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
''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
''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.