Coronavirus dominates minister’s Finance 2020 speech

Source: Massey University


Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas with Finance Minister Grant Robertson and chief executive of the Auckland Business Chamber Michael Barnett. Pictured at Auckland for Finance 2020, the 12th annual event hosting New Zealand’s Minister of Finance.


Coronavirus will have a serious impact on the New Zealand economy in the short term and there is a “high probability” that New Zealand will have a case at some point, Finance Minister Grant Robertson warned today.

Speaking at Finance 2020, an annual event co-hosted by Massey University and the Auckland Business Chamber, Mr Robertson said events were moving rapidly.

“We do meet today in the shadow of one of the biggest uncertainties that the global economy has seen in recent times,” he said. “This is a rapidly changing situation that the world finds itself in. This week we have seen stock markets react to news of the virus spreading.”

The Auckland business community, academics and media turned out in force to hear the Minister’s first major speech of the year, which outlined the Government’s response to Coronavirus, and how it was planning for a range of scenarios to support the New Zealand economy as the global impact of the virus becomes clearer.

“We are operating in an environment of high uncertainty. It is not possible for anyone at this stage to give definitive answers to significant questions, such as: How long will it last? What will the global reach be? How deep will the impact be felt?

But while we look for answers for those questions, we can say some things with certainty. This will have a serious impact on the New Zealand economy in the short term.”

Mr Robertson told attendees that both the tourism and tertiary sector had been impacted by Coronavirus. “It is clear that there is an immediate impact on the tourism industry, particularly given there are now very few flights between China and New Zealand. Chinese tourists typically spend around $180 million per month in the peak travel months of January through to April.

Within education exports, our tertiary sector has been impacted due to foreign students not travelling. The estimates we have are that around 40 per cent of students have not been able to travel here. That’s why we are working closely with our tertiary education sector to see what they can do to make sure New Zealanders’ public health isn’t put at risk if the travel ban is lifted for students,” Mr Robertson said.

Finance 2020, now in its 12th year, provides business leaders with an update on the state of the New Zealand economy, as well as an opportunity for the business and academic communities to engage. Introducing Mr Robertson, Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas thanked business leaders for supporting the university’s objective of ensuring graduates had opportunities to get hands-on experiences in workplaces as part of their studies.

“Massey prides itself on offering students a university experience that gives them chances to develop their entrepreneurial capability, opportunities to work in industry as part of their study, and more skills and confidence to create value from their ideas than ever before.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas and Michael Barnett present top student scholarship to James Watson


The chamber and the university use any proceeds of the event to provide scholarships to top finance students at the Auckland campus. The 2020 award winners were James Watson, top first-year student in economics, and Jianrui Sun, top first-year student in finance.