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It’s Budget week — heralding a Budget of two halves.
First, the emissions reduction plan announced on Monday, which is the ‘‘how’’ of reaching a climate zero future.
Second: the Budget itself announced today, detailing the health reforms we will fund to end ‘‘postcode lottery health’’ and see better outcomes for all communities including seniors and rural folk.
These are two areas I know are of critical importance to people in the Taieri electorate, which straddles urban Dunedin and rural South Otago, and has had more than its fair share of floods, rural health service shortages, and unacceptably long hospital waiting times.
Also welcome news is the Government announcement last week of a major package of reforms to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand and speed up our economic growth.
New Zealand’s border will fully reopen to tourists and visa holders on July 31, two months earlier than planned.
This builds on our previous reconnecting work, and will be a relief for businesses across the Taieri electorate.
The global disruptions caused by Covid gave us an opportunity to get smart about immigration.
We’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to speed up New Zealand’s recovery and address long-term challenges.
Our new rebalanced immigration settings will help businesses access the key skills they need, while also ensuring wages and working conditions are improved for everyone.
To address immediate skills shortages, we’re creating a new streamlined immigration pathway for hard-to-fill jobs.
The new Green List, which includes roles like nurses, GPs, teachers, engineers, and tech workers, will make it easier to attract these much-needed workers to New Zealand.
Our immigration system will be simpler and smarter, reducing categories, bringing more online accessibility and streamlining application processes for businesses.
To keep the skills we need within the country, we’ve announced that about 20,000 visa holders with visas expiring before 2023 are being granted either a six-month extension or a new two-year visa with open work conditions, so their employers won’t be affected by these changes.
We’re also continuing our plan to grow skills at home.
We’ve already seen more than 190,000 New Zealanders taking up our free trades training and apprenticeships.
Earlier this week, we also announced an extension to the apprenticeship boost scheme which will see a further 38,000 Kiwis supported into a trade.
This is designed to address the urgent skills shortages created by Covid while also putting our immigration settings on a better and more sustainable footing.
Employers will have greater access to skilled workers to address workforce need.
Our new reopening dates will see families and friends reunite, international students return, and provide a much-needed boost to our tourism and events sectors.
As many constituents have told me , that’s a very welcome step forward.