Bill English: Treasury just guessing when recovery will happen
8th Apr 09, 7:46pm
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: How have the Ministers expectations of economic recovery, as discussed in the Q+A interview, been influenced by earlier predictions about this economic cycle? Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am surprised that Opposition members believe they have some capacity to pick when recoveries are going to occur. In March last year Helen Clark informed us that the economy was holding up well and that no policy response was being considered. The next day Michael Cullen conceded that New Zealand might be heading for a shallow, technical recession. By August 2008 he had revised the outlook to be the most challenging since 1987. The following month he assured New Zealanders that the worst was over"”a prediction that was premature, at best. Hon David Cunliffe: Therefore, how does the Minister reconcile his statement that were unlikely to aggressively grow out of the recession with the Prime Ministers statement that we will come out of it reasonably aggressively? How can the public have any confidence whatsoever in the Governments handling of the economy when even the Prime Minister and his loyal deputy are in such stark disagreement? Hon BILL ENGLISH: The public have a high level of confidence in the handling of the economy because the National Government is now in charge of it instead of a Labour Government. We are rolling out our plan, which is to protect people from the sharp edge of recession in the shorter term and to prepare the economy for growing rapidly as we come out of the recession. That is the only way we will be able to replace the jobs that are currently being lost day by day. I would have thought that Opposition members would take our sharply rising unemployment much more seriously than they do. Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Minister agree with Treasurys recent warnings that an additional 60,000 people might lose their jobs and that the rise of unemployment could extend the recession and slow recovery? In light of this warning, does he stand by his comment regarding the Prime Ministers optimistic predictions that he wouldnt want to say hes wrong? Hon BILL ENGLISH: Treasury is guessing. As I have said to the member before"” Hon Member: Oh, theyre just guesses? Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, it is guessing"”no one knows quite what is going to happen. As I have said to the member before, we do not spend all our time sitting around redoing forecasts; we are getting on with an active and decisive programme that has strong public support. In fact, confidence in New Zealands economic direction is very high compared with almost any other developed country.