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Rhetoric Doesn't Match Reality

9th March 2002

Dr Cullen's speech to a Hamilton business audience this morning won't have fooled anyone, says National's Finance spokesperson David Carter.

"Dr Cullen can wax lyrical about "our ability to create a path of economic and social change which is stable and well coordinated" until he's blue in the face, but the reality is that the New Zealand economy will never be transformed onto a higher growth path when we have:

* A one-size-fits-all, bureaucratic, centrally controlled compulsory schools sector;

* A tertiary education sector that is similarly hamstrung by bureaucracy and central control, and where competition is not allowed;

* A business community that is being increasingly shackled by regulation and greater compliance costs;

* The highest corporate tax rate in the Asian region;

* Government investment where, in the words of the OECD, "some recent decisions have been disappointing";

* A Government trying to pick winners when the important thing is to get the environment right so all New Zealand businesses can thrive.

"The New Zealand economy has weathered recent global turmoil well. But the fact that the Reserve Bank is already having to tighten monetary policy signals that this Government has squandered the opportunity to lift our sustainable growth rate.

"National's economic policy is a plan to lift the sustainable growth rate of the economy. Higher growth is important because it means more jobs, higher incomes and that we are better able to afford the quality of health and education and retirement income we all expect.

"I am looking forward to the Budget and the contest of ideas of how best to get New Zealand on the path to prosperity," said Mr Carter.

Ends

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