The recent outbreaks in Australia have been a timely reminder that when it comes to Covid, we’re not out of the woods yet.
One of my daughters lives in Melbourne and they’re in lockdown number five. As a Mum I worry about her staying safe and Covid free.
Our government’s priority remains keeping New Zealanders safe. Of course, we know that as we continue to keep the virus at bay, we need to secure our economy too.
Thanks to our careful economic management, we’re in a better position than many other countries. Unemployment is lower than in countries such as Australia and Canada, and GDP is tracking in the right direction.
While these are positive indicators, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic is still the biggest threat facing our economy. That’s why we’re continuing our balanced approach, ensuring we’re keeping debt down and targeting spending where it will have the most impact.
A key part of this is investing in critical infrastructure around New Zealand. Over the next five years, we’re investing a record $57.3 billion to drive our recovery, create local jobs and strengthen regional economies.
Here in the Bay of Plenty we have already invested over $30m for three new schools, and expansions in the Bay of Plenty for more than 1000 additional students at Te Okuroa Drive School, Pāpāmoa College and Taumata School.
As we create jobs today, we’re also making sure we have the skilled workforce we need for tomorrow. Since we introduced the initiative last year, more than 135,000 people have signed up for our free trades training. My husband and I run a construction business, so we personally and professionally know the value of trades training.
Accelerating our recovery through infrastructure and jobs is a key part of our plan, but it’s not our only priority. I’m proud that as we rebuild our economy, we’re also tackling long term challenges like child poverty, housing and climate change so together, we can come out of Covid stronger.