Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has used her first public appearance in eight weeks to defend her recovery Budget - and to call out National for playing "cynical politics".

She also appeared to distance Labour from any talk of tax increases to help pay for the Government's $50 billion Covid-19 recovery package.

Her comments came as the number of new Covid-19 cases remains very low – there was just one new case recorded today.

READ MORE:
Covid 19 coronavirus: New Marist College cluster case shows virus has 'long tail'
Covid 19 coronavirus: US turning on its top expert, Dr Anthony Fauci
Covid 19 coronavirus: Subway worker 'harassed' woman customer after getting details for contact tracing
Covid 19 coronavirus: US and China tensions soar after Trump trade threat

Advertisement

Speaking to media after visiting a state housing worksite, Ardern said the walkabout and meet-and-greet with construction workers was her "first venture beyond what has been a very confined space".

She talked up the Budget which her Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, delivered yesterday.

The total Government spending package was $50 billion – that is made up of almost $16 billion announced at the Budget, and $14 billion announced ahead of time.

There is another $20 billion yet to be allocated which the Government will make announcements on in the coming months.

National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the decision to delay allocating the remaining cash allows the Government to "splurge when it suits them in the months leading up to an election".

Effectively, he said it was a re-election slush fund.

Ardern dismissed this as "cynical politics".

"It is called a Covid response and recovery fund, and that is what it is for," she told media.

Advertisement

She said there were a number of new announcements about additional funding inbound in the coming weeks.

"To dismiss it [the fund] in that way, I think does a disservice to the people who need it."

Meanwhile, she effectively poured cold water over and concerns that the Government would raise taxes to help pay for the $50 billion package.

"What you have seen, in response to Covid, is us putting in place packages that give back to business, rather than take."

In response to questions about tax hikes, Ardern said: "Know us by our deeds," suggesting it was not part of the Government's plans.

Robertson had made a similar point when talking to a post-Budget briefing earlier today.

Advertisement
Subscribe to Premium

"We're not talking about tax as an issue at the moment."

He added that the best way for the Government to get more tax revenue was to grow the economy, which is what he planned to do.

And it appears Ardern's business advisory council is coming out of its brief retirement to help with Robertson's plan.

She told the BusinessNZ post-budget briefing she planned to "get it out of pre-election hibernation."

In fact, she revealed that during lockdown she sought the advice of some of its members in relation to the mooted Australia/ New Zealand trans-Tasman bubble.

"We're very optimistic about a trans-trans- Tasman bubble," she told the post-budget briefing, via video link.

Advertisement

"If there is only one market Australians can go to and it's us [New Zealand], that would be a large boom."

But speaking to media later in the day, Ardern said that bubble might still be a while away – "it won't be weeks".

Ardern pointed out that the trans-Tasman bubble would only be possible if New Zealand's health response continues to "stay on track".

There was just one new case of Covid-19 today – that follows three days in a row where there were no new cases.

The new inflected was classified as a "weak case".

The person, who has been linked to the Marist College cluster, first had symptoms nearly two months ago.

Advertisement

They had previously tested negative for the virus.

"The result is considered a 'weak positive' and the person, who has been in isolation through the lockdown period, is not considered infectious now," the Ministry said.

There are just 56 active cases in New Zealand now and 95 per cent of people who have had Covid-19 have now recovered.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the new confirmed case reinforces the 'long tail' of the COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Jacinda Ardern and Warwick Quinn (CE of BCITO) Photo / pool
Jacinda Ardern and Warwick Quinn (CE of BCITO) Photo / pool