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Butterick sticks to main party messaging

Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick is at something of a disadvantage compared to the region’s other two resident MPs when it comes to responding to questions about tomorrow’s Budget.

While Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty [whose Budget wishlist was published in Saturday’s Times-Age] and Green list MP Celia Wade-Brown [see accompanying article] have the luxury of speculating about what the Budget may hold and subtly [or not so subtly] putting in the slipper regarding what the Government’s assumed choices will be, National’s Butterick actually knows what will be revealed, and so has the somewhat more difficult task of not letting any cats out the bag ahead of the official announcement while at the same time seeking to frame the general thrust of the Minister of Finance’s decisions in a positive light.

As such, a number of the responses Butterick has provided to a set of emailed questions may well come across as a bit more evasive than the usually plainspoken career farmer would like, although they may also indicate that the first-term MP – who won the Wairarapa electorate for National from previous incumbent McAnulty with a handy majority just shy of 3000 votes – is becoming more comfortable with the art and craft of being a politician.

Asked for his sense of the biggest concerns or opportunities for Wairarapa heading into tomorrow’s Budget, Butterick sticks to the already well-rehearsed coalition government song sheet.

“The issue I hear about most is the cost-of-living and how hard it’s been for families in Wairarapa,” he says.

“I’m proud to be able to say Budget 2024 will deliver tax relief for hardworking people by adjusting the tax brackets for the first time in 14 years.”

Indeed, it’s a rhetorical track that Butterick doesn’t appear especially keen to divert from, with a question about what aspect of the Budget will be particularly pertinent to Wairarapa eliciting what’s essentially a remix of his first response.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how much more of their own money people in our region will be able to keep thanks to the tax relief we’re delivering,” he says.

“We’ve also undertaken a big savings programme across the public service to stop wasteful spending and direct investment to frontline services so there’ll be lots of opportunities for people in Wairarapa to see how we’re prioritising the services they rely on, like health and education, instead of wasteful projects and layers of bureaucracy.”

Asked how the Budget will tackle key issues for the region – like health, housing, and law and order – Butterick is able to point to several pre-Budget announcements that “address the issues people here care most about”.

“We’re investing $24 million into the I Am Hope Foundation to provide young people with free mental health counselling through Gumboot Friday, $1.9 billion into Corrections to make our communities safer, strong investments into education like structured literacy, charter schools and school lunches and into Pharmac’s biggest ever budget to secure access to lifesaving medicines.”

Queried about whether there are any currently funded initiatives in Wairarapa that he’s particularly concerned will get the chop, he adeptly sidesteps, noting that “we’ll be releasing a long list of savings we’re making through Budget 2024”.

“While we’ve had to make some tough decisions,” he adds, “it’s the right approach to get our books back in order, and taxpayer money refocused on delivering better outcomes for everyone in Wairarapa.”

A question about whether the region’s residents can look forward to anything new in the Budget provides Butterick with the opportunity to repeat the government’s main pre-Budget messaging: “The big thing for everyone to watch out for is our tax relief package, which will give people in Wairarapa the first relief they’ve had in 14 years and I encourage everyone to jump online on Budget Day and use the Treasury’s tax calculator to see how much they’ll save. Other investments will be laid out in the Budget on Thursday too.”

As for whether tomorrow’s announcement by Finance Minister Nicola Willis will include anything related to the Fast Track Approval legislation and other RMA reform, Butterick takes this as a prompt to emphasise – as he did in his maiden speech in Parliament – his interest in advocating for rural communities and the importance of farming to New Zealand’s economy.

“Our first RMA amendment bill was introduced to Parliament a few days ago to deliver on our promise to slash the tangle of red and green tape our farmers have to deal with,” he says.

“Farmers drive our economy, and we need to get out of their way and let them do what they do best – farm. When it comes to Fast Track, that bill is making its way through the select committee process now and I’m excited to be working on this as deputy chair of the Environment Select Committee. Getting stuff built is crucial for New Zealand, and this bill will help us do exactly that.”

1 COMMENT

  1. We have had 2 labour terms, let’s live 2 national terms. Compare prices and living standards then. MUST STOP THIS UNDEMOCRATIC POLICY THAT IS BEING FEED TO COMMUNITIES ? THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE HAVES AND HAVE NOTS JUST WORK AND BE HAPPY 😊 THAT’S FREEDOM 😊.

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