By: Jamie Strange
As I reflect on the past three years of this Government, I acknowledge our team of five million has been through a lot. From a terrorist attack and volcanic eruption, to a global pandemic with it’s ensuring financial challenges, our national character has been repeatedly put to the test. During these challenges we have remained strong and united as a country.
Our Prime Minister recently outlined the Government’s five-point economic recovery plan to guide us through the tough times ahead. Our plan is about investing in people, creating jobs, preparing for the future, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, and positioning ourselves globally.
Training and retraining opportunities are now available to New Zealanders for free, over the next two years in selected industries, where we have a skills shortage. As part of this programme we will soon be bringing in a boost for employers, allowing them to access up to $16,000 to help them hire a new apprentice or to retain an apprentice they already have.
There’s good news for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts, too. We’ve reduced the Building Levy, and soon we’ll also be further relaxing the requirements around people needing building consents for simple additions such as car ports or sleep-outs.
We’ve also delivered on long overdue pay increases for our qualified Early Childhood Education teachers, helping them as they give the next generation the best possible start in life.
This Government is creating jobs with significant investment in roading, rail, public transport, health and education as part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, and sustained investment in public housing. We’re also partnering with communities, iwi and councils to address local infrastructure needs, as well as supporting regional projects that will clean up our waterways, a number of which are in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
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We’re preparing for the future by investing further in waste management and clean energy generation, supporting businesses to research and innovate, and helping more firms make the jump to online commerce.
We’re supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs through wage subsidies to keep staff on, and interest-free loans to ease cash flow pressures. The Small Business Loan Scheme will now be extended through to the end of the year to provide extra support.
We’re positioning ourselves globally by helping exporters to re-engage with international markets, supporting firms that are looking to export for the first time, continuing to expand our trade relationships, and investing significantly in tourism while closely monitoring our options for a trans-Tasman bubble and reconnecting with our Pacific neighbours.
There was no playbook for responding to COVID-19, just as there was no playbook for responding to much of what has happened during this term of Government. That means we won’t always get it right, but we have adapted as required.
Going hard and early has put New Zealand in a good position. Now is the opportunity for our team of five million to build on that success as we re-energise our economy.
As our Prime Minister has urged, let’s keep up the momentum. Let’s keep rolling out our plan and rebuilding New Zealand better. Let’s keep moving.
Jamie Strange, Labour List MP based in Hamilton
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this column, ViewPoint are the personal opinions of the writer, and do not reflect the views of NewsViews nor does it ascribe to these in any manner. NewsViews and/or persons associated with it also do not assume any responsibility or liability, if any, arising out of the views expressed here by the writer. ViewPoint is ‘by invitation’ only opinion column.