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Source: Hapai Te Hauora

Māori Public Health experts, Hāpai te Hauora have touted the 2023 Budget as a “Budget of balance”. Budget 2023 was announced yesterday, amidst the cost-of-living crisis which is hitting vulnerable communities the hardest, and in the wake of the natural disasters earlier this year, which wreaked havoc across the country.
Hāpai te Hauora interim CEO, Jason Alexander says budget 2023 is a responsible budget, given the context. “What we saw yesterday was the Government balancing immediate needs with long-term sustainability, which is a responsible approach, provided we don’t fall into the ‘buy now, pay later’ debt trap”.
Alexander continues “We saw investments, which have given consideration to the issues whānau are facing today – such as extending ECE payments, maintaining the free school lunches program and removing prescription co-payments. These will make a difference in the pockets of families today.”
Hāpai recognises that whilst some initiatives are ‘buy now, pay later’, others are taking an invest now and save later approach ” We saw some initiatives focussed on the broader determinants of health such as building more housing, and ensuring that current houses are warm and dry, as well as investment into improving immunisation rates and growing the health workforce.
While these won’t get the wins that we need right now, over time, we should see a return on investment with whānau living in warm, dry, healthy homes, a reduction in hospital admissions, and A&E clinics that can actually cope with the pressures on the health system”.
While acknowledging the government’s efforts in prioritising essential services and maintaining fiscal responsibility, Alexander highlights the need for targeted investment, enhanced support, and measures to uplift vulnerable communities and address pressing social challenges. Alexander says that some critical omissions from this budget were concerning, particularly more funding for mental health and initiatives to target our most vulnerable communities.
“Hāpai acknowledges the commitment to healthcare initiatives; however, we emphasise the need for increased investment in mental health services, to address the ongoing mental health crisis, that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need to strengthen social safety nets to prevent vulnerable populations from falling through the cracks”.
Alexander urges decision-makers to ensure that they provide stability and certainty over the next 12 months “There needs to be some considerable balancing acts in order to ensure that the weight of the cost of living, the impacts of the cyclones and floods, and the long-term impacts of the pandemic are well managed. For Budget 2023, this will be a tight-rope walk, but it is a necessity to ensure that Aotearoa can manage through these difficult times.”