Budget 2016 Debate
STUART SMITH (National—Kaikōura): It is a great pleasure to speak in this Budget debate. I think I would like to characterise the Budget as a canny Budget.
It is built on seven previous Budgets that have put us in a position where we can make some good choices about what we do. If you do not have a good income side of your Budget, you have got a pretty poor chance of doing much on the expenditure side.
We have got 2.8 percent per annum of real GDP growth and net debt is projected to fall to 19.3 percent by 2021. That underpins the income side of the Budget and enables those good choices that I alluded to just a little bit earlier.
It is quite interesting, the innovative New Zealand package of $761 million. That is on the back of other investment in regional economic development around New Zealand, from which we are really starting to see some real benefits come through, right throughout the regions.
I want to talk a bit about what is happening in my own electorate, because—
Hon Simon Bridges: We’re all ears!
STUART SMITH: We are. OK, well, fantastic. In the Marlborough region there is a population in the whole region of about 43,000 people, and in the next 4 years, by 2020, the wine industry alone is predicted to grow 2,000 more jobs, or around 5 percent of the entire population.
It is a phenomenal amount of growth into an industry that is all about adding value. When those bottles of wine go offshore and sit on a table in a restaurant, that has Marlborough on it and it has New Zealand on it, and it underpins New Zealand as a producer of high-quality, high-value goods, and other industries are able to go on the back of that.
For example, selling lamb or venison or seafood or indeed fashion—I have seen them leveraging off one another in such a way around the world. I think that adds tremendously to our economy.
We have other industries, of course, and I would like to just touch on those briefly in relation to migration numbers. I think it is a pity that this debate was really a shroud-waving exercise around migration, by some across the House, because the growth in regions would not be possible without high-quality migration.
In particular, in the wine industry, young winemakers from overseas come in who either migrate here permanently, or we have people coming here on holiday work schemes who are actually qualified people coming in who do a vintage and, in effect, get two vintages in a year.
You only have so many vintages in your entire life, which I am sure is no surprise to anyone, but if you can do two—one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere—you can really supercharge your career, and that is what is happening. It is building links between wine industries and countries in a very effective way.
The aquaculture industry is also going very strongly in my region. As a matter of interest, on-the-water jobs average over $70,000 per annum, so we are not talking low-end wages. The regions are really steaming along, and I think it is in no short measure due to the things put in place around regional economic development by this Government.
On to other parts of the Budget, I think that the money going towards the bowel screening is going to be something that will pay big dividends in the long run, and—
Hon Simon Bridges: Oh, for many, many thousands.
STUART SMITH: Yes, I think that most families in New Zealand will have had somebody touched by bowel cancer. It is a terrible disease and it is now time that something was done about that to at least mitigate that as much as possible, so I support that.
There is, of course, a lot of the investment approach going into education, as with health spending. Focusing on what the results are rather than just throwing money at the problem will always be a far better approach, and it is unfortunate that the debate has swung around to how much money is being spent on it rather than whether it has kept pace.
We know it has, but people are trying to play silly games around that. It is about whether we are getting more operations, and we are. Are people having to go to Australia for cancer treatment? No, they are not. They used to have to.
So we are getting all of those things by a canny and measured approach from a very good Minister of Finance who has put together eight fine Budgets, and I know that everyone in this House is looking forward to the ninth and the 10th to follow. So it is with great pleasure that I commend this bill to the House.