Reality overriding political spiel

Bryce Edwards.
Bryce Edwards.
The focus on the growing New Zealand economy by the Government and the Labour Party meant voters were starting to focus on their personal realities, University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards said yesterday.

Dr Edwards was asked by the Otago Daily Times to comment on the latest Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index which saw Otago and Southland lose confidence and now have more pessimists than optimists about job prospects.

''This is all about perception. It is quite possible in an election year, with National and Labour talking about the economy, it will increase the focus of the availability or non-availability of jobs,'' he said.

Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce have both recently been talking up the economy and future economic growth.

Late last year, the ministers released the 2013 progress report on the Business Growth Agenda.

In a statement, Messrs English and Joyce said the agenda was helping New Zealand build a productive and competitive economy to deliver more jobs and higher growth for people around New Zealand.

Mr Joyce said the policy was about creating the conditions for businesses to invest for jobs and growth, and for regions to take advantage of the enormous opportunities available to them.

''New Zealand's regions have lifted New Zealand out of the global financial crisis - with the whole of the South Island having lower unemployment than Auckland and growth rates are strong in regions like Taranaki, the West Coast and Canterbury,'' he said.

Dr Edwards said the ''stark reality'' of Otago's situation was being realised by people in the region. What was being promised had not been delivered.

''Joyce's concerted strategy of talking up the economy has been counter-intuitively poor. The more he talks up a situation, the more people become focused on their own reality - the not so pleasant,'' he said.

Labour Party labour issues spokesman Andrew Little said in an interview he was not convinced by the spiel put out recently by banks and economists about the economic recovery pointing to boom times.

''It is a very uneven economy and I take all their pronouncements with a grain of salt. Confidence in the regions is indifferent and we are not seeing the same sort of performance as in Canterbury and Auckland.''

The Canterbury rebuild was not an economic strategy, it was an ''essential recovery''.

Even in regions proclaimed to be doing well, such as Taranaki, there was a two-speed economy. Last week, a yacht builder announced it was closing and Mr Little was aware of other engineering jobs at risk within the next two months.

The Government needed to take a realistic look at the regional economies, he said.

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