14 Mar 2014

Vision for economy short on detail

6:10 pm on 14 March 2014

The Labour Party leader has used a speech to a business audience to talk about his vision for the New Zealand economy, but offered little information on how it would be achieved.

David Cunliffe.

David Cunliffe. Photo: RNZ

David Cunliffe was addressing the New Zealand Initiative think-tank on Friday, formed from a merger between the Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute.

Mr Cunliffe said New Zealand needs to move away from a dependence on commodity price cycles and toward a high-value economy. Labour would ensure there is more investment in the country's capital markets and more innovative businesses including the information technology sector, he said.

"I have a vision for New Zealand that harnesses the potential of all our people. A vision of a country that is the most competitive and productive in its businesses in the world. A vision of a country with better jobs and higher wages."

Trickle-down economics has failed New Zealanders, Mr Cunliffe said, and there needed to be more development of industry in the regions and a focus on more transformative projects. Examples he cited include dredging the Opotiki Harbour bar to drive new aquaculture ventures and a railhead to Northport at Marsden Point.

Mr Cunliffe also said there needs to be more investment from the Crown into regional industries. He re-iterated Labour policies on a capital gains tax, restrictions on foreign ownership and a review of monetary policy, but there was no firm detail on any other ideas.

Prime Minister John Key said on Friday that Labour is running out of time to come up with new policies ahead of this year's election on 20 September.

"The truth is actually, Mr Cunliffe hasn't said anything new today. The best announcement he's come out with is he's gonna make further announcements.

"Well, we are starting to run out of time before we get to an election - so if he had a new idea, it would be interesting to hear it."