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PQ 1. Economic Programme—Challenges

1. Economic Programme—Challenges

[Sitting date: 31 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]

1. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Finance : What has been the Government’s main challenge in implementing its economic programme during this term of Parliament?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): It is my pleasure to answer my 389th primary question in this parliamentary session with one of my 10 answers. Without doubt, the Government’s biggest challenge over the past 3 years has been steering New Zealand through a series of crises that have been declared in our economy. We have apparently had a manufacturing crisis, a regional crisis, a jobs crisis, a migration crisis, a current account crisis, and, just this week, the declaration of an export crisis. The declaration of these crises has turned out to be instrumental in resolving every one of them because on all of those measures the economy has done very, very well, which, of course, has left the Labour Party with no crisis on which to fight the election.

Jami-Lee Ross : Following a crisis being declared in the manufacturing sector and another in the regions, what do the most recent indicators confirm about the performance of manufacturing companies and regional New Zealand?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The performance index shows that the manufacturing sector has been in expansion mode for 21 consecutive months, from a low reading—a very low reading—when it actually was in crisis, in 2008. In terms of the regions, the regional GDP data shows that the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson-Tasman, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland all grew faster than the national average in the 5 years to 2013, and the most recent ANZ Regional Trends survey shows rural regions growing faster than urban areas. Just two more examples where the Labour Party has declared—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Jami-Lee Ross : Following a crisis being declared in the jobs market, what progress has been made over this term of Parliament in supporting new jobs, and what impact has this had on the so-called migration crisis?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : In the past year alone an extra 84,000 jobs were created across New Zealand, and there is a credible forecast of 172,000 more jobs over the next 4 years. This has been recognised, if not by Opposition parties, then by ordinary Kiwi battlers. They have decided not to go to Australia. Three years ago there was a net outflow of 43,000 New Zealanders, mainly from the regions, to Australia; last month the net outflow was zero. Kiwis are voting with their feet and staying home.

Jami-Lee Ross : Does the Minister expect another crisis to be declared any time soon; if so, which sector of the New Zealand economy will be most affected?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : There are signs of a crisis emerging from one small and shrinking minority group in New Zealand. It surfaced late last year following an unpopular senior personnel change. It now runs a real risk of creating more unemployment in this increasingly marginalised and backward-looking—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Ross mentioned the word “business” with his question, and so to deviate to something that is not a business means he is having no regard to the question in the first place.

Mr SPEAKER : Yes, I think the member, on this occasion, makes a reasonable point. The question has been asked. It is a marginal question, and it is effectively commenting on Opposition political issues. The question has now been completed, and unless there are any further supplementary questions, we will move to question No. 2.

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