Funding for “critically important” infrastructure, equitable access to education, better Tauranga transport options, free counselling and a remedy for the “onslaught of desperation” a social service predicted this winter.

These are just some of the items on Budget 2023 wishlists in Tauranga.

Leaders in education, health, tourism, business, financial mentoring and social service spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times ahead of the Government delivering its Budget tomorrow, unveiling spending priorities for the next year and beyond.

Craig Pentecost is also the principal oF Ōmokoroa No 1 School. Photo / Alex Cairns
Craig Pentecost is also the principal oF Ōmokoroa No 1 School. Photo / Alex Cairns

Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Craig Pentecost said the organisation hoped money would go toward equitable access to education, a “responsive approach” to school property concerns and “inclusivity-focused learning support”.

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Pentecost, also the principal at Ōmokoroa No.1 School, told the Bay of Plenty Times funding needed to “reach schools and students rather than infrastructure and staffing”, while initiatives giving “access to professionals” should take priority over documentation.

“By investing in these areas, we can ensure all students have a quality education, regardless of their background.”

Fifth Avenue Medical Centre general practitioner Dr Luke Bradford. Photo / Mead Norton
Fifth Avenue Medical Centre general practitioner Dr Luke Bradford. Photo / Mead Norton

Fifth Avenue Medical Centre general practitioner Dr Luke Bradford said the health system was “creaking” and primary care desperately needed to be led by GPs – taking the pressure off hospitals.

But Bradford said he believed the funding model did not allow for nurses to be paid what they deserve, insisted on an “outdated” 15-minute appointment structure and did not acknowledge the “huge amount” of work doctors put in outside of check-ups.

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“The long-promised review of general practice funding to make it affordable and sustainable and allow our teams to deliver care tailored to the individual’s needs is a must.”

Executive director of <a href=social service agency Te Tuinga Whānau, Tommy Wilson. Photo / Alex Cairns ” class=”article-media__image responsively-lazy” data-test-ui=”article-media__image”/>
Executive director of social service agency Te Tuinga Whānau, Tommy Wilson. Photo / Alex Cairns

Tommy Wilson, executive director of social service agency Te Tuinga Whānau, wanted this year’s Budget to provide hope to the estimated 200 people in Tauranga “facing winter in their cars”.

”After three lockdowns my team are tired and at times there seems no horizon other than more poverty, more P and more extreme anxiety leading to more anger, frustration, and violence.”

Daily, the organisation’s 90 frontline workers were carrying out “social surgery” on “traumatised tamariki and their desperate parents”, he said.

”So please Matua Mr [Grant] Robinson, Minister of Putea (purse strings) we need the resources to get to the front line.

”If we can have the front line resourced before winter kicks in, then we have a chance of repelling or at least resisting the onslaught of desperation coming our way.”

Tauranga Business Chamber chief executive Matt Cowley. Photo / Mead Norton
Tauranga Business Chamber chief executive Matt Cowley. Photo / Mead Norton

Meanwhile, Tauranga Business Chamber chief executive Matt Cowley said transport and housing were “immediate priorities” for Western Bay businesses.

Living costs needed to be lower for employees and it should be easier for people to get around the area, he said.

Cowley said Tauranga businesses also wanted to see continued support for research and development programmes, along with a “constructive tax environment to encourage capital investment”.

“Overall, businesses support the Government to stick to its core public services and ensure its fiscal policies do not lead to increasing New Zealand’s inflation.”

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Bay Financial Mentors manager Shirley McCombe.
Bay Financial Mentors manager Shirley McCombe.

Bay Financial Mentors general manager Shirley McCombe’s hoped Budget 2023 would provide all budgeting services with “sustainable funding”.

“Demand is huge and our services are vital at this time.”

A review of the banking sector was needed, McCombe saying Kiwis needed a “safe, affordable” way to borrow money.

Funding for a rent-to-buy housing programme, free counselling, GST removal from food staples and more competition in the grocery sector were also on her wishlist.

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan.
Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan.

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan said the Budget should reflect the “contribution that tourism makes to the overall economy” – particularly in the regions.

Despite the border now being open, Nathan said tourism remained in “catch-up mode” as the industry dealt with constrained access to labour, increasing weather instability and a “growing wariness” around discretionary spending.

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Budget 2023 should encourage “tangible initiatives” that supported businesses and households, while also funding “critically important infrastructure and key community projects”, he said. This included the “much-needed upgrade” to the civic precinct in the Tauranga CBD.

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