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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard



Question No. 1—Finance

1. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all of his statements, policies, and actions?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes, in particular the Government’s economic policies, which have delivered economic growth of 0.5 percent in the June quarter and annual average growth of 2.4 percent in the year. Under this Government’s solid economic management, the New Zealand economy continues to outperform Australia, Canada, the euro area, Japan, the UK, and the OECD average.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How does he think his Government’s economic policies are working when annual GDP growth has fallen to 2.1 percent year on year and just 0.5 percent per person?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I believe that because all around New Zealand I see people in work. I see today that nominally New Zealand’s GDP reached $300 billion for the first time, which was in excess of where it was predicted to be when we took over—or in the pre-election fiscal update anyway. So I go on the evidence I see all around me, Mr Goldsmith.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is he saying that New Zealanders should be happy with 0.5 percent, per person, GDP growth?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: On this side of the House, we will never be satisfied. We will always strive to go further and faster and better.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think Winston Peters’ September 2017 prediction that the country has “dark days ahead” was helpful, and do we just have to accept those dark days have arrived?

SPEAKER: No, no, there is absolutely no responsibility for an Opposition member’s statement from September 2017.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he agree with the ANZ’s assessment that “the broader narrative that economic momentum is slowly running out of puff” was confirmed in today’s GDP figures; and if so, what is he doing to restore the nation’s puff?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: If the member had read the whole of the ANZ document he would have noted their statement that trading partner growth has been softening and that as a small, open economy that’s a growth anchor to be particularly concerned about. That is exactly the issue that New Zealand faces at this time, but we do stand here today with annual average growth of 2.4 percent—faster than many of our trading partners—and, I would note, larger than it was on average across the National Party’s time in Government, where it was 2.2 percent.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Why does he think business investment was negative last quarter?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, I’m sure, as the member does, as we go around the country and we talk to business leaders, we know many of them in the export industries are looking across the world and they are seeing that there is a slow-down in the global economy. They are concerned about the orders that are coming through from offshore. This is common in a small, open economy like New Zealand. The good news is we are well positioned to deal with this. We have low public debt, we have operating surpluses forecast, and we have unemployment at historically low levels. The New Zealand economy is in good shape but we are facing global headwinds.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So what is his plan to grow the economy?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’m delighted and obviously there’ll need to be an interchange between us. Well, there’s just so much to be able to deal with and that’s the issue. So let’s kick off dealing with productivity—an issue that the previous Government ignored completely. There is $40 billion worth of capital spending going in to our infrastructure around New Zealand; and a $300 million venture capital fund, just announced in the Budget, to be able to spur on our entrepreneurs to the next stage of their development. Massive investment is going in to skills and training. Again, after nine years where active labour market policies were put on hold, we’re out there supporting people to get into work. We want to build a productive, sustainable, inclusive economy and clean up the mess that we were left with.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So why does he think after delivering two Budgets—the last including $3.8 billion of new spending—economic growth has still slowed to barely 2 percent and business confidence remains so low?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I want to help the member out here. These are the June quarter GDP figures—the period ending on 30 June. The Budget that had the $3.8 billion per annum of new operating spending and $10 billion of capital spending starts on 1 July, so the member is just a little confused there.