Opinion: Economic Growth Has Declined Under This Government

Sep 25, 2019
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Economic growth has declined under this Government and despite nearly two years in office Labour still has no plan for growth, writes MP for Invercargill Sarah Dowie.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson scoffs at reports of plummeting business confidence. He looks at falling growth on a per person basis in the same light. This has dropped from 1.7 per cent a year under National to just 0.7 per cent under this Government. The Minister justifies his Government’s shortcomings by continually pointing toward global headwinds. But Labour are the ones at the wheel and they must take responsibility for the slowing economy. Because it’s their own policies, not global trends, that’ve added costs to businesses and families.

They’ve increased fuel taxes three times since coming into power, the latest tax raising the price by 4c a litre. For our families it makes getting around Southland, doing the groceries and picking up the kids from school more expensive.

The ring-fencing of losses and extension of the bright-line text is another example. Southland rents have increased by $38 a week since 2017 while the median property price has gone up by 16 per cent during the past year. If you put more costs on a sector, and if you make returns less attractive, you reduce supply and increase costs. We told the Government this but they didn’t listen.

And what about the farcical decision-making process surrounding the future of SIT. The Government’s decision to go ahead with an SIT mega-merger will see the institute become a hollow ‘legacy’ campus. In pulling down a successful, high-performing institution, they’re replacing it with a mediocre model that will reduce our competitiveness as a region.

The institute is one of our largest economic drivers and this could mean hundreds of job losses, ranging from tutors to administrators. Centralising decision-making lessens our ability to attract International students who are an integral part of our community. Not only do they add much to Invercargill’s cultural fabric, they are a crucial part of the local economy. We must continue to be able to attract new people to come and live in this great region of ours.

Small businesses, from farmers to plumbers to hairdressers, underpin a lot what we do here in Southland. That’s why we should be making it easier for them to grow, hire new staff, pay higher wages and invest in new technology. But because of this three-headed monster of a government, one that’s always horse-trading policy and positions, you’re unable to get a clear line of sight or certainty on where New Zealand is headed.

National has a plan to grow the economy, as outlined in our recent Economic Discussion Document where we asked for your feedback. On the campaign trail in 2017 Labour promised ‘no new taxes’. However, they’ve introduced 9 new ones so far. Unlike Labour’s approach to taxation, we believe the Government shouldn’t be relentlessly dipping into your back pocket. That’s why we have already committed to indexing tax thresholds to the cost of living, so Kiwis aren’t taxed more by stealth every year.

And we won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term. We will repeal the Regional Fuel Tax and not increase petrol excise taxes.

We’ll also require all government departments and government agencies to pay their contractors on time and within 30 days. We’ll establish a ‘Small Business Payments Guarantee’ to make sure more small businesses get paid on time. To avoid white elephants like Labour’s KiwiBuild fiasco and failed Fees-Free policy, we’ll ensure Treasury has a greater focus on providing sound advice on the effectiveness of Government spending. We’ll also restore confidence to business by ensuring we have more fit for purpose regulation, eliminating two old regulations for every new one introduced. National’s focus is on you, so that you can get on with the job.

We’re doing the work now in Opposition so we can hit the ground running in the 2020s. Have your say on our Economic Discussion Document by going to national.org.nz/economy

Funded by the Parliamentary Service. Authorised by Sarah Dowie MP, 36 Kelvin Street, Invercargill

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