Let me reassure the members of the Opposition that this is not a dream, there is nothing wrong with their television sets, and the red pill won’t do anything, because this is reality, and this is what a real government looks like.
A government with purpose. A government which takes positive action. A government which is united, focused, and getting things done.
This Budget begins the process of rebuilding our public services. Restoring our health and education systems. Putting in place the foundations for our future. And importantly putting in place the foundations for a Green future.
But I can see why some of the Members opposite are confused.
You see, a real government builds houses and shelters the homeless. National stuffed around as rents and house prices exploded.
A real government funds hospitals to deliver the best healthcare in the world to our people. National blew smoke rings while mould grew in the walls of Middlemore Hospital, the hospital where three of my babies were born.
A real government funds frontline family violence services to ensure victims of domestic violence can get help when they need it. National stood by while Relationships Aotearoa folded, Shakti Wellington had to beg for funding and Christchurch lost its only Rape Crisis centre.
A real government gives our kids the best start in life and a world-class education. National closed 24 schools in Christchurch and gave their principals colour-coded name tags to break the news to them.
A real government thinks the justice system is for delivering justice, not feeding Māori and Pasifika men and women to the private prison industry.
This is what we campaigned for: a real government. A government that takes action rather than kicking the tyres. A government that builds, not a government that shuts things down.
Sometimes people ask why the Green Party didn’t go into coalition with National. Why we don’t just focus on the environmental stuff.
But National would never have put an expiry date on oil and gas exploration. They would never have stopped subsiding massive irrigation schemes. They would never have delivered a Budget like this.
Being Green means understanding how our social and economic systems fuel the destruction of our environment. National see the symptoms but pretend there’s no disease.
They want to clean up local beaches but ignore where the litter comes from. They want to take a walk-run along a pretty river but ignore why they can’t swim in it. They can’t see the forest for the trees. We in the Green Party, on the other hand, love the forest and the trees.
This Budget contains the largest ever allocation for Green projects. That’s something we’re pretty proud of. After 21 years in opposition we are now delivering in Government.
Our Green Investment Fund will inspire homegrown solutions to climate change.
DoC’s largest ever funding increase since 2002 will go a long way to reverse National’s cuts and save thousands of our precious plants and wildlife.
We’re also supporting our farmers to use land and water in a way that will protect those living systems for generations to come with a big boost in funding to the sustainable farming fund.
We are getting the ball rolling on setting up a new dedicated agent for domestic and sexual violence – an issue this Government takes extremely seriously.
And we are helping out families on low incomes to get their homes warm and dry with insulation that will stop kids getting sick from the cold and damp.
The environment doesn’t sit in a box on a shelf. Mama nature is all around us. She affects our lives, and our actions affect her, every minute of the day. Mama nature binds our universe together, folks.
The issues facing our environment – our water and air and native species, trees and birds and fish and frogs – are all connected to the issues facing our society – poverty and homelessness, low wages and high rents, the mental health crisis, violence and discrimination. They all have their roots in an economic system which isn’t broken, no – it’s working exactly as intended, siphoning off the wealth we all create into the hands of a few people who missed kindy the day we were taught to share.
This Budget is all about sharing. We are looking at the largest redistribution of wealth since the Mother of All Budgets, but more Robin Hood than Ruth Richardson – helping those who need it the most. That’s what a real government does.
That’s why we are so proud to be voting for a budget that shifts 58,000 children and their whānau out of poverty.
A budget that delivers the largest ever increase in funding for health, education and housing.
A budget that funds an extra 1,300 teachers to help our children.
The social issues so dear to the heart of many of us in the Greens are central to this budget.
When National were in government, they were so focused on their surplus that they ignored the massive moral deficit they were creating. Families living in cars. Kids going to school hungry. Nurses and midwives and care workers underpaid and overworked. Toxic rivers, dying kauri and dead dolphins.
But this is a real government and this is a very good first Budget. Is it perfect? It’s a great start. And we have to start somewhere, and set a strong foundation for all the amazing things this government is going to achieve. Today we are turning the waka around and pointing it in a new and better direction.
I look at how far we have already come, and I am so proud to be part of this government. We have ensured that every rental will be warm, dry and well ventilated. We have a massive plan to fix Auckland’s transport issues by supporting light rail, bus lanes, cycleways and cars, too. We have delivered real justice and aroha to the families of the Pike 29.
And I get really excited when I think about everything else we will do. Green policies like including a rent-to-own scheme in KiwiBuild, so everyone has a shot at owning their own home. More services for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction. Overhauling our broken welfare system so it focuses on helping people, not reading their Tinder profiles.
And policies Labour and New Zealand First bring to the table, like free doctors’ visits for under-14s, increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour and planting one billion trees. They can see the forest too.
This government will transform Aotearoa into the country we know it can be. A country where all kids grow up in warm, dry homes in healthy, vibrant cities and towns, where they can swim in the local river and drink water from the tap without getting sick. A country where everyone who works has a decent income and a good life, and where paid employment is not the only kind of work we acknowledge and value. A country which honours and does more than just honour te Tiriti o Waitangi as our founding document. A country which leads the world in tackling the global problems of climate change, inequality and injustice.
That’s what a real government does. This is why we’re here.
We’re not just managing things until the next election: we are governing for the next century, planning for the world our mokopuna will inherit: one built on love and community and kaitiakitanga.
We are making decisions that will have real impacts for real people. Parents who can spend more time with their bubs after they’re born. People struggling to pay the power bill in winter. Victims of domestic violence who need somewhere to stay or someone to talk to.
Our Pasifika whanaunga who are facing rising seas – rising because of our choices, our actions, our impact on the environment.
This government is going to transform our country. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have friends, Mr Speaker. And we in the Greens are so proud to stand with our friends in Labour and New Zealand First and vote for this Budget.
I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved in only a few months. Just wait and see what we will deliver for New Zealanders over this whole term.