On 19 May, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the NZ Budget 2022, which would provide $6 billion worth of resources and improved services for New Zealand citizens. Craccum has broken down the budget for students, so you know exactly what’s in it for you over the next four years.
New Zealanders over 18 years old who earned up to $70,000 during the last tax year (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022), will be paid an extra $350. The payment will be split into three installments over August, September, and October, and equates to around $27 extra per week. On Inland Revenue’s website they state there’s no application process, and that if you’re eligible it will be paid into your account starting 1 August. Bachelor of Commerce student, Brittany, said, “I’m sure a lot of the public are complaining that it’s nothing compared to the living costs we must pay, but at least it’s something, and $350 per person amounts to a lot. I’d much rather have something than nothing!”
Transportation to university should also be easier for students. $235 million will be spent on extending reduced fuel taxes and half-price public transport. The public transport discount will now run until 31 August, with around 27% of the days in the extra two-month period being when tertiary students have their holiday period. Bachelor of Commerce student, Will, said, “Half-priced public transport is great, but it doesn’t really help when the transport system still sucks. When it’s not half-priced anymore people who were taking advantage of it will just go back to driving anyway, so it’s a bit useless in encouraging people”. Some politicians approve of the extension but want more to be done for those in need of the public transport system, with Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter releasing in a public statement that “the Green Party will continue to push for free public transport”.
Prior to the full Budget 2022 announcement, Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Development Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the budget plans for driving. $86.5 million is due to be spent giving 64,000 people improved access to driver licensing, testing, and training, so some students can finally afford to pay an additional $25+ to park at university. Housing is also due to get a boost, with a new housing fund providing $350 million so not-for-profit developers can apply for grants. “Ah yes, because why dream of affording a house when I can afford to pay rent instead! Seriously though, they’re prioritising affordable rent for new properties instead of trying to manage the current market?” said Bachelor of Arts student, Sophia.
The mental health sector is due to receive a huge boost in funding, with Minister of Health Andrew Little announcing a $100 million investment into specialised mental health services and addiction packages. However, most of the mental health investment will be going into schools, with no mention of tertiary students in the budget. This is despite the government’s last failure to provide tertiary mental health services, when only 304 counselling sessions were provided with the last $4 million it allocated to tertiary mental health. The Māori Health Authority is receiving $168 million for services including support for Iwi-Māori Partnership Boards, Māori workforce development, and Māori primary and community care providers. This may have benefits for Māori seeking healthcare and for Māori students wishing to enter the health sector workforce.
Bachelor of Science student, Liam, said: “It sounds great, but with the government it’s just an empty promise until we see it happen. All these things are still going to take up to four years to implement. I’m not even going to be at university by then. Where are the long-term solutions?”