An economy that works for us

Overall our economy is in a good state as we start of the year and prepare for what might be some challenging months ahead.

However economic growth is not an end in itself. We’ve also had solid employment growth and 648 fewer people on main benefits on the North Shore at the end of the year, a 10% fall. Our challenge is to use our growing economy to ramp up practical assistance for businesses to grow and keep employing people, and deal with our community’s priorities.

We must continue to prioritise protecting our community from Covid, as well as help local businesses to survive the downturn. Working together we’ve have achieved near-universal vaccination coverage within the Waitematā DHB region. IRD’s Takapuna office has distributed more than $700 million in resurgence support to help businesses pay their basic costs. Wage subsidies have kept most workers attached to their jobs.

At the same time I believe it’s vital we’ve also kept our eye on making the right investments, building back better so our community can meet current and future challenges. That means investing in transport, better education, more warm and dry homes for local families, improvements at North Shore Hospital and real action to address the expected impacts of climate change.

The Government has been working on all these challenges and there are signs of how this is benefitting us here on the North Shore. The Northern Busway extension to Albany is nearing completion; schools across my electorate are benefiting from capital investment to bring them up to modern standards; 1,700 homes are being built by Kainga Ora at Northcote; water infrastructure is being upgraded to future-proof the network and 120 new surgical beds and additional ICU capacity is being added at North Shore Hospital. In April the minimum wage increases to $21.20 an hour and benefits will also rise – money that will spent in our community.

In addition I’ve called for faster action on transport and to build the additional harbour crossing. So I was pleased to see that this is now included in integrated light rail network which will link to the cross-harbour tunnel on which consultation will start soon.

As a North Shore MP I’ve also heard from local businesses, especially from our hospitality sector, how difficult trading conditions have been, and I’ve been lobbying the Finance Minister for targeted support to see them through.

We also need better vocational training so local people are upskilled for local jobs, especially in sectors experiencing shortages like infrastructure, health and hospitality. The recently announced unemployment insurance scheme includes support to retrain when people lose their jobs because of redundancy or serious illness and we need that training over here on the Shore for them, and for young people getting skills for their first jobs.

I will continue to closely monitor our indicators of economic success. A good economy is one that serves all our community, both now in the face of a pandemic and in the future.