Paul Goldsmith: Economy slowing under Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First

Opinion 16/02/2020

By Paul Goldsmith, National Party Finance Spokesperson, List MP.

The election year kicked off in Parliament this week with familiar themes: the government in trouble, especially New Zealand First; lots of big promises from Jacinda Ardern met with widespread scepticism regarding her ability to deliver; meanwhile the National party remains focused on putting more money in your pocket, building the roads to get us moving and providing security for you and your family.

Simon Bridges’ decision to rule out working with New Zealand First was greeted by cheers from our caucus, and it has been more than justified by the subsequent conclusions of the Electoral Commission.

Most people are tired of such a small party holding the country and its government to ransom.

The Reserve Bank released figures yesterday show that our country’s economy grew just 1.6 per cent in 2019.   Because our population was growing faster than 1.6 per cent we were actually going backwards.

That’s an unbelievable result, given that we’re enjoying some of the highest export prices in generations and the government has been burning through surpluses to stimulate the economy, as has the Reserve Bank with ultra-low interest rates.

This is even before we add on the economic effect expected from coronavirus which economists say will cost our economy hundreds of millions. The Government’s slow response to the outbreak has not only put New Zealanders at risk but they have failed to provide much needed confidence to businesses.

We can and we must do so much better.

If our economy’s not resilient to threats, and not growing as fast as our population we can’t generate higher incomes; we can’t pay for better healthcare; we can’t provide financial security for families.

We want all these things.

Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have no plan for the economy and no direction.

In the wake of a big increase in public spending, they are struggling to point to any real progress.

Grant Robertson reported to Select Committee this week that Government spending grew at more than four times the rate of inflation in the year to June 2019 but we’re seeing thin results for all this extra spending.

Only 202 KiwiBuild houses were delivered in that time, hardship grant requests to the Auckland City Mission increased by more than 40 per cent, and the Fees Free policy yielded fewer tertiary students.

Eighteen out of 22 DHBs had reduced performance for better health targets, while 19 DHBs had lower immunisation rates.

Fewer than 500 Mana in Mahi places have been taken up by young Māori, and the programme’s dropout rate has hit 32 per cent. The number of people on the dole have also grown by 27,000 under Labour.

New Zealanders should rightly expect that any Government would insist on actual results for big increases in spending.

National would take care of taxpayer money by spending it wisely and ensuring New Zealanders see results.

Only National will drive growth and higher incomes with an economic plan that combines tax relief, an assault on costly regulation, investment in quality infrastructure, a determined effort to reduce household costs and relief for small businesses.

You’ll hear plenty about in the year ahead.

Paul Goldsmith is National Party's Finance Spokesperson and List MP.