Key Points:

The Government believes that the economic stimulus resulting from fast-tracking $500 million worth of infrastructure projects will save 2000 jobs that would otherwise be lost as the global recession bites.

Prime Minister John Key said the projects had been chosen to give a geographical spread throughout the country and to target the building and construction sector.

And as well as the jobs saved, the spending would have secondary spin-offs on regional economies.

"You can have that immediate start with the geographical spread," he said yesterday.

"It's one thing to build a road in Auckland. You consume a lot of human capital in Auckland but it doesn't do a lot for an unemployed builder in Balclutha, whereas this is spread."

He said that like other stimulus packages in the United States and Australia, New Zealand's involved both putting extra money in people's pockets and more spending on infrastructure.

Mr Key made the announcement at a press conference with Finance Minister Bill English, Transport Minister Steve Joyce, Education Minister Anne Tolley and Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

Mr Joyce said building a new $47 million Kopu Bridge to replace the existing single-lane one would begin in July and would take two and a half years.

The largest of the five roading projects is the $180 million completion of the Christchurch southern motorway.

Mr English said the projects announced yesterday were the easiest "to bring forward, to get started now".

The plan involved $500 million of the total envelope of about $5 billion of new capital spending to 2013.

But he said he was surprised at how few of the projects were ready to go.

Under the previous Government there had been "a culture of unfunded commitments, fairyland dreams and promises to people that were never going to be fulfilled".

Mr Key said that while the housing was for state housing only, the Government was working on something major for the private sector too.

Labour condemned the package as trying to "build a mountain out of a small hill" or "recycling" of Labour commitments.

Education spokesman Chris Carter, for example, said that Labour had in the 2008 Budget allocated $65.3 million over four years for information technology - yesterday's package provided $34 million for school IT infrastructure.

Mr Carter also said he presumed that the $30 million announced yesterday for four schools in Upper Hutt included the $14.6 million of extra spending Labour had pledged in late 2007.

But Mrs Tolley said yesterday's spending commitments were on top of the ones pledged by Labour.


What counts as stimulus so far:

* Tax cuts, October 2008 (and more in April 2009, 2010 and 2011) to put money in householders' pockets.
* Resource Management Act reform to speed up development consents.
* Easing rules for payment of provisional tax by small businesses to improve cashflow.
* Spending on short-term infrastructure projects.