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Labour kicks off campaign launch with $311m targeted job subsidy promise

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern kicked off her party's campaign launch today with a $311 million promise she says will help those most impacted by the economic hit of Covid-19.

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Ms Ardern announced Labour’s election promise of $311m to expand a targeted job subsidy scheme. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern's speech began with a comparison of her current term in Government to the show, 'Stranger Things'. 

"If you had told me then that our launch in 2020 would be in the midst of a global pandemic with our borders closed, I would have found that very hard to fathom," she said. 

"If you’d told me that Clarke (Gayford) and I would have a toddler, I wouldn’t have believed we would have been so lucky."

"If you’d told me that we would have just completed a term in Government with both New Zealand First and the Greens, I’d assume you’d been watching excessive amounts of 'Stranger Things' - and yet here we are."

Ms Ardern recalled conducting an interview with John Campbell on the day she was sworn in as Prime Minister and being asked, "what is it you want to do?"

"I replied, 'I want this Government to feel different. I want it to feel like we are…. truly focused on every body'," Ms Ardern told the crowd. 

At the launch, Labour outlined an election promise to expand an existing wage scheme that gives employees about $3,500 to hire a person at risk of long-term unemployment and are also receiving a benefit or are at risk of losing their job. 

About 6000 employers received the flexi-wage subsidy last year. 

Labour's policy would increase the average subsidy to $7,500 and is aimed at giving 40,000 employees access to the subsidy by putting an additional $300 million into the scheme. 

Of that, $30m would be ring-fenced for some to start a business or to assist an existing business be self-sufficient. It would cost an extra $10m to administer the scheme and $1m for "business outreach" - bringing Labour's pledge to $311m. 

Ms Ardern said the intention was to "support those New Zealanders most affected by the economic hit of the virus".

"When people ask, 'is this a Covid election?', my answer is yes, it is," Ms Ardern said.

"It does not mean there aren’t ideas to be debated, or plans to be discussed, policies to be announced, it’s the reason why this is election is more important than ever. It’s about the future, it’s about leadership and it’s about values," she said.