This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get the healthcare they need, when and where they need it.
Our COVID response is evolving as the pandemic does – to adapt to new challenges, look after people, and ensure our economy remains strong. So far, a decisive health response has proved to be the best economic response. We’ve had some of the lowest rates of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths in the world, and we’re also entering 2022 with historically low unemployment, better-than-expected GDP, and high demand for our exports.
More than 92% of our eligible population is fully vaccinated, with the Pfizer vaccine set to roll out to 5- to 11-year-olds from mid-January. Along with the new year, we’ve also welcomed a new vaccination milestone: more than half a million Kiwis have now received a booster dose. The majority of vaccinated New Zealanders will be able to receive their booster by the end of February, leaving us well-placed to navigate the challenges posed by Omicron.
We’re committed to improving healthcare for all New Zealanders, which is why, in 2021, we announced far-reaching health reforms. This year we’ll be starting to implement those reforms and transition to a new national health system to help make care more accessible to all New Zealanders, no matter who they are or where they live. The new Māori Health Authority will commission health services and develop policy, driving improvements in hauora Māori.
We’re also fast-tracking upgrades to local hospitals across the country to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated. Alongside the $6 billion we’ve already dedicated to rebuilding our health infrastructure, after years of neglect by National, these initiatives will help to ensure more Kiwis can access the care they need.
Climate and environment
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world right now, and it’s vital we do our bit. Over the past four years, we’ve worked hard to reduce our emissions and lay the foundations for lasting climate action. Budget 2022 will build on this work, as we continue to tackle transport emissions, support green technology, and work toward achieving a carbon-neutral New Zealand by 2050.
This year, we’ll also continue our work to phase out single-use, hard-to-recycle plastics like polystyrene take-away packaging, PVC meat trays, and plastic drink stirrers. These types of plastics often end up as waste in landfills and cause pollution in soil, waterways, and the ocean. Reducing plastic waste will improve our environment and ensure we live up to our clean, green reputation.
Since coming into Government, we’ve made tackling New Zealand’s housing crisis a priority. It’s an issue that will take time to turn around, but our policies are starting to make a difference. The number of new homes being consented is at a record high and more first-home buyers are entering the market. This year will see further work to increase housing supply and ensure more Kiwis have a comfortable, affordable place to call home.
In 2022, new building intensification rules will come into force in our main centres, allowing up to three homes of up to three storeys to be built on most sites without resource consent. We’ll continue our work on wider RMA reforms to streamline planning processes, and further funding from the $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund will be allocated, to help build vital infrastructure like the pipes and roads required for more housing.
We’re committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. The work we’ve done so far to boost families’ incomes and lift children out of poverty has resulted in improvements across all nine child poverty indicators, and 2022 will see further changes come into force to help whānau make ends meet and ensure more children can get a great start in life.
In April, for families with children, main benefits will increase by $15 per adult per week. An additional package of improvements to family support will also come into effect, with boosts to Working for Families payments, including the Family tax credit and Best Start, lifting the incomes of nearly 350,000 families by an average of $20 a week.
These changes, alongside our targeted investments in infrastructure and education that are creating jobs and supporting people into work, will help families put food on the table, reducing inequality and ensuring our recovery leaves no one behind.
These are just some of our initiatives in the pipeline for 2022, as we continue protecting lives and livelihoods while working to keep New Zealand a great place to live. Stay in the loop by signing up to our mailing list and following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.