National leaks Budget 2019 details - govt says some info correct

By Talisa Kupenga

The government has confirmed that some budget details released by the National Party on Tuesday morning are correct, but says the figures provided are only partially accurate and are not from Budget 2019.

Soon after the Wellbeing Budget was printed National Party Leader Simon Bridges released sensitive budget details to the media he claims will be seen in that very document.

"What it shows quite clearly is this isn't a Wellbeing Budget, this is Winston's Budget," Bridges says.

However, Finance Minister Grant Robertson downplayed the significance of the leaked information. 

"The major new spending initiatives that the government is putting forward as part of our Wellbeing Budget are not listed in the material…and I want to be absolutely clear that this material has not been leaked from the Beehive."

Bridges says New Zealand First gets all the wins; $1.3bil for the Defence Force, an extra $139mil for Forestry making a total of $277mil amongst other areas as shown in the document.  However, he would not reveal how he came by the information or who provided it.

"Some of it is right, some of it is wrong," says Robertson, "You will see the real budget on Thursday."

Forestry Minister Shane Jones was dismissive of the supposedly leaked forestry figures.

"I have already made the forestry announcement in Rotorua, so there can not be a leak if I've already announced it."

The National Party says it received the information yesterday then reformatted it and released it to media during its morning caucus run, detailing 18 policy areas for only the 2019/20 fiscal year- not the usual four-year budget period.

There was a range of figures for some areas under Māori development, but unlike the other overviews it was unclear what the total amount could be with the level of details provided.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says, "There is no substance to their claims and come Budget Day details [will] be revealed.”

The 22 page document did not include mental health or education funding information, but on Tuesday afternoon National released more details it claims are for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biosecurity portfolios.

Jones says, "If there is someone who is playing fast and loose with information that [Robertson] is responsible for, he should get the taiaha out and lob their heads off."

Following the leak, the prime minister said she would not throw her full confidence behind Treasury, which announced its own review of the material that had been published Tuesday afternoon.