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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The Government has recently released Budget 2023, which focuses on relieving the pressure on households. I wanted to make sure that you’d heard about a few key things that will directly help many in Wairarapa.

We’re helping parents stretch their budgets further, by making childcare cheaper with 20 hours free ECE for two-year-olds. This is a win-win for families with young children; it will reduce costs, remove barriers to early learning and allow parents to return to work or take on more hours if they can.

We’re helping with health costs by removing prescription charges for medicines. Removing the $5 co-payment will make it easier and cheaper for Kiwis to access the medicines they need, having a meaningful impact for many households, particularly those who have multiple prescriptions to fill on a regular basis. Studies show that even a $5 charge is enough to prevent people accessing prescription medicines. Making it easier to get the medicine people need will ultimately reduces the demand on our hospital. This is a no-brainer, and so it was disappointing to see the National Party commit to bringing these charges back.

We’re permanently cutting the costs of public transport for young New Zealanders, making it cheaper to get to school and tertiary study. We’re providing free fares on buses, trains and ferries for children aged 5 to 12 and half-price discounts for all passengers aged 13 to 24 from July this year. Many of our local school children pay to catch the bus to school. Making public transport free for children will make provide relief to household budgets. Free fares for under 13s could save $30 per week for the average household of two children.

Most of us will know someone that relies on the Winter Energy Payment to stay warm over winter. The payment is $20.46 per week for eligible singles and $31.82per week for eligible couples and families. I am pleased this continues to be a permanent form of support for those who qualify.

Similarly, I am pleased the Government has committed to making the Apprenticeship Boost permanent. The Apprenticeship Boost helps local businesses to take on local apprentices. To date, 57,000 apprentices nationally have been supported in this way.

And the flooding outside Featherston SuperValue will soon be a thing of the past, with funding also secured in the Budget to fix the issue.

The Budget also confirmed funding for new hybrid-trains for the Wairarapa line. This is a game changer for our region. It will double the number of peak services between Masterton and Wellington by the end of the decade. More peak, off-peak and weekend services will make a massive difference to commuters, families, gold card holders. It will also lead to more people visiting our region which will bring a boost to local businesses.

Kiwis have been doing it tough and these changes will hopefully mean less pressure on household budgets across our region. It’s a practical Budget that does the basics well and makes investments where they are needed most. But we need to do more than just respond to the challenges of today, we also need to build for the future. One important measure announced in Budget 2023 is the National Resilience Plan, with $6 billion set aside for future proofing road, rail and local infrastructure a well as telecommunications and electricity transmission capability. Wairarapa will benefit with funding to assist with rebuilding roads after Cyclone Gabrielle.

Forecasts now show that New Zealand is likely to avoid a recession, that inflation is due to fall to the target range of 1-3% next year and wages will grow more than inflation over the forecast period. The Reserve Bank have subsequently said that the Budget helped them in their job of keeping inflation under control, and the OCR is now unlikely to rise any further.

    If you would like more information or need assistance with a matter, please pop into my office, 157 Queen Street Masterton, or get in touch [email protected]

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