By Bernard Hickey
Over the final two weeks of the campaign I'll be interviewing the major party finance spokesmen, including National's Bill English, Labour's David Parker, New Zealand First's Winston Peters and Green Co-Leader Russel Norman.
Here's the first one recorded with Winston Peters, in which he argues for a new monetary policy, foreign buyer controls and migration limits.
He began by arguing that New Zealand needed to expand its export wealth through higher value exports.
"When your economic, your education, your immigration, your research, all your other policies are not focused on that, then you slide down the OECD, and there's no chance of stopping this slide unless you get the fundamentals right," he said.
Peters said New Zealand had failed twice in the last two years to pass a private members' bill to reform the Reserve Bank Act by one vote because of National's "blind ideological support" for the current act, which did not address the persistent over-valuation of the New Zealand dollar.
He said the Reserve Bank should have other targets, including export growth, employment, and GDP growth, alongside inflation.
"Other countries have done it. There's no rocket science involved. There's no other country with a currency has volatile as New Zealand's," he said, adding IMF and others had noted the New Zealand dollar's persistent over-valuation.
"But they're paralysed about doing something about it. We're not," he said. "The Reserve Bank would remain independent, but doing a job for our economy rather than international bankers, insurance companies and downtown Queen Street currency speculators."
"We are an export-dependent nation. Let's have policies that reflect that."
Foreign buyers and migrants
Peters said he would ensure the rules were tight and penalties severe to ensure foreign buyers could not buy New Zealand land and houses. Bonds would not be included in the ban, he said.
"The idea that you can park yourself up in some other country and buy scores of houses as some sort of speculative investment because you've got low (1%) interest rates and huge tax advantages, to call that a fair environment is anti the interests of this country, it's anti the nationalist economic approach, and it's just silly," he said.
"Other countries understand that. Why don't we?"
He rejected the idea that a ban on foreign buying would cause an investment strike or capital flight that would push down the New Zealand dollar and push up interest rates. He said the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and the New Zealand First-created Kiwifund (a guaranteed default fund for Kiwisavers) would ensure New Zealand had sufficient capital.
He said the privately-run fund managers of KiwiSaver funds would charge NZ$22 billion in commission over the next 30 years.
He also went on to spell out New Zealand First's migration policy, including the need to reduce migration to Auckland to reduce demand for housing.
New Zealand First would reduce overall migration levels and focus, in particular, on the reducing low skilled migration and the family reunification category, where migrants close to retirement were receiving New Zealand Superannuation and other benefits with few contributions.
Housing and Holyoake
Peters then when ont to talk about homeownership rates and housing affordability.
"Our position is to buy land banks around this country, to ensure those section prices are going to be reasonable, and set out to build houses like we used to when we became in the words of Keith Holyoake, one of the greatest property owning democracies in the world," Peters said.
Both the Government and the private sector would build the houses and New Zealand First would look whether to bring back in schemes like the State Advances Corporate loan scheme where the family benefit could be capitalised.
"The idea that the market is going to meet demand is proven categorically to be fallacious," he said.
Peters disputed the Labour plan to build 100,000 houses in 10 years, accusing it of ditching Holyoake-era policies during the 1984-90 reform period under Roger Douglas.
"The Labour Party started this right wing economic mess in 1984. They threw their manifesto in the bin, pulled out their secret agenda, and to use the words of Shakespeare, cried havoc and let loose the dogs of inflation, and the rest has never changed."
New Zealand First favoured a NZ$17/hour minimum wage and compensating businesses to pay that wage. Peters also declined to support the Labour/Green New Zealand Power model for a single buyer of wholesale power, saying New Zealand First aimed to buy back the recently-sold state-owned power gentailers and combine them into a single generator.
"We're going to put this back together again like that our forefathers wanted us to do and enjoy the profitability of something we can enjoy sustainably and at affodable price. We're not going to settle for models which are a half way house to nowhere," Peters said. Here is NZ First's full electricity policy.
Peters declined to say which policies he would push for in any government-forming negotitations or which party he would favour, arguing he needed to see what voters favoured on election night.
See all my previous election diaries here.