[Sitting date: 03 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:1940. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Hon TAU HENARE (National) to the
Minister of Finance: What will be the Government’s approach in the Budget to ensure it remains on track to fiscal surplus in 2014/15?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance)
: Consistent with previous Budgets, the Government’s approach will be balanced and considered, but in particular, the measure of achievement will be whether the funding is working and getting results, rather than whether Ministers or departments get more funding.
Hon Tau Henare: What progress is the Government making in controlling its spending?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: What is important to the Government is that the spending is effective, and that is just as important as how much spending there is. But one measure of the change in spending is this: in the four Budgets between 2005 and 2008, the permanent increase in total Government spending was $15 billion across those four Budgets. In the four Budgets up to the one that will be delivered in a couple of weeks, the deliberate and permanent increase in spending will be $750 million. So in the four Budgets to 2008, the increase was $15 billion. In the next four Budgets, it is $750 million.
Hon Tau Henare: What decisions will the Government take in the Budget to ensure it continues to keep spending under control?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The most important decisions will be those that are focused on getting better value for the considerable spending the Government already makes in the areas of law and order, health, and education. The next important decisions will be containing the amount of spending, and, as has been already discussed publicly, there will be little net new Government spending in Budget 2012.
Hon Tau Henare: How will the Government be able to deliver better results from public services while keeping firm control on its spending?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Probably the most important thing is to understand how Government spending actually contributes to the outcomes that New Zealanders are expecting from Government action. So in the area of education we need a good understanding of how spending $13 billion in education does contribute to young New Zealanders achieving level 2 of National Certificate of Educational Achievement, which is regarded as the entry-level qualification for any further skills or training, or how our extensive spending on the police and courts and corrections contributes to reducing
reoffending and therefore prisoner numbers, at the same time as maintaining a safe community.