We wrap up some of the public comments made in reaction to the 2020 Budget

We wrap up some of the public comments made in reaction to the 2020 Budget

The comments flowing in from industry are generally supportive of the 2020 Budget announced on Thursday, so far.

Here's some of them, with more to be added:

BusinessNZ is happy with the focus on jobs in the Budget and particularly pleased with the extension of the wage subsidy. The infrastructure spending also gets a tick.

This is the BusinessNZ statement:

BusinessNZ has welcomed the focus on jobs in today’s Budget.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said the $3.2 billion extension to the Wage Subsidy Scheme announced today, for a further 8 weeks, was an appropriate use of Budget funding.

"Supporting the wages of employees has been a successful strategy in the Government’s Covid response so far, and it is good to see this strategy continue.

"Expanding the subsidy to include R&D start-ups - pre-revenue R&D start-up firms that are recognised by Callaghan Innovation - is also a smart way of boosting new and innovative firms that will aid New Zealand’s growth in the medium term.

"Major funding of $3 billion for infrastructure, in addition to existing Provincial Growth Fund infrastructure investments, is also well-placed. Business looks forward to recommendations from the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group on investments in different regions across the country."

Kirk Hope said investing in workers and infrastructure was a sound approach to supporting economic recovery.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says the Government's heading down the right path but needs to go "further, faster" and it would have been good to see "greater emphasis on a general pathway to higher value, higher wage employment for the economy as a whole."

This is the CTU statement:

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) acknowledges the responsive nature of the Government’s 2020 Budget. There is a necessary need to focus on addressing the significant issues New Zealanders are facing in a COVID-19 world.

CTU Economist Andrea Black thinks that the government is heading down the right path - but wants to see the government to go further faster. "While the targeted wage subsidy - particularly to high growth firms; free trades training; increased health spending; the investment in environment jobs as well as increased focus on research and development is great it would have been good to have seen greater emphasis on a general pathway to higher value, higher wage employment for the economy as a whole."

"We are hopeful that this will be a feature of the balance of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund - $20 billion."

"We also welcome a number of initiatives, such as increased funding for social service providers and Kōhanga reo, that helped protect our social infrastructure."

"Social infrastructure is the bedrock on which physical infrastructure and financial activity rests. Its focus is keeping us healthy, nurtured, and able to reach our potential as human beings. The essential workers of Level 4 - the supermarket workers; nurses; doctors; care and disability workers - with the teachers, social workers and public servants are all critical parts of New Zealand’s social infrastructure."

"COVID-19 has exposed that our social infrastructure is as undervalued and in as poor repair as our physical infrastructure. To maintain (or expand) the wellbeing of the people in New Zealand, we would encourage the Government in its next steps to ensure that at least:"

"Supermarket workers, cleaners, security guard and bus/courier drivers need to earn at least the living wage and have a fair pay agreement While the $980 million per year package for DHBs is welcome, there is still the $2.5 billion health deficit before COVID-19 needs addressing Social insurance for adequate income replacement when you lose your job Financial support needs to be available and liveable for all undertaking training and retraining (i.e. in the tertiary sector) and not tied to unrealistic parental or partner income thresholds"

"This Budget has delivered a massive boost and is good for working people, but given the scale of the challenge we face, it could have gone even further. We look forward to the Government’s future plans and direction for the rest of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund so that the quality of life can be improved for all working Kiwis," Black said.

Federated Farmers found plenty of positives in the Budget, but believes the "devil will be in the detail" and is looking forward to seeing more on the $500 million in initiatives to ensure that primary industries are supported.

This is the statement from Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers found plenty of highlights in today’s Budget, but is wary about the long term plan for the primary industry’s contribution to New Zealand’s economy recovery.

"Farmers will be pleased with announcements of a $1.1 billion environmental jobs spend and specific mention of control of pests such as wallabies and wilding pines. Also positive is the increased support for biodiversity on private land through agencies like QEII and Landcare Trust.

"But as with so many aspects of the Budget announcements, the devil will be in the detail," Federated Farmers Vice-President and economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The Budget includes $500 million in initiatives that will ensure our primary industries are supported.

"We look forward to seeing more detail on that. We appreciate it appears we’ve been listened to on many of the areas for potential work we’ve raised with government."

The Budget’s investment of another $3 billion in infrastructure is also a big spend but the decisions on where the money will go are yet to be made.

"We would hope enhanced rural connectivity, money for water storage and road maintenance are prime candidates for that investment as both will help drive primary sector production and competitiveness."

The Budget’s provision for re-training and other support for those New Zealanders who will be among the forecast 10% unemployment queue by next month is also the right step.

Federated Farmers set up its own apprenticeship scheme to find more workers for the dairy industry, and is looking forward to seeing more government support now for this and other similar schemes to get people into primary sector jobs.

"Keeping as many Kiwis in work as possible is obviously a priority. We appreciate the acknowledgement of how important the primary sector will be to economic recovery; of $1.6 billion for training and apprenticeships, $19.3 million is earmarked to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs. That’s a start."

Lack of specifics on spending and the raft of ‘shovel ready’ projects the government has had suggested to it in the last six weeks is perhaps a good thing given that the entire Budget has been done so quickly, and therefore very few of these proposed shovel ready projects will have been subject to any cost-benefit analysis at all.

"It is important for us all to remember what an extraordinary level of debt we are committing our nation to, to recover from this crisis.

"Given the enormity of the expenditure, and the pressure that will go on us all to grow the economy as fast as we can, Federated Farmers will continue to remind the government what we need to make sure the primary sector continues to contribute its increasingly significant contribution to the economy," Andrew says.

DairyNZ says the Budget's job focus has "hit the spot", but it too wants to see the devil in the detail. “A $3 billion dollar investment in infrastructure is welcome news for rural New Zealand – but while the dollars are there, the detail isn’t," it said.

This is the statement from DairyNZ:

The Budget’s focus on jobs, infrastructure and the environment has hit the spot, but the devil will be in the detail for the dairy sector, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Today’s budget includes some promising and practical initiatives to create jobs, while enhancing New Zealand’s environment,” said Dr Mackle.

"Dairy farmers will be particularly pleased to see a $19.3 million investment to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs. Our sector is already facing a 1000-person skill shortage that will be greatly exacerbated by COVID-19 and an inability to recruit migrant staff.

“With unemployment forecast to hit 9.8 percent by September, we are hoping many kiwis will consider a career in our world-leading dairy sector. DairyNZ’s new career changers campaign, Go Dairy, will ensure new entrants to the sector will hit the ground running.

“A $3 billion dollar investment in infrastructure is welcome news for rural New Zealand – but while the dollars are there, the detail isn’t. DairyNZ will be engaging with Government in coming weeks and months to ensure water storage, rural broadband and enhanced mobile coverage are priorities.

“While a significant infrastructure spend is required, we are incredibly conscious these projects are funded by debt that will need to be repaid by future generations,” said Dr Mackle.

“We need to ensure that any investment is strategic, has a long-term vision and will pay dividends for years to come. Investing in a coordinated national water storage strategy is an example of a project that ticks all these boxes.

“A coordinated approach to water storage would help unlock economic potential, ensure land-use flexibility, and increase the resilience of our rural communities in the face of drought and a changing climate.

 “DairyNZ is also happy to see substantial investment will be delivered in partnership with local government, business and farmers. We believe this will ensure money reaches the right places and delivers more bang for tax-payer buck.

“Fencing, planting and pest eradication are all things dairy farmers have been focusing on for well over a decade and the Government funding will be a real shot in the arm to help further improve water quality, climate and biodiversity outcomes,” Dr Mackle concluded.

Local Government New Zealand says the Budget leaves many questions unanswered and "leaves those looking for further detail on how the Government intends to get the country truly back onto the road to recovery wanting".

This is the statement from LGNZ:

LGNZ has welcomed Budget 2020, which allocated significant funding to a number of important initiatives from a local government perspective.  However many of the questions related to how the Government will kick start economic activity and address major challenges like climate change and housing affordability remain unanswered.

The announcement of a $1.1 billion investment to create 11,000 environment jobs in the regions was singled out by LGNZ as an important initiative that would support employment in the regions while also delivering a conservation dividend.

The additional allocations to health, social services and wage subsidies were also welcomed, recognising that these investments would go a long way to help alleviate the pressure placed on communities by the Covid-19 shutdown and the resulting economic shock.

LGNZ however noted that in many key areas Budget 2020 appeared to be missing in action, particularly stimulus related recovery investments, climate change and housing, choosing instead to leave these until later.

“I congratulate the Government on delivering a budget that will provide critical support to many New Zealanders struggling with the effects of the Covid-19 shutdown – the measures outlined today will help households stay afloat in difficult times,” said LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“However it leaves those looking for further detail on how the Government intends to get the country truly back onto the road to recovery wanting. We anticipate that those announcements will be made in due course, but we would urge the Government to do so quickly.”

“Without certainty, households, businesses and other organisations, like local government, are likely to hold back from making investments that could aid the pace of our economic recovery.”

In making these future investment announcements, Mr Cull said the Government would have to carefully consider how the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) is spent.

“This budget is largely silent on how we are going to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.  We know these existential challenges are heading our way, and communities want to see public money spent on initiatives that better prepare us to meet them.”

“We also know that our housing affordability problem hasn’t disappeared, and critical investment in infrastructure will be needed to unlock land for development.”

“These are areas where councils have a significant role to play, because ultimately the effects of climate change and housing unaffordability occur locally.  And to really move the dial on the infrastructure led recovery will require a much closer working partnership between central and local government and a willingness to try new ways of doing things.”

“We fully acknowledge that this is a challenge, but for our part the local government sector is fully committed to doing whatever it can to help restore our country’s economic footing in a way that makes us more resilient and robust to future shocks.”

The EMA thinks the Government got the "balance about right" but wants to work with the Government on long-term economic recovery and additional sector-specific plans.

This is the statement from the EMA:

The EMA says the Government’s budget amidst COVID-19 was always going to have to strike the right balance between spending and debt levels to regenerate the economy for the benefit of all.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley believes it does provide a first step in doing this, but is keen to continue to work together with the Government on long term economic recovery and additional sector-specific plans.

"We are particularly pleased with the $4 billion business support package, the $3b for shovel-ready infrastructure projects, and the focus on innovation and digitisation and vocational education and training," he says.

"For businesses who have suffered a 50 per cent downturn since this time last year the extension of the wage subsidy by eight weeks will be welcome news, and for SMEs $10m target for them to improve their e-commerce offering and additional incentives and grants to encourage e-commerce adoption will be crucial."

The EMA says the combination of immediate and ongoing support, especially in the digital space, does help especially in the short term.

"We know it’s hard for businesses, especially SMEs to look at innovation when they’re struggling to stay solvent, but now is the time to capitalise on the things they’ve had to do differently and use the Government’s support to do things better into the future," says Mr O’Riley.

The EMA believes that increased support for R&D including the short-term temporary loan scheme to incentivise businesses to continue with plans, with the help of one-off finance administered by Callaghan Innovation, is the key for many to be able to pivot and regenerate.

"We’re also pleased to see the $216m boost to NZTE to expand its scope of support to businesses, particularly with digital services," says Mr O’Riley.

And although positive economic indicators are set to take a plunge in the short term - GDP will go down and unemployment and debt levels up - at least those who have lost their jobs have prospects for the future, although potentially doing different work.

The $1.6b Trades and Apprentice Package to provide training opportunities for people of all ages is a practical measure to get people back to work, and the $50m allocated for Maori Apprentice and Trades Training is also welcomed as we’re already seeing younger people join the dole queues at a faster rate than others.

"It is also pleasing to see that the Government has balanced the economic need to the country with overall wellbeing, with it addressing housing with a $5b building package through Kainga Ora, $121m for community initiatives for at risk young people, and $1b for the environment," says Mr O’Riley.

But while there is cash for key sectors such as Export and Manufacturing, the key will be in the detail of these plans.

"Manufacturing is acknowledged as an essential plank of our economic recovery going forward, and we’re keen to work with the Government on a more detailed, future-focused plan for this sector, similar to the $400m Tourism Sector Investment Plan that has been announced," says Mr O’Riley.

"We are also looking forward to providing any input we can to the Infrastructure Reference Group that will govern the projects that will literally help get our economy moving, for the good of all."

FIRST Union liked various aspects of the Budget - but has given the Government a serve for "turning its back on more than 300,000 migrant workers in New Zealand by refusing to activate Section 64 of the Social Security Act and extend welfare benefits to those families when they are part of a developing humanitarian crisis."

This is the FIRST Union statement from Dennis Maga, General Secretary:

"Today’s ‘Workers Budget’, set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, has succeeded in its immediate aims of supporting businesses and New Zealand workers who are facing the greatest uncertainty of their lifetimes."

"An extension to the wage subsidy scheme was crucial and will help to support many of the small and medium businesses that may struggle to get back on their feet over the coming months."

"We welcome the significant investments in housing, training and redeployment for New Zealanders, and are pleased that the Government has both eyes on the recovery of our workforce."

"We would have liked to see more explicit support for vulnerable workers who can’t necessarily return to work at present and aren’t always being supported by their employers to stay home and protect themselves and their families."

"But it is unfortunately clear that the Government is turning its back on more than 300,000 migrant workers in New Zealand by refusing to activate Section 64 of the Social Security Act and extend welfare benefits to those families when they are part of a developing humanitarian crisis."

"It is also clear, given the Deputy Prime Minister’s regrettable and xenophobic comments earlier this week that migrant workers should "go home", that New Zealand First is the handbrake on a progressive Government and a progressive Budget in 2020 that truly provides for those most in need."

"Many migrant workers are home in New Zealand; they have been here decades and contributed billions to our economy. They call New Zealand home. Eighty thousand migrant workers, at least, will renew their visas this year."

"Mr Peters and his allies and donors in the business community have relished relatively cheap, highly-skilled migrant labour, and it has helped to build their multi-million dollar businesses. They are now casting them aside."

"Now that those families are being told to apply for emergency Civil Defence support - a few cans of food and the promise of accommodation that is reportedly yet to materialise in many cases - and a major coalition partner in our Government appears to be blocking emergency support for those who were in work before the pandemic."

"These people cannot "go home", despite the fact that it is election year for New Zealand First, and so they need our support and compassion. The fact that Mr Peters could bail out the racing industry this week to the tune of over $70m while his party rejects support for migrant workers in this Budget is particularly galling."

"For nation-building projects on the scale required to pull New Zealand’s economy back from the brink, highly-skilled migrant workers in the construction industry will be crucial."

"For our health system to be resilient and ready for potential future clusters of Covid-19, we need a qualified medical workforce that New Zealand graduates alone simply cannot provide - our health system would not be up to this challenge without our migrant workers, and it never has."

"And agriculture - a key pillar in our economy - relies heavily on migrant workers, who will be an integral part of the rebuilding process."

"This Budget could not have answered every question or anticipated every future problem that will be caused by the pandemic, but it has unfortunately overlooked a looming crisis. The Prime Minister must justify refusing to activate a clause in legislation that was explicitly designed for this kind of situation."

"If New Zealand First is the reason for this, she should say so."

"FIRST Union’s overriding concern is that important and urgent legislation such as Fair Pay Agreements also appear to be being held up by a minor Government coalition partner. More than ever, it would make sense to be planning for sector-level agreements for workforces like supermarket staff, bus drivers and cleaners."

"They deserve universal protections as essential workers, and they are entitled to consistent and fair wages across their sectors that will truly reward them for putting themselves at risk during this pandemic."

"More than ever, it is the time to be thinking big - about reinvestment in our major infrastructure, nationalisation of key public services, the end of poorly-planned PPPs that have never returned the value they promised and have, overall, diminished the working conditions of New Zealanders."

"And that kind of thinking will require bravery and compassion. It remains to be seen how much of that exists outside of the media conferences and around the Cabinet table."

Think tank and lobbyist The New Zealand Initiative would have liked to have seen the Government provide a path back to more prudent debt levels. And there was questioning of continued contributions being made to the NZ Super Fund. Reducing future Superannuation entitlements while using some of the SuperFund to assist with the pandemic response could be warranted, the think tank says.

Here is The New Zealand Initiative's statement:

Budget 2020 puts the Government firmly in the driver’s seat to get New Zealand through the Covid-19 financial crisis, but it will need more than good intentions to succeed, according to The New Zealand Initiative.

The Coalition Government announced the largest spending package in the country’s history, adding $50 billion to the already announced $12.1 billion Covid-19 recovery fund for an enormous total of $62.1 billion, with much of that funding held in reserve in case of future outbreaks.

Part of this new funding will include an extension of the wage subsidy scheme, but on a more targeted basis, out to an extra $3.2 billion.

The Initiative’s chief economist Dr Eric Crampton said this new targeted spending may help private sector employment, but the Government has sent a clear signal about how it plans to tackle the economic crisis.

“The Government is banking more generally on its own projects to see things through.

“Although there was no talk of Kiwibuild, it plans to build 6000 additional public housing homes and 2000 transitional housing homes. On top of this is an obvious preference for projects with a job-creation focus, including environmental projects,” he said.

However, he added there was no direct information on how the Government wants to reopen the border or develop its hypothetical trans-Tasman travel bubble.

“While $84 million is allocated for border protection for passenger travel, that seems rather light if they’re expecting any real increase. By way of comparison, it has allocated $315 million for biosecurity pest and weed control,” he said.

“Hopefully the Government plans to run future quarantine schemes on a cost-recovery basis, so these would not consequently show up in the budget. But some sign of an outward-focus, building on the success we have achieved while strictly protecting the gains we have made, would have been welcome.”

The budget documents also show New Zealand’s core net debt levels are projected to peak at 53.6% of GDP in 2023-2024, and only drop to 42% by 2034. While the Government has avoided tax increases so far, they can be expected going into the election, Dr Crampton said.

“Finance Minister Grant Robertson views current and future debt levels as prudent and as consistent with his responsibilities under the Public Finance Act. And taking on debt during a crisis certainly is!

“But where both major political parties have viewed debt to GDP ratios of 20-25% as prudent, it would be nice to see a path back to those levels,” Dr Crampton said.

The Government is also maintaining contributions to the NZ Superfund - $1.46 billion this year and $2.12 billion next year.

“While this of course doesn’t affect net debt levels, it does seem odd,” Dr Crampton said.

Reducing future Superannuation entitlements while using some of the SuperFund to assist with the pandemic response could be warranted, he added.

New Zealand Initiative senior fellow Dr Bryce Wilkinson said the budget is “all about spending” based on “good intentions.”

“Budget 2020 is plausibly consistent with respect to turning deficits into surpluses. It is less convincing on the prudent debt target,” he said.

He points out that the Government expects borrowing to be about 85.4% of GDP by 2022 while its gross debt will rise to 54.6% that year. At the same time, its core Crown tax revenue is expected to drop from 28.5% of GDP to 26.6% by 2022.

“The Government’s strategy to get back to productivity and economic health seems simple enough: just throw money at a few things like research and development (R&D) and vocational training and increase corporate welfare,” Dr Wilkinson said.

Civil Contractors New Zealand sees the increased infrastructure spending in the Budget as "a win for everyday Kiwis" as well as contractors. It will enable the civil construction industry to provide meaningful employment for those who might have lost jobs, while retaining the skills among the current workforce.

This is the statement from Civil Contractors NZ: 

New Zealand’s national association for civil contractors has welcomed increased investment in infrastructure announced in today’s budget, and the opportunity for the civil construction industry to create jobs and take a lead role in New Zealand’s economic recovery.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock said the announcements were a win for everyday Kiwis as well as contractors because they would enable the country to upgrade and improve community infrastructure such as roads and water networks.

Mr Silcock said the increased investment was a great opportunity, not just to build new roading and water networks, but also to catch up on the country’s deferred maintenance and upgrade existing infrastructure to be fit for purpose in the present day.

“Upgrading New Zealand’s infrastructure will serve the country well in the long term. It will also enable the civil construction industry to provide meaningful employment for those who may have lost their jobs, as well as retaining the skills in our current workforce.”

He said helping people upskill would require close attention to enable people to transition smoothly. While skills such as abseiling or heavy vehicle driving would be transferable, considerable re-training would be needed for some, and industry welcomed opportunities to work closely with Government and the broader training and education sector, especially around developing new pathways to civil apprenticeships.

He said to be truly effective, this investment would also need to reach the regions and the many small to medium employers in the industry, who worked on vital regional works as well as being employed as subcontractors on big-ticket projects.

“While it’s important to give the economy a boost, this needs to be sustainable. The last thing we want to do is create a boom/bust situation. To create sustainable employment and better community outcomes, investment needs to be well-planned and phased over time.”

Mr Silcock said the NZ Infrastructure Commission was established to help take a planned approach and manage the infrastructure work pipeline, and dialog between government and industry had been vastly improved since the creation of the Construction Sector Accord.

It was also important to consider project outcomes in planning. This meant improved maintenance and environmental outcomes, such as upgrading regional water infrastructure to address water quality issues – issues contractors were well equipped to deliver on through new technology and specialist knowledge on techniques such as erosion control.

“Infrastructure investment is not just about building roads. It’s about building better public infrastructure for liveable communities. It’s about improving water and wastewater networks to make sure rivers and lakes aren’t polluted, and about making our roads safer.”

One issue that could be problematic following COVID-19 was the availability of specialist civil construction experts like geotechnical engineers or project managers. In the past a high proportion of these people were recruited from offshore on a permanent, semi- permanent or fly in fly out basis, he said

Environmental lobbyist Greenpeace liked a number of things in the Budget, but is bemoaning the fact there was only "loose change" to address "our most pressing existential challenge" climate change. "The Finance Minister talked about Covid-19 being a one in a hundred year threat, but climate change is the threat that will decide if we have another hundred years on this planet," Greenpeace said.

This is the Greenpeace statement:

Greenpeace is quietly applauding the Government’s conservation, freshwater, rail and small home insulation measures announced in today’s Budget.

However, Executive Director Dr Russel Norman says "looking at where money’s gone in the massive spend-up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the climate crisis was no longer with us."

11,000 environment jobs have been announced adding up to $1.1bn, including $433 million set aside mostly for freshwater restoration projects.

"Nature needs a break, and that’s a good start. The freshwater restoration money will help fix some problems, though it doesn’t change the agricultural system that is continuing to cause harm."

"There’ll be 9,000 warmer Kiwi homes from a $56 million boost, but just to put that in perspective there are 600,000 under-insulated homes in New Zealand, impacting people’s health."

Also rail projects will get more than $1.2 billion which Dr Norman says is encouraging.

"These were things we’ve been pushing for," says Dr Norman. "Money spent in these areas will create jobs and provide some improvements for the environment."

"Unfortunately there’s only loose change from Grant Robertson’s pocket to address our most pressing existential challenge - climate change. Under current policies New Zealand is on track to increase net emissions by 20% from 2005 to 2030 according to Government projections.

"The Finance Minister talked about Covid-19 being a one in a hundred year threat, but climate change is the threat that will decide if we have another hundred years on this planet."

Greenpeace says there’s very little in today’s budget to bring about the transition of our biggest climate polluter, industrial agriculture - such as the Regenerative Farming package promoted as part of its Green Covid Response policy document.

And there appears to be nothing to support the rollout of household solar panels and batteries, which the grid operator Transpower has identified as key to decarbonising the energy system.

With Finance Minister Grant Robertson signalling that several large announcements are yet to come, Greenpeace is calling on the Government to show courageous leadership to protect future generations.

"When he starts allocating that remaining pot of $20B, Mr Robertson and the Government will need to focus on the future and the main threat to our existence - the climate and ecological crises," says Dr Norman.

"The Government still has time to show the bold leadership needed to put New Zealand’s economy onto a resilient path. With an election looming just around the corner, they would be foolish to throw young people under the bus or to underestimate the enormous public support for building back better post-Covid."

Irrigation NZ says the Budget was a "missed opportunity" for water investment to help the post Covid-19 recovery. "IrrigationNZ understands the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 but believes that strategic management of this essential resource remains important, and that a water strategy to guide spending would be beneficial,’’ it says.

This is the statement from Irrigation NZ:

IrrigationNZ believes that strategic water storage in key regions could aid a post-Covid recovery which focuses on protecting jobs, creating new ones, achieving positive environmental outcomes, and contributing to climate change targets.

“But Budget 2020 has missed the opportunity for water storage to be part of the solution,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal.

“IrrigationNZ understands the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 but believes that strategic management of this essential resource remains important, and that a water strategy to guide spending would be beneficial,’’ Ms Soal says.

“We will continue to talk to the Government about how this can be done utilising the $20 billion unallocated funding, and the $3.2 billion infrastructure contingency fund.”

“As we rise out of the wreckage of COVID-19 we must urgently look to stimuli for our economy. Correctly captured, efficiently distributed and effectively used water is one of those.”

“The Hawkes Bay drought is an example of why it is so important that we have water storage – to prevent damage to communities and regions caused by drought, which will increase due to climate change,” says Ms Soal.

IrrigationNZ is supportive of the money set aside in Budget 2020 to create new jobs in regional environmental projects including improving the health of New Zealand's waterways, enhancing biodiversity and restoring wetlands.

“This is a great opportunity to create employment and better look after our natural waterways, native bush, and landscapes,” says Ms Soal.

Budget 2020 offers $500m for the primary sector, going largely to mycoplasma bovis recovery and the Emissions Trading Scheme. IrrigationNZ applauds wellbeing support going to farmers and aiding people into primary sector jobs.

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission (Infracom) is happy with the infrastructure spending in the Budget but says further long term infrastructure needs "must not be ignored". 

This is the statement from Infracom:

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga (Infracom) welcomes the billions of dollars allocated towards infrastructure in today’s Budget, including $3 billion for ‘shovel-ready’ projects, additional rail investment, free trades training and funding towards social housing, but warns further long-term infrastructure needs must not be ignored.

"In this time of crisis, it’s essential that we find ways to kickstart the economy. Infrastructure has an important role to play, especially through the large number of people the construction sector employs," says Infracom Chair Dr Alan Bollard.

"Infracom has been part of the selection process of ‘shovel-ready’ projects through the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, with recommendations to be presented soon - and we look forward to those projects receiving a much-needed boost to get things moving. However, there are also projects that won’t be able to commence within the next 12 months but will need attention for the long-term benefit of all New Zealanders, such as aging water pipes. It’s also important that infrastructure investment addresses future needs such as climate change mitigation."

Infracom is in the process of developing its 30-year strategy for infrastructure in New Zealand, and is consulting extensively with key stakeholders to identify gaps and strengths. The strategy will be presented to the Government in 2021.

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13 Comments

So pretty much they all said "The budget is okay, but WE want/need more."

Colour me surprised.

Gimme, gimme, gimme...

...a man after midnight...

ha ha
this budget worries me in many ways. Mainly cos I don't think the govt have a clue how they are going to pay for this debt binge

Fritz, they have a clear and certain Plan - purchase enough Votes to get re-elected in September, and keep puffing on the Hopium until then. Afterwards, set up some Rilly Focussed Working Groups to start to plan for winning the 2023 election oops, we meant - the Brighter Future (Sunlit Uplands? Kind and Caring Utopia? note to file - need some branding here)....

Lolol NAILED it!

Richard Prebble:

'It is the first Budget where Government says it is going to spend but does not know what on. As if just spending is a sensible policy. Thirty years of prudence blown in one Budget.

Government was warned of the pandemic in January. By going too late and then too hard the economy has been smashed. The Budget's massive borrowing and reckless spending will be a burden for years.'

Alex Tarrant would be proud of his old employer.

The moaning is gobsmacking. It is beginning to look like we have beaten this thing. The rest of the world, by and large is still tying itself in knots trying to get out of the mess they've made for themselves, by not doing, basically, anything at all.
We DID NOT go late, we could have gone earlier, but there were thousands of kiwis to return home, as they had a right to, we asked to self isolate, and they did. We have shut the borders once the bulk of that movement was over, hunkered down and what is just a few short weeks, we appear to have won. It will, of course, remain to be seen, as we restart things.
We are, of course, still going to be badly affected by what happens around the world. Tourism was one of our biggest earners, that's gone, maybe for a very long time, we just have to suck that up. I kind of think it probably should be left to shrink to where it's internally sustainable, then be allowed to revive itself, maybe with help then, when some sort of foreign tourism returns, though I would be happy if it never returned to the numbers we were trying to cater for
My preference would be for us to see how we can function with a steady state, circular economy rather than this nonsense of growth, growth, growth, as Simon Bridges constantly, unthinkingly barks out, but it still might take time before that is accepted by us all.
We could try to bring some other industry here, and I believe if we can offer a well work force, that business should not be interrupted by outbreaks, we could be on to a winner. Time will tell.
Until all of that, we are in this still, but not quite boots and all, with the rest of the world.
I'm proud of what we have done. I will, over the weekend, try to read the legislation giving police extra powers, though my understanding at this point, it is not intended to be permanent.
Yes, the borrowing is scary, but I do think our unique position in the world will eventually pay off for us

Cost of lockdown to the economy so far is in the $10's of billions (long term >$100billion). Cost of quarrantining 100k returning kiwis for 2 weeks would have been less than a billion. Govt dropped the ball awfully in not instituting effective quarantine on arrivals until mid April simply because they lacked the talents to get it done. Quite possibly the worst mistake in history of NZ govt.

Cost of failure in attempted quarantine? NZ was not ready in terms of infra, testing, contact tracing. Health has not been funded to that level in recent times, if ever. Economic cost of covid-wracked country?

The talking-points driven hysteria I think pretends that the easy options were actual options and would have worked.

I was disappointed that there has been no mention of addressing the poverty trap that government creates with it's raft of benefits and subsidies. We are going to have over 10 % of our population plunged into this situation. It was always been imperative that we should have addressed this, however it is doubly so that we address it know.
My cynical side thinks that National is quite happy to have this situation because at this point it knows that it has the plebs screwed down as far as possible. Whereas Labour are happy because this population are more likely to vote Labour.

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