On the day after the budget was released, we had the opportunity to listen to a panel of notable speakers who shared their perspectives on Budget 2023. The event was sponsored by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Public Health Association New Zealand (PHANZ) Wellington branch, and the Social Justice Group of St Peter's on Willis, Te Aro, Wellington. Many speakers agreed on certain 'budget wins,' revealing that due to concerns about potential inflationary effects, most of the budget wins focused on investing in specific services to alleviate the cost of living instead of directly increasing incomes for those currently facing financial hardships. Some of the wins highlighted by the speakers this morning were:
- Removal of the $5 co-payment for all prescriptions.
- Extension of the 20-hour-a-week subsidy for early childhood education (ECE) to include children as young as two years old.
- Reduction in public transport fares for individuals aged 25 and under.
- Investment in disability services.
- Investment in Māori education.
Another moderate win was the extension of the Ka Ora Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches program, although an extension and expansion of the program would have been preferable. Huhana Lyndon from Ngātiwai Trust Board also emphasized how some of the 'wins,' such as reduced public transport fares and subsidised childcare for 2-year-olds, work well in urban areas but fail to make a meaningful impact on those living in rural regions due to a fundamental lack of infrastructure.
The panel also identified some key missed opportunities, including:
- The immediate need for assistance regarding the cost and need for adequate housing.
- Insufficient steps taken toward creating a fairer tax system, including the absence of a wealth tax.
- Limited investment in the health and well-being of Pacific communities.
We extend our sincere gratitude to all our speakers, those who attended and showed support both in person and online, as well as the organizing committee for hosting this valuable event. We will continue to examine the implications of this budget announcement on the public health sector and the well-being of the communities we serve.
You can read more about the impact of Budget 2023 and the forecast for our most vulnerable children and whanau by visiting the link to 'CPAG Budget Analysis - 18 May 2023 Budget Summary: Children need investment, not crumb' or the Child Poverty Report contained within Budget 2023.
Did you miss the event? You can watch recordings from all the speakers by visiting our Workshops and webinars webpage