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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 4—Finance

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National): How much new spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis—[Interruption]

SPEAKER: Order! I’m just going to ask the member to start again and I’m going to ask the interjector to cease.

4. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: How much new spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis has the Government announced so far, and how much has been spent to date?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The Government has set aside $62 billion for investments to support the economy through this one-in-100-year pandemic. This includes the $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund announced in the Budget and the initial $12 billion economic package announced on 17 March. To date, about $43 billion has been announced and allocated over the forecast period, including for schemes to protect jobs and support businesses like the wage subsidy scheme, the Small Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme, and changes to the tax system. At the same time, the Government has committed significant new investment for essential public services like health and education. In answer to the second part of the question, the Crown accounts for April and May have not yet been finalised, but Treasury forecasts that more than $26 billion will be spent in the current year to 30 June to support the economy through this one-in-100-year event.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How much additional spending has he so far planned to announce before the general election in September?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: At this stage, as the member knows, we have $20 billion remaining in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to spend as necessary on response and recovery from COVID-19. As the member knows, the Government has been very flexible all the way through our response to ensure we meet need as it arises, but I don’t have any specific plans in that regard.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Would he have to spend less if the economy was opened up sooner, as suggested by the Deputy Prime Minister?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, as I think I said in the House last week, the big difference in terms of the operation of the economy is between level 3 and level 2, where there’s about a 10 percentage point improvement in output, versus the move from level 2 to level 1, which would be about half of that, at 5 percentage points. Like all New Zealanders, I want to see our society and our economy opened up as quickly as possible and in the safest possible manner.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Will he be explicit before the election about any tax increases being considered by a Labour Government, if it were to be re-elected, to pay for his additional spending?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As the Minister of Finance in the coalition Government, I’ve been very clear that we are not doing anything to the tax system in this period of Government that remains. It will be up to each individual party running into the election to be clear about their tax policy. That applies to all parties in Parliament.

Hon James Shaw: Has he seen any information about the increased cost of National’s JobStart package if that was layered on top of the existing $11 billion that’s gone into the wage subsidy, and what that would do for tax rates in the future?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’ve seen a range of ideas being brought up from political parties, including spending about another $9 billion of the $20 billion that’s remaining. I don’t think all of the parties in Parliament have added up all of the promises that they’re making, but I’m sure someone will do that for them.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Will he rule out the re-imposition of death duties?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That is definitely not on the coalition Government’s agenda.