Marlborough Express - Delivering more for less

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This week's budget is about delivering more for less.

Contrary to opinions expressed by some, it is not about delivering a surplus come hell or high water.

The Government is committed to delivering a budget that reflects our commitment to sound economic management. The result of this commitment has made us the envy of other members of the OECD.
Although we are not quite in surplus yet, we need to remember that we are very close to achieving that goal, which means that we can afford to maintain – and in some cases extend – spending in areas that matter to most to New Zealanders.

For example, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced nearly $100 million extra will be invested to provide more elective surgery for the prevention and treatment of orthopaedic conditions. This means more hip, knee and other elective operations for those who need them.

Only July 1, free doctors' visits will be extended to children under 13, with more than 400,000 primary school-aged children expected to benefit from this $90 million investment.

The Prime Minister recently opened the Health Hub in Blenheim. This is one initiative aimed at delivering a better service to the public and is part of a bigger plan that will see improvements in meeting health targets across district health boards.

Early intervention can deliver improvements in diagnosis, self-management, exercise and pain management and will help people live longer, more active lives at home in the community.

We also want to see more operations, faster emergency services and faster cancer treatment.

Throwing money at problems has been shown to be ineffective, particularly when dealing with complex social issues. That is why the Government prefers to target services to areas of specific need.

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An example of this a further $6.5 million allocated for rehabilitation support to help steer offenders away from crime, which will result in keeping our communities safer.

The Government has also announced changes in the way ACC is funded. This will save New Zealanders around $500 million. Since 2012, ACC levy reductions have saved around $1.5 billion and the proposed changes will see businesses, workers, and motor vehicle owners save at least $130 in vehicle levies.

The budget is all about being fair, fiscally responsible and delivering services that will have a positive effect on Kiwis' lives, particularly in areas that matter like health, housing, welfare and the environment.