Grant Robertson says he'll continue 'wellbeing' approach if he keeps finance portfolio

Labour MP Grant Robertson says he’ll continue his party’s “wellbeing” approach if he continues on as Finance Minister in Labour's second term. 

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The Labour MP wants to address long-term issues like climate change and inequality. Source: 1 NEWS

Robertson told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning his party’s landslide win was “something that we understand the enormity of”. 

“We’re very, very aware that we’re still in Covid and that New Zealanders have endorsed the way we handled that and we’ve got to put that front and centre as well,” he said.

Robertson said Labour was still planning to make progress on long-term issues like climate change, inequality and growing the number of high-wage jobs because that was part of the mandate the party earned. 

Labour has enough of a majority to govern alone, with 64 seats in a 120 seat Parliament.  

But, the result has some commentators questioning whether Labour will lead a left-leaning Government or stick to the centre because it attracted votes from the right.

Robertson and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern both made reference to being “a party that governs for everyone” on Saturday night. 

He said this morning that during his time as Finance Minister in the last Government, he had proven himself to be careful with money. 

But, at the same time, he said he had made sure “that we do invest in improving our health system, our education system, lifting the incomes of the lowest income New Zealanders”. 

If he became Finance Minister again, Robertson promised to “continue on that wellbeing work we did” in the previous Government.

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The finance minister said it's a decision for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to make. Source: Q+A

“It means looking at not just our financial position, but also the wellbeing of our people, our environment, how strong our communities are,” he said.

“Being the Finance Minister is about making sure the economy is strong. But, the economy is only a means to an end. It’s not an end in itself.”

Robertson said he could balance investing in the future while handling post-Covid-19 debt, and he proved that during the pandemic.

While Labour was conscious of its votes it received from people who didn’t usually vote for the party, “we laid out a plan in the election and that’s the plan that we’ll be implementing”, Robertson said.

For example, he said he wanted to increase benefits in accordance with the recommendations from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. 

“I think New Zealanders want their fellow citizens to have a fair go.”