24 Jul 2015

Faltering economy likely issue for Nat delegates

5:52 am on 24 July 2015

The faltering economy is likely to weigh heavily on the minds of National Party delegates at their annual conference in Auckland this weekend.

John Key and Bill English.

John Key, Steven Joyce and Bill English (file) Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

But while slumping dairy prices are a worry the Finance Minister, Bill English, believes the delegates will still have confidence about the direction of the economy.

The National Party is back at the SkyCity convention centre for its first annual conference since last year's election.

But the Government already faces the prospect of lower growth than forecast as dairy prices continue to slump and the rebuild of Christchurch peaks.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Bill English Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Bill English said it would be a point of discussion at National's conference.

"The economy's a bit softer but I don't think there's a... there'll be a bit of a concern, particularly in a National Party volunteer base which is, you know, some of which comes from the farming community there'll be concern about the impact of the low dairy prices.

"But I think there's, you know, still basic confidence about the direction of the New Zealand economy," Mr English said.

Steven Joyce talks about Sky City deal with the Government.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce agrees it will be an issue of interest.

"Delegates will obviously be very interested in the economy but I think... they'll realise some of the rhetoric has been a little bit overdone. There's definitely challenges out there but I think for them to be in some sort of siege mentality or anything like that is just not the case.

"They'll be very interested. They'll be engaged but they'll also be reasonably confident about the New Zealand economy," Mr Joyce said.

Prime Minister John Key said he accepted some parts of the economy were slowing but it was not all bad news.

"I also, you know, strongly believe that a lot of the other parts of the economy are performing very well.

"I mean we had the services sector data out this week. It was strong again. The PMI index, which reflects expansion of the manufacturing sector, going well. Tourism numbers going through 3 million people at the moment.

"So look overall I think there's a real risk some people, you know, talk the economy down too much."

Caucus run 21/07/15

John Key Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

But Mr Key said there would not be any complacency at the conference.

"We're in our seventh year of government. It's the third term and so we'll want to go in there and demonstrate that we're not resting on our laurels. We're not taking anything for granted. We've got a big job to do. We've got big responsibilities.

"And actually we are the political party that is showing leadership on the issues that are important to New Zealanders. So it's really showing that we've got determination and focus," Mr Key said.

Steven Joyce, who was also National's election campaign chairperson, said while delegates would celebrate last year's election result they were already thinking ahead.

"There'll be a lot of thought about, you know, how do we look forward to 2017 and deliver a good result then. I think there'll be a lot of interest in that... I am already hearing a lot of talk and ideas and things to consider for 2017.

"It's a good machine...They'll be very focused on what happens in two-and-a-bit year's time," he said.

Most government ministers will speak to the conference with Mr Key bringing it to a close with his speech at midday on Sunday.

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