NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

OPINION: Jacinda Ardern: Our Economic Plan

Opinion 31/07/2020

This is an op-ed written by Labour leader and NZ PM Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern: Our Economic Plan

OPINION: Earlier this week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said: “the New Zealand economy has definitely come out of this better and quicker than we thought, albeit still in tough circumstances. The global economic story is the opposite. It appears to be getting worse.”

He of course was talking about the massive impact of COVID 19, which continues to surge around the world.  When we closed our border on 19 March, there were 209,839 confirmed cases. Yesterday there were over 17 million.

New Zealand is a trading nation, a nation that loves to have people visit and do business with us. We know that this global situation will have inevitable impact on us – but we have a plan.

It’s a plan that factors in the things we know and we can expect, and prepares for those we don’t. One that builds on our strengths, and addresses our long-standing weaknesses. One that puts us in the best possible position to recover and rebuild.

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The first part of our plan is about investing in people – to help buffer the worst impacts of COVID-19. We have doubled the Winter Energy Payment for 2020, increased main benefit rates by $25 a week, made changes to the In Work Tax Credit so we can reach more families, and introduced the COVID income relief payment.

We’re also training and upskilling people to get them into work, with a $1.6 billion investment in trades training and apprenticeships, which includes making all apprenticeships free. We’ve made the areas of vocational training where we need people the most, like building and construction and mental health support workers, all free.

It’s important to train people, but it’s equally important to make sure they have jobs to go into. We’re creating thousands of jobs through our investment in infrastructure – the biggest investment in a decade – building and upgrading roads, rail, public transport, schools and hospitals.

We’re also creating jobs through funding an additional 8,000 public and transitional homes, bringing the total number to be delivered by this Government to over 18,000 by 2024 – more than any Government in decades, and something I’m hugely proud of.

Finally, we‘re creating almost 11,000 nature-based jobs through our $1.1 billion Jobs for Nature Fund. In early July, we announced the first package of 23 projects across the country that will clean up our waterways and deliver over 2,000 jobs – with more to come.

You’ll see that, not only are we creating jobs, but we’re creating jobs in areas that address long-term challenges, like underinvestment in infrastructure, housing, and protecting our environment.

That’s why we’re investing in cleaning up our waterways, and moving towards clean, renewable energy. That’s also why we’re supporting businesses to transition into e-commerce, and why we created a $150 million fund to provide loans to R&D-intensive businesses.

We’re backing businesses in a number of other ways, too. Alongside the Wage Subsidy, which has benefitted more than 1.7 million New Zealanders, we put in place the Small Business Loan Scheme which will run through until the end of the year - to help with cash flow by providing access to zero-interest loans.

We’re also backing businesses to succeed overseas, supporting exporters to re-engage with international markets, expanding our trade relationships, alongside investing $400 million in tourism.

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The aim of our response, recovery and rebuilding efforts is not to simply return our economy to where we were pre-COVID-19 – we want to rebuild better, and with this plan I believe we will. 

This is an op-ed written by Labour leader and NZ PM Jacinda Ardern