Cabinet to sign off on funding bids for Budget 2015

By Maiki Sherman

Cabinet is expected to sign off on funding bids today for the government's budget, including bids by the Māori Party.

The government will announce its budget next month, so what are some of the focus areas for the Māori Party and will they get the nod from the Minister?

They're the new co-leadership duo of the Māori Party and although this is Marama Fox's first budget, she's certainly no novice.

“I know this, if we were sitting on the other side of the House, we wouldn't be getting anything at all,” says Fox.

This is the third National government the Māori Party has entered into a relationship with, saying it's better to be at the table in order to make gains.

However, from having five MPs in their first relationship accord to just three in the last, the question is whether it will still be a feast now that the party only has two MPs?

Bill English says, “No I don't think so, they've always been vigorous advocates. We have built up a relationship of trust and common understanding if not disagreement.”

In the 2013 budget, the Māori Party secured $254.4 million. Last year that increased to about $300 million.

Whānau Ora is a major focus of the party and last week, Te Ururoa Flavell raised the issues of substandard housing in Christchurch which he discussed with Bill English.  However, a warrant of fitness for private rentals seems out of the question.

“If we could simply raise the quality of housing at no cost, well of course you would do it.  But in the real world, if you make the standards too high, it'll put them out of reach of a lot of people who right now have adequate enough housing and can afford it just,” says English.

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “Despite his comment, we will still be advocating strongly on this issue.”

Labour's Nanaia Mahuta says there are a number of issues which need to be addressed in the budget and the challenge for the Māori Party is making good on its promises.

Nanaia Mahuta says, “They chose to align with National so they will need to deliver on that relationship.”

Bill English will deliver his pre-budget speech this Friday where more details regarding the government's focus will undoubtedly be revealed.