National equals the record: seven deficits

Dark clouds are hanging over the National Government’s tattered image as a responsible manager of the economy following John Key’s hollow pre-Budget speech, the Green Party said today.

“John Key’s speech lacks a vision for a better New Zealand. All he announced today is a lower-than-inflation adjustment for research and development spending and a standard school-building programme to keep up with population growth,” Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said.

“For years, National has always said that returning the Government’s books to surplus is their key economic goal, but in today’s pre-Budget speech John Key said the word ‘surplus’ only once. Their failure to achieve a surplus for the seventh time in a row equals the record set from 1966 to 1972.

“John Key is doing everything he can to backpedal on his previous statements about getting back to surplus this year.

“The fact that John Key tried to divert attention to business-as-usual core spending on school buildings just to keep up with population growth shows how far he’s willing to go to avoid talking about his Government’s failure to reach surplus.

“Today’s announcement of $80 million research and development funding over four years is underwhelming and doesn’t even keep up with inflation. The Green Party’s plan to invest $1 billion in R&D over three years would kick start the innovative economy.

“It’s clear that businesses can see through National’s empty economics talk. Four out of five businesses don’t expect any improvement in the next twelve months, according to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion, released today.

“Achieving surplus is not the only important economic goal, but it’s the one that National chose to highlight, and they’re failing to achieve it.

“The myth of National as a responsible economic manager has been busted. New Zealand needs new ideas and a change of direction to a smarter, greener economy.

“Last year, the Green Party released an independently audited plan to achieve surpluses and pay down Government debt faster than National.

“Our fiscal costings showed that responsible economic management is possible at the same time as better funding for health and education, R&D, cleaning up rivers, taking action on climate change, and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. National is failing on all these key measures,” said Dr Norman.