Natalia Albert's Blog

The goal is a better government, not a smaller one or a larger one

Grant Robertson has missed the “Building for Tomorrow” mark with Budget 2023.

Described as a “no-frills recovery” plan, and ironically named “Support for Today, Building for Tomorrow”, Budget 2023 provides some much-needed clarity on the state of New Zealand’s economy.

While the key components of the budget – the flood recovery package and funding allocation towards climate change, and education – should be applauded, Robertson should have aimed for better.

We must aim for better, for growth, for resilience, and a sustainable future – normalcy isn’t our goal. Merely bringing our infrastructure “back to where they were” overlooks the vital question: Why have they been overlooked for so long?

Commended by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins as a move that will help communities return to normalcy, the $601 million recovery package for repairing roads, railways, and schools isn’t an optimistic view if you consider how long our country’s basic needs have been swept under the rug.

While this recovery budget is a significant one, it’s a reactionary step, not a proactive one. It does the job of repairing what was damaged, but it does not build a more resilient infrastructure that can withstand the recurring and intensifying impact of climate change.

As for the parties’ vision for the Government, it seems like everyone has their preferred model: Labour seeks a larger government, National seeks a smaller one, I think we need a focus on better one. Quality over quantity for government size.

For us, a ‘better’ government represents transparency, equity, and action-oriented, long-term planning and investing.

National Party Leader Christopher Luxton highlighted at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce last week the importance of transparency in government finances. At the same time, ACT budget proposal shows a willingness for tax reform.

However, the proposed $34 billion tax cut over four years feels inadequate and untimely as well. The focus should not solely be on tax cuts, but also on a tax switch – a reform that ensures fairness and sustainability.

Our budget position focuses on key policies such as the tax switch and Teal Card, targeting a conservative public debt position, young people and fairness for all.

It’s about making strategic decisions that may appear tight now but will set us up for the future.

Moreover, while the announced budget will most likely support cost of living payments, we must also take this opportunity to initiate fundamental changes in our economic structure that will benefit all New Zealanders in the long run, with fairness, balance and sustainability at the forefront.

Lastly, the discussion on tax changes is crucial, and I think that whatever Party is in government should be unwavering in our commitment to a tax reform that’s designed to benefit all New Zealanders.

Budget 2023 is a step in the right direction but fails to fully embrace the ‘building for tomorrow’ part of its own slogan.

Now, more than ever, we must leverage this opportunity to lay the groundwork for a resilient and prosperous future for New Zealand.