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New Zealanders split on Budget

New Zealanders split on Budget: huge support for housing and health policies, worries over super and unemployment

New Zealanders overwhelmingly support health and insulation policies announced in the Budget but don't believe the Government has produced enough new policy to successfully manage the economic recession.

A weighted nationwide ShapeNZ survey of 2,165 New Zealanders between May 28 and June 2, commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, shows 29% satisfied with the Budget and 25% dissatisfied, while 40% don't know. The survey has a maximum margin of error of + or - 2.1%.

Some 28% say their household will be worse off as a result of the Budget, 5% better off while 60% say it will be about the same and 6% don't know.

The Government enjoys strong support for its plan to pump $325 million into home insulation and heating over the next four years: 86% support the move (40% strongly), while only 5% oppose.

Similarly, the move to provide District Health Boards (DHBs) with another $2.1 billion over the next four years for new health initiatives enjoys 75% support.

Within that package support is strong for subsidising medicines (80%), devolving some hospital services to primary care (63%), improving aged care facilities and respite care for those at home (83%), an extra 800 professionals to increase elective surgery services (79%), 60 new medical training and 50 new general practitioner training places (74%) support, extra funding for maternity services (73%), and new capital infrastructure to increase elective surgery operating theatre capacity (72%).

However, the Government runs into trouble on other major measures.


Some 42% oppose its decision to suspend contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund for the next 10 years, while 31% support and 20% neither agree nor disagree and 6% don't know.

Some 53% believe postponing the contributions will eventually lead to lower retirement benefits (even though current entitlements are kept in the Budget). Some 16% disagree future benefits will be lower because of suspended contributions.


Some 48% oppose no longer being able to use up to half of KiwiSaver contributions to make mortgage repayments. 18% support the policy change.


The Government has 60% support for postponing personal tax cuts planned for 2010 and 2011. Some 63% say this amounts to a broken election promise (19% disagree with this view). 20% say if a promise has been broken it is likely to affect their vote at the next general election.

61% say National should not have promised the tax cuts during the last general election in view of local and global economic conditions known at the time. 25% disagree with this view, while 15% don't know.


Unemployment: Some 43% believe the Budget will increase unemployment (13% lower unemployment, 30% have no effect on unemployment).

Interest rates: 24% say it will increase rates, 7% lower them and 40% have no effect.

Credit rating: 50% believe the Budget will preserve New Zealand's credit rating, 14% worsen, and 16% have no effect.

Economic growth: 28% believe the Budget will increase New Zealand's economic growth, 20% decrease it, 28% say it will have no effect, 23% don't know.

Households: 28% feel their household will be worse off as a result of the Budget, 5% better off, 60% about the same, 6% don't know.


Asked if the National-led Government, in office since November, 2008, has produced enough new policy ideas to manage the economic recession, 44% say no (up from 41% in May pre-Budget polling), 33% yes and 23% don't know.

For the first time, the Government's performance rating on how it is managing the impact of the global economic downturn has turned negative, slipping 10%.

48% rate its performance fair to poor on managing the downturn, while 46% rate it good to excellent. In pre-Budget polling of 3,300 people between May 12 and 27, 56% rated it good to excellent and 39% fair to poor.

Results of the Budget questions and results tables showing responses by party vote are available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz.

The survey continues until June 30 at www.shapenz.org.nz. Detailed analysis of results covering the home insulation and heating policy - including the number likely to accept the Government grant and what further policies will result in significant uptake, will be published shortly.


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