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PM And Cullen At 6s And 7s Over Economic Policy

PM And Cullen At 6s And 7s Over Economic Policy

ACT New Zealand Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide today said that Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Finance Minister are now at sixes and sevens over economic policy and the polices of the 1980s and 1990s.

"Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen yesterday, in a speech to Deutsche Investor Forum, endorsed the policies of the 1980s and 1990s:

"Finally, despite some electoral posturing, New Zealand enjoys a good measure of political consensus around economic policy. Since the 1980s, governments have worked hard to ensure that core economic policies are internationally competitive, to offset the disadvantages of New Zealand's small local market and distance from export markets. At first, that required major reform. More recently, the focus has switched to fine-tuning of policies, and the macroeconomic framework has not been subject to major change."

"But that's not Miss Clark's view. In February 2002 she gave a speech to the London School of Economics titled: `Implementing A Progressive Agenda After Fifteen Years Of Neo-Liberalism'. Her speech makes it plain that she views her Government as following a path different to that followed by both Labour and National governments since 1984.

"The Prime Minister recognises that change was called for in 1984, but laments that `at that time, however, third way options were not developed in the social democratic menu'. The problem that she sees was that there was no alternative to Treasury's `neo-liberalism' and no `smart active government' to foster new businesses.

"Miss Clark told her London audience that New Zealand was on the wrong track through the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, `in the 1990s the economy marked time'. In Clark-speak, three percent a year for 10 years is `marking time'. Three percent is not great - but it's hardly marking time.

"She concludes that, for 15 years, New Zealand has been on the `wrong track" and that New Zealand's economic policy for those years had `failed to deliver either prosperity, or a fair society'.

"There are three possibilities: (1) Dr Cullen is in fundamental disagreement with the Prime Minister over economic policy; (2) Miss Clark was `electoral posturing' when she spoke to the London School of Economics; or, (3) the Labour Government is again speaking with a forked tongue, this time over economic policy.

"It would be helpful if the Prime Minister could confirm her Finance Minister's view that `New Zealand enjoys a good measure of political consensus around economic policy'," Mr Hide said.

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