Week That Was: A strong plan for recovery

It's been another week of creating jobs, supporting local businesses, and investing in infrastructure up and down the country - all of which are helping to keep our economy moving post-COVID-19.

Planning for the COVID-19 future

We kicked off the week by announcing we’re setting aside the remainder of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund, to make sure our economy is strong and prepared for whatever COVID-19 throws at us in the future. It means we can invest immediately to keep New Zealanders safe and keep our economy moving, should we face a second wave of the virus.

As Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in the post-Cabinet press conference on Monday: "As a responsible Minister of Finance, I will not be using this fund for political projects that won’t be started for a decade at the expense of making sure we are able to invest immediately to protect New Zealanders from a second wave."

Securing access to medication, contract tracing, and more

We’re committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. We also announced a major boost to PHARMAC, to make sure they can keep buying the medicines Kiwis need. At the same time, we invested more in contact tracing, telehealth and technology to support the roll-out of a future vaccine, and $50 million for more PPE. 

Thanks to our team of five million, New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 has been world leading, and we want to keep it that way. This week's new investments will further strengthen our ability to respond to the global pandemic now, and into the future.

Creating regional jobs

We’re creating 150 jobs by repairing and redeveloping New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium. This is just one of the shovel-ready infrastructure projects we’re funding in Taranaki, all of which will help the region recover from COVID-19, create jobs, support local businesses and keep our economy moving.

In a different part of the country, we gave a major boost to South Westland through our Jobs for Nature Fund, helping local businesses keep 50 staff on in different work until they can get operating again. Redeployed staff will give nature a helping hand through pest and weed control, monitoring threatened species such as bats and bitterns, and growing native plants for restoration projects. 

Supporting Kiwis to buy their own home

Home ownership is something New Zealanders have always aspired to. It provides a sense of security and wellbeing for our families, and gives us the opportunity to invest in our futures.

That's why, this week, we launched our progressive home ownership scheme, which will support up to 4,000 families, who could not otherwise afford home ownership, to get into their own homes.

Progressive home ownership (PHO) schemes are a practical solution.  They help families locked out of the housing market because they can’t quite save the necessary deposit or meet regular mortgage payments.

How does it work? Families are partnered with community providers to share the cost of the mortgage and overcome the deposit barrier. This can take several forms, such as a ‘rent to buy’ scheme, shared ownership, where families buy a house from a provider portion-by-portion over time, or a leasehold arrangement, where the provider sells a home but retains ownership of the land beneath it.

The scheme launched this week will support organisations already providing PHO schemes with wraparound support services, like budgeting advice, so they can help more people.  It also includes a new initiative through Kāinga Ora for households with an annual income of under $130,000 to receive shared ownership support directly.

Closing the gender pay gap

Back in 2017, we campaigned on fixing legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap. This week - we've delivered.

At 11.59pm this Wednesday, the Equal Pay Amendment Bill unanimously passed into law. This world-leading legislation is aimed at addressing historic inequities in pay for women by making it easier for employees to raise a pay equity claim. While employers already have a duty not to pay people differently on the basis of sex, this Bill helps parties to come to an agreement about what equitable remuneration would be, and makes court action a last resort rather than a first step. 

Backing Pacific learners

We want Aotearoa New Zealand to be the best place in the world for children and young people. We know that happy, healthy learners are more likely to attend, engage and achieve in education, work and life.

That's why, this week, we released the Action Plan for Pacific Education, to make sure Pacific learners are valued, culturally safe and better equipped to achieve their educational dreams and aspirations.The Action Plan guides education agencies to work collaboratively with Pacific communities over the next 10 years, and signals how early learning services, schools and tertiary providers can achieve change for Pacific learners and families. It's supported by the Government’s investment of $27.4 million in Budget 2019 and a further $80.2 million in Budget 2020 to support Pacific learners and families.

It's another  way we're making sure every New Zealander gets the proper support to succeed, all the way from early childhood education to tertiary.

As we continue 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.

Look out for the next edition in this weekly series next Friday.