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Robertson reiterates policy plans ahead of HYEF

Robertson reiterates policy plans ahead of HYEFU, says 100-day plan costed by Treasury

By Jonathan Underhill

Dec. 11 (BusinessDesk) - Finance Minister Grant Robertson has reiterated the coalition government's budget priorities, saying the base projections in the Treasury's half-year update cover its '100-day-plan' including a families package and NZ Super Fund contributions.

"The government was formed early enough during the Treasury’s forecasting and HYEFU cycle – just – that we were able to include officials’ work on our 100 day plan costs into the half year update," Robertson said in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. "So the likes of our families package, fees-free post-secondary education and training, paid parental leave, the $2 billion capital injection for KiwiBuild, and our plan to restart contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund, are all included in the ‘base’ projections we’re starting from," he said.

The Half-Year Fiscal and Economic Update and Budget Policy Statement are due for release on Thursday and Robertson's speech in Auckland today is his second 'curtain-raiser' after an ANZ Breakfast at the start of the month. Today he repeated that new spending will be funded by cancelling the previous administration's tax cuts and by slowing debt repayment.

"We are redirecting money that had been promised by the previous government in across-the-board tax cuts to more targeted spending – on health, education, and for families with children," he said. "We can make these investments while not having to increase taxes. We do this by having different priorities to the previous government – reversing the proposed tax cuts and giving ourselves two extra years to meet the government’s debt reduction target."

Robertson said the government had a "comprehensive reform agenda" for Auckland including a Housing Commission, which he described as "an urban development authority to cut through the red tape and lead large urban development projects." He repeated that the government will scale back spending on the East-West link and said infrastructure bonds would be used to fund major projects.

"We are committed to implementing a $15 billion, 10-year programme to build this rapid transit system – including light rail from the CBD to the airport and out to West Auckland," he said. "We are also investigating third-tracking the main trunk rail line and electrifying the rail line to Pukekohe."

Robertson said the government would involve Maori in its infrastructure goals and would look to work with the private sector including public-private-partnerships (PPPs). "We don’t believe PPPs have a place in schools and hospitals, but there is a potential for partnerships which can be used to drive productive and sustainable growth where they are appropriate," he said.

Unlike previous years, there would not be the usual slew of pre-emptive announcements ahead of next year's Budget.

"The plan is already out there. The first steps towards Budget 2018 will come this Thursday," Robertson said.



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