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Source: Human Rights Commission

As the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, I welcome the $60 million funding to support progress on the continued design and implementation of the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme. I’m truly hopeful the scheme will help to better protect workers who lose their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control. 

I’m also heartened to hear that Child Support payments will be passed to sole-parent beneficiaries as income instead of being retained by the government. These initiatives will provide an additional boost to many families across Aotearoa and could potentially lift children and households out of poverty. 

Overall, it’s encouraging to see additional funding go towards the prevention of family and sexual violence, particularly building Māori and community led integrated responses to transform the system. Likewise, it is encouraging to see the funding for the Sexual Abuse Assessment and Treatment Services to build its services back up to providing consistent 24/7 clinical cover.I’m excited to see how these initiatives will take shape and create safer homes for women and children. 

I applaud the additional funding forstrengthening the legal aid system, staffing for Corrections, and rehabilitation programmes. I am also pleased to see funding for the Te AoMarama District Court model to boost the holistic court approach, increasing ways to keep people out of prisons when an alternative is available. 

It’s also reassuring to see the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative extended until the end of 2023. Many Kiwis have been supported through investments in trades, and this initiative could help support both early-stage apprentices and employers alike as we build back from the pandemic. I also welcome the new Business Growth Fund to support small and mediumsized enterprises including funding the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to unleash regional economic development and job opportunities. 

I’m pleased to hear of investment into Pacific economic development to support “shovel-ready” Pacific businesses and social enterprises across New Zealand as well as funding boost to support Pacific people through education and employment. Also heartening to hear that 300 homes will be built over the next 10 years for Pacific families in Eastern Porirua including funding to implement the Government’s commitment to delivering a Dawn Raids historical account. 

I welcome the new funding to support the expansion of ACC to cover injuries that birthing parents suffer. This was an issue for which I recently advocated and to have the government acknowledge the need for ACC to cover birth injuries and see funding dedicated to it is a step in the right direction. 

However, I remain deeply concerned about how this budget did not specifically address measures to reduce the ethnic and disability pay gaps affecting Māori, Pacific, ethnic communities and our disabled whānau. I would have liked to see a stronger commitment by the Government to pay equity. 

I’m also disappointed to hear that the 2.1 million people who will become eligible to receive the cost-of-living payment will only benefit from this short term. I am concerned that beneficiaries are excluded from this support if the rationale of this payment is that the government acknowledges that rising living costs impact all our vulnerable people. 

Even though half-price public transportation, fuel excise and road user charge reductions will continue for another 2 months, inflation, however, is unlikely to lower significantly within this time and the pain for individuals and households will continue. 

I would also welcome analysis from the Treasury on the impact of this budget with regard to our Māori, Pacific, ethnic, and disability communities. Applying an equity lens to policy and decision-making would acknowledge that marginalised groupsface different socio-economic barriers and so each new budget has the potential to highlight how different groups’ wellbeing can be uplifted.