National Party leader Judith Collins says yesterday's Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update (Prefu) was a "shocker" and the public is suddenly aware how dire the future looks.
"What we're seeing now is people saying, 'hell, look at these books, look what's happening," she told NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking this morning.
The last lockdown cost the country 400 jobs a day and started to get people thinking about how the economy was really important this time around, she said.
"The opening of the books yesterday, that was a shocker, even worse than what we thought would be happening. Some of those forecasts from Treasury tell us another 100,000 people will be losing their jobs. That's pretty dire," she said.
But Finance Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand's economy was in better shape than others around the world and would be worse if it were not for the Government's wage subsidy protecting 1.7 million jobs and incomes.
Today's GDP number was expected to announce a "historically large" 16 per cent decline since New Zealand's first lockdown, but that was much better than the 24 per cent decline forecast in the Budget update, Robertson said.
"The economy is forecast to grow at 4 per cent a year over the next four years. We have a strong base to start from and a plan to launch recovery and rebuilding. But there will be tough times ahead for many."
National's former finance minister Steven Joyce said yesterday's Prefu was "about as bad as everybody expected" and possibly even optimistic, but unless the Government changed its attitude, unemployment and debt would continue to rise.
"They're spending as much as is reasonable - and then some. The impact is going to be particularly strong on young people because of unemployment figures. It hits young people twice as hard."
He said he was looking for signs the Government was going to do things differently.
"Now it's like lemmings and bus driving off the cliff."
Joyce said the Government should "pull the pin" on its first-year fees-free policy and there should be "no more provincial slush fund".
"lt's important that people stop and think about where things are going to be. Things are pretty ugly for the next couple of years."
Collins told Hosking today the economy would be an important factor in the October 17 election. The National Party would be releasing its economy policy tomorrow.
"What you're going to see from us is all about growth. We can't tax our way out of this. What we have to do is boost jobs, boost businesses and keep people working," Collins said.
"More welfare is not going to do it," she said.