The net number of firms expecting economic conditions to deteriorate in the second half of 2018 has doubled according to the latest business opinion survey from NZIER, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“NZIER has found that pessimism remains across all regions in New Zealand, with Taranaki, Otago and Blenheim particularly downbeat.
“This isn’t surprising. The Government has introduced a range of anti-growth measures, from industrial relations reforms and hiking fuel taxes to shutting down oil and gas and lower investment in our State Highway network, and that’s reflected in plummeting business confidence.
“Those changes are hitting businesses hard, but the real losers here are Kiwi workers – because when businesses aren’t confident they’re not hiring more staff and lifting wage.
“The survey also shows cost pressures have increased sharply for business – particularly those in the retail sector. Unsurprisingly, they’ve responded by raising prices and more plan to do so in the next three months, hitting Kiwi families in the back pocket.
“This is worrying, because changes such as higher fuel taxes, rent increases and higher income taxes are already costing Kiwi families over $100 a week more – and this will just add to that pressure.
“The Government needs to stop dismissing these very real concerns, and start showing it understands. It needs to back businesses and help grow the economy. When businesses are strong we all benefit through greater investment, more jobs and higher incomes.”
Over 1.7 million families will be worse off because of Labour’s changes to National’s Families Package, which comes into force tomorrow, National Party Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“The Families Package will deliver benefits to families in need – and that’s because 80 per cent of it was designed and legislated by National as part of Budget 2017,” Ms Adams says.
“However Labour’s removal of the $1060 tax cut for a worker on the average wage means over 1.7 million families will actually be worse off, including 257,000 families with children.
“Labour was quick to trumpet the benefits of its approach to the small number of families who gain under its approach – but that is cold comfort to the more than 1.7 million families who will be worse off.
“And that is before you take into account other Government policies which are pushing up the cost of living significantly.
“Changes such as higher fuel taxes, rent increases and higher income taxes are costing Kiwi families over $100 a week and that’s an unacceptable burden on New Zealanders who are trying to get ahead.
“National carefully managed the finances. We managed our spending to get back into surplus so we could afford a Families Package that included tax cuts for the average earner. And there was enough left to do it again in 2020, if we kept spending under control.
“But rather than prioritising Kiwi workers, Labour is blowing money left right and centre - $900 million for foreign diplomats, $2.8 billion for free tertiary education fees without adding any extra students, and a $3 billion slush fund so that New Zealand First can undertake their pet projects.
“This is classic tax and spend from Labour – cancelling the tax cuts for hard-working Kiwis and spending it on poorly thought through policies.
“On Planet Labour money seems to grow on trees. Taxpayers know differently, and should be allowed to keep more of what they earn.”
Continued falls in business confidence are beginning to spill over and directly impact hard-working New Zealanders’ opportunities to get a job, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“A net 39 per cent of businesses are pessimistic about the economic outlook for the year ahead – that’s worrying because we want these companies confident about investing for growth, hiring more staff and lifting wages,” Ms Adams says.
“The Government has introduced a range of anti-growth measures, from industrial relations reforms and hiking fuel taxes to shutting down oil and gas and lower investment in our State Highway network.
“These chickens are now coming home to roost, with firms’ hiring intentions now at the second lowest level since we came out of the Global Finance Crisis. The only time it was lower was in November immediately after the Ardern-Peters Government took office.
“Despite talking a lot about good intentions, this Government’s policies are squandering our economic opportunities – actually making it harder for people to get a job or get a raise.
“The Government often points to business’ outlook for their own activity, but here the story is equally worrying. Only a net 9 per cent of businesses have a positive view, compared to over 40 per cent under National before the election.
“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.”
Latest GDP figures show New Zealand’s GDP per person growth rate has fallen behind Australia for the first time in six years, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“On a per person basis, New Zealander’s incomes rose by only 0.6 per cent in the last year, compared to 0.9 per cent in Australia, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand figures and that’s a concern.
“All of Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s claims of the beginnings of an economic ‘transformation’ can’t hide the fact that until now, New Zealand’s GDP per capita had outperformed Australia every single quarter since we worked our way out of the financial crisis in 2012.
“The sharp decline shows New Zealand has fallen behind our closest international counterpart on a per person basis.
“The last time New Zealand’s GDP per person growth rate fell below 1 per cent was back in 2011 when we were coming out of a global financial crisis.
“Unfortunately for Mr Robertson and this Government, they don’t have that excuse this time around. In fact, they largely have themselves to blame.
“These latest findings show that the falling business confidence that has occurred under this Government as a result of its bad decisions, working groups, uncertainty and lack of leadership is having real and tangible effects.
“Maintaining economic growth must not be taken for granted. Unfortunately for New Zealanders, Mr Robertson and his colleagues continue to prove they’re just not up to it.”
The Government needs to get its head out of the sand, with this morning’s GDP figures for the March quarter a disappointing 0.5 per cent, meaning New Zealand’s economic growth is slowing at the same time the world economy is picking up speed, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“At 2.7 per cent New Zealand’s economic growth is performing below forecast, and is now at its lowest level since 2014.
“National left the country’s economy in good health following consecutive years of 4 and 3 per cent growth.
“Today’s figures show construction growth, in particular, has fallen off a cliff to 1.4 per cent following a booming 10.7 per cent increase last year.
“GDP per capita actually declined in the March quarter.
“These disappointing GDP figures come on the back of business confidence falling, businesses’ view of their own activity declining, and consumer confidence deteriorating.
“Together, this is a clear warning sign for the Government. Yet so far the Government is showing no concern about slowing growth and plummeting confidence.
“Slowing economic growth translates directly into fewer opportunities and lower incomes for Kiwi families trying to get ahead. Already we’ve seen job growth fall from 10,000 new jobs a month under National to just 4,000 new jobs a month under the new Government.
“Economic growth does not happen by accident, yet this Government takes it for granted.
“Finance Minister Grant Robertson needs to sort out his priorities. Policies like banning oil and gas exploration, strengthening the unions at the expense of workers, cutting foreign investment and taxing more for petrol will do nothing to improve New Zealand’s economic growth at the very time it needs nurturing.
“Denials by the Government that its policies won’t slow economic growth are wearing thin and it’s time it faced facts before it does serious damage to family incomes and jobs.”
The Government’s Bill to ban foreign buyers is a textbook example of bad law-making and the changes made at select committee will do nothing to alter the fact it’s a dog, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“National, along with countless experts, has repeatedly told Labour that the number of foreign buyers in New Zealand is very low and there is no evidence they are significantly driving up the cost of housing or taking houses from New Zealanders.
“Yet after cynically blaming foreigners with Chinese-sounding names, the Government has pushed ahead with the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill without proper policy development which has forced it to make several unworkable, poorly thought-out changes.
“Forestry investments have been given a free pass, while the same investments into viticulture have been effectively blocked without any clear justification for the distinction between the two.
“For residential properties, as 90 per cent of submitters pointed out, the Bill will do the opposite of what is intended which is to make housing more affordable for New Zealanders.
“To address housing affordability we need to build more houses, but banning all but a few foreign buyers will mean fewer housing developments proceeding at a time when we need to grow our housing stock.
“The Bill will also hamper the ability of New Zealand businesses to access foreign capital in order to expand and impose significant costs and delays on the housing sector.
“It also appears that the Government now thinks it will be able to pick and choose who of New Zealand’s trading partners will be able to invest in our housing market. First Australia, and now Singapore, have been carved out – and with trade negotiations looming with China, the EU, and the UK, who’s to say they won’t also demand an exemption?
“Furthermore, changes to the Bill make clear that if foreign individuals not already exempt from the ban make their case right, Ministers may also give them an advance green light to purchase whatever properties they like here. Just what sort of ‘case’ they would need to make remains to be seen.
“The changes in this Bill are not based on any clear or compelling evidence and are against the weight of submissions.
“It’s become a hallmark of this Government to not listen to evidence and advice it doesn’t like, so now we’re in a situation where its own Bill is likely to worsen the problem it is trying to solve.
“It’s about time Ministers stopped thinking they know better than the experts and started listening to the evidence.”
For years New Zealand’s ‘rock star’ economy has been the envy of the world, but according to Westpac, the Ardern-Peters Government is fast turning it into a ‘support act’ economy, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“This shocking turnaround should be a wake-up call to the Government and show Grant Robertson that growth cannot simply be taken as a given.
“Westpac further suggests that the New Zealand economy will ‘continue to underperform its peers for the next few years’ after previously being ‘an outperformer on the global stage’.
“This Government could not have hoped to have inherited a stronger economy, with annual GDP growth averaging around 4 per cent, accompanied with high levels of business confidence and around 10,000 new jobs being created each month.
“But under this Government, GDP per capita growth has fallen to just 0.1 per cent in the previous quarter.
“These early signs of economic slowdown reflect a combination of low business confidence and uncertainty in the Government’s policy agenda.
“Mr Robertson has continually claimed that business confidence has no relationship to the real economy. However, Westpac’s analysis suggests there are tangible effects in the form of lower economic growth and lower standards of living for New Zealanders.
“The new pessimistic economic outlook also appears to be an early reaction to the Government’s low-growth policies, like the ban on oil and gas exploration, removal of personal income tax cuts for all working New Zealanders, and regional fuel taxes.
“Mr Robertson is in serious danger of squandering all the hard work of New Zealand businesses and workers since the GFC. He must understand that growth is not inevitable.”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson admitted this afternoon no Treasury analysis has been completed on the economic impact of the Government’s decision to ban oil and gas exploration, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“It is staggering that on such an important economic issue, the Government has commissioned no analysis from the Treasury regarding the Government’s abrupt call to end oil and gas exploration in New Zealand,” Ms Adams says.
“In front of Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee Mr Robertson confirmed he has neither received nor sought advice on how the economy would respond, and how this would impact forecast economic growth and tax revenue, including factors like electricity generation capacity and security of supply.
“It defies belief to think that the exploration sector will not already be experiencing a significant chilling effect as a result of the Government’s announcement. Investment decisions will need to be made over the next few years, and businesses and households will bear the cost.
“The ban will have a double whammy of a downturn in exploration activity and rising wholesale prices that will both dampen economic growth, particularly in our regions.
“Mr Robertson stated the Government received no advice on long-term oil, gas and electricity prices, on cost of living impacts, on how it would affect New Zealand’s economy, or on the impact to the Government’s tax revenue.
“It appears Mr Robertson simply doesn’t want to know how his Government’s political decision will impact on workers and Kiwi families.”
The Government’s need to put Winston Peters first might be responsible for a major reduction in the number of inspectors charged with investigating child sex offences, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“In spite of having a billion dollars to throw at foreign aid and diplomats and $2.8 billion to make university free, the Government’s priorities have led to a reduction by one third of frontline staff in a critical unit charged with protecting the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
“The Department of Internal Affairs has said it will have to slash the number of fully trained inspectors from its censorship unit who are charged with investigating the creation and distribution of child sex imagery.
“DIA’s impending restructure will mean there will be only 10 investigators instead of 15, despite official advice which clearly outlines the need to increase the number of investigators.
“This appalling decision will leave more New Zealand victims unable to be identified and protected, and mean more New Zealand perpetrators remain free to ruin more lives.
“It will also mean New Zealand will not meet its international commitments under the Global Alliance Combatting the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Online to reduce the number of new child pornography images uploaded and the number of victims identified.
“Let’s not forget this decision is on top of the Government’s soft on crime stance, its pledge to put more offenders on the street by cutting the prison population by 30 per cent and its broken promise to recruit an extra 1800 new frontline police.
“This Government simply has its priorities wrong. It’s choosing diplomats over doctors and it’s putting political payback over protecting our most vulnerable. It’s not good enough and the Government needs to get its priorities right.”
The Government that promised not to increase the tax burden on Kiwis is already setting out to suck up the spare cash of Kiwi families and load more debt onto future generations, National’s Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“The Ardern-Peters Government talks a lot about lifting people’s incomes but not only do they refuse to let people keep more of what they earn, they’re actively taking more cash out of people’s wallets,” Ms Adams says.
“If you just take the petrol tax increases, the new regional fuel tax, the five year bright line test and the Amazon tax, then you have Kiwis paying around $2.27 billion more tax over the next four years.
“This from a Government who said they would introduce no new taxes in their first term.
“And of course they also cancelled National’s tax cuts which made an average income earner $1060 a year better off.
“Despite taxing more, the Government’s spending promises mean they are also planning to borrow an extra $10 billion over the next four years – increasing debt servicing costs by around $1.114 billion over this period, or $650 per household.
“Borrowing more and taxing more in strong economic conditions makes no sense and risks undoing all the hard work New Zealanders have done over the last few years.
“The Government’s total tax revenue is already predicted to increase nearly $20 billion by 2022 as the economy grows before additional taxes. Surely that’s enough for the spending wish list of any reasonable Government.
“This is real money being hoovered out of the pockets of New Zealand families.
“When New Zealanders wonder who to blame when they don’t seem to be getting any reward from a strong economy - all they have to do is look at Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson.”