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PQ 2. Economic Programme—Progress

2. Economic Programme—Progress

[Sitting date: 29 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. DAVID BENNETT (National - Hamilton East) to the Minister of Finance : What progress has the Government made in delivering on its economic objectives for this term of Parliament?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government has made good progress. That progress amounts to a significant, strong platform for further sustained growth in the New Zealand economy. For example, New Zealand’s economy grew by 3.8 percent in the year to March 2014—among the top half-dozen growth rates in the developed economies. Growth is forecast to reach 4 percent this year, a far cry from the deep domestic recession that began in 2008. This is delivering benefits to hard-working Kiwis. Average wages have increased by around $3,000 in the past 2 years to nearly $55,700. They are forecast to grow to $62,300 by 2018.

David Bennett : How are the benefits of the Government’s economic programme being reflected in the labour market, and how do average wage increases compare with cost of living changes?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I am pleased that member and the Opposition have raised the issue of jobs. In the past year alone, 84,000 new jobs were created across New Zealand, and Treasury forecasts another 172,000 over the next 4 years. As some members of the House will recall, back in 2011 there was a forecast of 171,000 new jobs to be added by 2015. The latest household labour force survey shows we are on track to achieve those 170,000 new jobs. This will bring unemployment down to 4.4 percent by mid-2018.

David Bennett : How has the Government’s economic programme helped to address the twin fiscal and current account deficits this Government inherited 6 years ago?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The Government has more influence over the fiscal deficit than the current account deficit, where it has an indirect influence. When we came to office the previous Government’s final Budget predicted a $3.9 billion deficit in 2008-09 and never-ending deficits into the future. The current account deficit was between 7 and 8 percent of GDP—that is, at record high levels. Since then, of course, we have got back on track. In Budget 2014 we are on track to a small fiscal surplus in this next year, and the current account deficit has narrowed to 2.8 percent of GDP in the year to March, although it is forecast to increase over the next few years.

David Bennett : How is the Government’s economic programme helping to keep interest rates lower for longer, and what reports has the Minister received suggesting New Zealanders are supporting its programme?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : There are two things the Government can do to prevent us reaching Labour’s record interest rate levels, where first mortgage rates were over 10 percent in 2008. Those two things are to restrain Government spending and to limit, as far as we can, rapid increases in the price of houses. On both of those fronts we are making considerable progress. In answer to the second part of the question, New Zealanders are supporting this programme because they are staying home rather than leaving New Zealand. There was no net loss of New Zealanders to Australia in June. That is zero net outflow to Australia for the first time since 1991

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