We ask five commentators what Budget 2020 has to do to be a success.
Having gone too late and then too hard the Government has put a wrecking ball through the economy. Reckless spending, massive borrowing and new taxes will set back recovery.
The best thing the Budget could do is announce we are going to level 1 now; really assist tourism by lifting the quarantine on travellers from the one fifth of the world that has eliminated Covid-19; and assist education by issuing visas for foreign students; quarantining the students from countries that have Covid.
Rather than putting people on depression style "shovel-ready" projects we need "hammer" projects; and pass more flexible employment laws.
When even the police cannot get holiday pay right there is something seriously wrong. Streamline the RMA not just for projects the Greens like but for everyone.
Spending is nuts when the taxpayer is paying $72 million to subsidise gambling. (Gambling is the reason for the horse racing industry).
It is crazy to spend money on projects that have a negative cost/benefit. It just makes us poorer. Rather than big spending, higher taxes and huge debt we need careful spending, lower taxes and less debt.
Letting people make their own decisions would result in a bottom-up sustainable recovery.
• Richard Prebble is a retired politician who served in a Labour cabinet and as Leader of the Act Party.
Instead of a pre-election lolly scramble, the Government has been left scrambling to reduce widespread, long-term economic destruction.
To be a success, this Budget needs to protect small to medium businesses and the tourism sector, assist those families struggling the most, partner with iwi, and invest wisely in projects that will serve New Zealand throughout the difficult decades ahead.
The Budget needs to support tourism operators to adjust their offerings for the domestic and transtasman markets. It needs to provide similar support to SMEs to enable them to adapt, without artificially propping up financially unsound businesses.
Families need targeted support (not a universal basic income, for the record).
This Budget should fix problems with the benefit and mental health systems, as so many more New Zealanders will need to rely on them.
It should offer retraining opportunities in sectors where there are worker shortages and revisit previous state-sponsored programmes like apprentice training and worker-bonding to settings where they're needed.
The Government should build more state houses (rather than just prioritising first-home buyers who likely face a softer market), sustainable infrastructure, and encourage digital business innovation.
It must invest wisely and borrow prudently. Do we really want a repeat of "Think Big"?
• Lizzie Marvelly is a musician, writer and activist.
Clearly the Government can't do what it wanted to do even three months ago, but it's not completely hamstrung.
There are things that need attention immediately. Obviously, industries like tourism and hospitality need help now, and a lot of the workers in these industries are some of our lower paid ones.
Support for them needs to be a priority. People need to feel secure no matter their situation, so further increases to benefits are a must, and an adjustment to the lowest tax bracket should be considered, however now is not the time for introducing massive changes to our tax system.
But indicating what Labour wants to do over the next few months and what it might campaign on for the election would be a strong signal to send.
People, businesses, markets, all crave certainty. And the Government should signal substantial changes to tax system to come, because huge economic shocks have a tendency to worsen inequality which was already pretty bad in New Zealand.
Incentivising people to retrain for the new world would be a good idea, so fees-free should be extended, not curtailed. And R&D incentives need to be extended for business.
In a nutshell: spend, spend, spend.
• David Cormack, a public relations consultant, is a former staffer for the Labour and Green parties.
The next election can't be about the past, and who stopped us getting sick. It has to be about the future and who will gets us back to work quickest.
The Budget, however is about right now. Anyone who focuses on the deficit and the debt track is ignoring the smouldering hole where our jobs used to be.
Yes, it needs to show a direction of travel and reveal that elusive "plan"to rebuild.
But the Government must make a choice now. Do they stabilise businesses hoping the recovery will trickle down to families in jobs, or give cash straight to families in the belief that spending will trickle up to businesses as we storm back to shops and cafes?
I say the latter. Send money directly to the poorest and to working families. Trust us to spend it right. Pour money straight into projects that can get going immediately - within a month.
A massive conservation programme could create thousands of jobs for the suddenly-jobless. House-building is the best stimulus. It can be started fast, employs more people than just about anything, and the outcome is, well, housing.
Forget KiwiBuild. Do what they should have from the start - a massive state house project, owned by local councils. The Budget is about choices, and this one more than ever needs to stimulate the economy by helping families.
• Josie Pagani is an international specialist, former Alliance press secretary and former Labour candidate.
The Government can do little about what will be the Budget's main feature, which is a mountain of future debt for young people already disproportionately affected by the economic slowdown. It cannot make swinging cuts to spending right now in case it drags the recovery more.
It can and should signal that the ever-expanding state free ride for baby-boomers ends somewhere, and that the post-war generation must eventually shoulder some of the costs of the lockdown.
Whether limiting GoldCard subsidies, cutting superannuation to over 65s who still earn in the six figures, or investigating a property tax, there needs to be a sign.
Despite being a pandemic Budget, health will not be Grant Robertson's focus. Lame duck minister David Clark pre-announced a big funding increase this week, which if Labour is re-elected should be overseen by his logical successor, Dr Ayesha Verrall.
In the short term, the wage subsidy must be extended in some form. With an avalanche of unemployment on the way, MSD will require funding to transition from a forbidding guardian of public money to delivering the kind of administrative efficiency and customer service Kiwis expect from other Government services.
• Ben Thomas, a public relations consultant, is a former journalist and former press secretary to Chris Finlayson.