Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
Question No. 4—Finance
4. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements and policies?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Yes, in the context they were made and implemented.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: How can he stand by his economic policies when, according to his own Government’s wellbeing metrics released this morning, the number of people who say they have enough or more than enough money is falling under his watch, after six years of substantial increases under National?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: There are a range of indicators that show how well this Government is doing, including unemployment being at 3.9 percent and wages increasing by 4.4 percent. It will—and we have said this many times in this House—take time to turn around nine years of neglect, but we’re making a good start.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does it concern him that the progress made under National, whereby the number of Kiwis saying that they had enough money went from 51 percent to 65 percent of the population, has now been reversed under his Government?
SPEAKER: I’ll let the member answer the question, but I’m going to advise the member that next time he asks an out of order question, I won’t.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: What I’m particularly interested by is the conversion of the member to the wellbeing indicators, which, previously, we’ve seen some cynicism about from the other side of the House. So, on that score, I welcome the member’s interest.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, isn’t it true that the previous Government improved wellbeing and his Government has not?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Absolutely not, no, because, on this side of the House, we want to see unemployment going down under 4 percent, we want to see wages increasing, we want to see children lifted out of poverty. That’s what’s happening, that’s what wellbeing is, and that’s what this Government’s delivering.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Regardless of what he wants, why does he think fewer Kiwis feel that they have enough money under this Government?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: There are, as I said before, a range of measures. When New Zealanders see wages increasing, as they are under this Government, they will feel and see the benefits of that, but we have said from day one of being in this Government: when you have nine years of neglect, and when we have entrenched social problems left to us by the previous Government, it takes time to turn those around, but we’re making a good start.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: So does he accept that the cancelled tax cuts, the increased fuel taxes, and regulatory changes driving higher rents will have contributed to the slide in financial wellbeing shown to date?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, and, once again, we have the member believing that the way to increase New Zealanders’ incomes is to cut their taxes. It’s not; we should increase wages. That’s how we increase people’s incomes sustainably, and that’s what’s happening at the moment.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: In this, the year of delivery, is he proud that so many New Zealanders now have to turn to electricity and gas hardship grants under his Government?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Mr Speaker, can the member repeat the question?
SPEAKER: Yes, and in order this time.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: In this year of delivery, is the Minister—is the Speaker saying I’m being ironic?
SPEAKER: It’s totally unnecessary. Ask the question properly.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is he proud that two-thirds more New Zealanders are having to turn to electricity and gas hardship grants under this Government than when they started?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: What I’m proud of is a Government that does not turn people away, that actually says: if you’re entitled to support to pay the bills or to make sure that you can put food on the table, you’ve got a Government that cares and actually does that instead of sending those people away like his Government did.