I have two core worries for Nelson and New Zealand’s future. Job losses and debt. National this week outlined our economic plan to get NZ working again.
We have a jobs crisis. Unemployment numbers nationally hit 200,000 this month, the worst in 25 years. Nelson has had the fastest increase of any region with jobless numbers more than doubling from 2,000 to 4,200. Young people are being hit the hardest with our unemployment rate for under 30s the worst in New Zealand.
This unemployment problem began before Covid-19. National’s strong economic management saw unemployment numbers drop every year from 2010 to 2017. Unemployment benefit numbers grew by 10,000 in 2018 and another 13,000 in 2019. They are now increasing at 40,000 per month since April. The problems will compound when the Government’s wage subsidies end in October.
We need a relentless focus on saving jobs. That is why I have campaigned so strongly for port access of foreign boats for Nelson’s marine engineering industry and for the retention of Air New Zealand’s regional maintenance base at Nelson Airport. The Government’s reticence or silence on these issues shows they do not get it.
I am equally concerned about debt. The Government is spending and borrowing at unprecedented rates all of which will need to be repaid. $25 billion or $16,000 per household has already been spent and Labour’s intention is to borrow over $140 billion or $80,000 per household. This scale of debt will leave New Zealand no room for decades to deal with future disasters or downturns.
Labour thinks the answer to every problem is big spending. I see waste like the $570,000 on a slide at Parliament and $10 million in grants to AJ Hackett’s bungee business. $400 million has been spent on Kiwibuild that was meant to build 10,000 homes per year but delivered only 400 in three years. $1900 million was announced for mental health in Budget 2019. It has not made it to front line services and core services like Nikau House are being closed. Millions have been spent on Auckland light rail but is wasted with it now being cancelled.
We need to be more prudent and focus on quality of spending. The borrowing should be for assets and infrastructure so we grow New Zealand’s balance sheet over coming years. That way we pass on to the next generation valuable assets alongside the debt. Labour is squandering New Zealand’s strong finances with Government’s nett worth declining from $143 billion ($75,000 per household) to just $33 billion ($17,000 per household).
National’s leader Todd Muller outlined National’s five point plan last week covering responsible economic management, delivering infrastructure, reskilling and retraining the workforce, building a greener/smarter future and stronger communities. It will deliver more jobs and less debt. I commend the detail at national.org.nz.
It is good that New Zealand has come through the Covid-19 health emergency better than most countries. National’s plan best equips New Zealand to navigate our way through the jobs and economic crisis ahead.