PM: Trans­for­ma­tion takes time and a lit­tle cau­tion

The Southland Times - - National News / Budget 2018 - Tracy Watkins

Prime Min­ster Jacinda Ardern be­lieves peo­ple, in­clud­ing her fu­ture child, will look back on her Gov­ern­ment as trans­for­ma­tional.

But af­ter Fi­nance Min­is­ter Grant Robert­son de­liv­ered a mostly cau­tious first Bud­get, Ardern said change would take time: ‘‘You don’t trans­form any­thing in one Bud­get. As a gov­ern­ment we will be trans­for­ma­tional.’’

Yes­ter­day’s Bud­get was a long time com­ing for Labour – it has been a decade since the party’s last one was de­liv­ered by then­fi­nance min­is­ter Michael Cullen.

Ardern said yes­ter­day’s Bud- get was ‘‘a good start’’ – but ‘‘it is just a start’’.

Ex­pec­ta­tions have been build­ing among Labour’s core sup­port­ers, par­tic­u­larly the teacher and nurs­ing unions.

While health got a hefty rise in fund­ing out of Robert­son, he was less gen­er­ous in ed­u­ca­tion, earn­ing his bud­get a re­buke as a ‘‘ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment’’ to teacher union the NZEI.

But Ardern dis­puted that ed­u­ca­tion had been passed over, with the Bud­get de­liv­er­ing 1500 new teach­ers, the first uni­ver­sal in­crease in fund­ing for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion in 10 years, and ex­tra sup­port for 1000 more chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

But the Gov­ern­ment had also felt the need to be cau­tious with mem­o­ries of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, and Can­ter­bury earth­quakes still fresh. That was why Labour had com­mit­ted to run­ning on­go­ing sur­pluses.

‘‘Just hav­ing that lit­tle buf­fer pro­tects us against those shocks,’’ she said.

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