30 May 2024

Budget 24: How's it being received?

8:55 pm on 30 May 2024
Nicola Willis reveals the cover of Budget 2024

Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis reveal the cover of Budget 2024. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Budget is here and for many sectors, they've been waiting to see how the government's funding will affect their work.

So what do those industries have to say? In the wake of the Budget announcement, they're quick to speak out about what they're happy with - and probably even more vocally about what they're unimpressed by.

Here's what a few organisations have to say. It's not an exhaustive list, and we've grouped them - roughly - into for or against.


This list is home mainly to groups from the business sector.

There's been a large injection of funding for roads and that's being welcomed by Transporting New Zealand's interim chief executive Dom Kalasih.

"Roads in New Zealand have been desperately underfunded for decades so new investment in highways, including national and regional roads of significance, is desperately needed," he said.

"Kiwis can't continue to put up with deteriorating roads that are jeopardising economic growth, which is vital for the community and businesses."

However, he did note "that many operators are facing tough times - and the rising cost of living is having a major impact on businesses".

Ray White Group said the Budget announcement "that interest deductibility for landlords would be restored and the brightline test adjusted is great news for renters as it will encourage more investors into the market".

"Another key feature of the budget was the scrapping of first-home buyer grants to fund more social housing. The first-home buyer grants were particularly popular and it will be a blow for many looking into the market.

"More positively, generous first-home buyer incentives have been linked to declining affordability and ideally this will calm long term price growth for more affordable homes. Ideally, the switch will address the long waiting lists currently in place for social housing."

The decision to keep Apprenticeship Boost funding has the seal of approval from Master Plumbers.

Chief executive Greg Wallace said training apprentices remained the best solution to combating workforce shortages in the industry.

"Plumbing has an ageing workforce, with 38 percent of the plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers now aged 55 and over. We estimate a current shortfall of 3000 plumbers and drainlayers."

The funding would help businesses train and retain apprentices, he said.

KiwiRail has good things to say - its chief executive Peter Reidy noted the Budget's $466m "highlights a commitment to reliable public transport in Auckland and Wellington and supporting export growth nationally".

He also welcomed additional funding for the national rail network, through the next Rail Network Investment Programme.

"Over the last three years we have been focussed on raising the standard of our national rail network, and the government commitment in Budget 2024 will help us continue that work. Rail carries 25 percent of exports, and upgrading our rail lines will contribute to the government's goal of growing New Zealand's export economy."

Responsible spending has the potential to significantly improve New Zealand's economic growth, Business NZ says.

But chief executive Kirk Hope said the government would have to work hard to keep expenditure down if it hoped to return to a surplus by 2027-2028.

"Businesses will welcome the focus on much needed infrastructure investment. This year's Budget presents a path back to surplus, but the real test for the government will be the need to maintain a tight grip on expenditure."

He welcomed the increase in funding for Ministry for Regulation.

Hospitality New Zealand was all about tax cuts, increased resourcing for law and order, and an increased focus on infrastructure and regional resilience.

Hospitality NZ chief executive Steve Armitage welcomed the moves "to reduce tax, keep communities safe and improve resilience and connectivity".

He lauded the potential flow-on effect of tax cuts for the sector, and was pleased with law and order funding, giving concerns the industry had raised about safety.

"The Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF), which aims to grow regional economies by investing in new and existing infrastructure projects, will also have a positive impact for hospitality.

"Silver linings but no quick turnaround" was how Retail NZ summed it up.

Justice spending was a main focus for the sector, and it was in support of the funding spending on policing, serious youth offenders and rehabilitation of offenders.

But Retail NZ chief executive Carolyn Young was also in favour of the education investment - hoping that it would "increase work-readiness in young people".

"This is one of the major challenges for retail employers, with members regularly reporting that young people lack the basic skills needed," she said.

On the fence

Those working on the land have been doing it tough, Federated Farmers says, and although it acknowledged there is not much spare cash around, it is pleased with the outcome.

That included "all of the non-negotiables are still there, with continued funding for frontline biosecurity, catchment groups, and the cyclone recovery," president Wayne Langford said.

"The road to New Zealand's economic success isn't paved with more red tape, regulation, and compliance costs - it's paved with milk, meat, fruit and grain. Farmers have never been looking for a handout. We just want to see the government continue to cut unnecessary red tape and compliance costs that have been bogging us down."


Those on this side of the fence include a lot of healthcare, environment and social justice groups.

People Against Prisons Aotearoa says the "Department of Corrections was given 600 percent more money than last year to spend on prison cells, meanwhile spending on rehabilitation went up by less than 0.7 percent".

The group's spokesperson Emmy Rākete described the Budget as "class warfare, rich against poor".

As far as Tax Justice Aotearoa is concerned, the Budget is "little more than a regressive tax switch, with benefits for the wealthy - while vulnerable families suffer most".

Chairperson Glenn Barclay said "tax cuts most [favoured] the well-off, while raising user charges and levies ... hurt those least able to pay and people on modest incomes".

"Most people will get an income tax cut, but will face increases in fees, charges and levies - such as for prescriptions, car registration, bus fares, and ECE fees for two-year-olds, partly replaced by a clumsy tax rebate that many low income families will find too difficult to claim. People reliant on benefits, such as those with disabilities, will be particularly hard hit."

"We were well-briefed, we knew despite our desperate situation this wasn't going to be our year for change", General Practice New Zealand chairperson Dr Bryan Betty said.

But being ready to be disappointed didn't solve any problems, he said, asking when the government would recognise the crisis in their field.

"Today is little more than a band aid. The reality is significant change to the funding model is long overdue and delays in addressing the needs of general practice and primary care only exacerbate the pressures on our health system...

"The irony is the longer we delay, the more unaffordable the problems of our health system become. The stabilisation and recovery of general practice is essential for improving equity, access and improved health outcomes for individuals and whānau, but also for stability of the wider health system in Aotearoa."

He called for Budget 2025 to "take decisive action and deliver substantial changes and investments to strengthen general practice".

Auckland Action Against Poverty rejects many elements of the Budget and instead calls for "Liveable Incomes for all peoples, and we need free and universal public services".

But it is for families struggling the most who Save the Children is most worried about in the Budget's offerings, saying it offers "little additional financial support".

Advocacy director Jacqui Southey said gains for middle income New Zealand may be "offset by cuts in other areas such as an end to free prescriptions and public transport subsidies, or the impact of enduring high interest rates that are taking a real toll on household incomes".

"Recessions are a time when more resources should be extended to people who are struggling the most, not less, but sadly, Budget 2024 offers little or no extras for those families already facing cuts. We are very concerned about the downstream impact on child poverty and fear that statistics may become much worse."

However, it did support the commitment to areas such as education, a new early childcare subsidy, and health.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the Budget does not address "increasing unmet need, longer waiting lists and over-stretched staff".

Despite what was on offer, it was "barely enough to keep the lights on," ASMS executive director Sarah Dalton said.

It was also disappointed with the commitment to new medical students.

"National campaigned on increasing medical student numbers by another 50 places in 2025 however only 25 places are indicated in this Budget," Dalton said.

"With 22 percent vacancy rates amongst senior medical officers in the public health system, we need a greater commitment to train and retain our current workforce."

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation also says the funding is hardly enough to keep the lights on.

NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said: "Until we get Pay Equity sorted, the problem of overcrowded emergency departments will persist. People turn up in ED because they can't get community care, and that's because nursing staff have left for better pay."

And funds set aside for Hauora Māori services were inadequate to meet projected Māori population growth, a spokesperson said.

"So again we're failing to plan for the future to meet the cultural needs of Māori, perpetuating their disenfranchisement from health services. This will increase inequality and every New Zealander will pay for that in the long run.

"In summary, we have health targets we can't afford, nothing about new health initiatives, nothing for increasing nurse numbers, a pittance for Pay Equity that would have solved solve so many health problems, and Māori destined to be less well off than ever."

And the College of Midwives wanted more information.

Advisor Violet Clapham said it was looking for more detail around the about $8b tagged for "delivering primary, community, public, and population health services", and hopes there may be money to help families facing "increasing struggle to access maternity care".

"There looks to be around $8b earmarked within the health funding announced today, for "delivering primary, community, public, and population health services". As families in some parts of the country face an increasing struggle to access maternity care, we hope that the government will have money tagged in that pot to address this inequitable access," Clapham says.

Clapham said the lack of consistency in and variation of service availability was causing stress for both women and midwives, and this is nothing new.

The college also hoped the funding might help to increase the midwifery workforce.

Greenpeace says the government is "systematically silencing environmental agencies with these funding cuts".

Executive director Russel Norman said it was part of an "ongoing war on nature".

"Without enough funding, these agencies cannot respond to the anti-nature policies this government keeps throwing at them. The Department of Conservation has a statutory responsibility to advocate for nature even if the government doesn't like it.

"The Climate Commission has the job of providing independent advice on climate policy, advice the government usually doesn't want to hear. Environmental Legal Aid helps environmental groups to challenge the government in court."

Meanwhile, WWF NZ said the government was "living in an alternative universe" with its Budget.

It "ignores" the climate and biodiversity crises Aotearoa is facing and will shoulder future generations with "unconscionable debt", the organisation said.

Chief executive Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb said there was a "climate-sized hole and nowhere near enough investment in what is the biggest challenge we face as a nation".

"Our leaders need to wake up to the reality we now live in instead of passing the buck on to the next generation of Kiwis."

The decision to discontinue ring-fencing funding raised through the Emissions Trading Scheme in the Climate Emergency Response Fund was a disgrace, she said.

"What's more, when nature is already at a tipping point, the blizzard of cuts to agencies like the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment will leave us bereft of the expertise we need to tackle these challenges head on."