Over the past year, our Government has worked hard to support families in the face of global cost of living challenges. At the same time, we’ve continued to tackle the long-standing issues facing New Zealand, like housing affordability, climate change and child poverty – and we’re making good progress.
There’s lots more to do in 2023, but – as the year comes to a close – we’re taking a moment to reflect on what’s been achieved over the past 12 months.
Here are just a few of our achievements this year:
There’s no question that global issues like rising inflation have had a real impact here at home this year, and many households are feeling the pinch. That’s why, to help ease the pressure on families, we rolled out a significant package of cost of living support.
With the war in Ukraine driving up petrol and diesel prices, we cut fuel tax and reduced road user charges, as well as halving public transport fares. We also provided extra support to help people with their bills through the Cost of Living Payment and the Winter Energy Payment.
Alongside measures to provide immediate relief, we’ve continued our work to lift incomes and make life more affordable over the long term. In April, we boosted Superannuation, student allowances, the family tax credit and main benefits, providing extra income for thousands of households. To ensure New Zealanders pay a fairer price at the checkout, we’ve progressed work to hold supermarkets to account, and just recently, we also announced changes that will make childcare more affordable for the majority of working families.
We’re proud to have delivered on our commitment to make Matariki a public holiday. Matariki heralds the start of the Māori New Year, and although this is not a new event or occasion for many, this year was the first time we marked it as a nation together with a public holiday. Matariki is a distinctly New Zealand moment – and makes for a distinctly New Zealand holiday where we can come together to reflect, celebrate and plan for the future.
As part of our work to lift wages and create economic security for New Zealanders, this year we delivered on our election promise put in place Fair Pay Agreements. This is a significant step towards creating a more productive and inclusive economy, where all employees share the benefits of economic growth. They ensure all workers across an industry receive fair working conditions and wages. Fair Pay Agreements also help businesses, by levelling the playing field so that employers who are trying hard to offer fair terms for their employees don’t get undercut and disadvantaged. You can find out more about Fair Pay Agreements here.
With the establishment of Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand this year, we took a big step forward in our work to make sure everyone in Aotearoa has access to world-class healthcare. This new streamlined system means there will be more consistency of care – improving care for rural and smaller communities – as well as ensuring people have greater certainty around access to complicated or specialist care. It will also ensure Kiwis can get the care they need earlier and help to ease the pressure on our hospitals. On top of this, the new Māori Health Authority, Te Aka Whai Ora, will help to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes for Māori.
We moved forward with our climate change agenda – rolling out policies that are predicted to reduce emission equivalent to 1.7 million cars by 2030. For example, this year we launched the significant Emissions Reduction Plan. The plan sets out practical steps towards a net zero future where more people can purchase EVs, our towns and cities have world-leading public and active transport infrastructure, our highest emitters have switched to clean and reliable energy, our farmers are growing food in ways that help the climate, and more of our homes are warmer and more affordable to heat. You can find out more about our plan to tackle climate change here.
New Zealand’s housing crisis has been decades in the making, and there’s no quick fix – but we’ve continued making good progress this year. We’re speeding up the scale and pace of house building through our $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund. We’ve built more public and transitional houses than any Government in decades, and are on track to deliver 18,000 by 2024.
To help even more Kiwis into homes, this year we lifted price caps for First Home Grants, and removed price caps entirely from the First Home Loan. We also launched a new Affordable Housing Fund, which is delivering new affordable rentals to support families in areas facing the biggest housing challenges. You can find out more about our work on housing here.
Since taking office in 2017 we’ve worked hard to make sure all Kiwi kids get a great education, and with this year’s Budget, we took the next steps. We’re building hundreds of new classrooms, and we’re ensuring schools have the teachers and equipment they need with a boost in operating funding. We’re also scrapping the outdated decile system, to make school funding fairer.
Through overseas trade missions and new free trade deals, we’ve continued to unlock access to some of the world’s biggest and most lucrative markets – so farmers and growers can get greater returns for their hard work. This comes on top of projections that New Zealand’s food and fibre export revenue is projected to reach new record highs, helping create economic security for all.
We’re making sure New Zealanders can get emergency healthcare when they need it, and this year we provided significant funding for more paramedics, new ambulances and new emergency choppers around the country.
Labour’s strong economic management means we can continue to invest in the things that matter most to New Zealanders, like health and education, while also supporting households through global cost of living challenges.
On top of this, our actions to grow the economy means we are in a stronger position than before the pandemic. New Zealand is as well placed as any other country to face the shifting global conditions, with low unemployment, growing exports, a rebound in tourist numbers and a healthy set of Government books. Our economic plan is working for Kiwis.
It’s been a busy year as we’ve continued our work to build a better future for all New Zealanders, and this is just some of the progress that we’ve made. You can find out more about our record here.
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