COVID-19 Response

There wasn’t a playbook for COVID-19, but Labour has delivered a strong health and economic response that has 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 reconnect to the world while keeping Kiwis safe.

Here are the key parts of our COVID response so far:

Protecting lives and livelihoods

We went hard and early to keep Kiwis safe at the start of the pandemic, and our strong health response since then has proved to be the best economic response, too. Thanks to our swift and decisive approach to COVID, we have the lowest rate of cases and deaths in the OECD. Our economy is strong, with GDP up and unemployment at a record low. We now have one of the most highly vaccinated populations in the world, meaning lockdowns no longer need to be our main line of defence. Going forward, our plan is simple – it’s about keeping Kiwis safe and protecting our most vulnerable, while enabling us all to get back to a more normal way of life.

Keeping business going

We’ve 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’ve 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.

Rolling out free, effective vaccines

We’ve ensured every New Zealander has access to the Pfizer vaccine, secured AstraZeneca for those unable to take the Pfizer, and started offering booster shots to adults six months after their second dose. Thanks to our rollout, we now have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with more than 3.5 million people already fully vaccinated.

Working towards safely reconnecting to the world

Our strong health response has given us options many other countries don’t have, supported our economy, and protected our people – but the pandemic is still the biggest challenge facing New Zealand. We have a plan to secure our recovery, grow our economy, and prepare to re-open safely. Vaccines are a key part of this plan, and we’re ramping up our rollout to get as many Kiwis as possible protected. In 2022, we’ll look to take the next step: a phased approach to reopening the border.

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