New Zealanders voted for stability and security at the last election. In the six months since then we’ve been working hard to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID, accelerate our economic recovery, and tackle long-term challenges like housing affordability.
Keeping New Zealanders safe from COVID is our number one priority. Going hard and early saved lives and livelihoods. And we know our best economic response to COVID is still a strong health response.
Since taking office we have bolstered testing requirements for border workers, made face coverings on public transport mandatory, and introduced legislation to double sick leave entitlements.
Plus we secured enough safe and effective COVID vaccines for the whole population, and launched our vaccine roll-out plan, which will see every New Zealander offered immunity by the end of the year.
Getting New Zealanders immunised is first and foremost about safety, but it also has economic benefits, allowing us to avoid costly lockdowns and explore our options for safe travel with other countries.
Accelerating our economic recovery is also a top priority for us. We moved quickly to cushion the economic blow of COVID with wage subsidies and small business loans. Then we invested heavily in jobs by making apprenticeships free and backing major infrastructure projects across the country.
Already this term we’ve extended schemes for small business loans and business debt hibernation. We funnelled more major infrastructure projects into the fast-track consenting process. Plus we extended an initiative that helps employers keep apprentices on through tough times.
To support our ethnic communities we have increased the Ethnic Communities Development Fund, from $520,000 to $4.2 million annually, improving funding for grants that will help programmes promoting leadership, culture and connectedness.
We’re making houses more affordable by increasing supply and shifting demand. Earlier this year we launched our plan for the more than 18,000 extra public and transitional housing places we’re on track to deliver by 2024.
More recently we launched a $3.8 billion fund to speed up the pace and scale of house building, through investments in the infrastructure underpinning major housing developments, like the roads and pipes to new homes.
To tilt the balance in favour of first home buyers, we increased income and house price caps on First Home Loans and Grants. Plus we’re extending the bright line test and removing interest deductibility for property investors.
I’m proud to be part of a government that’s focussed on tackling New Zealand’s long-term challenges. This stuff is not quick or easy, but it matters. That’s what sets this government apart.
With the ongoing support of our team of five million, I can’t wait to see the progress we make in the next six months.
By Vanushi Walters MP
Article Published on June/July Issue of the SrilankaNZ Newspaper.