Budget about fairness and equity says Associate Finance Minister Shane Jones

By Piripi Taylor

Securing the future of New Zealand's national rail assets was prioritised by the Government as a key initiative in their Wellbeing Budget.

Associate Finance Minister Shane Jones today said the $1 billion dollar investment aims to grow our regions and revitalise NZ's economy.

At a meeting of banking economists, business investment strategists in Central Auckland this afternoon, said his key message was that his coalition government is placing emphasis on equity and fairness.

"If there is wellbeing, we can then look at how we can all achieve and be prosperous, mentally, socially and individually with our families."

And economists agree.

Chief Economist for Kiwibank, Jarrod Kerr was also a keynote speaker at the luncheon and said Māori and Pasifika issues need to be dealt with.

"Globally the big problem that we have is that we're seeing a rise in populism. A rise in populism is on the back a rise in inequality. So I think these steps are helping us, tackle some of those issues and the rise of inequality that we've got in NZ."

Kiwirail was the big ticket win for NZ First in the yesterdays budget with $1bil going towards revitalising the state asset.

"The return of the rail to Gisborne would mean establishing industry, milling and sending our timber overseas would become easier. It will also open up more opportunities for our tourism operators" says Jones.

A further $300 million from the Provincial Growth Fund for regional rail initiatives to enhance regional connectivity and support economic development with huge potential benefits for Māori communities.

The Minister says "Winston will tonight be making some announcements about how to potentially speed up the work on the link from the main trunk line to Ruakākā, to upgrade the rail line from Auckland to Whangarei and if possible to Otiria."

As Minister of Infrastructure, Jones says he is aware of the size of the challenge in rebuilding our infrastructure which has been allocated 14 billion from the budget.

"We've established a new working group called Whaihanga with the purpose of setting out an infrastructure strategy to achieve within the next 30 years."

$30bill is the total costs forecast from the treasury for that crucial rebuild, which means the government at the moment still has some figures to crunch.