At last week's Federated Farmers conference in Auckland, finance minister Bill English warned the industry against getting “too distracted” by media focus on the environmental impact of dairying.
“We’re not going to get higher incomes and more jobs if we don’t go exploring more for oil and gas and minerals. I think most New Zealanders understand that,” said English.
“Kiwis are very pragmatic when they understand that what’s at stake are jobs and incomes – they will go with the practical solutions.”
English said the government was reasonably confident about the future, despite economic disturbances overseas. He said New Zealanders were “resilient” in the face of economic changes.
“We have got better at handling the ups and downs of being a small economy,” he said.
“Over the next 10 years, we have to rebalance an economy that was driven by excessive consumption [and] excessive debt, to an economy that’s driven by investment of our production, exports and savings,” said English.
“We’re not doing austerity in New Zealand."
English stressed there should be no expectations of getting “more free stuff” – funding would be tight, and he said there could be a squeeze over the next few years on some government programmes. In particular, English cautioned against asking for more funding for the Primary Growth Partnership, which invests in research and innovation in the primary, forestry and food sectors.
In regards to developing a more competitive economy, English said the government was committed to the three major infrastructure spends (roads, the UFB rollout, and KiwiRail investment) it had agreed to make a few years ago.
“We want to have the infrastructure in place so that it’s there when you need it.”