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PQ 6. Finance, Minister—Statements

6. Finance, Minister—Statements

[Sitting date: 31 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

6. Hon DAVID PARKER (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Finance : Does he stand by all his answers to Oral Question No 6 on 30 July 2014?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, part icularly that part of my statement where I said the member was wrong.

Hon David Parker : Why in question time yesterday did he deny that exports have fallen to 29 percent of GDP since he took office?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Actually, I did not deny it. What I said was I could not tell the member the number. I remember that because he laughed.

Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the transcript of yesterday’s Hansard, where the Minister denied—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The transcripts are available to all members.

Hon David Parker : What remedy, then, do I have? I authenticated this question when it was submitted to the Clerk, and the Deputy Prime Minister did, on the advice of Mr Joyce, deny that question.

Mr SPEAKER : The remedy available now, if the member thinks he has been misrepresented by the Minister, is to apply to me under Standing Order 355.

Hon David Parker : Is the reason he chose to misrepresent export figures in question time yesterday because the drop in exports from 33 percent to 29 percent of GDP shows he is failing in his promise to lift exports to 40 percent of GDP?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : No. I could have a discussion with the member about the way the economy is progressing but, for instance, one factor in GDP, which the member often mentions, is the rebuild after the Christchurch earthquakes. It is sucking in an enormous amount of resources that cannot be available for exporting, so it is not surprising if, in this phase, GDP is not being driven entirely by exports. But I would repeat what I said yesterday. Our exporters have done incredibly well in the face of a high exchange rate. They have become more innovative, more resilient, and they are in great shape to do well under a re-elected National Government.

Hon David Parker : How many jobs does he expect will be lost as a consequence of the significant drop in export prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I do not think there would be any credible estimates of that, but the drop in export prices is not unexpected. When we had a record high dairy price—the highest ever—it was always going to come down. I do not know why the member is so surprised about that. Does he not understand how the world works?

Hon David Parker : Is he now aware that in his Budget his own department forecast that over the next 2 years exports will drop in dollar terms, and as a percentage of GDP to 26 percent of GDP, less than the 33 percent of GDP it was when he took office, and in the opposite direction of his 40 percent target?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I am aware of the content of the Treasury forecasts, and as with its other export-orientated forecast, the current account deficit, it has been consistently wrong for the last 4 years. I will not be at all surprised if our export sector shows that it is more resilient than Treasury expects, more profitable and more successful. Certainly, that has been our view, and so far Treasury has been not quite on its game and our exporters have been ahead of the game.

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