11 Aug 2015

Finance Minister plays down recession risk

7:28 pm on 11 August 2015

The Finance Minister is playing down the risk of recession, although he acknowledges the economy is softening, and growth is likely to slow.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Finance Minister Bill English Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Slumping dairy prices have raised questions about what impact that will have on the broader economy.

Finance Minister Bill English said, while lower interest rates and the exchange rate were balancing that out to some extent, he did expect the economy to slow from 3 percent growth to about 2-2.5 percent.

Labour Party finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said more needed to be done.

"Lowering interest rates will help the economy but that is not enough, unless you have a government that's alongside business helping to stimulate the economy to grow in a sustainable way, and Bill English is washing his hands of that."

He said the economy was not softening, it was heading for a significant downturn.

"I believe that if we continue down the path that National is on, we will end up in recession, what we need to do is invest in infrastructure, we need to make sure that Auckland actually does get moving."

But Mr English did not believe New Zealand was heading for a recession.

"And it's interesting to keep an eye on the parallels with Australia, where the iron ore price has dropped further, they're about twice as dependent on iron ore to China as we are to dairy to China.

"They're probably heading for a similar growth path to us, they thought it was going to be 3 percent, maybe closer to 2-2.5 percent, so we're on fairly similar tracks there."

Mr English said the Government would not change its approach as the current settings were about right.

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