Budget supports public services and rejects austerity

The Public Service Association welcomes the Labour-led government’s 2020 budget, noting its commitment to job creation and the maintenance of crucial public and community services.

“These are terribly difficult and uncertain times, and any move toward austerity and cutbacks would have been disastrous for the economy and for the wellbeing of working people,” says PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay.

“As we face global economic depression that could rival that of the 1930s, we must heed the lessons our parents and grandparents learned back then. Investment in infrastructure, job creation projects and a strong welfare state are not just ways to help New Zealanders in the short term, they are essential tools for economic recovery.”

Hundreds more staff will be hired to help out at the Ministry of Social Development, where workloads have skyrocketed alongside growing unemployment and the need to deliver the COVID-19 support package.

Union members are welcoming the emphasis on employment and the continuation of rapid response teams in the regions.

Significant funding allocated to the Department of Conservation to employ New Zealanders in wetland restoration and pest control will create thousands of jobs while improving the long term health of our environment.

Thousands more state houses will be constructed and the health sector has received a huge funding boost.

PSA members in Kainga Ora and the health system say they appreciate this additional support at such a critical time.

The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister both made clear in speeches on Thursday that they reject the economic models imposed on New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s, and announced a “comprehensive engagement programme” will be prepared in the coming months to involve all New Zealanders in shaping a new direction for our society.

“Our union is enthusiastic about the opportunity offered by the Government to join with workers and their unions, churches and civil society organisations, business associations and government to debate a new vision for this country,” says Mr Barclay.

“There are things this budget doesn’t address, such as the urgent need to increase welfare payments so unemployed workers can survive. Nonetheless it is an enormous step in the recovery and sets the stage for other changes we know need to happen. The PSA looks forward to being part of that conversation.”

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