Jacinda Ardern: Budget will help New Zealand emerge from the pandemic 'stronger than before'

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand's $50 billion budget for 2020 will help the country emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic 'stronger than before'.

On Thursday the Government announced the budget, the same day the country moved to alert level 2.

The funding will see money put into extending the wage subsidy for another 12 weeks, free trades training, increased infrastructure, tourism, and the defence force.

During her speech in the Beehive, the Prime Minister admitted the pandemic has significantly changed New Zealand.

"A mere six months ago nobody would have imagined a world in the grip of a global COVID-19 pandemic, let alone one that would wreak havoc across health systems and economies globally," Ardern said.

"I still vividly remember at the beginning of the year reading about the first lockdowns overseas and thinking what a remarkable thing it was. To ask humans to stay in one place for such a long period of time seemed unfathomable.

"And yet here we are, having shut our borders, moved into lockdown, and collectively built a wall of defence to a virus that was closing in on the world.

"There are few things that I think I will ever consider as being outside the bounds of possibility any more. And perhaps that is the same perspective we now need as we start our recovery.

"We have to be focused. We have to be decisive. We have to go into this period knowing it will be tough, but that there is hope and possibility."

She says while "times ahead will be tough" there is an opportunity New Zealand needs to take to improve the nation's issues and emerge in a better position than before the pandemic.

"If I had asked you before COVID, what it is that we must address as a nation, what our common challenges were, I would imagine that many people would write a similar list.

We have long faced a housing crisis, our environment has been suffering, inequality and child poverty have all been issues we've had to tackle.

"In three years' time I want to look back and say that COVID was not the point those issues got worse, but the chance we had to make them better.

"We can emerge from this crisis stronger than we were before. That's why we are focussed on jobs, but also jobs that solve these entrenched problems."

During his pre-announcement speech, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the funding from the Budget was unprecedented.

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

modern history.

"The fund does not represent a target for spending but gives us the flexibility to be able to respond as necessary.

"The Fund will be critical in seeing New Zealand through the economic struggle that is

coming, and rebuilding our economy for the better over the long-term."

On Thursday New Zealand recorded its fifth day of no new COVID-19 cases, the third in a row keeping the nation's total of confirmed and probable at 1497.

There have been 21 deaths due to coronavirus and 1411 people have recovered. 

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