It has now been just over five years since our Government came into office. Every day I’m humbled by the trust New Zealanders have put in our Labour team, and every day we work hard to repay that trust with action.
Because of the big, long-term challenges that we inherited in 2017 – like an underfunded health system, entrenched child poverty and the urgency of climate change and the severe weather events that come with it – it can sometimes be easy to forget just how far we’ve come.
So five years on, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of that progress with you.
We’re now well underway with our plan to ensure every New Zealander has access to world-class healthcare. We’re upgrading hospitals and health centres across the country, we’re funding more paramedics and ambulances, and we’ve made record increases to Pharmac’s medicines budget.
We’ve worked hard to grow the health workforce too. Thanks to these efforts, there are more doctors working in hospitals and clinics, we’re training more nurses than ever, and we now have thousands more health workers in New Zealand than when we came into Government in 2017.
Improving wellbeing has also been a priority for us. That’s why we’ve focused on lifting incomes, including through increases to Superannuation. We’ve also provided extra support with the annual Winter Energy Payment, meaning less stress through the colder months.
On top of this, the measures we’ve introduced to support families have lifted 66,000 children out of poverty. However, we know things are still tough for many, so we’re continuing to support New Zealanders with the cost of living.
All of this progress has been made possible because we’ve made sure our economy is in a good position.
Covid has caused the greatest economic downturn in New Zealand since the Great Depression, but thanks to our economic management, debt is low, more people are in work, and our economy is larger now than before the pandemic.
Of course, while we’ve achieved a lot, I know there’s more to do. I’m looking forward to building on our progress, so together, we can make New Zealand even better.