17 Jul 2010

Finance Minister warns of dangers of high NZ debt

4:55 pm on 17 July 2010

Finance Minister Bill English has reiterated the dangers of high debt, saying New Zealand has the same level of debt as struggling European economies like Spain and Ireland.

Mr English told more than than 600 delegates at the National Party conference in Auckland on Saturday that the Government's main focus is to boost economic growth, in part by controlling public spending and reining in debt.

He said New Zealand has a big appetite for debt, heading towards $250 billion by 2014.

"The other countries with similar levels of debt to foreign lenders are Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

"We are in a better situation for other reasons and they are, for instance, our Government finances are in much better shape."

Mr English says the Government is not looking for one 'big hit' to fix the economy, but intends to maintain a consistent and steady approach.

Party president makes pitch for re-election

The National Party president has seen off a challenge to retain his place on the board.

The board elections were held today as part of the party's annual conference in Auckland.

Radio New Zealand political staff say Mr Goodfellow's re-election to the board means he will almost certainly retain his role as president when that is put to the vote on Sunday.

There had been a small but vocal campaign launched against him.

In his address to delegates, Mr Goodfellow defended his record on areas such as boosting membership, and raising money.