Even when traditional economic indicators have been good, many New Zealanders have continued to struggle in their everyday lives. The wellbeing approach prioritises what is most important and will have the greatest impact in the lives of New Zealanders, while at the same time ensuring that the economy is managed responsibly.
New Zealand First ministers have been at the forefront of key Government pre-Budget announcements.
For the over 65s, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters and Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin announced an extra $7.7 million to upgrade and enhance the SuperGold Card, and to contribute to digital literacy training for Seniors. The SuperGold Card is a flagship initiative of New Zealand First and we are proud to be enhancing it.
At the Karaka yearling sales, Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the repeal of the betting levy. It is worth $13 million per year and will be phased out over a three-year period. The freed-up funds will be redirected to the racing and sports sectors. The racing industry contributes $1.6 billion to the economy and employs thousands of New Zealanders. The Government is working on restructuring and revitalising the industry.
Veterans were also in the spotlight, with Defence Minister Ron Mark announcing a funding boost of $4.1 million over four years to support their health and wellbeing through assessments when they leave the Defence Force, and to allow for better assistance online. It is not good enough that some veterans have not accessed the right support when they have needed it. Their wellbeing is our priority.
And the Government is investing $21 million in our ambulance services over the next two years. This one-off funding boost will relieve the immediate pressure while a more sustainable long-term funding model is formulated. New Zealand First has long advocated for better funding for our hard-working paramedics who perform life-saving work every day but still have to go cap-in-hand to the community for donations.
The Coalition Government is committed to making life better for New Zealanders and these announcements are just part of the bigger picture. There will be more to come.