Budget 2021 speech – Marama Davidson

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Whakarongo ki te tangi a te manu o te taiao

Nāna te tangi kia tuituia tatou ki te ao marama

Tuia ki runga, tuia ki raro

Tuia ki roto, tuia ki waho

Ka rongo te pō, ka rongo te ao

Tuia te whare e tū iho nei e

Ki ngā muka here o te motu e

Tēnā tatou e te whare me ngā aho kōrero o ngā tōpito whenua o Aotearoa whānui.

Tuia te muka here i huaina mai rā e te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Ko te muka o te pono i oatitia e ngā mātua tīpuna kia mahitahi tātou

I roto i te ngākau pono, te mahi ngātahi hei oranga mō te whenua me ngā tāngata – o te whenua, i te Tiriti.

Me mihi ka tika ki a koutou ngā Minita

Āe ko koe tērā te Māngai o te Whare

Ki a koe hoki Te Minita o te Pūtea tae noa atu ki a koe e hoa, e te Pirimia

Tēnā koutou, otirā tēnā tātou e te piringa whare

Mr Speaker,

When the Green Party and the Labour Party entered our Cooperation Agreement in November, we both knew we were building on the relationship we forged last term.

It was important that the work we had started together, continues together.

For our people, and for our planet.

We also promised to keep our independent voice for our long-standing kaupapa.

Our Green voice.

And so with our independent voice, I speak for the Green Party to say we will vote for this Budget.

We don’t have to – we have that choice.

But we will, because right now there is too much at stake.

Our communities and the natural world that sustains us – they need our Green voices in this House and in this Government, so that we go further and faster.

This Budget takes important steps in the right direction.

Raising core benefits will make a huge difference to the lives of the people in our communities who need it the most.

People are struggling and they cannot wait.

We welcome the Government taking urgent action to raise benefits in July, and not waiting until next April.

I want to mihi to all the people who have pushed for liveable incomes.

Today we can see that the Government is listening.

And I want to acknowledge those who may say that what is in this budget is not yet enough.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group gave the Government a plan last term, and today that plan is being put into action.

In households with children, this Budget goes beyond the benefit increases recommended by the Advisory Group.

And we need to go further.

We welcome the increases to Student Allowances and Living Costs. 25 bucks a week can go a long way when you’re a student.

And we welcome the Government’s move to bring back the Training Incentive Allowance, which is so important for supporting our rangatahi to access education and opportunities.

Which of course, National cut.

Mr Speaker,

It will take time to turn around from decades of governments treating houses as commodities, instead of seeing a home as a human right.

But we will do that.

Our rivers will take time to heal from decades of dirty dairying.

But that process has begun.

Our climate is on the edge.

And here, in the Green Party, we are doing everything we can to pull it back from the edge.

We will not sit by.

We will always push for more.

I am talking about economic transformation.

We are still living within a world-view where too many people say we need a “balanced” budget.

But how do we balance sick kids, or kids walking to school in the rain with no jacket?

What is the balance for the last remaining 63 Maui Dolphins?

How do we balance an existential threat like climate change?

The economy is a way we choose to organise who gets what.

Our response to COVID-19 showed us what we can achieve to keep people safe when we make bold choices.

When we support each other we can achieve great things.

The choice the Government has made today, to lift the incomes of the people who need it the most, is a choice we welcome.

It will make a huge difference, for food on the table and for heating through the winter.

Raising incomes like this benefits us all.

It makes our communities fairer and happier, and it improves peoples’ quality of life.

I continually hear that one of the most important things we can do to increase community and whanau safety and wellbeing is make sure people have enough money.

Raising incomes is good for people’s mental health.

It means not having to make the choice between food or power.

It means having a bit left over to save, or to celebrate birthdays.

Raising incomes is the kind of fiscal stimulus the Greens have been calling for since the pandemic struck.

And it helps our local businesses, because people spend their incomes locally.

Mr Speaker,

This Budget includes $132 million going into initiatives to help communities lead whānau-centred, holistic services focused on preventing family violence and sexual violence from happening in the first place, and also helping those using violence to stop.

I believe that it’s Government’s role to enable our communities to not just meet the need of the problems we face as whānau, and as a country, but to strengthen our resilience, protective skills and knowledge to have enduring solutions for generations to come.

We do this by supporting community-led, whānau-centred programmes and services to provide sustained and holistic support built around families and whānau.

And we are extending early support to help people stop using violence.

We will ensure that Māori leadership, Te Ao Māori thinking, and an inclusive Te Tiriti framework are at the heart of our approach to the benefit of everyone.

We will support iwi and community leadership to design their own responses to family violence and sexual violence.

We will ensure that families and whānau get the help they need, when they need it, how they need it.

From people they know and trust.

I acknowledge the work Jan Logie began on this kaupapa.

Mr Speaker,

Our Government has declared a climate change emergency, and today’s Budget takes us a step closer towards confronting that emergency, at the scale it needs.

The Greens’ longstanding policy is that the revenue from polluting companies should be used to fund a just transition to a low emissions economy.

The Minister of Finance has said he plans to ringfence and recycle the revenue from the Emissions Trading Scheme so it can fund urgent action on climate change.

That is hundreds of millions of dollars every year for climate action guaranteed, until we hit net zero emissions.

Billions over time.

That, truly, is a response that can meet the scale of the challenge.

Also in this Budget, we have $300 million for the Green Investment Fund.

More clean energy to replace fossil fuels.

$1.3 billion for rail.

More good green jobs.

We have over $50 million to roll out the clean car standard.

And $302 million for new incentives for electric cars.

Work that the Honourable Julie Anne Genter began last term.

We have done more to fight the climate crisis in the last three and a half years than the combined efforts of governments over the last three and a half decades.

Is it enough?

No.

There will always be more to do.

Which is why, when we get the Climate Change Commission’s final advice at the end of this month, we will immediately start putting the detail into an Emissions Reduction Plan for every sector of our economy.

There is a huge effort right across the government to rise to the challenge of climate change.

I would like to quote the Minister for Climate Change: every minister is a climate change minister now.

The Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Energy and Resources. The Minister of Transport. The Minister of Economic Development.

Housing Ministers.

The Minister of Finance.

That is the Zero Carbon Act working, which the whole Parliament passed unanimously.

We know what needs to happen to confront the climate crisis.

The science tells us what we need to do.

Our Pasefika relations tell us, as they stand on the beach watching the waves lap higher and higher.

Tens of thousands of rangatahi and tamariki have marched in the streets to tell us.

Next year’s budget must have a lot more funding for climate action.

I am not just saying that on behalf of the Green Party.

I am saying that on behalf of papatuanuku.

And on behalf of the people who will walk in our footsteps long after we are gone.

Mr Speaker,

Finally – finally in this budget – we have action to protect our taonga kauri trees from Kauri Dieback.

When I go home – to my real home, in Hokianga – I am reminded of the magnificence of our kauri.

And I am reminded of the urgency of taking action to save them.

The funding in this Budget to protect our kauri will help stop the spread of Kauri dieback, while work continues to find a cure.

Mr Speaker,

Year after year you will find the Green Party saying that warm, dry homes are the foundation of a decent life that everyone has a right to.

We can talk about cost-benefit ratios.

We can say it’s 1 to 4, or 1 to 6 if there are tamariki or kaumatua in the home.

But actually, this is one of those things where the economics are instinctive.

Anyone who has ever gone home to a cold, damp, home knows it is bad.

And anyone who has gone home to a warm, dry home knows it is good.

We have worked with Labour Governments and we have worked with National Governments, and today there are more than 400,000 homes that are warmer and dryer than they used to be.

Many years ago, when the Green Party convinced the Government to start supporting people to insulate their homes, our co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said:

“I don’t believe any government is going to cancel this programme because I think it is going to be a very big success.”

Jeanette was right.

Although National did start letting the funding run out last time they were in power.

But then we changed the Government.

And here we are.

Today, there is $120 million in this Budget for Warmer Kiwi Homes.

That’s going to fundamentally improve the lives of more than 47 thousand households.

And an additional $30 million for the Healthy Homes Initiatives run by DHBs.

And more homes overall!

This Government is building more state homes than any Government has done since I was a child.

Last year the Green Party campaigned on letting Kāinga Ora borrow more so it could build more homes for our people.

And this budget does that – relaxing the borrowing limit by $2 billion.

And $380 million to support by-Māori, for-Māori housing.

Plus $350 million for the infrastructure to support those homes.

We know what each one of those homes means to the whanau who lives there.

Mr Speaker,

We have $3 million in this Budget for the Election Access Fund.

This will increase access to democracy for people with disabilities.

It came from a Green Party Member’s Bill, drafted by Mojo Mathers and passed by Chlöe Swarbrick.

Mr Speaker,

The $1.1 billion Jobs for Nature package the Greens won in last year’s budget is still rolling out.

And it is continuing to fund vital, essential projects throughout the motu.

We won significant increases to the conservation budget last term, and those are continuing to have a positive effect on this budget today.

We have a biodiversity crisis in Aotearoa.

Nature still needs our help.

Later this year we will have the first National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity.

In time for next year’s budget to properly address the biodiversity crises in Aotearoa.

Mr Speaker,

The Green Party will vote for this Budget because it does do a lot to make life better for the people in our communities who need it the most.

It takes important steps to embrace clean energy and clean transport, and confront the climate crisis.

It puts hundreds of millions of dollars into the prevention of family violence and sexual violence.

This Budget begins to deliver on many of the shared commitments in our Cooperation Agreement with Labour.

Today the Government is taking steps in the right direction for Aotearoa.

They are steps that are big enough for the Green Party to choose to walk alongside.

Because we get further, and we get there faster, when we walk together.

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