The scale of Nelson and New Zealand’s economic problems were laid bare with three major reports out last week.
Stats NZ reported the biggest ever drop in our national income (GDP) of 12.2%. It is much worse than Australia’s 7%. This is because Australia has taken a more targeted approach to Covid controls allowing low risk industries like construction and forestry to continue during lockdown. NZ’s inflexible approach also cost us the Rugby championship.
National’s plan is to be tighter at the border by testing everyone before they come into New Zealand but to also work much more closely with industry on tailored solutions that keeps businesses working. A good example of this was the positive solution I brokered for Nelson’s marine engineering businesses.
Treasury’s pre-election report is awful for jobs. 70,000 people have lost their jobs since March and they forecast losses of another 100,000. The forecast is for 250,000 jobless by 2024 and 5,000 in Nelson.
My top priority is jobs. I have the experience and track record from two previous recessions when we halved unemployment. Dole numbers reduced every year from 2010 to 2017 under National, but increased again in 2018 and 2019 prior to Covid. Labour does not understand that business confidence is key to saving jobs.
It is extraordinary that Labour is proposing new costs on small businesses like extra holidays and doubling sick leave at this time of a jobs crisis. National will support businesses to retain and grow jobs with our $10,000 Job Start grants, this week’s announced new technology package and incentives for investment in plant and machinery.
Treasury’s financial report is equally bleak with Labour running deficits for the next 15 years which means they will continue to borrow every year till 2035. Debt would top $200 billion and be 48% of GDP. National agrees that borrowing is needed in the short term to stimulate the economy. Under our plan we will put more into infrastructure and growing New Zealand’s assets. We will put less into Government bureaucracy. We will let New Zealanders keep more of what they earn by providing income tax reductions next year worth $3,000 for average earners. We will return to surplus by 2027 and keep debt under 36% of GDP.
The third report out last week was the ASB’s quarterly regional economic report showing Nelson was 16th - the worst performing region. The March report before Covid also had Nelson bottom. This contrasts with the same reports under National which had Nelson at number one for both the first and second quarters of 2017. This negative report shows how Labour has hurt our region with increased taxes and centralising services. Government allocation of regional development funding has become far too political as evidenced by the $20m for Taranaki’s Green School and the hundreds of millions for racing and Northland. Nelson has been short changed.
Election 2020 is all about the economy and jobs. I look forward to sharing my ideas over the next month on how Nelson can rebuild and recover.