At Christmas no one would have expected the coronavirus outbreak that is currently creating such disruption around the world.
It is for these sorts of unexpected events – like droughts, like earthquakes – that prudent governments run surpluses and ensure that our economy is fit and healthy.
Business is hard enough – especially for the many small businesses throughout the country, especially in retail and hospitality. Things like the drop in tourists following an outbreak can be disastrous for businesses.
The sad reality is that the New Zealand economy was poorly prepared for the effects of the coronavirus, because growth had slowed sharply in 2019 and the government was already projecting a deficit.
That means it’s harder to respond; harder to help struggling businesses get back up on their feet; harder to support Kiwis in trouble.
What’s needed now is strong economic management, a clear focus on growth and improved productivity. That would involve reducing costs and regulations for businesses, stimulating demand with tax relief for middle income earners, increasing labour market flexibility and encouraging the flow of investment.
National have already announced our plans to index tax brackets to the cost of living, repeal the Auckland fuel tax, and introduce no new taxes. In the coming months we will announce our full tax plan that will see people on the average wage better off and keeping more of what they earn.
We will cut red tape and regulation and build both the transport and social infrastructure our country needs. We will deliver more roads, more rail, more transport and more social infrastructure faster and better.
We should be making it easier for business right now. We have already promised to repeal employment law changes that this Government has made and restore 90-day trials to all businesses.
We will put more money in your back pocket. Tax relief is one part of how your family can get ahead. We need to raise incomes and get people into jobs and we need to attack the cost of living.
National firmly believes we can do this, with a solid track record of delivering strong policies needed to support and grow an economy that remains resilient to unexpected pressures. We kept the economy afloat following the Christchurch earthquakes and during the global financial crisis – it’s about time the Government took some responsibility. If our books were in better shape and the economy wasn’t already under pressure due to anti-growth policies, we might just be able to make it through unscathed.