In Sir John Key's Covid column last week there was a strong implication New Zealand's approach had somehow left the economy in a perilous state.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
While we have made significant investment to support New Zealanders through Covid, we still have one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in the developed world. Using internationally comparable figures from the IMF, our percentage of debt will remain half that of Australia over the next four years, and a quarter of that in the UK and United States.
In terms of servicing that debt, the cost sits at just 1 per cent of GDP and is forecast to reduce further in coming years. This is set to remain lower than countries like Canada, the UK, and Australia.
The underlying assumption in Sir John's article is that the health-led approach the Government has taken to Covid has undermined the economy. Again, the facts just do not back that up.
The economy grew 2.8 per cent in the June quarter, significantly better than even the most optimistic of economists' expectations. The economy is 4.3 per cent above where it was pre-covid.
Unemployment has fallen to 4 per cent, where we were in 2019, and less than half of where it was expected to be when Covid hit last year.
Just this week the strength of our economy was recognised by Standard and Poor's, which updated its forecasts for the Asia Pacific for the rest of 2021 and highlighted New Zealand and Singapore were the only two countries where they expected faster growth than it had forecast in June. They based this on the resilience of the economy and the way the Government has supported businesses and workers through Covid.
Thanks to the efforts of all New Zealanders, we have enjoyed more days without restrictions than most other countries. Since the outbreak of Covid, New Zealand has had 464 days where there were no workplace closures anywhere in the country compared with 82 in Australia, 75 in the United Kingdom and 78 in the United States.
None of these statistics diminish how tough Covid has been on some businesses. We know it is particularly hard for those in the tourism, events, hospitality and related industries. That is why we have stepped up with continued economic support.
In the seven weeks since this outbreak began, on behalf of taxpayers we have provided more than $3.6 billion of support through the Wage Subsidy and Resurgence Support Payments benefiting hundreds of thousands of New Zealand businesses.
Dealing with a global pandemic is tough, and we have not got everything exactly right first time. We have had to constantly adapt our response, and we will keep doing that. Our Reconnecting New Zealanders plan announced in early August gives a pathway, and as the PM signalled this week we are working towards changing up our alert level framework as our vaccination rates rise.
The core of the Government's approach has always been that a strong public health approach is the best economic approach. It does not make it easy, but it is working. We have to be patient, careful and considered. As we look to the future, it gives us options to take on the new challenges that await us.