Labour, The Greens and NZ First need to act with more urgency to support businesses and should immediately reprioritise Shane Jones’ slush fund to be used for job support, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Countries around the world including Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan have already announced support packages. The coalition is still holding committee meetings.
“In the meantime there is a large pot of money just sitting there being used for electioneering by NZ First.
“There is at least $645 million that could be used which has not been approved for projects already.
“The coalition still has blinders on when it comes to the minimum wage. It hasn’t even sought new advice about how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the upcoming increase. It will be many thousands and I would rather see people in work than on the welfare.
“This outbreak is becoming increasingly serious. The World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic. But here in New Zealand we’re still using a pandemic plan for the flu. Covid-19 is not the flu and we should have a specific plan for it.
“While we may not be able to contain this, we must slow it down otherwise our public health system will struggle. Older New Zealanders will be most at risk coming into winter.
“As other countries have, we should implement travel bans on South Korea and Italy and we need to have reassurance why large events are going ahead when other countries have cancelled theirs.
“We can’t be complacent just because we only have five confirmed cases at the moment. Covid-19 can spread quickly. In less than month Italy went from three diagnosed cases to more than 10,000.
“The response from Labour has been slow and non-specific. It’s time to look at how quickly the rest of the world is acting and pick up the pace in New Zealand.”