NZ opposition party slams government ‘wellbeing’ budget as all spin in leaked details

May 28, 2019

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Releasing what it said were key details of Thursday’s budget, New Zealand’s main opposition party slammed the government for “all spin and no substance” in its highly-anticipated wellbeing budget.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said some details released by National Party leader Simon Bridges on Tuesday were incorrect.

Bridges said the government’s budget would see defense spending go up sharply to NZ$1.3 billion ($851.37 million), from NZ$641 million last year, and double spending in forestry with an extra $138 million.

Another $740 million would go for international aid, which Bridges said was just $47 million last year, and $744 million for healthcare.

“This has nothing to do with the government’s wellbeing priorities,” Simon Bridges said in a statement.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the government would unveil the nation’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget on Thursday which would prioritize areas like mental health, child poverty, domestic abuse and others.

“The Wellbeing Budget was meant to be transformational but it’s all spin and no substance,” Bridges said.

In its response to the leak and the claims of the opposition, the government said that some details were incorrect and the wellbeing initiatives were still to be revealed on Thursday.

“This is not budget 2019,” Robertson said in a press conference addressing the leaked budget details.

“In this material that was released there are some numbers that are right, there are some numbers that are wrong,” he said, but declined to clarify which details were wrong.

Robertson said defense spending highlighted by Bridges included the purchase of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, which had already been announced.

The major wellbeing initiatives that the government is putting forward as part of the budget will be released on Thursday, he said.

(Story fixes day of week in second paragraph)

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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