foresters and landowners have the support they need and develop a sustainable, domestic forestry workforce.
One of the priorities for the Wellbeing Budget is to transform the economy. This announcement will help us to do this in a sustainable way.
With forestry worth over $6 billion to our economy, the Wellbeing Budget gives clear and visible leadership to Te Uru Rākau to build a sustainable sector that delivers improved social, environmental and economic benefits for New Zealand.