20 May 2021

Budget 2021: 'Our focus would've been on building jobs' - National Party's Judith Collins

4:12 pm on 20 May 2021

National Party leader Judith Collins has spoken to media after the government revealed how it would spend its money this year.

Watch the National Party's media stand-up here:

Collins said the government had no confidence in growing the economy and jobs, and that was why benefits were going up.

"We realise that the cost of living has gone up under this government, unfortunately quite a lot of that is around housing costs and a lot of that is actually being driven by the government's own quite knee-jerk reaction towards people who provide housing to other people. I think unfortunately many beneficiaries will be absolutely be needing something, and our focus would've been on building jobs and getting them into work."

New Zealand businesses had been focused on making the best out of what little they had, she said.

"When you look at health, it's about half a billion dollars going into setting up a restructure of the health system without any particular reason to believe it will have better outcomes. At the same time, only $200m extra for Pharmac and that's actually not much when you talk about the cost of drugs and the cost of cancer drugs in particular.

"If we can get these drugs often, the cancer drugs in particular, with people early enough, we can actually save their lives and save all the other distress that goes with people with severe illnesses."

National Party's Andrew Bayly, Judith Collins and Michael Woodhouse.

National Party's Andrew Bayly, Judith Collins and Michael Woodhouse. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Collins said National did not want to see people unable to feed their children.

"The trouble is most of the things the government is talking about today is actually predicated on more people on benefits, such as more food in schools, more of these sorts of things, rather than saying we've got a plan to get New Zealand going and a plan to get people into higher skilled higher-paid jobs."

National MP Michael Woodhouse said the real disappointment in the Budget was the lack of job creation that would keep people out of poverty.

"The really important thing is not to put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff but to prevent people from falling off the cliff in the first place," Woodhouse said.

"And the deeply disappointing aspect of the health appropriation is that they're actually putting significantly less into DHBs this year than they have in the last two years, it looks like they're taking the money out of the DHBs to fund the restructure, that means instead of paying for things like cataracts, cancer treatment and hip replacements, they're paying it on the bureaucrats to restructure the deck chairs. I think this is a damning indictment on this government."

Collins said she suspected the accommodation supplement would just get even higher.

National would not have cut funding for police in Corrections or remove funding to get prisoners into work when they leave, she said.

Working people missed out in the Budget, Collins said.

"I think people who work for living, pay their own bills, who work two or in some cases two or three part-time jobs, I think they missed out hugely.

"What we saw is quite a big increase for benefit payments, but actually at the same time, our nurses who actually did the work around Covid are being told they can't get a pay rise for another three years, so I actually thought it was a bit of a slap in the face for working people."

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