From the Prime Minister
Budget 2021 represents not only our plan for New Zealand's recovery but our plan for the future.
That plan includes tackling the challenges we currently face - keeping our people safe and well as we manage a pandemic that continues to rage around the world and helping to rebuild our economy after a massive global shock. But it is what we do now in response to this crisis, and in spite of it, that will leave the longest legacy.
In Budget 2020 we laid the foundations for our recovery. We focused on supporting businesses and protecting jobs. That investment has paid off. Our economy has performed better than expected and, importantly, our people have been supported to either stay in work or find new opportunities. Our unemployment rate of just 4.7 percent is testament to that.
But that doesn't mean there hasn't been hardship, and that doesn't mean the job is done.
Investing to protect our people was the right call, but it has also come at a price. We had to take on additional debt. But with the right approach we will be in a stronger position to pay down that debt in the future, while also ensuring the current and next generation do not carry the social cost of cuts and austerity.
Budget 2021 is the next step in our plan - it focuses on securing our recovery, locking in the gains we've made, and continuing to take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us.
It invests in our people's health and wellbeing through our vaccine rollout, but also through reforms to our health system. It looks to continue to create jobs through infrastructure investment, takes on the challenges we are already facing, such as housing, climate change, child wellbeing and inequality, and continues the work that has made our recovery a success so far - such as training and education opportunities that ensure New Zealanders are prepared for employment.
Ultimately, this Budget continues our wellbeing approach of investing in the recovery while putting the Government books on a pathway to lower debt.
As this Budget is one of three this term, we are looking at them as a package. It is simply not possible to fulfil every promise or commitment that we made or address all of our long-term challenges in a single Budget.
But what we are delivering today will help secure New Zealand's future in every sense, whether it's through the rebuild of our economy, or the support of our people - it will leave a legacy I believe we can be proud of.
RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
Prime Minister of New Zealand