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Source: New Zealand Government

More jobs and more family time with newborns are the centrepiece of a suite of Government initiatives coming into effect today.

July 1 is a milestone day for the Government as a host of key policies take effect, demonstrating the critical areas where progress has been made.

“The Coalition Government is making progress on both the long-term challenges we were tackling before Covid-19 hit and our economic response to the global pandemic,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

The suite of Government initiatives that come into effect today include:

  • Paid parental leave extending to 26 weeks and by $20 more a week
  • Free apprenticeships opening to tens of thousands
  • Pay boost for early childhood teachers kicks in for up to 17,000 qualified teachers
  • Farm Debt Mediation scheme begins operating
  • Cheaper building levy saving homeowners and businesses money

“Since we took office we have increased the amount of paid time new parents get to spend with their babies by eight weeks, demonstrating our commitment to families by removing economic barriers to parents spending those all-important early months with their children.

“Our early and hard response to Covid-19 means New Zealand is in a good position to get moving faster than other countries.

“But today we also see the foundations we’ve already laid that give us a head-start in our recovery – such as free trades training,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said many of the investments announced in Budget 2020 will start to be rolled out from 1 July, stimulating the economy as it starts to grow again.

“The Government’s plan to recover and rebuild from COVID-19 is focussed on creating jobs. That’s why these measures in our plan to help businesses access skilled workers, boost building activity and help customers deal with their banks are so important.”

Note to editors:

Paid parental leave extends to 26 weeks and $20 more a week

The Government’s increase to paid parental leave kicks in today with another 4 weeks taking New Zealand up to a full 6 months (26 weeks, up from 22 weeks) leave for new parents, and the maximum weekly payment will increase by $20pw. Parents with children due on or after 1 July will now be eligible for 26 weeks of paid parental leave. This is a full six months of leave to support them and their child’s first months of life.

Free apprenticeships open

Apprentices in any industry or people wanting to train in targeted areas will have between $2500 and $6500 in costs per year paid for them, making it easier for New Zealanders who want to train in industries where demand is expected to grow as the country recovers from COVID-19. Tens of thousands are eligible.

Pay boost for early childhood teachers

Early learning centres up and down the country will receive a funding boost from today to improve the pay of up to 17,000 qualified teachers working in education and care services. As we respond to the impact of COVID-19 to our society and economy, the Government remains committed to fair pay for lower-paid workers, especially the workers who have helped get the country moving again. Budget 2020 provided funding of $151.1 million over four years to help bridge the gap between the pay of ECE centre teachers and teachers in schools and kindergartens.

Farm Debt Mediation scheme begins operating

The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme will require creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take any enforcement action. Total farm debt in NZ is $62.8 billion – up 270 per cent on 20 years ago. Farmers are especially vulnerable to business down-turns as a result of conditions that are often outside their control, like weather, market price volatility and diseases like Mycoplasma bovis and Covid-19.

Cheaper building levy

People undertaking consented building work will be left with more money in their pocket now that the lower Building Levy rate has come into effect. The Building Levy will be reduced by 13 per cent, from $2.01 to $1.75 per $1,000 of the total build cost if the consented work is over the $20,444 threshold. The change will result in direct savings for homeowners and developers looking to do building work that requires consent and equates to savings of about $80 based on the average residential new build in Auckland, or $5,200 for a $20 million commercial project.