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National’s economy scorecard: D for drift

New Zealand’s economy is failing the very people it is supposed to uplift, characterised by stalled productivity, exports going backwards and a Government content to let it drift, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Voters have a clear choice in this election. Three more years of drift under National while more Kiwis miss out on the economic opportunities they deserve, or an energetic Labour Government determined to ensure shared prosperity for all.

“National talks a big game on the economy, and while the headline GDP figure looks good New Zealand’s growth has been fuelled by population growth and an out of control housing market.

“That's not a sustainable or successful economic plan. You can’t claim success with government surpluses based on a health system with a $2.3 billion funding deficit, or overcrowded school classrooms.

“National’s economy and employment scorecard shows much cause for concern over the past nine years. More and more New Zealanders are simply missing out.

“Unemployment has increased by 36,000 since 2008, and there’s another 100,000 Kiwis who want work and can’t get it. The number of 18-24 year-olds not in work, education or training is up 14 per cent since 2008, while the number of apprenticeships are down 10,000.

“How is this acceptable? These people are our future, yet they’re being shut out of the economy. Labour will change this by making three years tertiary education and training free, get long-term unemployed into work, and – crucially – make it easier for employers to offer apprenticeships.

“And for those who are currently in work, we’re working longer hours just to keep up, with wages barely keeping up with inflation. As a country we might be working harder, but we are not working smarter.

“New Zealand can and must be better than the low productivity, low wage economy that National has overseen. Labour will back high-value industries, reintroduce R&D tax credits and boost the regions with our Regional Development Fund that keeps local businesses and agencies firmly in the driver’s seat.

“In turn this will drive exports, which have fallen year on year from 31 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 27 per cent now. Labour will incentivise investment in the productive economy and sign high quality trade agreements that don’t undermine our sovereignty.

“National’s time at the helm has been an exercise in drift. The economy needs energy, it needs active participation and it must stand to benefit all New Zealanders so we can enjoy shared prosperity.

“Voters have a clear choice this year: Labour’s action, urgency and energy to tackle the issues that really matter, or drift and more of the same from National,” says Jacinda Ardern.