Government spend now must do ‘triple duty’ for people, planet and prosperity

MEDIA STATEMENT15 April 2020

Health professionals are calling for the government’s economic stimulus to do triple duty for people, planet and prosperity.

“We can’t return to business as usual. We need a new framework to guide public investment. As the Government invests to get the economy going after lockdown we must ensure this public money is well spent and has a long term benefit for people, planet and prosperity,” said Dr. Alex Macmillan, Co-convenor, OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of our lockdown, the NZ Government is looking at options to invest in ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure schemes and is planning a large economic stimulus package, but according to Dr Macmillan this necessary rapid action must support the most vulnerable, including those who have lost their livelihoods, as well as climate action.

“Government spending must do triple duty by equitably supporting economic wellbeing, meeting our obligations to address climate change, and improving people’s health. The pandemic, and our responses to it, are exposing deep structural injustices. The people most affected by the virus and the lockdown are the same groups who are most affected by climate change. We’re talking about Māori, families with the lowest incomes and the most precarious work, Pacific peoples, those with existing chronic health issues, and people with disabilities. Pandemic justice and climate justice are two sides of the same coin,” said Dr Macmillan.

“To successfully address ongoing injustice for iwi, hapū and whānau Māori, we need to challenge systems of colonisation and racism, and centralise the Articles of te Tiriti o Waitangi in our investment frameworks.”

“To achieve benefits for wellbeing and address the underlying drivers of injustice, we must invest in healthy, zero emissions transport, housing, energy and food systems. And spending on social infrastructure will be just as important, for example, climate-resilient public health and social services.

“The actions we take today will have long-lasting consequences for everyone, including future generations, so we must stay the course for a healthy climate,” said Dr Macmillan.

ENDS

Media Spokesperson: Dr. Alexandra Macmillan, Mob. 021 322 625

Dr Alex Macmillan(co-convenor@orataiao.org.nz) is a Public Health Physician, Associate Professor of Environment and Health at the University of Otago, and Co-Convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council.