'Budget 2022 will be about health' - Grant Robertson

Budget 2022 will lay the groundwork for "getting the foundations right" in New Zealand's health system, the Finance Minister said on Thursday morning.

Grant Robertson.

Grant Robertson used his pre-Budget speech to lay out the upcoming investment in health, stress the importance of acting on climate change, while defending upcoming spending amid opposition from National and ACT.

Inflation

Robertson defended the Government's upcoming investment in health and climate change amid high inflation.

"I have heard a great deal recently about the impact of Government spending on inflation. We do need to be careful with what we spend, make sure it is value for money and targeted where it can make a difference.

"The short term challenge of inflation is significant," Robertson said.

Global supply chains have struggled to deal with the volumes of goods as demand rebounds, lockdowns in China caused disruptions, and the "illegal" invasion of Ukraine caused volatility in energy and food supply and prices, he said.

"We cannot control the global drivers of inflation but we can control how we respond to it.

"What we must not do while dealing with the pressures of the here and now is put off dealing with the long-term challenges. If we decided against reforming out health system, we would not see lower petrol prices. We would just have both high petrol prices and a health system that was not set up to meet our needs.

Robertson said Budget 2022 would make a move "to a new normal", compared to "crisis budgets of Covid".

"I want a high wage, low emissions economy that gives economic security in good times and bad."

Health

"Budget 2022 will be about health," Robertson said. "The system is fragmented and inefficient."

He said Budget 2022 would be about setting up the national health system "that can meet the needs of our nation".

"Getting the foundations of our health system right will require sustained investment. Budget 2022 will lay the groundwork for that change."

Health investment would move to a multi-year funding through a two year transitional investment in Budget 2022, "before moving to three year budgets from 2024/25".

Low emissions economy

Robertson's speech comes ahead of the significant Emissions Reduction Plan that will be released on Monday.

"Dealing with climate change is something that we need to get right, and get right now," Robertson said.

"There is a real risk that if we were to drag our feet on emissions reduction, we face the possibility of the world moving on from the sorts of things that New Zealand is currently a world leader in producing.

"We will partner with businesses to support them in making the transition towards low-emissions technologies and worked with sectors with more hard-to-abate emissions to develop more sustainable ways of operating.

"We can no longer put off meaningful action on climate change."