Prime Minister John Key is promising that the May 21 Budget will address “material hardship”.

Speaking at his party’s northern regional conference at Waitangi yesterday he said the Budget would contain real effort and achievement in this area.

He made an enigmatic reference to his election night speech in which he said he would lead a Government “that governs for all New Zealanders”.

Beyond that there was no detail.

But his comments about the budget came against the background of his Finance Minister Bill English having to defend the failure to achieve the much promised surplus this budget year.
He said the deficit would be between $600 and $700 million and compared that to a house hold expecting a $76,000 a year income and instead getting $73,000 turning this projected $300 surplus into a $500 deficit.

“That’s the scale,” he said.

But consistent with the theme of the Ministerial speeches at the conference Mr English dealt in some detail with the Government’s investment approach to social spending.

He also addressed questions raised by the Northland by-election.

He listed three big issues, which if they could be resolved would underpin a longer period of sustainable growth — the Resource Management Act, water rights and infrastructure.

“We have some pretty tricky issues to deal with around infrastructure and either ends of the spectrum,” he said.

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“How to deal with it in the slower population growing areas and how to deal with it where the population is growing fast.”

Mr English argued that the Government had induced a period of sustainable growth in New Zealand.

He said businesses and households knew the current growth could last.

“That gives them the confidence to be more entrepreneurial and to be more productive,” he said.

PM John Key

KEY ON HIS OWN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Mr Key said the Budget was a chance for the Government to demonstrate where it saw its priorities.

And then he offered an extraordinary insight into his own political philosophy.

He said the Budget would focus very much on the issues that mattered to New Zealanders.

“People who are in their homes or any community around New Zealand today are focussed on four issues,” he said.

“Does the family have the jobs they need to support themselves?

“Do they feel safe in their community?

“Are their children getting a decent education?

“Is the health system going to perform for them?

“People worry about the issues that actually matter to them.

“And that’s where their focus and attention is and as long as we as a government stay absolutely focussed on those issues we are going to connect to New Zealanders.

“And as long as deliver for New Zealanders on that we are going to connect to them and they will vote for us.

“The moment we forget about why we are here which is actually to serve the people of New Zealand, on the issues that matter, when we forget that, we are what you call opposition because they will go and find someone else who cares more about what matters to them.”