The economic performance gap between New Zealand and
Australia is widening, Labour said today as it scorned the
Government's efforts to catch up.
Closing the gap with Australia and stemming the trans-Tasman
brain drain is one of the Government's main long-term aims
but Labour leader Phil Goff said the reverse was happening.
"Australian employment figures have soared for the fourth
straight month and the jobless rate has fallen to 5.5
percent, a full percentage below New Zealand's unemployment,"
"For the first time in more than a decade, Australian
unemployment levels over the past six months are lower than
New Zealand, with Treasury forecasts that New Zealand's
unemployment will continue to grow."
Mr Goff said no economist he had talked to believed there was
any evidence that policies were being implemented that would
close the gap, and while the Australian government had
boosted investment in research and development, in New
Zealand tax credits had been cut.
"National has no bold plan," Mr Goff said.
"Apart from the cycleway, the best National has come up with
is an already discredited 2025 Taskforce report from Don
Brash advocating solutions that failed in the 1990s."
The Government set up the 2025 Taskforce at the insistence of
its partner party ACT, and former National Party leader Don
Brash was appointed to head it. Its mission is to find ways
to catch up with Australia's economic performance by 2025.
The taskforce's first report, issued late last year, called
for drastic tax cuts, reduced social services and asset
sales. The Government said the recommendations were too
radical to implement.