The Nation – Grant Robertson a financial asset

The Nation digs into the budget with an interview of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, plus ‘a closer look at the numbers’ with CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg.

(The nation is now officially called ‘Newshub Nation’, I’m not a fan of this because it’s supposed to be about the nation, not a media company) .

There seems to have been more criticism of the budget from the left than from the right, if you ignore Nationals fairly lame scatter gun attempts to sound like they oppose a budget that is barely any different to their past budgets.

Discussing all these stories and more will be our panel: Newshub’s Political Editor , Newsroom Pro Managing Editor , Sandra Grey from the Tertiary Education Union and former National Party General Manager Chris Simpson.

Tertiary education got little out of the budget, hence I presume the inclusion of Grey.


A good interview for Robertson I think he shows a lot of promise. He almost looks and sounds like a younger version of Steven Joyce.

He has had long enough in Parliament, first as a staffer and now nearly ten years as an MP, to build a lot of experience as a politician.

He has also had the benefit of being able to focus on the Finance portfolio since 2014. He showed in the interview an in depth knowledge of his portfolio and the decisions he and the Government have made.

He has started fairly cautiously and conservatively, with promises of transformation down the track. It all looks very sensible.

Prime Minister Ardern has attracted most of the media attention, but the critical work of the Government to date looks like having been done by Robertson. To me he comes across much better and more credibly than Ardern, but I tend to dislike celebrity/personality fluff.

I’m sure the interview will be dissected and Newshub will come up with a headline for the;r ‘news’ tonight, but my overall impression of Robertson is very good, he looks like he could be a very capable Minister of Finance for at least the next two years, and if Labour learns from and leans on his example they could easily stretch out for another term or two as well.

It’s still early days for Labour in power, but Robertson could turn out to be one of their biggest assets – and potentially, the country’s.

Newshub: Interview

Transcript: The Nation: Finance Minister Grant Robertson

 

The Nation – #metoo and workplace sexual harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is a big issue. The Nation is looking at this this morning, in particular on the law profession.

88% of respondents to a survey by the Criminal Bar Association reported experiencing or witnessing harassment or bullying in the legal profession.

65% of respondents to a anonymous Criminal Bar Association survey said Judges were perpetrating harassment and bullying in the workplace

It is likely to be difficult to stand up against that, given the prominence of males in positions of power.

Former Lawyer Olivia Wensley live in studio discussing workplace harassment – “The legal profession is small in New Zealand. There are grave implications professionally for speaking out”.

“I was never asked if I experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. We called it “discourtesy”. We need to call a spade a spade – It’s sexual harassment.

“You can be out the door within seconds if you dare speak up” about workplace harassment and bullying.

There is significant under reporting.

NZ Law Society President Kathryn Beck on sexual harassment in the workplace – “We have acknowledged we have a problem of under reporting in this area.

“We have to change our culture”

It is an embedded culture problem. Very difficult to change.

Wensley says ‘hit them in the pocket”. Education is not going to do much.

Now Jan Logie is being interviewed.

Under-Secretary for Justice Jan Logie on addressing sexual harassment in the workplace – “This is being taken seriously right across Government”

“Deeply worried” about survey stating judges have been perpetrating workplace harassment and bullying

It’s tricky when judges are a major part of the problem, and are employed by the Government, but there needs to be clear separation of power.

Ardern on the Nation

Ardern was conspicuous by her absence from the first two programmes of The Nation this year, and also from the first Q&A.

She fronts up today on The Nation – possibly scheduled before her tough week at the Beehive office.

On why no one has been sacked over the summer camp mess.

“If everyone who ever made a mistake in their job was sacked, we wouldn’t be left with many people left, particularly in politics.”

Ardern keeps diverting from ‘political management’ to supporting the young people when asked why Minister Megan Woods and MP Liz Craig didn’t advise her about the problems.

Defending her MP Liz Craig, who was photographed at a table with Young Labour members drinking alcohol at the summer camp where the alleged sexual assaults took place. When asked if Ms Craig had met expectations: “I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest otherwise.”

Asked if the party intentionally insulated Ardern from the issue?

She disagrees. Strongly disagrees.

And then diverts back to ‘the young people’.

Asked again.

When asked if her party gave her “plausible deniability” by not telling her about the Labour summer camp allegations, replied: “Absolutely not. I push back on that very hard. That implies that our number-one concern here was political management. That’s not fair.”

And then diverts back to ‘the young people’.

How many other issues have been raised? She has seen one raised on social media.

Asked more specifically about any issues over the last ten years? She concedes some but only those reported in the media.

She was not asked to confirm that she knew nothing about the issue until Monday.


On Russia.

Ardern leaving the door open to a trade deal with Russia. “It is too early to say, under the current circumstances we find ourselves in with [the] Salisbury [nerve agent attack], to say if and when those negotiations and talks would restart.”

Four times now PM says too early to say if FTA talks with Russia will restart – no definitely ruling out.


On the proposed new prison.

The ‘out of control prison population’ is one of the biggest issues the Government has been grappling with.

They “should go back and have a look” at bail laws – a large part of the increase in prisoner numbers is as a result of changes to bail laws and an increase in the number of people on remand prior to trial.

On possible loosening of parole & bail laws: “We are not making justice-policy decisions based on bed capacity. We’re making decisions on what delivers the best outcomes in terms of safety for the community & reducing reoffending and improving rehab.”

She won’t say if they will build the prison or not. Still considering it.

“Do I want to build another prison? No. Do I want extra bed capacity? No. But am I being told that if we had an earthquake tomorrow, we wouldn’t have a place to put prisoners? Those are all things we’re having to grapple with”.

Believes consideration of a Waikeria Prison rebuild is not a betrayal of her commitment to Māori at Waitangi.


A lot on poverty policies, but little in definitive policy or commitments.

Staking her reputation on economic growth remaining stable after cutting immigration. “I don’t agree that that will be the consequences of our policies at all.

Says they don’t have any extra money specifically for child poverty in this budget – even though numbers of kids being raised from poverty revised downwards from 88,000 to 64,000

Working on a lot of things – except making commitments.

Not committing to implementing all recommendations from Climate Commission. She also won’t commit to ending oil and gas exploration permits. “I’m not going to pre-empt that decision, but we’re working on it.”

On Peters as acting Prime Minister – she ‘imagines’ she will stay in touch with him while on maternity leave.

She is adept at sounding strong and clear, but being vague.

“Let me be very clear about this. This is something we are working on and I can’t give you those answers at the moment.”

 

“Actually not that hard” reducing prison population by 30%

Andrew Little, in an interview on The Nation this morning, spoke about his plans to reduce the prison population by 30%, saying “it’s actually not that hard if we choose to resource it properly.”

That’s optimistic – and ‘resourcing it properly’ alongside resourcing health ‘properly’ and resourcing education ‘properly’ and paying for all the Government’s promises and commitments might be a wee bit challenging.

@TheNationNZ:

Little says they’re going to take a sensible approach to reducing the prison muster.

He says there are people in prison who with proper assistance could be set up as productive citizens again.

“We’re not only sending more people to prison, we’re sending them there for longer” says Little, and some prisoners can’t be paroled because there aren’t the resources for them to do the necessary courses.

Little says there’s merit in setting up a sentencing council to ensure consistency in the decisions.

Ministry of Justice research says that more Police officers means more people in prison – but Little says the style of Policing for the 1800 new officers will be around deterring crime.

Time will tell where idealism meets realism. I wish Little well with this, really. Crime, imprisonment rates and mental health problems and drug and alcohol problems are all too big, but reducing them all with budget constraints will be a bit of a challenge.

NZH reported on this: Andrew Little says he will reduce the prison population

The Minister of Justice and for Courts has revealed how he plans to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent during the next 15 years – by ensuring offenders with mental health problems get better rehabilitation and that judges are consistent in sentencing.

Speaking to Three’s The Nation Andrew Little said he was going to approach the issue “very sensibly”.

“It’s actually not that hard if we choose to resource it properly.”

Although some hardened criminals needed to stay locked up because they were a danger to society, a “whole chunk” of prisoners were there because they were battling other issues which had driven their offending, he said.

Too many people with mental health problems and other issues weren’t getting the help they needed while in prison, Little said, and so were unable to meet the conditions they had to get parole.

Ensuring they were properly rehabilitated would make it easier for ex-prisoners to integrate back into society and reduce reoffending.

He also revealed he would review how sentencing and bail was being managed by the courts.

Part of the reason our prison population was so high was because we were jailing people for longer, he said.

Little said the issue was not necessarily with the legislation, but instead more likely stemmed from how it was being applied and enforced.

“What we do have to do is get some consistency.”

Little would also look into how bail was being administered. He questioned whether it was reasonable to lock up many people who had been charged but were yet to be tried.

While there was “no question” the safety of the community needed to come first, it needed to be balanced against the actual risk offenders awaiting trial posed to the public.

Full interview here.

Ardern interview on The Nation

Headlines from the Jacinda Ardern on The Nation this morning:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says discussions have already begun on how to bring climate change refugees into New Zealand under a Pacific seasonal employment plan.

Ardern says for now doubling the refugee quota is enough of an increase, as the country doesn’t have the resources to support more refugees than that.

Ardern has repeated that New Zealand would only get involved with military action against North Korea if it was supported by a United Nations resolution. And while she says there’s been no request so far for Winston Peters to help with the North Korea situation, she says he is available to play whatever role he can in reaching a peaceful resolution.

Ardern says New Zealand should have a conversation about using measures such as a Happiness Index, rather than just GDP, to measure the country’s well-being.

Interview: Jacinda Ardern

Transcript:


Patrick Gower: Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us. On this trip, refugees have been a very big issue for you, a very serious issue, personally. Is it a conviction issue for you?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, yes, it is. But also, of course, my job is to advocate on behalf of New Zealanders. And I’ve certainly sensed a sentiment from New Zealanders that we should make sure that we do our bit. You know, we are in a position to be able to help – both our neighbour, in Australia, but also to lend assistance to those who are refugees who are currently being held and resident on Manus Island and on Nauru.

Yeah. And on that, there has been some pressure on Australia from you, from New Zealand, essentially. Is that fair, though, given that Australia takes five times more refugees per capita than New Zealand? Is it fair for us to sort of knock them around when we take five times less?

My expectation, or what I have undertaken to do here, is certainly not to knock around Australia. I accept that they play a huge role when it comes to their contribution to refugees and taking refugees. What I’m trying to do is make sure that New Zealand takes its share of refugees as well. We’re on the back doorstep. We’ve made an offer; we’re here to help. They’ve been seeking places to resettle those who are on Manus and Nauru, and I saw an opportunity for us to be a part of that solution. So, certainly, I’m not here to knock them around but to at least make the case, on New Zealand’s behalf.

Yeah, but is it that we need to be more ambitious with our target for refugees? I know that your government will double the quota. But do you now see, five times behind Australia, is there a need to be more aspirational than that? Than doubling the quota?

Yes. Look, the doubling of the quota was an important step to take – it was – and that was the right thing to do.

But do you want to go beyond that is the question.

When we made that offer, we looked into what capacity we had – the ability to make sure that we resettle people properly. And this is a key point as well with Manus and Nauru. People will ask, “Well, why only 150?” I looked carefully at the capacity we had in our system to make sure that when we take on those refugees, we’re able to wrap support around them. We’ve got to keep in mind these are, in some cases, victims of torture who have gone through an extreme set of circumstances, who we need to make sure that when we take on that responsibility, we do it properly. And that’s what we need to do with our quota as well.

So do you see a time when you will go beyond doubling the quota? Do you want to do that?

For now I think the responsible thing to do is double the quota and see that we’re able to do that properly.

One other conviction issue for you is obviously climate change, and you’ve spoken a lot about that. But for the first time, I saw you talk about how you believe that New Zealand’s glaciers have been shrinking because of climate change. Is that right?

Certainly that’s the advice that I’ve had. And we have been advocates on this issue. I see in part, and I’ve spoken on this before, that we have two roles—

It’s costing New Zealanders glaciers – is that your personal view?

Yes. Yes. Well, yes – it is my personal view. But we have a role here. I use that to illustrate a point. We have a role here not only to lead from the front and to use our voice but to demonstrate we’re taking action ourselves. And one of the reasons that we need to do that is because we sit within the Pacific and we see and know that those around us are already feeling the effects of this global issue. In fact, Asia-Pacific, where these meetings are being held and where the attendees have been from, will be gravely affected by climate change.

Sure. And one thing – specific thing – you brought up is climate change refugees.

Indeed.

You want New Zealand to lead on that, do you?

Yeah, I absolutely see a role for us to play in acknowledging that all of us will face climate changes.

What are the practical steps to that?

One of the things we’ve already talked about is we of course already have a programme within the Pacific where we have seasonal workers coming into work directly with New Zealand from our Pacific neighbours. Whether or not we can build in, for instance, an element where we target those who might be affected by climate change and potentially be climate refugees as part of that programme. We’re in the early days, but we’re looking at some options.

So you’re actually working on that. And is this urgent, actually dealing with climate change refugees? Is this urgent for you or is this a sort of “off in the future” thing?

I think the most important thing is for us to try and slow the trend – of course do what we can to make sure that we’re not in a position where we see a large-scale refugee situation. But we also need to make sure that we’re resilient, that we’re also planning, that it’s about mitigation and adaptation. And part of that planning is looking around us and saying — what might be the needs in our regions as well and being prepared for that.

And specific action has started on that, Prime Minister?

Yes. It is very very early stages. Very early stages. Of course we’ve only been in for several weeks, but it’s a conversation that we’re having.

Actually bringing “climate refugees”, so to speak, to New Zealand.

But using some of our existing programmes to see how we can accommodate within that those who might be affected by climate change.

Okay, I want to move now to North Korea, which has obviously been a subject of lots of discussion with you and the other leaders. Now that you have spoken and interacted with these people, how real is the threat of North Korea?

Oh, look, absolutely it is taken as a genuine and real threat by those in the region. Absolutely.

And you, personally, what would you say to New Zealanders? How real is this threat?

Oh, you know, we’ve seen significant increases in testing and the capability of those tests. I think most people would see that and know that it’s a genuine threat and that every member of the international community needs to play a role in doing what we can to de-escalate the situation, put pressure on Pyongyang to make sure that they are responding to the sanctions and the message that’s coming from the international community.

And if they don’t, or if there is a need for military action, is your position – because your position on the record is that New Zealand will not join military action against North Korea unless it is backed by the United Nations. Is that still your position?

The statement I used today at the East Asia Summit was we should use every tool available to us, bar military action. And one of the reasons we’re so firm on that is that we are yet to exhaust all the channels that we have. In fact we’re deploying many of them now, and with some success. So our point is those are the channels and those are the avenues we need to keep pursuing.

And that position still stands?

Yes.

It needs to have the United Nations Security Council resolution?

Yes.

Even if Japan, the United States, Australia…?

Of course. You know, our view has always been multilateral approach is best. We maintain our independent foreign policy, of course, and we’ll continually assess every situation. But, as I said today, we need to pursue every available avenue, bar military action.

And is there an option – when you talk about dialogue with North Korea, which is an important way – is there, in your view, a role, potentially, for Winston Peters, the Foreign Affairs Minister, to play in terms of talking to North Korea? Do you think he is the kind of person that could interact with that regime?

Oh, that’s happened in the past. And I think it is a good reminder that actually, there was a direct request made a few years ago now by the United States administration for support from Mr Peters in navigating a situation with North Korea in the past. That speaks to the level of diplomacy and the level of relationship that I’ve seen Mr Peters has with members of the international community. And I’ve seen it in play during this trip. It is an asset.

And do you think it’s an asset that could be used with North Korea?

To date, we haven’t had that request, but we remain absolutely available as a government – that includes our Minister of Foreign Affairs – to play whatever role we can in reaching a peaceful resolution.

I mean should you put Winston Peters forward?

Look, I would certainly be open to a range of options that we can play our role. To date that hasn’t risen as a potential possibility, but I’d never be closed off to the option.

Now, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – and without getting into the detail and the nuts and bolts of it – your overarching view on why that’s good for New Zealand. What is your overarching view on why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is good for New Zealand?

We had a set of five goals we wanted to reach. We wanted to make sure that, yes, we had some decent outcomes for our exporters. But we also wanted to protect Pharmac, protect the Treaty of Waitangi, protect our right to legislate, protect our right to maintain our housing market—

Sure. And you’ve done that. What’s the good bit? If someone’s saying to you, “What’s the good bit here”?

And the point we make is that we’ve done that. That therefore enables us to actually place a little more emphasis on the trade deal. Because before, the trade deal was somewhat masked by all of the bits that were much more negative. Now, we haven’t reached a perfect agreement. But there’s no denying this deal gives us access to Japan, in particular, for our beef, for our kiwifruit, for our wine, in a way that we just did not have before.

And what about locking us into the world? Is that important to you? Put the trade to one side; interacting with the world – is that an important part of the TPP for you?

Look, what we have to acknowledge is that we are a small nation, and negotiating free trade agreements, multilateral agreements, give you much greater access often in this environment. And so this has been a way that we’ve been able to access multiple markets.

And very quickly on Australia – I mean, we’ve got leaks in the Australian media; we’ve got your threat of retaliation; we’ve got the Julie Bishop issue; we could go on and on and on. What word would you use to characterise our relationship right now? Because it does not look great to the outside.

Oh, look, New Zealand and Australia’s relationship is much stronger than any political new story of the day – much, much stronger.

So what word would you use?

“Robust”. Robust.

Now, speaking of robustness – to look at a robust measure, to look at the way we measure economic growth – GDP – do you think there is time under your government for a different measure, for a different official government measure beyond GDP?

I see room for a range, and we’ve talked about this before. You know, I want to make sure that people have a set of markers that they can measure our success by.

Do we need to create a new one – a new official measure that looks at different elements of human happiness?

Yeah, we’re very open as a government to exploring markers that sit alongside some of those traditional economic measures. Now, some of them we’ve already talked about. Let’s look at what’s happening for kids.

Like a happiness index?

Well, there have been talks about how you measure well-being, and I think that that’s a conversation a lot of developed countries are starting to have, and we should too.

Okay, and just finally, how have you found the trip? You used the word ‘robust’ before; what word would you use to describe your first outing on the international stage?

Pretty successful.

Grant Robertson on The Nation

New Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was interviewed on The Nation this morning. From @TheNationNZ:

“We understand the importance of fiscal responsibility, but that can’t be an end in itself.”

He says he’s absolutely confident the Labour-NZF govt can meet its budget responsibility rules.

The Govt will be an active one – will partner with the regions, rather than meddling.

Robertson says the govt wants to invest in the long term – it’s not just about the numbers on the sheet but living standard.

He says the regional development fund is an opportunity to correct under-investment in areas like Northland. It will be a “rigorous” process based on the best projects.

Robertson says there’s a lot more work to do to understand where Auckland’s port would be best placed.

He says Labour was heading in the same direction on the min wage as NZF – $20 by 2020 was NZF policy.

The Tax Working Group will be appointed before the end of the year.

He will always make sure the most vulnerable in society are protected.

As Sports Minister, he says he’s looking forward to a conversation with about pay equity.

Interview: Grant Robertson

There wasn’t much of substance in that going by the summary.

Newshub: Finance Minister Grant Robertson won’t cut ‘core’ spending if economy tanks

New Finance Minister Grant Robertson is backing up Jacinda Ardern’s view the economy has been a “blatant failure” when it comes to helping New Zealand’s most vulnerable.

Mr Robertson told The Nation on Saturday the “days of a hands-off, laissez-faire Government hoping for the best for New Zealand are over”.

“What Jacinda Ardern has said is if you’ve got the world’s worst homelessness, then the form of capitalism that we’ve seen in New Zealand isn’t working for those people – and I would agree with that,” he said.

“That’s the foundation principle of the Labour Party… we believe in the fact there is an obligation on Government to help ensure fairness, to make sure everybody gets a chance to achieve their potential.”

To fix it, he says Labour will lead an “active” Government “that partners in the regions with local government, with business, with iwi”. But he appears to want to avoid the ‘nanny state’ accusations that plagued Labour’s last administration under Helen Clark.

“That’s a different thing entirely from meddling and telling people what to do. We actually want to listen.”

“I came into politics to make sure that we provided better opportunities for New Zealanders, that we protected our most vulnerable. There are certain areas of spending that we must do to be a decent society, to care for other people. I would never compromise on that.”

He praised the National-led Government for continuing to spend during the global financial crisis.

“They made sure those core areas of spending carried on – that’s what responsible Governments do.”

Mr Robertson is confident Mr Peters’ “dark days” won’t happen.

“I don’t think we’re going to need to have that conversation.”

Winston Peters can’t be too concerned about the prospects for our economy either, given that his focus is overseas as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he has negotiated $1b per year finding for Regional Development.

It’s very early days for Robertson – he has been Minister of Finance for two days – so we will have to wait and see how well he manages New Zealand’s finances. His past experience is largely irrelevant. He has time preparing for the role in Opposition, now he has the opportunity to pout into practice what he and Labour think will will work.

James Shaw on The Nation

James Shaw didn’t get Greens into a coalition deal as he said he wanted, and that leaves them outside Cabinet rather than ‘at the heart of a new progressive government’, but he is promoting the positives. Greens are in play in Government far more than they have been in the past.

He was interviewed on The Nation this morning.

“Obviously we’ll be talking to each other over the course of the coming days and weeks” says of his contact with Peters.

Shae, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage and Jan Logie will be the Green minister.

Actually Logie looks likely to be the under-secretary, Greens have three ministers.

“I think it’s a really significant step for us” says of the Greens holding the associate finance position.

Also significant that it looks like NZ First won’t have a Finance role.

Will the cannabis referendum be binding? “We haven’t worked through that yet”.

So a referendum in 3 years may be toothless?

Shaw says we can expect something that would satisfy the Greens on irrigation to be announced next week.

More when the interview and transcript is online.

 

Ardern on The Nation

Jacinda Ardern featured in an interview on The Nation this morning. She has successfully stepped up another notch or two in her leadership role, however like most politicians is adept at avoiding answering questions she doesn’t want to answer.

Notably Ardern indicated that the Labour policy on reducing immigration stands, meaning Winston Peters hasn’t got the major reductions he sought votes from.

From @TheNationNZ:

She says it will be an “active” government that won’t leave things to chance.

“There is synergy between those agreements” of the agreements with NZF and the Greens.

“I’m ambitious that we eradicate child poverty” expects families pkg will lift 10,000s of children out of poverty.

“You will see change in that area” on the minimum wage, raise to $16.50 as a first step.

“We need to get started pretty quickly” on Kiwibuild.

Where is the sweet spot on immigration? “Labour’s policy remains absolutely unchanged” by the negotiations.

Ardern says Labour wants to cease ongoing investment in irrigation scheme…

…but will leave existing irrigation arrangements in place.

Ardern says there will be a Climate Commission to guide the government, but not to bind them.

The climate change minister will not be in cabinet, but says it doesn’t devalue the position.

This will obviously be James Shaw.

“It’s for the Greens to explain why confidence and supply works for them” says Ardern.

Ardern says she’ll be reviewing petroleum block offers – it’s not where the future lies.

More when the interview and transcript is available.

The Nation: welfare, social investment and poverty

This morning on The Nation :

What’s the best way to provide for those who need help? and talk welfare, social investment and child poverty.

These are two MPs not generally to the forefront of election campaigning. Tolley is 11th on National’s list, Sepuloni is 8th on Labour’s. Both are electorate MPs.


Tolley talking about what the Government has been doing to improve help for beneficiaries, and what is planned to happen in April next year through their Families Package.

Sepuloni is doing little more than reciting Labour’s election lines, in line with what Ardern and others recite. Some of them quite are quite misleading.

The main points from al of the panel – Lisa Owen, Patrick Gower, Fran O’Sullivan and Sue Bradford – was the vagueness and stark lack of policy on welfare from a quite likely incoming Government led by Labour. Fairly scathing from all of them.

The Nation: Coleman v Clark on health

 

There will be a debate this morning on The Nation on health spending, between the Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman, and Labour’s health spokesperson David Clark. These two have clashed a number of times in Parliament.

Health is on of the biggest issues of concern to New Zealanders. In the latest Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online survey of 1000 voters…asked which of eight issues was most likely to affect their vote:

  • Economy 25%
  • Health 16%
  • Housing 12%

You need a healthy economy to provide good health care (and housing).

Providing healthcare is very expensive. here will never be enough money to provide all the health care wanted. Governments have to balance health spending against need and against other spending demands.

Labour have claimed that health funding has been effectively cut.

Stuff: Frustration, disappointment over health funding in Budget 2017

Patients and healthcare workers say they have been left frustrated and disappointed by “inadequate” funding for health in the 2017 Budget.

They said the Government’s announcements on Thursday would not go nearly far enough in addressing concerns about overworked staff, access to new medicines, and access to mental health treatment.

The Government said total health spending would be a record $16.77 billion in 2017/18 – an increase of $879 million, with an overall increase of $3.9b over the next four years.

However, the record claim does not take inflation into account, and sidesteps the fact that almost half the spending will go toward mandated wage increases as part of the pay equity settlement.

Budget 2017: Health funding to record levels with $1.7b injection to DHBs 

A strained health sector is set to receive a record $3.9b shot in the arm, with $1.8b going to District Health Boards (DHBs) alone.

While DHBs funding is above the $1.7b figure Labour claims has been stripped out of the health service, the Council of Trade Unions is warning the devil is in the detail.

The increase to DHB funding has built on previous years – going up to $1.8b across four years, up from $1b last year. As a yearly figure, DHBs will get $439m, up from last year’s $400m.