19 Sep 2013

Opposition blames Govt for slow growth

8:48 pm on 19 September 2013

Opposition parties say slow growth in the first half of the year is proof that New Zealand is too dependent on farming and the Government has failed to diversify the economy.

But Finance Minister Bill English rejects their criticism, saying Government policies are helping to diversify the economy.

The economy grew just 0.2% in the three months to the end of June, mainly because the drought earlier in the year caused a drop in agricultural production.

David Parker.

David Parker. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

Labour Party finance spokesperson David Parker says the Government has done nothing to diversify the economy's dependence on farming, with "economic growth very flat after a drought, proving the need that we need to diversify our economy".

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman is also critical of the economy's dependence on farming.

But Mr English says the Government is taking steps to diversify the economy.

Bill English.

Bill English. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

"There's quite a lot more going on. I think you're seeing across the economy firms who aren't in the agricultural sector with a pretty positive outlook. We're backing that up with a big investment in tourism promotion; big investment in export of education; big investment in R & D for a whole range of businesses."

Mr English says despite the drought the economy still grew and now the drought is over the prospects for growth are even brighter.