Since coming into Government, we’ve shown we can manage the economy responsibly and keep a lid on debt. Now, we’re focused on securing our recovery – creating jobs and growing our economy, while laying the foundations for New Zealand to come out of the pandemic stronger.
Here are some of the ways we’re strengthening our economy while improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders:
Pulling through the pandemic
We went hard and fast to cushion the blow of COVID-19 on New Zealand businesses and workers. Our wage subsidies protected more than 1.8 million jobs, and we made significant tax changes to reduce cashflow pressure on Kiwi businesses. We also rolled out interest-free loans to help small businesses stay afloat, and introduced support like the Short-Term Absence Payment and the Leave Support Scheme to help businesses continue to pay staff affected by COVID.
Our recovery and rebuild is focused on getting Kiwis back to work and training those who are out of work. We’re creating thousands of jobs on crucial infrastructure projects, along with thousands more right around New Zealand to protect our environment and clean up our waterways. We're also building thousands of new state houses, supporting jobs in the construction sector. Thanks to our free apprenticeships and free trades training in targeted areas, we’ve also seen more than 100,000 Kiwis get the skills they need to support our rebuild. Treasury forecasts that more than 200,000 more people will be in work over the next four years as we recover.
Targeting spending to tackle long-term challenges
Our efforts to address issues like inequality are the right thing to do - and they’re also good for our economy. We’re providing a historic boost to main benefits to lift more children out of poverty, which will also provide much-needed economic stimulus. We restarted Government contributions to the Super Fund, to keep NZ Super affordable, and we’re helping more than 1 million New Zealanders have a warmer winter, through the Winter Energy Payment.
Investing in infrastructure
We’re investing $57.3 billion in infrastructure over the next five years to drive economic growth and address the long-term national underinvestment in infrastructure. Through the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, we’re improving roads, schools, and hospitals across the country and we’re fast-tracking key development and infrastructure projects to help get Aotearoa moving. We’re also building new rail workshops in Dunedin and Christchurch, which will improve green freight infrastructure, boost local industry, and create jobs.
We’re working to ensure that Kiwis get a fair deal. We’re protecting people in financial hardship from high-cost loans that could trap them in debt, and making sure that all borrowers get the same protections, regardless of where they get their loans. We’ve acted on a Commerce Commission study to give Kiwis a fairer price at the fuel pump and kicked off a study to investigate whether people are paying reasonable prices for groceries.
- We will implement a major support package to assist businesses in hiring at least 40,000 New Zealanders whose employment is impacted by COVID-19.
- We will prioritise investments in our regions with a new targeted $200m Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to support their economic development.
- We will invest in world class digital infrastructure to boost rural connectivity.
While we are now in a stronger position than many other countries, the global situation will continue to be very challenging, especially for an export nation like us.
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. We cushioned the blow with the wage subsidy which supported around 1.7 million jobs, we’ve made apprenticeships free, we’re increasing incomes for the most vulnerable Kiwis and have invested in extra mental health and wellbeing support.
- Jobs, jobs, jobs: Our recovery and rebuild is focused on getting Kiwis back to work and training those who are out of work. We’re creating thousands of jobs on crucial infrastructure projects, along with almost 11,000 new jobs right around New Zealand to protect our environment and clean up our waterways, and we're building thousands of new state houses.
- Preparing for the future: This is our chance to build back better and take on the challenges that lie ahead by investing in clean energy, housing and our environment.
- Supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators: Small and medium enterprises are at the heart of our economy. That’s why we backed them through the COVID outbreak and continue to support them to grow and export, with tax refunds, interest free loans and more.
- Position New Zealand globally: As a trading nation, we need international customers. That’s why we’re helping exporters connect with overseas markets and negotiating trade deals with the UK and the EU.
Labour will continue to put wellbeing at the centre of our economic plan, making sure our next three Budgets continue on the path we established with New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget in 2019. The economy exists to serve our people, and we’ll make sure it does.