There wasn’t a playbook for COVID-19, but Labour delivered a strong health and economic response that saved lives and set us up for a strong recovery. Now, as we move into the next phase of our recovery, we’re exploring ways to open up to the world while keeping Kiwis safe.
Here are the key parts of our COVID response so far:
Stopping the spread
We introduced some of the strictest border controls in the world to help keep COVID-19 out of our communities. Our managed isolation and quarantine facilities and our alert level system have made it possible to keep COVID at bay. We’ve also developed the NZ COVID Tracer app and stood up a skilled workforce of contact-tracers to swiftly stamp out any outbreaks, which supports the work done by PHUs and DHBs around the country.
Keeping business going
We supported around 1.8 million jobs with our wage subsidies and have re-deployed workers affected by COVID-19 into biosecurity and conservation projects. We provided low-interest and interest-free loans to more than 100,000 businesses – and made changes to the tax system to boost cashflow and encourage investment. We supported Air New Zealand to secure and maintain freight links with important markets, and introduced new border exceptions to reunite families and bring in workers for critical jobs.
Protecting New Zealanders with a free, effective vaccine
We’ve ensured every New Zealander will have access to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The rollout is already under way and will be ramping up over the course of the year. More than 1 million vaccine doses have now been administered.
Opening up to the world, safely
Our strong health response means we’re in a position to create travel bubbles, allowing two-way quarantine-free movement between New Zealand and other low-risk countries. We’ve kicked off such travel arrangements with Australia and the Cook Islands, allowing families to reconnect, business arrangements to resume, and tourism to get started again.
Labour is already rolling out our plan to keep New Zealanders safe and keep the recovery moving:
Investing in our people
We’re putting people at the heart of our plan. That’s why we are providing income support and access to training. We've:
- Cushioned the blow with the wage subsidy that supported around 1.7 million jobs through the lockdown, and extended the wage subsidy for another eight weeks for firms and workers in especially hard-hit industries
- Supported incomes with the COVID redundancy payment of up to $490 a week, and increased main benefits by $25 a week
- Made apprenticeships and many trades training courses free for the next two years, saving tens of thousands of learners up to $6,500 each and giving employers a great stream of new workers
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Our recovery and rebuild is focused on getting Kiwis back to work, supporting industries, and rolling out infrastructure investment around the country to create jobs. That’s why we are:
- Upgrading New Zealand’s crucial infrastructure like hospitals, schools, roads, and public transport so the country we rebuild is better than the one we inherited. This includes: Roads and rail to keep people safe and get people moving, like the Tauranga Northern Link, Wellington commuter rail, and Canterbury road upgrades; our neglected schools and hospitals, by providing up to $400,000 to almost every state school; child, maternity and mental health facilities; and our public services to help them become more clean and green by replacing coal heaters with clean energy in schools and hospitals
- Delivering extra state houses, giving the building industry a good pipeline of new work
- Supporting regions with local community projects around the country through developing a pipeline of projects with local councils, iwi, community groups and businesses. Projects funded to date include the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre, the revitalisation of the Paihia waterfront, investment for Bay of Plenty flood protection, and the Unitec residential development in Auckland
Preparing for the future
This is our chance to future proof the economy and ensure we emerge with a more sustainable economy. That’s why we:
- Are investigating clean energy projects to work towards our 100% renewable target and looking for new opportunities, like pumped hydro storage at Lake Onslow
- Created almost 11,000 Jobs for Nature that’ll nurture our environment and improve our tourism infrastructure
Supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators
Small and medium enterprises are at the heart of our economy. That’s why we’ve:
- Continued to provide interest free loans of up to $100,000 to help businesses stay afloat
- Refunded more than $3 billion of business tax relief to help cash flow
- Created the Tourism Recovery Fund to help weather the storm and protect jobs
Positioning New Zealand globally
As a trading nation, we rely on international customers. That’s why we are:
- Promoting our primary sector roadmap Fit For a Better World to accelerate the productivity, sustainability and inclusiveness of the primary sector to deliver more value for all New Zealanders
- Providing on the ground support for Kiwi exporters in key markets to boost trade
- Negotiating free trade agreements with the UK and EU, and further advancing the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement and the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade, and Sustainability