Budget for families wins praise in south

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014
stacey gallagher
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

BUDGET WINNERS: Wee Nippers Early Childhood Centre manager Stacey Gallagher with Lily Wilkes and Toby Smith, both 4.

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Funding increases for early childhood centres and education and free doctor visits for under-13s are being welcomed in the south.

Budget 2014, announced yesterday, has allocated $156 million to early childhood education centres, a $199m investment in tertiary education and $90m to provide free GP visits and free prescriptions for children under 13 starting on July 1, 2015.

Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds said the budget allocation to tertiary education was specific to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The budget would not involve huge increases in SIT's income but there could be small changes around those subjects, Simmonds said.

"If there are some increases, we will be pleased by that."

Wee Nippers Early Childhood Centre manager Stacey Gallagher said if funding was increased it would save centres having to look at increasing their fees.

"That would be great. It's better for parents and better for children."

Invercargill mother-of-two Mel Canning said free GP visits and prescriptions for children under 13 were fantastic for all children across the country.

It could potentially save parents hundreds of dollars every year, Canning said.

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said the family-friendly budget had some "really good" social and economic benefits.

It was focused on training, which was great for Southland's labour force, he said.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sarah Hannan said the budget reflected the approach Southland businesses were taking at home.

"That means focusing on our strengths, innovation and making prudent decisions in the best interests of staff, communities and the region in general."

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