Coronavirus: Government must 'think outside the square' to get Kiwis back into jobs, says Winston Peters

The Government will have to "think laterally" to get Kiwis who lost jobs due to the coronavirus back into the workforce, the Deputy Prime Minister says.

Winston Peters says while some unemployed Kiwi may be able to adapt within their profession, "thinking outside the square" will be required to find most New Zealanders a place to work.

Speaking to Magic Talk on Monday morning, Peters said finding Kiwis jobs quickly is the Government's priority - but admitted it's a "very, very complex" task.

"It's [about] getting people back to work and contributing to the country, which in every respect will be better for the country, better for people and better for communities," he said.

"That should be our number one priority. Work is everything right now… but the big picture of what life's about, even in this crisis, still turns on the economy."

Peters says once the alert level 4 lockdown is lifted, the Government will look to help businesses bounce back as fast as possible, with an aim to helping them survive in the long-term.

And he believes the Government is in a strong position to carry out its task, because its stewardship of New Zealand's finances before the COVID-19 crisis was so good.

"We've run a very low debt to GDP ratio economy - under 20 percent," he explained. "So it enables us to rapidly expand that while staying well inside the safety frame that other countries are not.

"We don't want to be squanderous here but we have got an opportunity to use forward credit to stabilise our economy - and we're lucky we're in that situation, because had we lived way beyond our means with a high debt ratio to GDP, some of the options you're hearing now would be impossible.

"Having said that, the only way this money is going to make sense in the long-term, is our capacity to turn these people that are temporarily out of the workforce and temporarily out of business, back into the workforce and back into business doing all sorts of jobs as fast as possible.

"Hopefully it'll be a smarter economy as a consequence."

Last month, Peters said he believed New Zealand could harness the coronavirus crisis to make our economy stronger in the long-term, in a similar fashion to Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, which saw the US become the world's most powerful economy.