E te Māngai o te Whare, tēnā koe.
Ki a koutou ōku hoa Pāremata, huri noa i te Whare, ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa.
It makes me immensely proud – and my Green Party colleagues immensely proud – to be a part of this Government.
To have had a hand in the development of this Budget – the Greens’ first Budget in Government.
To be laying the foundations for a truly sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a fair society.
This is a budget for every kiwi.
And every takahē.
And every kākā.
And every kererū.
Because this Budget recognises that our natural heritage, our natural capital, is the source of our prosperity, and we will only continue to prosper if we protect it.
This is a budget that says 100% Pure New Zealand isn’t an empty marketing slogan – 100% Pure New Zealand is what we stand for.
This is a budget that has New Zealanders’ wellbeing at its heart.
It is a budget that has fairness and equity at its heart.
It is a budget that has a heart!
And it lays the foundation for the country that we aspire to be.
The Greens’ Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour Party outlines a policy programme, organised under the headings of a Sustainable Economy, a Healthy Environment and a Fair Society.
And today’s Budget delivers on that vision for Aotearoa New Zealand.
It lays the foundation for a truly Sustainable Economy, with $11 million dollars put aside over the next four years to establish an independent Climate Change Commission.
That Commission and the Zero Carbon Act will guide the country on the path to a net-zero-emissions economy over the coming three decades.
But Mr Speaker, the biggest step we’re taking today towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy is an investment of $100 million dollars of new capital into a Green Investment Fund.
And I want to acknowledge the vision of my predecessor, Dr Russel Norman, who campaigned in 2011 and in 2014 for a state-owned, but fully commercial, Green Investment Fund.
With this Green Investment Fund, we are laying the foundation – not just for a clean, green economy, but a more productive, a more innovative economy full of new, high-tech, high-value, high-income jobs.
This Fund will help to drive private capital into that economy.
And Mr Speaker, much of the value in this new economy will come – as it always has in New Zealand – from our farmers.
We all know that climate change represents a real challenge to our agricultural sector.
But it also represents a huge opportunity if we work out how to become the world’s first net-zero-emissions producer of food and then sell not just the food, but the intellectual property behind it, to the rest of the world.
That’s why our Confidence and Supply Agreement recognises farmers and rural communities must be supported in the transition that New Zealand needs to make.
But this has long been a theme of the Green Party.
A strong economy based on environmentally sustainable food production was a deep passion of Green Party founding co-leader, Rod Donald.
So I am delighted that today’s Budget includes $15 million over the next four years for the Sustainable Farming Fund, and I want to thank the Honourable Damien O’Connor for working with us to deliver it.
A lot of farmers are already taking great strides forward by reducing their environmental impact but at the same time improving their profitability.
And our Government will support farmers to do more of that good work.
This is how we are investing in a Sustainable Economy.
This is how we are investing in our future.
We are also investing in a Healthy Environment.
And credit must go to our incredibly committed Conservation Minister, the Honourable Eugenie Sage, who – rumour has it – was actually born in a DoC hut!
She deserves credit because she has secured the largest increase in operational funding for conservation in a generation.
More than $180 million dollars to safeguard our natural heritage and fight the predator that threaten our distinctive native species with extinction.
More than $81 million dollars alone, over the next four years, will go towards vital predator control work.
Mr Speaker, it is said that in every budget there are winners and losers.
Well, in this budget the winners are our precious kiwi, kākā and kererū.
The losers are the rats, stoats and possums.
This Budget lays the foundation for DoC to lead the charge against our country’s biodiversity crisis.
All three government parties are ambitious for New Zealand to invest in nature because of its importance to our economy, to our wellbeing, and to who we are.
We are also investing in building – together – a Fair Society.
The most telling indicator of a Fair Society is the way we treat those less fortunate than ourselves.
Our Confidence and Supply Agreement calls for an overhaul of a welfare system that punishes people at the bottom of the heap and treats them like second-class citizens for the “crime” of being poor.
This budget starts the ball rolling with $1.5 million dollars to establish a root-and-branch review of a system which just isn’t working.
But the biggest move our Government is making against poverty actually took place before this Budget even got started.
The five-and-a-half billion dollar Families Package that our Government passed at the end of last year was the greatest investment in tackling poverty since Ruth Richardson’s Mother of All Budgets helped to turn New Zealand into one of the most unequal societies in the OECD.
My former colleague, Metiria Turei, coined her welfare overhaul proposal last year “The Budget for All Mothers”.
Last year’s Families Package doesn’t completely reverse the damage caused by Ruth Richardson, but it’s a good start.
Another fundamentally important part of being a Fair Society is the mental health and wellbeing of its citizens.
I want to thank the Honourable Dr David Clark for working with us to commit over $10 million dollars over three years to piloting youth mental health services for 18-to-25-year-olds.
But the biggest contribution to a Fair Society in today’s Budget is the revival of the scheme to end energy poverty and ensure that every New Zealander has a warm, dry home.
Again, this isn’t new to us in the Green Party.
Home insulation was a cause former Green Party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, first fought for and won back in 2009.
The home insulation scheme was, until today, the single largest commitment of operational expenditure the Greens had been able to achieve in Parliament.
It was won under a National Government – but then that same National Government wound the scheme down before the job was done.
They did that even though they knew that for every dollar spent warming a child’s home, we save six dollars in health bills, power bills and lost economic productivity.
Not to mention the value that comes from having a better quality of life.
So, today I want to thank the Minister for Energy and Resources, Dr Megan Woods, for her work in securing $142.5 million dollars to finish the job we started 10 years ago.
And I want to thank Gareth Hughes for his leadership in our caucus on this work.
As of this winter, more New Zealanders will be better able to insulate and heat their homes.
And for people on benefits and people on New Zealand Superannuation, this Budget delivers a much-needed winter warm-up payment to help them pay their winter power bills or buy a load of firewood.
Jeanette, that one’s for you.
Green Ministers and Under-Secretary Jan Logie are making a contribution to this Government outside the terms of our Confidence and Supply Agreement as well, particularly in the domains of women and children.
In her capacity as Minister for Women, the Honourable Julie Anne Genter has secured the funding in this Budget to ensure we can all celebrate the 125 years that New Zealand has had women’s suffrage.
But, by far her greater contribution to women in this Budget is in her role as Associate Minister for Health, where she is overseeing a package for midwives worth $103 million dollars.
Mr Speaker, Jan Logie is the first member of the Executive in our country’s history with specific responsibility for addressing domestic and sexual violence issues.
She has won $2 million to get the ball rolling on an all-of-government approach to finally tackle this horrendous blight on our national character.
We’re also really proud to be part of a government that is putting $76 million into restoring frontline services for victims of family violence, and $7.5 million for sexual abuse assessment and treatment services.
It was appalling that this funding was cut in the first place.
Let me also acknowledge the $12.5 million dollars budgeted, over the next four years, to support teachers to develop te reo Māori skills and offer our tamariki the change to embrace this taonga.
That commitment speaks to the Greens’ kaupapa of honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi.
And the Greens will keep the hope alive that, one day, we will all grow up fluent in at least our two spoken languages.
Mr Speaker, as Minister of Statistics, I’m delighted to be playing a role in the Prime Minister’s programme to reduce child poverty in New Zealand.
Stats NZ will receive an additional $20 million dollars in Budget 2018 to increase the size of the Household Economic Survey.
This will help us understand the problem much better than we do at the moment, and that will help to direct resources more effectively to solving it.
Mr Speaker, this Government is committed to basing our decisions on good information.
That’s why, today, we’ve announced our intention to establish an Independent Fiscal Institution.
This organisation would provide the public with non-partisan, non-political assessments of governments’ economic forecasts and cost political parties’ campaign promises.
We want New Zealanders and politicians debating the merits of ideas, not political point scoring over who can use a calculator better.
Budget 2018 represents over half a billion dollars of investment in the priorities outlined in the Greens’ Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Over half a billion dollars of operational and capital expenditure – the single largest budget investment in a Sustainable Economy, a Healthy Environment, and a Fair Society that the Greens have been able to achieve in our nearly 20-year history in Parliament.
But Mr Speaker, this investment actually pales in comparison with an announcement a couple of weeks back.
I’m talking about the transformational changes that Julie Anne Genter and the Honourable Phil Twyford are working on in transport.
The Greens have campaigned for fast, efficient transport to free up congestion and reduce pollution in our main cities since we were founded nearly 30 years ago.
Mr Speaker, my first election campaign was for the Wellington City Council in 1992.
I ran with Sue Kedgley, Celia Wade-Brown and others, and we campaigned for light rail from Wellington Railway Station to the airport.
And now, through our Confidence and Supply Agreement, in this Government, we’ve got $14 billion going to green transport.
A billion-dollar fund for bikes and walkways. Five billion for rapid transit. And seven billion for public transport.
It’s taken nearly 30 years to get started but, as the old Mainland Cheese bloke used to say, “Good things take time.”
Finally, our main cities can look forward to less-congested streets, greater productivity, and a better quality of life for the people who live there.
And we’re just getting started.
I look at this Budget with a sense of satisfaction but also in the knowledge that we are only at the beginning, with a great deal more work to do.
This Budget lays strong foundations for the next three years, the next 10 years, and the next 30 years.
Let me tell you, I am looking forward to building on those foundations next year and for years to come.
Today’s Budget delivers on seven of the 20 priorities in our Confidence and Supply Agreement.
It delivers on:
- The Green Investment Fund
- Support for Sustainable farming
- Home insulation
- Access to mental health services
- Reform of our welfare system
- And establishing the Climate Change Commission.
I, and my Green Party colleagues, support this Budget, and stand ready to provide the ideas, and the vision, and the energy to build on it into the future.
The investments being made here today are investments in a better, more resilient, more sustainable future for all New Zealanders, and for this beautiful land we call home.
No reira, kia kaha. E tū. Kia mau.