As I draft this column, we’re three weeks away from Election Day 2020 (October 17th) and a week away from the start of the early voting period (October 3rd). Rather predictably, my columns till the election will focus on why you should give your Party vote to Labour.

It has been a tough time for New Zealand. We’ve had a terrorist attack, a natural disaster and now, a pandemic that is causing global uncertainty that we’re not immune to.

There’s a word that’s been used a lot this year. It’s ‘unprecedented.’ Staying at home to save lives and closing our border to the rest of the world as the virus worsens – were all unprecedented. There was no playbook for how to respond to COVID-19.

Through these difficult times, we’ve seen the best of us as a nation – and we’ve had a Government that had a plan.

Led by Jacinda Ardern, our strong, stable Government has delivered results and put people first every step of the way.

Before COVID-19 hit us, our economy was strong. Our economy was growing, unemployment had fallen to its lowest levels in decades, and Government debt was down to around 19% of GDP. This debt level was much lower than most OECD countries, which positioned us well for an economic shock like COVID-19.

We went hard and fast to cushion the blow of the pandemic on New Zealand businesses, both big and small. Our wage subsidy and leave schemes supported around 1.7 million workers through the COVID-19 lockdown, and our business support package, including the Small Business Cash Flow Loan, Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, tax changes, and insolvency relief, helped businesses respond to COVID-19. Our $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme allows a large number of businesses to access their previous tax payments as cash refunds.

And we made the largest investment in infrastructure in decades through the Big New Zealand Upgrade to prepare New Zealand for the future.

While we are in a stronger position than many other countries, the global situation will continue to be very challenging, especially for an export nation like us.

New Zealand has seen economic downturns before and there are lessons we can learn from previous economic recoveries. They don’t have to leave people behind and lead to large-scale unemployment and inequality. That’s why our plan for recovery puts people first.

Our plan is built around five key principles: investing in our people, jobs, preparing for the future, supporting our small businesses, and positioning New Zealand globally. It’s a plan to keep New Zealanders safe and keep the recovery moving – and we’re already rolling it out. I’ll go into a bit more detail in my next column.

For now, I’ll say this.

Labour’s vision is to build New Zealand back better, ensure all Kiwis get to benefit from our economic recovery, and protect our vital services like health and education. Our plan is already in motion, so let’s stick together and let’s keep moving.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan
Labour List MP based in Maungakiekie
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities