16 Could, 2021 05:00 PM
Nationwide’s shadow treasurer Andrew Bayly: “The perfect and probably solely approach to realistically deal with the debt burden we now have taken on is to develop our economic system.” Photograph / Mark Mitchell
The previous 12 months has seen a unprecedented sum of money deployed by governments all over the world to assist their economies in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. New Zealand isn’t any completely different, having spent an additional $40 billion on schemes such because the $14b wage assist scheme.
However with vaccination programmes underway and lots of international locations now opening their borders, the time has come for a reset in order that we will higher place our economic system for progress. We have to spend the place there may be want and save the place there may be waste.
The perfect and probably solely approach to realistically deal with the debt burden we now have taken on is to develop our economic system. Doing so will imply New Zealanders have safe jobs and incomes, and our communities will likely be safer and stronger in consequence.
To attain this, I’d work alongside companies to assist them function profitably and pursue bold progress plans.
Sturdy companies imply extra jobs, increased wages, and extra alternatives for our youthful era. A powerful economic system additionally gives more cash for governments to spend on essential issues like well being and infrastructure, and it leaves us higher positioned to take motion on local weather change.
I’d even be encouraging our companies to diversify. That is important having seen how Covid-19 decimated the $17b worldwide tourism market and $5b overseas scholar market that we now have historically leaned on.
Diversification requires funding higher schooling alternatives and new R&D operations, in addition to attracting extremely skilled professionals and rich tech entrepreneurs to speculate right here. Doubling the dimensions of our $8b know-how business is feasible with the precise assist.
I’d even be supporting the industries nonetheless reeling from Covid-19. These embrace the tourism, lodging, and worldwide scholar markets. The hit these sectors took has had a pronounced affect on regional tourism spots just like the West Coast, Rotorua and Queenstown.
Extra funding for regional areas is required however the allocation and prioritisation of those funds needs to be decided by the communities themselves, not set by officers in Wellington.
Housing would even be high of my agenda. Whereas there’s a urgent want for reasonably priced housing, a scarcity of emergency housing can be a difficulty. This drawback has ballooned in locations like Rotorua the place there was an estimated inflow of 2000 folks into about 45 motels. This can’t be a everlasting answer.
As finance minister, I’d be partaking the non-public sector to ship modular homes that may be transported simply and erected rapidly. This must be accompanied by important cut-through on useful resource and constructing consent processes.
Nationwide has already proposed a fast-tracking course of just like what we applied following the Canterbury earthquakes. It bought homes constructed then and it could accomplish that once more. Alongside this, I’d additionally implement a funding bundle to assist native councils finance water and highway infrastructure for brand new housing developments.
It has been disappointing to see tasks just like the proposed new $1.4b Dunedin Hospital delayed by three years whereas the Authorities ponders a ultimate enterprise case. We have to get these essential tasks underway.
Nonetheless, essentially the most important points with regards to well being are rising funding for Pharmac and the psychological wellbeing of New Zealanders. On the final election, Nationwide promised an additional $220 million for Pharmac. In 2019, the Authorities allotted $900m over 4 years for psychological well being however hasn’t delivered, committing simply $130m to this point. I’d implement Nationwide’s plan as a matter of precedence, together with funding 100,000 free counselling periods nationwide.
I’d additionally publish a 10-year infrastructure plan that covers transport, hospitals and faculties so contractors have the understanding they should gear as much as ship these tasks – and I’d follow this plan.
Latest speak of the Authorities scaling again main transport infrastructure tasks is especially damaging as a result of it creates uncertainly for the native and worldwide contractors that we desperately have to put money into coaching folks and shopping for new gear.
I’d additionally announce a programme to work with the non-public sector on finishing the rollout of digital companies to all New Zealanders, particularly these in our provincial areas. Our farmers and people residing in small rural cities deserve the identical digital entry as these working in Queen St or Lambton Quay.