23 May 2017

Joyce keeps mum about election year budget

1:31 pm on 23 May 2017

Two days out from the budget and Finance Minister Steven Joyce is not giving away any clues about where money will be spent - though he says there are no election year bribes.

Finance Minister at the printers in Petone where the 2017 Budget is being printed.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce at the printers in Petone where the 2017 Budget is being printed. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Joyce has been at the printers in Petone, north of Wellington, to witness his first budget being printed.

He would not say whether there would be changes to income tax thresholds, working for families or an increase in the accommodation supplement.

"I'm not going to talk about anything that's in the budget, that's in or out before Thursday. And I wouldn't take anything from the comments that I've refused to make on those subjects."

But Mr Joyce said not everyone would get what they want.

"I've seen so many people requesting so much over the last few days I think I would have to deliver about five or six budgets on Thursday to meet all the expectations of sector groups and so on."

However, he has pointed to some things the govenment would focus on.

"The public services for a growing country, infrastructure for a growing country, the importance of resilience, getting debt down, and if we get room the opportunity to do something in family incomes."

It wasn't going to be an "election year budget" though, he said.

"It's not something we've done to this point, it's not something we'll do this time. Because we just don't think it works.

"So politically there's no pressure on me wearing [the National campaign manager hat, and the Finance minister hat] because actually it's about doing what we think is right, and then the public will decide whether they think it's right."

Prime Minister Bill English has handled National's last eight budgets, in his previous role as finance minister under former National leader and prime minister John Key.

Mr Joyce said he was excited to finally deliver his own.

"I have been Bill's sidekick for eight years and this is the first time I've got to come to the printing company and see the budget being printed and also have the opportunity to sit in the lead chair."

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