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Labour Party candidate Vanushi Walters says the Government's COVID-19 response has, and will continue to have, people at its heart

Labour Party candidate Vanushi Walters says the Government's COVID-19 response has, and will continue to have, people at its heart

By Vanushi Walters*

In my view, the economy is there to serve people, all people – not the other way around. This is more important now more than ever in the face of COVID-19.

Here in New Zealand, our go hard, go fast response to the virus is paying off. When COVID-19 hit our shores, our team of five million pulled together to keep each other safe. We stopped travel, stopped going into school and work, and stopped gathering with friends and family. We all made big sacrifices to avoid the worst of COVID-19, but together, we made it through.

The success of that team effort means we’re coming out safer and stronger than most other countries. There are still challenges ahead, as the virus continues to surge around the globe, but thanks to the strong health response, we now have one of the most open economies in the world.

This gives New Zealand an economic head start. It means we can look to the future and focus our attention on the recovery and rebuild. And while the path ahead isn’t easy, there is a clear way forward. The economic recovery plan outlined by Jacinda Ardern earlier this month sets out an approach that not only puts New Zealand on a path back to growth, but also has people at its heart.

For me, that’s an important distinction. Too often when the discussion turns to the economy, the people who are impacted the most aren’t included in the conversation. New Zealand has seen economic downturns before, and we know the impact these downturns can have on those left behind. So, if there are any lessons to be learnt from these past experiences, it’s that now is the time to be investing in our people and supporting our local businesses.

Right from the start, New Zealand’s COVID response has had people at its heart. As soon as the impacts of COVID-19 started to be felt here, the Government acted quickly – it rolled out the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which has now supported more than 1.6 million jobs, increased support for those most in need by permanently raising benefits and doubling the Winter Energy Payment for 2020, and invested in initiatives like interest-free loans and tax relief to help businesses weather the storm.

With the global pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, there are still tough times ahead, but I am confident the plan set out by the Government, with people at its centre, is taking us in the right direction.

The plan includes major investment in much-needed infrastructure projects across the country, expected to create over 20,000 jobs, and programmes that will create more than 10,000 new environment jobs in our regions, which will keep people working, keep New Zealand moving, and protect our precious wildlife.

But it’s also about looking to our future. The plan has a strong focus on projects that will support our immediate recovery, but that will also help us tackle the long-term challenges facing our country. Initiatives like building more state houses, cleaning up our waterways, and upgrading our hospitals, schools, rail and roads will all create much-needed jobs and economic stimulus now, while also helping ensure New Zealand is an even better place for our children and grandchildren.

Of course, we must be careful of the debt that these future generations will carry. However, our Government’s careful management of the economy going into the pandemic meant we were in a good position to cushion the blow with low debt, compared with the rest of the world. And this week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the Government would set aside the remaining $14b from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund to make sure New Zealand can continue to respond to the virus as the global situation grows more uncertain.

This means that, should New Zealand face a second wave of COVID-19, we can continue to make sure that people are at the heart of our response.

Labour is the Party that puts people first, and we will continue this as together, we keep moving forward with our post-COVID recovery and rebuild. There is still a long way to go, but we’ve made a good start, and now, we need to keep moving – with people at the heart of everything we do.


*Vanushi Walters is Labour’s candidate for Upper Harbour, and is #23 on the Labour Party List. She is a Director at Cogent Law and a Trustee at Foundation North.  She has taken leave from her role as a Senior Manager at the Human Rights Commission during the campaigning period. Brooke van Velden, who is the ACT Party's Deputy Leader and Wellington Central candidate, is also writing a regular column for interest.co.nz during this election campaign.

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48 Comments

16
up

"Here in New Zealand, our go hard, go fast response to the virus is paying off. When COVID-19 hit our shores, our team of five million pulled together to keep each other safe." Totally agree, Jacinda and the Labour party managed to keep this deadly virus under control when so many other countries failed miserably.

She even managed to stand up to the Chinese when they insisted that we keep our boarders open. Some how I can't see National keeping us safe by not kowtowing to China and throwing our boarders wide open to mass immigration again.

Her hollow praise of her own party sounds too sweet to make it so wired.

Self-praise is no praise. One big yarn. after all,they are paid to do the job,its not that they did all these gratis.

20
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God this reads like a piece of propaganda. Makes me sick.

Makes you wonder why interest is running it.

Sticking and no substance.
I see a moving away from the 'what Labour did' to all NZ as it is about to be pointed out that the Labour PR spin isn't actually what occurred.

12
up

"the economy is there to serve people, all people – not the other way around". Bzzzt - wrongthink.

"The Economy" is an epiphenomenon: a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself.

It is the observable result of trillions of human transactions. Those transactions can certainly be influenced by the prevailing legal and societal norms (to which pedants will add 'and the machinations of central banks'), but the notion of 'making the economy serve the people' is nonsense on stilts....

Wow! Interesting statement Waymad, that really could, I hope, stir up a brilliant discussion. But you nail it here; "Those transactions can certainly be influenced by the prevailing legal and societal norms " Puts the need for Government regulation, which is supposed to serve the people, into perspective.

Completely agree.... this candidate seems to have an odd definition of 'the economy'. If you put 'government' in her sentence to replace 'economy' i dont think anyone would disagree.

For me, the economy is the sum of all the transactions engaged in by the economic players.. households, business, government, central bank, financial institutions, importers and exporters. Each of these players work in their own self interest, but it is the role of government to ensure the rules these players play by are fair and as a consequence all are collectively better off by working in their own interest.

Where is the proof, or where do you get the idea that "each of these players work in their own self-interest"? Sounds like the age-old platitude from Adam Smith to me.

Semantics.

I think, Kate, that it's harder to find proof of the opposite. Find me a house with no lock on the front door.

As the government is the currency issuer its deficits are equal to a private sector surplus, they are an asset to the private sector and not a liability that must be repaid, they become household savings.
The government can repay debt at any time that it chooses just by the use of QE when bonds are exchanged for bank reserves.An analysis here of the UK governments accounts that proves this fact.
https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2020/07/22/the-uk-governments-own-ac...

Bollocks. Only by forgiving debt, can it be withheld from being a future expectation of repayment (via work which uses energy). Even assumed-to-have-been-earned savings are proxy for future work and energy and resources. Proof? What are they worth when the shelves are empty? Diddly Squat.

End lesson.

All money is created as debt, without debt there can be no money. When debts are repaid money ceases to exist. Banks create money when they issue loans and when the loan is repaid the money no longer exists. The government creates money as its debt to us in payment for the goods and services that we provide to it. When we pay taxes to the government the money is deleted and ceases to exist. When the government borrows it is only an exchange of money within the accounts of the Reserve Bank, between commercial bank reserve accounts and the governments own reserve account. Borrowing never finances the government, it is a sovereign currency issuer.

"The government creates money as its debt to us in payment for the goods and services that we provide to it." What goods and services? Mostly I agree with you, but one of us is confused and I think it is me. I disagree that money cannot exist without debt. Money is just a means of trading for goods and services. Just because you have money doesn't mean you have debt, nor does not having any mean you have debt. There is the potential.

Under MMT the Government can issue currency to fully fund it's policies. It establishes charges and taxation to control inflation and behaviour, with regulation underlying all of this. Accordingly the Government can ensure that an environment exists to provide employment and for business's to function. But to take PDKs point, the Government must also ensure that the environment is not destroyed in this process.

The government hires workers, teachers and healthcare workers and so forth, it also buys services to build schools and hospitals and roads ect. Money has to be created in some manner it doesn't just appear from nowhere. Money creation is a function of the state and only the government has the legal authority to create it, it has designated some of these powers to the banks under special licence and government control. As long as money creation doesn't exceed the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services then inflation will not occur. Unemployment is a sign that the government is not spending enough and that there is spare capacity.

Gold is MONEY, everything else is credit. The world could finally be figuring this out...

VOT

"that not only puts New Zealand on a path back to growth"

This kind of ignorance should be behind us. It was 'growth' that got us to the point where continuance of the human species is threatened, not to mention the other-species collateral damage.

Yet she chants 'MORE!'

Ignorance, pure ignorance. And National are worse. As for Jones...... We're stuffed, aren't we?

Endless growth on our finite planet. I wish I could be an optimist about this... I don't see nearly enough people waking up to the madness and changing our trajectory in time. If we do not begin to make changes early enough, the kind of power that will declare itself during the chaos will be truly frightening.

Here's what the experts at Oxford think of Labour's approach to COVID:

So you think that the New Zealand approach, eradicating the virus, is both functionally silly and also immoral?
Well, I don’t know whether I’d go so far as to say it’s immoral. It seems to be very short-sighted, how can it possibly keep the virus out?
I think the smugness, the self-congratulation with which it’s presented is misplaced. The self-righteous attitude is completely ridiculous. If it turns out that the rest of the world, through herd immunity or vaccination, manages to reduce the risk of infection, then what New Zealand will have done would be tantamount to not vaccinating your own child. Just waiting for everyone else to vaccinate their children and then go “ok it’s all safe now”.
https://reaction.life/we-may-already-have-herd-immunity-an-interview-wit...

“The benefits of the current strategy are outweighed by the harms…When it comes to suppression, only the virus will have a determination in that. If you follow the New Zealand policy of suppressing it to zero and locking down the country forever, then you’re going to have a problem… This virus is so out there now, I cannot see a strategy that makes suppression the viable option. The strategy right now should be how we learn to live with this virus”
https://unherd.com/thepost/oxford-epidemiologists-suppression-strategy-i...

Well that's ok if you are not one of the people that ends up dying or suffering from the long term health consequences of catching the virus. Are you planning a trip to the USA any time soon?

Your chances of dying are pretty close to zero unless you are over 80 with co-morbities, or morbidly obese. The long term health consequences are mainly conjecture, and in any event are likely to be no different to those from the flu. This disease is out there, and trying to pretend we can keep it at bay is fantasy.

Nature killing off the weak is 'unkind'. What is 'kind' is to seal off these islands of banker ghettos. Many years from now, they will be rediscovered and the local population of humans will greet the discoverers with the traditional greeting: "Would you like to buy a house?"

What is not mentioned is the possibility that COVID immunity does not last, thus undermining the viability of any vaccine. More reports are emerging that people who have caught it and recovered, have managed to catch it again. This is not well understood by the medical community, so we've got a way to go yet. It is too easy to criticise any one approach when the sum of our knowledge started at SFA and is not much more just a few months on.....

As the apex predators and most intelligent species, we often struggle to accept we can't control everything. For all of our technological advances, we still fail to accept there are always variables we cannot control.

There is no evidence that people who have caught it and recovered have caught it again. Those people who have tested positive after recovery have had weak positives from residual dead virus. If anyone in the medical or pharma community thought re-infection was happening, they would not be wasting millions on a vaccine.

Well that's almost all not true. There's multiple anecdotal accounts of reinfection with testing negative in between with a confirmed exposure to someone infected to explain the second infection. This is a WaPo article so you can be skeptical that it comes with an agenda but here:
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300063840/can-you-ge...

Nothing could be more lucrative to a Pharma than a vaccine with 20 year patent that everyone was forced to have twice a year.

I said there is no evidence, and I stand by that. A handful of anecdotes is not evidence, as this NY Times article observes. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/health/covid-antibodies-herd-immunity... There's a lot of people out there who are terrified without reason. It's sad.

So we're in the wrong says some "expert" from one of the countries with the worst record of dealing with the pandemic? And we have historyrepeats trying to convince us that white is black? Pull the other one!

Complete nonsense.

So what happens to this country when the rest of the world has learned to live with the virus, and NZ is cowering behind closed doors with an expectation of zero infections? What happens when the virus does get out, as it inevitably will? Do we all just shut ourselves up and borrow another 50 billion?

Why do you assume these things will happen? When do you expect the rest of the world to reach this happy state?

As long as the debt is all held in NZ Dollars what does it matter? we only owe the debt to ourselves. No other country can create our currency for us to borrow and our exports are still doing well.

I watched that unherd interviews with the epidemiologist experts,older guys done in their bedrooms.arent they allowed outside?I would be scared too.45,000 dead and rising by the day.

Words just words.. She is an elite paying lip service to the labour party spin machine. People at it's heart??? What till labour get a super majority and see what happens...

Electioneering in full swing I see. Promises, promises, with a smile (no less) & a kiss for the baby. But who will have the biggest smile?

The one with the biggest smile is the one whose hands are in your pockets looking to steal your Money. Usually a leftie.

What a big-scoping, big-hearted reply. I stand in awe.

Not.

Sorry, I can't buy this anymore. It's been a decade since PAYE rates were reviewed, we tax inflation on income and the vast portion of that period was under a centre-right pragmatic National Govt. Yes, Labour have are more effective at deliverying higher taxes than they are campaign promises, but let's not pretend that the National govt didn't ignore some basic revenue issues that directly affect taxpayers.

John Key had a great big smile and a revolving door with banks. No wonder we're in the state we are.

"In my view, the economy is there to serve people, all people – not the other way around."
translated:
"In my view, extorted tax money is there to be reappropriated as we see fit with little oversight and less scrutiny."

Here comes the showjumping. Bit of a shame that for the last two and a half years, Labour has done el zilcho for the common man. It does not acknowledge the huge wellness issue posed by worsening congestion because that would involve talking about how it failed with light rail. It refuses to entertain the idea that *shock horror* maybe people shouldn't be taxed on the inflation component of their wages. The only thing it has delivered are a regional fuel tax that did not flow back into Auckland to the same extent it removed funds, and margin-of-error improvements of child poverty. Using Covid19 as a psychological reset to put distance between your own failure to deliver campaign policy is a sick, expensive joke.

Both major Parties - indeed all Parties - advocate 'growth'. Given that it is growth which is killing our chances of long-term survival, they're all either deluded or duplicitous.

But if asked which I'd rather have in control as the s--- continues to hit the fan, it sure as hell ain't National. I wouldn't trust Collins as far as I could throw her. And I'm no longer a young man....

That's the rub though. If we can't grow and inflate our debt away, then we need to find it from elsewhere. That means productivity gains, and eliminating things like congestion, getting more done in the hours we do work, and ideally working less. All of this totally foreign to a Labour-led government. To them, there is nothing beyond the public sector. This was shown during the lockdown, where the private sector workers had pay slashed and scrambled for any semblance of job security. The public sector just continued on as-is, whether they were actually working or not (even more unjust given the stonking hours IRD and MSD put in over the lockdown compared to other agencies e.g. INZ). No 'team of five million' nonsense will change the reality of who bore the brunt of lockdown. It wasn't the cardigan-wearers, that's for sure. And that tells you why Labour is the wrong party for making the most out of what we already have. As long as the Wellingtonistas are happy, it doesn't give a shit about anyone else.

How can the economy serve the people when the private banking system creates 97%of the currency in society. It decides the quantity and where it is allocated.