“3,800 more New Zealanders have joined the welfare queue this week, emphasising the urgent need for the Government to do better on public health so we can reopen the economy, create new jobs and start paying off the debt,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

Treasury’s latest weekly economic update shows that the total number of people receiving income support – both Jobseeker Support and the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment – is now 196,700. That’s up 3,800 on last week.

“The Government’s slow and inadequate public health response means New Zealand’s economy will contract 7.2 per cent in 2020, in comparison with the Treasury’s Budget forecast of 4.6 per cent, and a 4.5 per cent contraction in Australia.

“ACT was calling for action at the border in January and February, but the Government dithered and then had to impose one of the most severe lockdowns in the world. The Prime Minister’s claim that New Zealand went ‘hard and early’ is a lie.

“Testing was slow to ramp up, contact tracing has been inadequate, and that’s before we even get to the recent bungles at the border.

“New Zealand got lucky because we are an island nation.

“Covid-19 has now left behind an economic mess. Kiwis are worried about the future – about jobs and the billions of dollars in debt we’re leaving for our kids. We need a fiscally responsible recovery.

“But this Labour Government has lurched from failure to failure. KiwiBuild, light rail, child poverty, Fees Free, the gun buyback, and various other projects have flopped.

“If it can’t do this stuff right, what hope does it have of rebuilding an economy?

ACT has a common sense, five-point plan to grow the economy and jobs, cut taxes, red tape and the cost of living, invest in public health and better technology at our border, and leave less debt for our kids.

“Our plan would reduce taxes on more than half of all workers, providing confidence and certainty. It would also reduce costs faced by small businesses and job creators.

“Politicians need to start treating New Zealanders like adults and let them get on with the job of rebuilding our economy.

“Our economic recovery won’t come from the Beehive, but from businesses and workers up and down this country.

“New Zealanders need common sense for a change.”