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Budget offers help for today, but not for future

Budget offers help for today, but not for the future

It's five years late, doesn't go far enough and discriminates against children on the basis of their parents' income - but the Green Party is welcoming the Government's Future Direction Budget package as the biggest helping hand for children and struggling families in recent history.

"This is the budget initiative that families have been waiting on since 1991, when National's benefit-bashing condemned a generation to poverty," said Green Co-leader, Rod Donald. "Not everyone wins, but no one will be worse off and most of those on the lowest rungs will get quite substantial gains.

"The biggest disappointment of this Budget is its failure to invest more in a sustainable future. The Government has only made a token gesture towards encouraging energy security, needs to invest far more in public transport and persists in its potentially disastrous environmental policy.

"In spite of our support for the Future Directions package, we will still move a no confidence motion in this Government because of its fixation with allowing the release of GE crops in New Zealand."

"Any package that delivers an extra billion dollars (by 2007) for low-income families deserves our praise," agreed Sue Bradford, the Green Social issues spokesperson. "What we can't support is the time it will take this money to reach families and the way in which it discriminates against the children of beneficiaries.

"It is unacceptable that children of parents on welfare will continue to get less assistance than the children of parents in employment. A return to a Universal Child Benefit, as advocated by the Greens, would mean that all children are treated the same, regardless of their parents' work status."

Green Tertiary Education spokesperson, Nandor Tanczos, congratulated the Government for raising the parental income threshold but expressed his disappointment at the measure's inadequacy for dealing with the $7 billion mountain of student debt. "Instead of biting the bullet and introducing a Universal Student Benefit, they've just tinkered with the system. As for the accommodation allowance for young married students, does the Government expect them to get divorced and go back to their parents' place?" Green Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Budget had moved to fix some of the inequities of the past in regard to children, but failed to grasp the opportunity to create the kind of healthy, sustainable society where they could grow up.

"Today's children would reap the benefit of meaningful investment now in our rail network," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Likewise, at a time when DOC is struggling to fund its Ark programme for particularly threatened habitats, total biodiversity funding has actually been reduced. If our children are to have a secure future at reasonable cost, we need to invest in now in solar and energy efficiency, yet the sums provided in the Budget are pitiful.

"Today, families got the support they'd been denied for a decade. What they didn't get was a sustainable future."

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