Bill English's disinterested and lacklustre performance at the Finance and Expenditure Committee this morning reflects National’s complacency as the New Zealand economy drifts into an economic malaise, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.
“Bill English today made it clear there was no sustainable surplus. With the Treasury Half Year Economic Update to be announced next week, he is softening up the public for a deficit in 2015/16. While he is wheeling out the same old excuses, a lack of growth, rising unemployment and stagnant wages are the primary reasons for the deficit.
“At the Select Committee Bill English appeared bewildered as to why unemployment is at 6%, higher than Australia, the US or the UK. He had no explanation as to why he has been unable to get unemployment any lower than the 5.6% recorded last year. With unemployment set to head towards 7% in the coming year, it is reckless that the government still has no plan to address this.
“In response to my questioning, the Minister admitted he is keeping an open mind on monetary policy. Inflation has been outside the Reserve Bank target range for eight of the last sixteen quarters yet he is not planning to take any action.
“This is a Government that is drifting along, unwilling to take action to safeguard New Zealand jobs and grow incomes for workers and businesses.
“With unemployment rising, an expanding housing bubble and economic growth per person turning negative, 2015 cannot be seen as a successful year for the New Zealand economy. The bad news is with no plan and no new ideas from this Government, New Zealanders can look forward to 2016 as a year of further drift,” says Grant Robertson.