Labour’s Budget has no teeth

A key dental health promise from Labour during the election has been dropped in order to pay for its radical $486 million Health restructure, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Labour promised New Zealanders during the 2020 campaign that it would increase the amount people could claim for an emergency special needs grant for dental care beginning in 2021. But no funding for this promise has been allocated in the Budget.

“It’s incredibly disappointing the Government has chosen to once again break a promise to New Zealanders. In fact, there is nothing for oral or dental care at all in this Budget despite Labour campaigning hard on the issue during the election,” Dr Reti says.

“National picked up the oral health challenge from Maoridom at Waitangi last year and campaigned on a $120 million preventative dental health program for all primary school children.

“The Budget shows where Labour’s priorities really lie. It’s more focused on centralising decision making and adding more layers of Wellington bureaucracy than improving the health of New Zealanders.

“Draft budget documents released to National suggest Labour are already looking at cutting specialist services at rural hospitals and changing the eligibility for New Zealanders looking to access disability services to save money. It’s only a matter of time before they too are cut to pay for the restructure.

“Every dollar this Government wastes on trying to centralise the health system is a dollar that’s not available for cancer drugs, for our nurses, or for surgeries.

“The Budget should’ve put more funding into improving the health of New Zealanders, not take it away to pay for bureaucracy.”

You can read the draft letter from Minister Little to Minister Robertson here.