Today the government announced a financial support package to help our economy, health sector and workers get through coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s a $12.1 billion-dollar economic assistance package. 

That’s equivalent to 4% of New Zealand’s GDP.

It’s bigger than the UK or Australia’s financial assistance packages, and it’s more than three times what a regular yearly government budget announcement would be.

As 1 News political editor Jessica Mutch-McKay put it, “This is the biggest thing that Jacinda Ardern has ever delivered.” 

It includes:

$500 million for health spending

  • $32m for hospital equipment and to boost ICU capacity
  • $50m for GP support and primary care
  • $20m for video conferencing so health providers can give online consultations
  • $20m for Healthline, allowing them to hire more doctors and nurses

$8.7 billion for business and jobs

  • $5.1b in wage subsidies for businesses impacted by coronavirus (to be eligible, they must demonstrate a 30% decline from January to June 2020)
  • $2.8b in tax relief for businesses
  • $126m to support people unable to work due to self-isolation. For full-time workers this means a payment of $585.80 per week ($350 for part-time workers), for up to eight weeks
  • $600m in initial aviation support (not including payment to Air NZ).

Income support and boosting spending ($2.8 billion):

  • A permanent $25/week increase to benefits
  • A temporary doubling of the Winter Energy Payment for 2020, increasing to $1400 for couples and $900 for singles
  • $100m redeployment package

In making the announcement, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the economic shock of COVID-19 will be larger than the global financial crisis. “I cannot and must not sugar-coat this: a recession in New Zealand is now almost certain.”  

“We are going to see many New Zealanders lose their jobs, and some businesses will fail.”

But the costs pale in comparison to the loss of life and business that would happen should coronavirus worsen, he said.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges said the government’s move meant “money flowing faster into the hands of beneficiaries than into businesses and workers.”

But Minister Robertson said past economic and social crises had seen “governments respond with austerity and ideology that has done enormous damage to society.”

“Tough, decisive measures to give us a fighting chance. I make no apologies for what we have done. We are acting now.”


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