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Time for unity

4 December 2020

Unity is needed the most when we are facing a crisis.  Today we are facing both a health and economic crisis.  A vaccine against Covid may resolve the health crisis, but there is no vaccine for the economic crisis. 

Getting out of the economic crisis will be a hard grind.  So, it is time for us as a country to unite and as one work to return New Zealand back to prosperity.  There is no point wishing for what might have been or could be.  We are where we are, and we have the leaders that the country elected. 

One of the foundations of unity is trust in each other and in our leaders.  Decisions need to be made, and no decision in a crisis will ever suit everyone.  What we need to do with the decisions that are made is put trust in them and as one, collectively make them work.  That is not to say that decisions cannot be refined and adapted. 

Our housing crisis has been developing for many years.  It has now become one of the most urgent areas that we need to deal with as a country.  I don’t think it is useful to dredge back over the causes of this crisis.  A lot of New Zealanders are sleeping in cars, garages and motels paid for by the Government.  It must be very unsettling to have no or uncertain accommodation.  This situation must affect a person’s ability to perform and function, and participate at school, in the workplace and in the wider community.  There is absolutely no easy or quick solution to our housing crisis.  But it is a crisis that we all need to do what we can to resolve, both in the short and long term.

Not having accommodation ripples into the ability to work and participate in the community.  There are a lot of jobs on offer, and a lot of people are getting jobs.  This is good news for New Zealand and our economic recovery because, at the moment, we do not have a temporary migrant workforce travelling to and working in our country.  What we do have is a lot of people who could make a very valuable contribution to our economic recovery, who – due to their lack of accommodation – are not in the best position to help.  This is a very sad inditement on our country.

As all of New Zealand grapples with the housing crisis and the impact it has on employment, we need to work out what each one of us can do to help.  Lifting the performance of the economy and generating valuable overseas returns will enable the Government and businesses to do what they can to find houses for those without accommodation. 

We need to make sure that our businesses are profitable.  We need to recognise that New Zealand’s economy – apart from a few large corporates – is a country of small businesses.  We need to keep those companies in business to grow our economy and recover.  To achieve this requires a whole set of policy settings to enable New Zealand to keep on trading and producing.  It also requires decision makers and those who work with the decision makers to be trusted with their undertakings.  It does mean that there can be an evolution of the policy settings, which in turn requires decision makers to trust business to perform.  At the same time, business needs to understand the need for policy setting adjustments when they are required.

Trust and unity are two-way streets and a continuum.  Today’s plans need to be made but continually adapted to meet challenges.  So as the new Government settles into prising New Zealand out of the economic crisis, we need to give them our trust but equally, they need to trust business to get on with the economic recovery. 

What was needed yesterday is different today and will be different tomorrow.  Covid has changed everything.  As one, we need to evolve to meet and resolve the crisis we are facing.  The actual policy settings that are required are not easy and will be the subject of future blogs.