Government ministers are on the defensive about a slump in business confidence to Global Financial Crisis levels, dismissing it as "junk" and an "inbuilt bias" against Labour governments in the business community.
The ANZ business confidence survey showed that confidence was at its lowest ebb since 2008 – the midst of the Global Financial Crisis.
National leader Simon Bridges said the Government's policies were clearly the main driver, listing industrial relations reforms, overseas investment restrictions, immigration changes, the halting of future oil and gas exploration and increased costs for small businesses.
However, Government ministers were quick to dismiss the survey. Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters dismissed it as the views of "elite business people" while Economic Development Minister David Parker repeated his belief the ANZ survey was "junk".
"It's a survey of the emotion of CEOs, and it's about their sentiment. It's not about rising jobs, increasing incomes, and increasing surpluses," Parker said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said there was an "inbuilt bias" within business against Labour governments but rejected Bridges' claim that the Government's policies were to blame.
He said the fundamentals of the economy were still sound, unemployment was low, and debt was tracking down.
He said many economists believed there would be growth from fiscal stimulus as a result of the Families Package and infrastructure spending.
"So we'll continue to work with the business community on the issues that are concerning them but New Zealand remains a good place to do business."
Robertson pointed to former Prime Minister Sir John Key's comments at the National Party conference last weekend.
Key is the chair of the ANZ and had pointed to the likely impact on New Zealand from global economic slowdowns in countries such as China to large deficits in the US.
Key had put the drivers of any economic slowdown to those global factors, rather that the Government but had added he believed a National government would be better placed to deal with a slowdown.
Peters said both Key and Bridges were trying to talk down the economy for their own purposes, and insisted it would continue to grow.
National's finance spokeswoman Amy Adams has highlighted statistics showing business confidence in New Zealand had dropped from the second-highest level in the OECD to the second lowest.
Robertson dismissed that, saying New Zealand's business confidence was only fractionally lower than the long-run average.