NEW Zealand's economy should be booming right now. The rest of the world wants what we produce, and our commodity prices and terms of trade are at historically high levels. We should be doing really well.
When National handed over the Treasury benches there was money in the coffers and big surpluses. Yet business confidence in New Zealand has dropped to its lowest level since the global financial crisis 10 years ago, which is a poor reflection of the approach taken by the Labour coalition Government.
The latest NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion, which was released this week, shows business confidence has fallen to its lowest level since March 2009, with a net 31 per cent of businesses expecting a deterioration in general economic conditions over the coming months.
There was also a further decline in firms' own trading activity, with many businesses reporting reduced demand in the June quarter and the expectation of a further drop in the next quarter.
National's new finance spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith, has called out Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson for ducking and diving the issues.
While we are happy to acknowledge the effects of international forces playing a role in the poor statistics, it is only a small part of the problem. The real issues are clearly what is happening domestically.
The government can try and blame everyone and everything from Donald Trump and the Chinese economy to climate change, but the fact is they have brought inconsistency since they came in. Anti-growth policies have created uncertainty and made it difficult for businesses and workers to get ahead.
In the Rangitikei it feels like people and businesses have kept their hands in their pockets, waiting to see what happens. There was much uncertainty around the Capital Gains Tax, for example.
On top of this, the government created further uncertainty and doubt by not delivering on many of the things they actually promised to do, like KiwiBuild and improvements to our transport networks. These things make people confused and worried and concerned about what's around the corner.
National believes strongly in taking what you need in the form of taxes and no more and then being very careful about how you spend it. This is a very different approach to Mr Robertson's. He has presided over the introduction of a raft of new taxes and compliance costs over the last few years.
In the Rangitikei it feels like people and businesses have kept their hands in their pockets, waiting to see what happens.
And he cancelled National's proposed income tax cuts, which would have helped thousands of middle- and low-income, hard-working New Zealanders
Mr Goldsmith has reiterated National's plan, which would involve keeping taxes low, cutting down on excessive regulation, investing in good infrastructure and essential skills training and encouraging investment.
We are a small country, a long way from many of our markets. We need to be competitive in order to stay afloat, and that means having a plan to improve productivity and encourage economic growth. It's what pays for the first-world health, education and social services we expect and deserve.
•Ian McKelvie is the National MP for Rangitikei