Today’s revelations that the Government has been secretly inviting bids for a fire sale of Lincoln University which would see it folded into a larger institution are deeply concerning Selwyn MP Amy Adams says.
“I’m calling on the Government to guarantee it will not shut down the 140 year heritage of Lincoln as a proudly autonomous institution providing high quality, specialist training in areas of critical importance to New Zealand’s future.
“For 140 years Lincoln University has been a specialist, land based tertiary provider working in the disciplines of primary production, agricultural food and fibre, natural resources management, conservation and tourism.
“It has fought its way back from the challenges of the Canterbury earthquakes and is now operating in surplus, has stable student numbers and has had recent confirmation of its high academic quality.
“It will be the academic beating heart of the Lincoln Hub which is an industry wide collaboration focused on solving the most critical issues for our economy - the interface between our natural resource economy and our environmental sustainability.
“No matter how the Government might dress it up, if Lincoln was forced into a larger institution that practical, specialist focus would be lost and there is no justification for that. New Zealand’s land based sector would be worse off as a result and this would rip the guts out of the small Canterbury town of Lincoln.
“Today’s revelations that the Government has been secretly designing a process that could be death knell for Lincoln University’s autonomous state show just how little this Government cares about our land based sector and small town New Zealand."
Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has proved how conflicted and confused the Coalition Government is with his appearance on Newshub Nation this morning, National Finance spokeswomen Amy Adams says.
“The Minister talked about his frustration around getting projects off the ground. He’s being pressured for more capital to fund infrastructure but Labour’s ideological resistance to PPPs means a number of important projects are failing to get off the ground.
“Without being open-minded and innovative around ways to fund new schools, hospitals and prisons, taxpayers will either end up footing more of the bill or we simply won’t get the vital infrastructure we need.
“Mr Jones also talked about the need for more foreign investment – just days after the Government severely restricted foreign investment through the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill.
“Then he said he was bringing in more Pacific workers to help plant his billion trees, despite saying immigration is too high and he instead wants to get his ‘nephews’ off the benefit and into work.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the coalition Government’s ideologies don’t line up with the reality of running the country. Mr Jones basically admitted this morning that what they’ve been doing is wrong.
“Mr Jones said several times this morning that he’s not a ‘tag and release’ politician, what we now know is that he’s been tagged as Minister, but ideology means he can’t be released to get on and do his job properly.”
BusinessNZ chief Kirk Hope is exactly right in saying Government policy must maximise economic growth and generate jobs that lead to higher incomes and make Kiwis better off, National’s finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“The Government has downplayed the significance of slumping business confidence, but as BusinessNZ observes, there is now ‘indisputable evidence’ falling confidence is impacting actual activity.
“It is naïve for the Government to say companies are profitable enough to cope with policies that are slowing the economy and driving up costs. In the real world, employers must juggle priorities and make difficult decisions that affect workers and investment.
“The Producer Price Index figures today show firms’ input costs are rising faster than they can raise prices. Faced with a squeeze, businesses have to raise their own prices, hire fewer workers or cut investment.
The impact on business activity can be seen in the performance of services index (PSI) for July which showed employment shrank for the first time since early 2013 - yet more evidence that jobs growth is stalling. The PMI manufacturing index showed production contracted, which Bank of New Zealand called ‘the most disturbing finding.’
“Business needs the certainty of sensible, consistent economic policies that encourage them to grow. They have to manage risk and right now one of their biggest risks is the lack of policy certainty from the Beehive.
“National wants New Zealand to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to get ahead. Gains tend to be hard won and easily lost.
“I welcome BusinessNZ’s balanced assessment of the challenges we face. These aren’t issues for petty political point-scoring. New Zealand is a small, open economy and policy must be optimised to ensure that we, as a nation, can thrive and grow.
“National believes that a growing economy means more jobs, higher incomes and more revenue to pay for things the country needs. Without it the argument just becomes how we split our current ‘pie’ amongst ever growing demands. We have to grow the pie.”
The Government has its head in the sand on the economy and the effect its policies are having on business confidence, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“The Government’s anti-growth policies are starting to do real harm to real New Zealand families. It’s time they acknowledge they are doing harm and listen to the concerns of New Zealand businesses.
“Since the Government has taken office GDP per capita has slowed down considerably, growth forecasts have been downgraded by all the major banks and economic agencies, job growth has fallen by 60 per cent, and in the last three months unemployment increased by 4000 people.
“These figures represent an extremely worrying trend, driven by anti-growth policies such as union-friendly industrial relations reforms, higher taxes, shutting down the oil and gas industry and banning foreign investment.
“And yet the Prime Minister refuses to acknowledge the Government’s role, instead dismissing business confidence as just ‘perception’. It just shows how disconnected this Government is from the realities facing hard-working Kiwis.
“On the back of plummeting business confidence the Treasury has taken the unusual step of talking down GDP growth.
“With real economic indicators now showing the economy is beginning to stall and opportunities for New Zealanders beginning to dry up, the Government needs to accept responsibility for the slowdown and drop its anti-growth policies that are damaging the New Zealand economy.
“When businesses are uncertain and not willing to invest or hire new workers, then GDP growth slows down. And when GDP growth slows down, Kiwis miss out on higher wages and better living standards.”
With New Zealanders bombarded with negative economic indicators this week, it’s time for the Government to get its head out of the sand, recognise the damage it’s doing and focus on turning things around, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“In one of the worst weeks of economic news in a decade we’re seeing unemployment rising, firms going bust, job creation going down, vast chunks of the workforce striking and business confidence plummeting to levels not seen in 10 years.
“Economists are now predicting New Zealand’s economic growth could drop to as low as 1.5 per cent at the same time the world economy is forecast to grow at around 3.9 per cent in the coming year.
“This matters to New Zealanders. Every lost 1 per cent of GDP means $800 million less revenue for government.
“When the economy is growing wages and jobs increase, we can build infrastructure like schools and hospitals and invest more in better public services. When it’s not we can’t without borrowing more or raising taxes.
“Yet still the Government refuses to acknowledge the real impact it is having through negative and anti-growth policies like raising taxes, restricting foreign investment and making bad decisions like axing oil and gas exploration without consultation.
“With a chorus of experts calling for a correction it’s time for the Government to face the facts, recognise it’s got things wrong and change course.
“Finance Minister Grant Robertson must explain what his plan is and how he will fund his billions of dollars in extra spending without borrowing more. Will he stick to his promise not to lift borrowing even more than he already has or will he start further ramping up costs on New Zealanders?
“New Zealanders deserve better than a Government with its head in the sand and no idea how to right its course.”
The Government’s anti-growth policies are hitting home, with the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand showing the number of people unemployed has increased by 4000 in the last three months, says National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams.
“While unemployment remains low, it shouldn’t be increasing at all when there are such large capacity constraints in the labour market and businesses have previously been crying out for new workers. The only explanation is poor Government policies.
“Even more concerning is the fact that wages haven’t kept up with cost of living increases. According to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand, the average wage grew 0.27 per cent in the June quarter, compared to inflation of 0.4 per cent.
“Wages are stagnating at a time when the Government’s policies are pushing up costs on New Zealand families through higher fuel taxes, higher rents and cancelling National’s tax cuts.
“The Government’s policies such as 1970’s style labour laws, shutting the oil and gas industry down and higher taxes are clearly starting to flow through to the labour market. They’re having a real impact on Kiwi families and stopping them from getting ahead.
“The reality is that this Government inherited a very strong economy with a buoyant labour market. But since coming to office the Coalition has only made it harder for people to get a new job or a pay increase.
“The effects of the Government’s poor economic management are only starting to be felt. It needs to stop making it harder for New Zealanders to get into work and start listening to businesses who want to invest in Kiwi workers. It must recognise it is having a real negative effect and act to turn it around.”
New Zealand has tumbled from top to bottom of the OECD business confidence rankings with the most recent data revealing New Zealand has the second lowest level of business confidence in the developed world, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Given the high level of political uncertainty around the world it is a shocking revelation that New Zealand – typically a haven of political and economic stability – has the second lowest level of business confidence in the OECD.
“In 2016 New Zealand was the second highest in the OECD with 33 of the 35 countries beneath us. Now everyone except South Korea is ahead of us. To have fallen so far in such a short space of time is a damning reflection of this Government’s economic management.
“It is clear the Government’s low-growth policies are having a major impact, and are driving New Zealand’s appallingly low business confidence – though the Government is still refusing to acknowledge that.
“Policies such as industrial relations reforms, increased costs on small businesses via minimum wage increases and higher fuel taxes as well as the banning of oil and gas exploration, have all been bad for business sentiment and the economy.
“We want businesses confident so they can invest for growth, hire more people, and increase wages. That is how Kiwi families get ahead.
“With this Government’s dismissive and reckless approach to the economy, it’s no wonder we are again beginning to see more Kiwis heading overseas to greener pastures as opportunities here in New Zealand dry up.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please find the link to the OECD data here.
The Infometrics analysis released last night is far from a glowing endorsement of this Government’s economic management and shows that it must act to improve declining economic forecasts and plummeting business confidence, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Infometrics is now predicting GDP growth of only 2 per cent per year between now and 2021, well below the 3 per cent forecast by Treasury in Budget 2018. Lower GDP growth means fewer opportunities, lower wage growth and a lower standard of living for New Zealanders.
“This pessimistic forecast from Infometrics follows the recent below forecast GDP numbers as well as downgrades in expectations from most of the major bank economists.
“The worryingly low levels of business confidence and own activity highlighted by Infometrics show that the global economy is currently the only thing propping up growth, with both plummeting under this Government.
“There is simply nothing this Government has done that is pro-growth or good for business investment. Its low-growth policies hamper the economy’s ability to create opportunities, grow jobs and lift wages which will have a big effect on whether a business invests in that new piece of machinery or hires that extra staff member.
“The Government inherited a buoyant economy and seem to just expect that growth is inevitable and will continue to increase no matter what policies they implement. This is not the case.
“We have already seen GDP forecasts and actual GDP growth drop significantly. Growth was in the 3 to 4 per cent range under National but this has already dropped below 3 per cent. GDP per capita actually declined in the last quarter.
“The Government needs to stop taking the strong economy that they inherited for granted and start backing businesses and help to ensure growth continues. It is only by having a strong economy that we can grow wages and create opportunities for all New Zealanders.”
The services sector of the economy is now performing at its worst level since 2012 – raising concerns about the economy’s ability to continue to create opportunities, grow jobs and lift wages, National Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
"BNZ and Business New Zealand reported today that their Performance of Services Index had fallen to the lowest level since 2012 - when New Zealand was still emerging from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes,” Ms Adams says.
“The Government has been dismissing plummeting business confidence as ‘junk’, but measure after measure is now coming out showing that their policies are having a detrimental impact on businesses.
“Policies like higher fuel taxes, union-friendly 1970’s style industrial relations settings and the shut-down of oil and gas are all adding extra costs on businesses and increasing uncertainty. And when businesses are under pressure, they’re not investing for growth, hiring new staff or lifting wages.
“Services make up two-thirds of the economy – so this poor performance is a worrying sign for hard-working New Zealanders wanting to get ahead.
“Under this Government the number of businesses pessimistic about the year ahead is at its lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis. Whereas in Australia it is at its highest level in decades. We don’t want our kids growing up thinking opportunities only exist overseas.
“The Government needs to stop taking pot-shots at our businesses and making it harder for them to grow. It is only by having a strong economy that we can grow wages and create opportunities for all New Zealanders.”
The Government needs to answer questions about how it came about that a single area of high-end residential property was chosen for a carve out from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Serious concerns about have been raised about how the coalition does deals and the public deserves answers.
“Why did the Government not seek proper information about who the potential beneficiaries were of the Bill’s only carve out? Which Ministers and MPs met or communicated with iwi and other potential beneficiaries of the Te Arai exemption?
“And exactly what role was played by the lobbying firm part-owned by the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff?
“All these questions need answers; and that’s before we come to what appears to be a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual by the Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters.
“Paragraph 2.65 of the Cabinet Manual makes no distinction about how distantly a Minister might be related to the potential beneficiary of a decision when identifying a conflict of interest, but Mr Peters clearly thinks he is too distant a cousin of Ngati Manuhiri Settlement Trust chairman John Paki for it to matter.
“The Cabinet matter makes it clear that when it comes to family and close associates it does matter.
“A clear conflict arose for Mr Peters when it became clear a member of his whanau might derive or be perceived as deriving some personal benefit from a government decision.
“One of the two iwi that would have benefited from the exemption was Ngati Manuhiri, chaired by Mr Paki, who is also listed on land title documents as one of three proprietors of the 283 hectares in Lot 1 of the Te Arai South Precinct covered by the exemption.
“Treasury advised Mr Parker the exemption may positively impact the commercial value of Ngati Manuhiri’s land, transferred as part of the iwi’s Treaty settlement.
“The exemption would have given Ngati Manuhiri and its co-investors 15 years to commercially develop and sell properties on the land – an opportunity given to no other New Zealand landowners under the provisions of the Bill.
“We know from statements in Parliament that NZ First Ministers were staunch advocates for the Te Arai exemption, following meetings with iwi representatives and their co-investors in Te Arai.
“This was a murky deal and the public deserves answers.”