New Zealand and global economic issues including housing, Fonterra, international markets and the general status of business in New Zealand were hot topics at the Mood of the Boardroom event this morning.
Now in its fourteenth year, the event saw more than 200 chief executives, directors, chair people and members of parliament discuss the results from the Mood of the Boardroom survey over breakfast and coffee, followed by a debate between Finance Minister Bill English and Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.
English addressed a number of issues thrown at him from the survey results, reaffirming his commitment to New Zealand's finance issues and in the decisions parliament had been making. Despite concern over the possible slowing of the economy, English remained positive about the business sector.
"While our confidence is being tested a bit by international events including dairy price downturn, there is a fundamental confidence there and I think that's well deserved, and I think it will serve us well through the next two or three years with this softening economy," English said.
"The other reassuring aspect of it is agreement about the long term issues we've got to deal with regardless of the cycle, around infrastructure, around housing, around skills," he said. "The fact that government and the boardroom mood is reasonably aligned on what issues to address is partly because of the processes we've had which are pretty interactive around the business growth agenda and mean that we can keep building momentum around dealing with those issues."
Infrastructure was a main concern from guests, with English and Robertson asked to explain their strategies to deal with New Zealand's transport and roading issues. On the subject of diversification, English said he did not believe diversifying more was necessarily the answer, saying although dairy was facing issues, the rest of the economy was responding proportionately, with a drop in the exchange rate and a growing tourism industry.