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For months National’s finance spokeswoman failed to put a dent in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s fiscal armour, but Jason Walls says this week she found a chink

For months National’s finance spokeswoman failed to put a dent in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s fiscal armour, but Jason Walls says this week she found a chink
Amy Adams, by Jacky Carpenter.

By Jason Walls

Amy Adams, National’s finance spokeswoman and former Minister of Justice and the Environment, seems to have found her groove as an opposition MP.

It has taken a few months, but Adams is looking more and more at home sitting opposite the Government’s front bench, rather than on it.

During her time in Government, Adams was highly regarded within the party and seen as one of National’s most competent ministers.

That’s why after her failed attempt at National’s leadership, it made perfect sense for her to take on the finance role.

Adams had some big shoes to fill as National’s numbers person. Before his highly politicised “$11.7 billion fiscal hole,” Steven Joyce had a good track record as the Minister of Finance.

Bill English was even better and, because of his steady hand through the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes, he will go down in history as one of New Zealand’s best Finance Ministers.

When appointing Adams to the role in March, leader Simon Bridges made it clear Adams was going to be a lynch pin in National’s plan to win back the Treasury benches in 2020.

“The economy remains the National Party’s number one priority,” he said.

But for her first few months, Adams seemed to have one thing on her mind: debt.

In the House, in media interviews and in select committees, Adams constantly attacked the Government on its debt levels and trajectory.

For months the Finance Minister was wearing a sly smile, as when it comes to this area of his portfolio, he is untouchable and he knows it.

According to Treasury’s estimates, Core Crown debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will fall to 19.2% by 2022 – below the Government’s 20% target.

Sure, as a nominal figure the dollar amount of debt is going up, but no one – not even the credit ratings agencies – care about that.

Every time Adams attacked the Government on this issue, all Robertson had to do was point the finger back at the previous Government when debt as a nominal figure was going up too.

Freaky Friday

In an interesting twist, it seems Adams has taken a page out of Robertson’s book.

After sluggish per person GDP figures were released this week, she was in attack mode and has been winning easy points.

For years, slow GDP per capita growth was Robertson’s main line of attack in opposition.

In September 2016, he made a devastating run at then Finance Minister Bill English on this very issue, referencing research from Westpac, ANZ and Devon Funds to make the point “GDP per capita growth is what matters most for achieving higher material living standards.”

Adams used Robertson’s argument in the House in 2016 on Thursday, quoting his very words back at him.

Robertson, in keeping with the theme, chose to quote Joyce in saying it was unwise to look at quarterly numbers because they go both up and down.

This made it easy for Adams to go after the Government in this area – “he’s basically just picking the numbers that suit him,” she said on Thursday.

Because of the relatively fiscally conservative nature of this Coalition Government, set in stone by its Budget Responsibility rules, Adams has had a tough time scoring many political points.

But with the economy shifting down a gear and GDP per capita remaining low, she has found herself a foothold and a damn good one.

And she can thank her biggest political rival for the helping hand.

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Plagerism by Amy Adams using the very same words Robertson used previously is hardly finding her mojo

Jason are you smoking the same stuff as dmz, eco bird. Chessmaster, the boy, blsh. ....?

Or were you Siberia thinking you were in nz


Thought you would like to be part of that elite list :)

The Government is vulnerable on a number of fronts now, not just (lack of) GDP growth. The next 27-28 months leading up to the 2020 election are going to be really tough for it.

Now that National is finally gathering itself together, following its 2017 election defeat, we can expect it to be a far more potent force than it has been up until now. And that's despite any perceived issues with its leadership - which I'm told is more effective behind the scenes than it is publicly.

Wait and see......


Keep waiting and fretting. .

The col is still performing better than the last lot of clowns

I agree this COLL is light years ahead in over promising under delivering, taxing, regulating creating working groups to confirm actions they already want to take and which they will be held to account, not to mention lies, blame everything on the last Govt but fail to acknowledge the surplus they created and which they are wasting. Venezuela may be very attractive if the COLL last until 2020.

Rumpole of the ?
Great actor
The Nats surplus is based on deferred infrastructure spending albeit they built the odd tunnel long overdue In Waterview I’m sure the traffic is still horrendous for a pop of only 1.5 mill
Schools were never a Nat priority I remember well Mr McCully claiming public schools on the Nth Shore were underfunded under Labour & yet Nats did just the same for 10 yrs.
The Nats couldn’t even work out Fonterra really wasn’t marketing the nations prime resource properly and so today still huge bags of dried milk are sent all over the world for more sophisticated countries to process into higher cost consumer oriented products
Still even the Nats are a lighyear ahead of Trump

Most unfair on McCully. Outstanding priority and personal contribution given to the advancement and junketing of the Parliamentary Rugby Team. And there was something else as well. Was it all those hundred of vehicles stockpiled on wharves rather than just having them empty.


"I'm told National leadership is more effective behind the scenes than it is publicly" Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha - Nice one :)! Seriously, it's their best on the display to the public. What goes on behind the scenes is often less so.

Editing again Retired Poppy? You edited out calling him a ‘Puppet’.

Rex Pat, Yeap I sure did! I'm flattered knowing at least one devot National supporter follows my posts so closely. I still can't decide whether it should be "Muppet" or "Puppet". I can't turn to you for direction because you can't see the wood for the trees either. Suggesting Nationals Leadership is stronger behind the scenes is as comical as saying TTP's Hillman Hunter "Rachel" is powered by a V8 Rover!


I’d be the first to say I think Simon needs some diction training, but does it follow that is the sum of his Leadership ability?

In my corporate life I put a lot of store in character and personal following as the people close to someone on a daily basis are well placed to know what the true leadership values and ability are. On that basis Winston fails dismally. It’s too early to judge Taxinda, but I don’t see the traits of a leader. A nice person in a job she doesn’t have the skills or I suspect stomach for.

Watching Q&A right now. What leaning is Sam Johnson? He is seriously impressive.

Rex Pat, on the subject of leadership skills, whos currently got the most votes as preferred Prime Minister again?

Let him take his time, he's googling it

Its not over till the fat lady sings and she is still at home in the bath.

To a degree the opposition can afford to keep their powder dry. The real opportunity for an all out assault is more than likely to be when Dr Cullen announces how he is telling the government to organise their next tax grab. In the meantime the government is stumbling about too much, which is handing ammunition to the opposition all on it’s own. Dilemma for the opposition though, is the subject of this article is hardly of the devastating Muldoon calibre, and neither is her leader, far from it.

We’re a long way out from the next scheduled election. Plenty of time to run interference, snipe, denigrate etc, but that’s all small beer. It’s the general voter financial well-being that will win/lose the election. Nothing the COL is doing is growing the pie. When the parasitic load is too high, hopefully we’ll see the host revolt before it dies.

Take a break from smoking and think. . JA very clearly stated that the strength of the economy will not be solely measured by gdp alone. .

We can see what happened when the last government did that. . Sorry you may when you are sober

Wellbeing is rehashed corporate balanced scorecard Mumbo jumbo. Great in theory but so wishy washy in practice as it can’t be measured. The 100 days effort was the same. Someone read an old MBA book and convinced them to use it


Think what you want. . They have done more in 180 days than the previous did in 3200 days

HO, exactly. What's also worth noting is that in 180 days of policy change, there's scant evidence National are in any hurry to reverse any of it. National knew what had to be done but didn't have the balls, let alone insight, to stand up to the house speculator. A passionate desire for sustainable prosperity by way of some unpopular policy, for the good of the country and not the greedy, is showing gritty leadership.

This government is full of initiative. Even if they are flawed, they are doing some good things.
The last government thought 'the market' would fix housing. It so patently didn't!

Please identify 3 net things of actual positive value to the majority of the population after deducting the negatives like removing tax reductions, new taxes, backtracking on promises like winter heating allowance etc. I understand the difficulty you will have so happy to wait until the next election kick them out.

I am unable to name 3 things personally that Labour has done so far that positively benefits anyone. Can you name 3 things National have done of positive value?

Giving workers a day off in lieu for working on a public holiday positively benefited me. I am often on call on public holidays and now get another day off as well even if I don't do any work.

I thought we were talking about current Labour versus Previous National but anyway yes the Holidays Act 2003 under the previous Labour Government.

I'm pretty sure that day off in lieu thing came in under National as it is fairly recent? (2003 was a Labour Government).

After the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, some workers in New Zealand without strong union representation lost either their right to have a day paid off on a public holiday or a day in lieu. Furthermore, if they did work a public holiday, a lot of employees lost any right for a day in lieu or penal rates for working these holidays.

This Act makes it compulsory for all employers to give their permanent employees either a paid day off work, or a day in lieu on all public holidays. Also, if the employer requires an employee to work on a public holiday, the Act requires the employee to not only get a paid day in lieu, but to also be paid at the rate of time and a half for working that day.

1991 was a National Government.

Did you know Labour also increased annual leave entitlements from 3 weeks to 4 weeks back in 2007?

The company I work for pay me for going out doing volunteering work a few days every year - how wicked is that! So happy ;-)

DGZ, have you entertained the thought of performing voluntary work in your own time as I do? Say one day per week? It has to be more than just a day off work.

I'm not all about property porn as I'm going out to a retirement village later this week with some of my colleagues to help out those in need. Feel so good ;-)

It's good PR miles when institutions deploy their staff into the community. It's also more rewarding when voluntary work is performed in your own time.

I heard he turns up to the Retirement Homes wearing a Mankini and clutching the latest copy of the Property Press.

Do you fantasise about me wearing a Mankini? Is that what it is Dan? lol

Nah I heard from my Grandfather there's a guy who looks like Malcolm Rewa going around all the Rest Homes in Auckland dressed in a Borat 1 piece, shouting "DOUBLE GRAMMAR ZONE LOL" while throwing stacks of Property Presses at the Retirees. Figured it was you.

Speak for yourself NZzdan. DGZmankini?


Am I the only person here who thought the economy was going to tank regardless of government ?

Look out into the big wide world, its looking shaky everywhere. We are but a pawn in this game, irrespective of whos at the helm.

Absolutely.We go where the tide of world events takes us, flotsam & jetsam. Only saving grace is that so far we have avoided any great high or low tide. Middled things out. Fairly good stewardship from both Cullen & English this century has been beneficial,even agree with WP on that one.

Very perceptive bit of journalism. I am impressed.

Bill English said that it took them a long time to come to terms with getting booted out of power when the Helen Clarke government was formed. After about five years, they were finally able to admit to themselves they had deserved it. From that point on the party started to rebuild.

I have been waiting for signs that National had started to admit to themselves that they had stuffed up, and begin to figure out the details. This is the first sign I have seen that this has started to happen.

Exciting stuff. I freely admit to bias here. In my view, Labour are full of youthful but misguided ardour, and their principle vice is Envy. National tend to attract more competent and experienced people and their principle vice is Complacency. (Complacency being a more acceptable way of describing what used to be called Jealousy, that is, being over fearful of loss of what you have. Envy is being covetuous of other's good fortune, conveniently overlooking the possibility that they may deserve it. )

What fun.

Nothing better than a good philosophical Sunday morning. Yep I like your wavelength. I would though add a dash of conceit to the complacency and a dollop of punition to the envy.

" National tend to attract more competent and experienced people"

I have to agree on that statement, but rather than using that to the benefit of majority of people, they decided to focus on the specuvultures of society. .

That is the sole reason they are now in opposition and the current lot fail the presumptive statement above. . They are now left with the leftovers... PB. SB. AA. JC..and the baffon of all... GB..geez would prefer to have trump than that lot

That is a scary thought. A Trump is what you get after the centre parties fail to address the issues of the day, though. Hopefully that won't happen here.

HOPEFULLY NOT. . Pray to God

It would extraordinary to happen, even under the Westminster system on its own without MMP. But for that system to work at its best there needs to be a strong and effective opposition. Labour were utterly abysmal for nine years and National ran free which didn’t do any of us ordinary folk much good, and in the end that free reign created an uncaring and careless attitude that contributed to their loss of power. But so far National in opposition are looking just as ineffectual. Once a leader’s image starts looking weak it is a very steep slippery slope. If in doubt, ask Goff,Shearer,Cunliffe or if you like Bill English on his first try.

Thankfully we have Winston in charge for now, being a little right with the lefty side and by all counts we should have a centrist government. But lately I find myself wishing ole JK never resigned.


Wow, where to start with this article.

“Bill English.....will go down in history as one of New Zealand’s best Finance Ministers.” Or rather, if there is a serious correction of this bubble fueled housing market, will undoubtedly go down as one of our worst. His “nice problem to have” will be right up there with “crisis, what crisis” as an example of political hubris.

And why is Adams whinging about whether govt debt is very low or merely low? Given the mountain of private sector debt it hardly matters, does it? I doubt levels of public sector debt would make even the top 5 in a list of economic threats facing New Zealand. The opposition should be prodding the govt to show how we are now going to climb down the debt mountain and thereby improve housing affordability, but it seems the opposition are collectively too thick to realise that. Or rather, the mountain was built on their watch, so they are loath to even mention it. Has there ever been an opposition party as ineffective and frankly useless as this shambles of a front bench? Not in my lifetime, no. What a collection of lightweights.


I agree with you about the Household Hand of Death Debt. However, it all really got going under Clarke and Cullen. National stupidly continued the existing policy of more people and more debt. Both thought they were Very Clever at the time.

Yes the housing problems started with the Clarke government and were perpetuated by Key.

There’s also a big difference between having a problem begin to manifest under your watch, and campaigning on solving an existing problem only to have the problem continue under your watch.

Like Jacinda, she makes for a very good caricature.

Compare this to any of nick smith's conversations. ..

Always seems to me that it is counterproductive and rather immature to justify the position one favours by saying that it is better than the worst. But enjoy your apple nonetheless, if you think it is not as rotten as another.

I give a rats arse what you think. .

I will enjoy my apple be it rotten or not while you sit and sulk. .

Out of curiosity how did you chose your name? Do you happen to be as sly as a fox ..

Do you listen to this to go to sleep. .

vox nihili


Amy only found one? Phil Twyford reckons he found way more than that.

I agree with you of sorts Bobster, however rampant house price inflation has occurred under both the previous two governments. It is also a problem that is not unique to NZ. Governments are grappling with the same issue around the globe.

If we were to trust any of them on either side of the house, we'd be fools. Whilst voting every 3 years is a privilege, sadly the reality of those 3 years often under delivers, no matter whom they are. The current socialists were voted in, thanks to MMP & everyone's friend Winston, so they deserve their term to stuff it up. One of our most important attributes is missing. In recent times there has been a real lack of great (even just good) leadership, especially political, but also in business and local government. We can also see it in our sports as well. If there's one key ingredient that could lift everyone and everything involved it is without doubt good leadership. If you look at other western nations you will find similarly. What is it about democracies that attract poor leaders? It is one of the reasons why Trump is there today as someone commented above. I'm not quite sure where 21st Century democracy goes to, to get better. Maybe it doesn't get any better? Once again, let's hope I am wrong.

Days to the General Election: 27
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