Coronavirus: Grant Robertson says Budget 2020 'most significant financial commitment by NZ Govt in modern history'

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says New Zealand's team of five million who rallied together to keep each other safe from COVID-19 must now turn to the economic response.

In unveiling the massive $50 billion Budget on Thursday, Robertson told Parliament that COVID-10's "health and economic stories" continue to unravel.

"We can be very proud as a country of our health response and it must go on, and now, we also have to put a team of five million to work on our economic response," he said.

Robertson said the measures the Government implemented in mid-March - including the wage subsidy scheme which has paid out about $11 billion - formed "the first stage of our plan to face COVID-19".

Those initiatives paved the way towards Budget 2020.

"The core of Budget 2020 will boost critical public services, fund infrastructure and provide the unprecedented investment needed for the second and third stages of our plan to face COVID-19: recover and rebuild.

"This is the most significant financial commitment by a New Zealand Government in modern history."

Not all of the $50 billion fund has yet been allocated, and Robertson said it wasn't a target for spending, but provides flexibility to respond as necessary. 

"Our recovery and rebuild will be based on getting New Zealanders back to work. This Budget is about jobs."

Among the ways the Government will do that is by extending the wage subsidy schemes for businesses that can show a 50 percent revenue loss in the 30-day period leading up to an application. There is $1.6 billion going to free trades and apprenticeship training, $1.1 billion for environment-focussed jobs and 8000 public houses are on the agenda. A $3.3 billion infrastructure spend comes on top of the $12 billion infrastructure package announced earlier this year

The near-defunct tourism sector is receiving $400 million.

"The rainy day has arrived, but we are well prepared," the Finance Minister said.