Auckland, April 5, 2020
We are now in our second week of COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
I would like to thank all of you who are following the government’s rules on physical distancing and staying at home.
You are helping to save lives and reduce the amount of time we spend under lockdown.
To those who are not following the guidelines: think about the consequences of your actions. You may inadvertently infect someone vulnerable, including a parent or grandparent, risking lives and causing the disease to spread further in our communities.
We all need to pull together and cooperate so that life can return to normal as soon as possible.
Our first priority needs to be to mitigate the health crisis caused by COVID-19 and stop it devastating our country as it has in Italy, Spain and now the USA.
Beyond that, however, we also need to ensure that Auckland is in a good position to contribute to the recovery phase once lockdown ends.
Business Advisory Panel
To help Auckland work through the issues created by the COVID-19 lockdown and assist the City’s transition back to normal economic activity when it is lifted, I have appointed a Mayoral Business Advisory Panel made up of a range of leaders in the business and public sectors.
It will ensure that we are working together to address the challenges faced by Auckland businesses and workers during the lockdown period.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni as the liaison between me and the COVID Cabinet Committee to allow for feedback from the Mayoral Advisory Panel directly to central government.
Maintaining a strong collaborative relationship with government will be crucial as we move into the recovery phase.
Last week, the government announced a major package of infrastructure investment to help stimulate the economy once the crisis passes.
This is vital as the economic impact, which is already significant, is likely to get worse.
COVID-19 will have a dramatic longer-term effect on jobs and businesses and risks creating a downturn similar in scale to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
As was the case in New Zealand then, infrastructure projects with long-term benefits for the country can be used to stimulate the economy and boost employment.
Auckland has a large number of projects on which work can start quickly and which align with the government’s economic, social and environmental objectives.
‘Shovel Ready Projects’
There are a range of big projects in the medium term that can contribute an important legacy for the City. In the short term, we have been asked to put forward a list of projects described as “shovel ready,’ that is, able to commence within six months, and we are working on that now.
We will be advocating strongly for Auckland to receive a fair share of overall government funding for this. As New Zealand’s largest City and the engine room of our national economy, Auckland has an important role to play in the national recovery effort.
We have a large and diverse workforce, innovative and experienced construction, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, and a host of shovel-ready projects.
If we continue to work together to contain COVID-19 over the next three weeks, New Zealand will emerge from this crisis in a better position than many countries.
Then it will be up to us to start the huge task of rebuilding a stronger and fairer City and nation.
Phil Goff is Mayor of Auckland. He writes a weekly Column in Indian Newslink.