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Social Spending


Labour has committed $4.9b to health-related policies. This includes $$3.9b to ‘Delivering a Modern Health System’ (yet to be more specifically outlined); $879m to reversing health underfunding; and $163m to mental health.

National has announced new health spending (outside of Budget 2017) including $2.1m for ‘Raising Healthy Kids’ and a new Dunedin hospital intended to be built over the next 7-10 years at an expected cost of $1.2-1.4b. Using the average expected cost and average time frame, this is expected to cost $460m over the next term. Additionally, National will build a new mental health facility in Christchurch costing $57m. Cheaper GP visits will cost approximately $95m per year. And National will increase funding for elective surgeries by $180m over the next three years.

Like National, Labour has promised to build a new Dunedin Hospital. They will not, however, undertake construction with a Pubil-Private Partnership (PPP). They expect the cost to be equal, however. Therefore this is expected to cost $459m over the next term using the same expected time frame as the National Party proposed Hospital. Given that PPP’s generally offer cost savings to Central Govt, this is a generous assumption afforded to Labour in this instance.

The Green Party has announced a youth mental health package costing $263 million per year.


New Zealand First policy to write-down student debt will cost taxpayers $13.9b over the next three years alone. Their total education spending will amount to $14.6b.

Labour has promised significant new expenditure on education. Their policy to provide three years of free tertiary education and increase student allowances has been estimated to cost $2.4b over the next parliamentary term. Total new education spending is $4.1b over three years. Reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance is estimated at $15m per year based on previous rates before the scheme was abolished.

The Green Party’s inclusive education package will cost $466m over three years. The policy includes establishing a ‘Children's Champion’, additional funding for learning support and new funding for school camps.

National’s education package (including a revamp of National Standards, second languages in schools etc.) will cost $266m over the next term. National has also announced new digital technologies investment in education, at a cost of $40m. Other education funding includes $9m for Mana College, $3m for new teachers in South Auckland and $6m for Bay of Plenty Schools (among others).


There have been large welfare spending commitments by most parties.

Labour’s total welfare spending policies, such as a boost to Working For Families, a Winter Energy Payment, contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund, and doubling the Refugee quota comes to $6.7b.

The Green Party has the second largest welfare package to date, with $6.1b in new spending. Their ‘Mending the Safety Net’ package includes a 20% increase in all benefits, changes to Working For Families entitlements, and the reinstitution of a training incentive allowance. The total cost of this package over the next parliamentary term is estimated at $4.3b. The ‘Budget For All Mothers’, which includes extending paid parental leave and subsidising after-school care, will cost a further $234m. Introducing a winter energy payment (similar to Labour) is estimated to cost $1.1b over three years.

ACT will reverse the welfare increases in Budget 2017 (Working For Families and Accommodation Supplement changes), which will save taxpayers $2.3b. The proposal to increase the superannuation age, which will come into effect in 2020, is estimated to save taxpayers $162m in its first year. ACT’s total welfare savings are $2.5b.

The Opportunites party will provide an unconditional basic income (UBI) to all people with children below the age of three, and all elders over 65. However, they will means-test Superannuation so these two policies are projected to be revenue neutral. This mean-test of Super is also projected to pay for the extension of the free early education for children aged 3-5, which on its own would cost about $990m per year.

TOP’s most expensive policy (which is not offset by a reduction in other spending areas) is the 18-23 year-old UBI. This will cost approximately $2.8b per year in new spending (note we do not count the increase in GST take as an offset as it is not a reduction in other spending). This policy makes up the bulk of TOP’s new spending, totalling $8.4b over the next parliamentary term.

National and Labour have both signalled they will increase paid parental leave incrementally over the next three years. National will extend it to 22 weeks by 2020, with a cost in the next term of $205m. Labour will extend leave to 26 weeks with a three year cost of $420m.

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