Mana Taurite.

By Ori Atkins and Linda Hill, Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington

Budget 2024 is defined by its choices and, if you are not a landlord or wealthy, the choice of this Budget is not for a better future for you.

This Budget does nothing to break the barriers that wāhine face, it only deepens the divide.

Already 5210 public service jobs have disappeared, a third of those are from Social Development, Education, and Oranga Tamariki. The Taskforce that supports pay equity negotiations within the state sector is being disbanded. Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority, is to disappear back into the mainstream, which has never delivered well for Māori. All these departments are major employers of women, who provide support and services that are really important to us and our families.

It’s not just the Budget that’s an attack on women workers. Other changes, such as the return of probation periods, minimum wage adjustments below inflation, and loss of Fair Pay negotiations also disproportionately affect women in low-paid, undervalued work, including Māori and Pasifika women who particularly suffer the churn of unemployment.

David Seymour’s comment that one of the great things this government has done for family and domestic violence was to purchase uniforms for workers, goes to show how short sighted and out of touch he is.

There is nothing in this Budget for survivors and victims of family and domestic violence, who need support to not only leave their situation but access to doctors, counselling, emergency housing, and education to support their financial freedom.

Nicola Willis had the audacity to declare in her speech, “This is a budget for the squeezed middle of New Zealand,” while failing to make choices to address Aotearoa’s increasing levels of child poverty.

There are no significant welfare increases, no targeted programs to help the most vulnerable. The “squeezed middle” might feel financial pressure, but diverting resources from the poorest families is not the answer, nor is it a choice that sets Aotearoa on a path towards a better future.

And for those of us living with a disability, the Budget math really doesn’t compute.

A $20 weekly tax cut is a joke. It doesn’t balance the Budget’s cuts to services and funding. The co-payment for medication alone will eat up that $20, not to mention rising costs of food, transport, and healthcare access. When the National Government promised to solve the cost-of-living crisis, they didn’t choose this for disabled New Zealanders.

The irony is rich: $24 million for Gumboot Friday, as a transitional provision offering just two sessions before needing government services, while stripping 7.5% from the Ministry of Health where people need to go to get the long-term support they need for their disability. It’s like putting a band-aid on a broken arm and calling it a cure.

Don’t be a young insecure worker under this Budget. With unemployment expected to peak at 5.35% at the end of the year, those in insecure work are set to lose even more. The ‘savings from the backend’ are not true savings when it is pushing up unemployment and underemployment. When you are a casual worker or on a contract, the lack of stability of income doubles the impact of government decisions to not chose to educate, train, and support young people.

Compounding the mental health of young people by cutting ability to access support when needed, leaves our future bleak.

If the Budget reflects government choices, then this government does not choose wāhine, victims of domestic and family violence, disabled people, children or insecure workers.