Our strong economic management prior to COVID-19 - with surpluses, low debt and near-record-low unemployment - put us in a good position to weather the impact of the virus and start to rebuild our economy much earlier than many other countries.
Now we're putting our plan to recover and rebuild into action: helping Kiwi businesses take on apprentices, fast-tracking infrastructure, and building new international trade relationships.
We’re supporting Kiwi businesses to keep and take on new apprentices, with an Apprenticeship Boost announced this week. This package will provide businesses with up to $16,000 to help cover the costs of apprenticeships in the first two years, and will work alongside our initiative making all apprenticeships free from 1 July.
We're making record investment in infrastructure projects across the country, and getting New Zealand moving again. We're backing businesses and supporting Kiwis into jobs to help build our skilled workforce.
Earlier this week, we announced that New Zealand will be one of the first countries to start free trade agreement negotiations with the United Kingdom, as we continue to get our economy moving again.
The UK is currently New Zealand’s sixth-largest trading partner, and a free trade agreement would provide significant benefits to people in both countries, opening up opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses, Māori exporters, and our regional communities.
We’re going to fast-track projects up and down the country to boost New Zealand’s economic recovery and create jobs.
The COVID-19 Recovery Bill, introduced this week, will allow projects that are crucial to our economic recovery and long-term rebuild to be fast-tracked through consenting processes. These changes will ensure that important safeguards, such as environmental factors and the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, will still be taken into account, while allowing New Zealand to get moving sooner.
New firearms legislation was passed through the House on Thursday this week.
Designed to stop firearms falling into the wrong hands, these changes will introduce a register to help track firearms in the community, introduce tougher penalties for gun crime, and strengthen licensing rules.
Other changes taking effect immediately following Royal Assent (expected next week) include reducing the length of a firearms licence from 10 to 5 years for first-time license holders (or those who have previously had their license revoked) and restricting those who come to New Zealand and are issued a licence for up to a year (a visitors’ licence) from purchasing and taking ownership of a firearm in New Zealand.
As announced this week, compassionate exemptions from quarantine have been suspended and changes will be made to ensure quarantine continues to be effective in stopping community transmission of COVID-19.
Assistant Chief of Defence Air Commodore Digby Webb will now oversee all quarantine facilities and the safe transfer of people into the community.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the recent COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, and explained changes that would be implemented as a result.
As we begin the countdown to Election Day, we'll be bringing you the latest news and announcements - right here on our website and over on our Facebook page.
Check out our newly-released 2020 General Election Party List here, which shows how the Labour Party is bolstering our experienced Caucus with diverse new talent as New Zealand rebuilds and recovers from COVID-19.
Look out for the next edition in this weekly series next Friday.