What reports has he received on how the New Zealand economy is placed coming out of the recession?
New Zealand is reasonably well placed coming out of the recession, after we inherited an economy that had been mismanaged for the last 9 years by the Labour Government. Both business and consumer confidence have risen significantly in recent months. We have yet to see whether real economic activity follows this improvement in the leading indicators.
I think one of the significant factors is having a Government that stays focused on the big picture of lifting economic performance and providing New Zealanders with jobs. Many New Zealanders have lost their jobs or are worried about losing them. We are taking every step that we can to ensure there is investment and employment, so that people can have secure jobs.
The most recent consumer confidence survey was the ANZ-Roy Morgan survey. I understand that when it rings up to ask people their opinion it, actually says where the inquiry is from, unlike the Labour Party’s pollsters. Clearly, that survey did not use Rick Barker’s volunteers, who apparently have now been totally disowned by the current leadership.
Why has the Minister decided that the best way to deal with the fiscal problem he faces is to simply take on $40 billion of debt over the next 4 years, and heaven knows how much thereafter?
The Government is taking a balanced approach to dealing with the Government’s very significant fiscal problems. We are borrowing money because we believe that throughout the recession it is better to maintain entitlements and public services, and to keep the economy ticking over. But we are now taking steps to make sure that public debt does not grow out of control.
Can the Minister explain how the continued ownership of KiwiRail, Television New Zealand, Learning Media, and the telecommunications company Orcon will lead to the future prosperity of New Zealand, rather than the disposal of those liabilities and the paying off of debt?
The Government has made an undertaking to maintain the ownership of all significant current Government assets. However, there is a huge clean-up job to do with regard to those assets, because under the previous Government there were too many political appointments to boards, and they lost their focus on financial performance. We are going through the process of fixing them.