New Zealand's economy has fallen behind Australia's and this country had gone from creating 10,000 jobs a month to 4000, National's finance spokeswoman says.

Amy Adams squared off this morning with Finance Minister Grant Robertson at the New Zealand Herald's annual Mood of the Boardroom breakfast.

Adams, who took over the opposition finance portfolio in March, called on Robertson to stop speaking in platitudes and actually deliver a clear plan of how to achieve the lofty goals that have been set out.

The first woman to stand on stage as a finance spokesperson in the 16-year history of the Mood of the Boardroom, Adams said that she did not disagree with the Coalition Government's objectives but felt there was little evidence of moving towards bringing them to fruition.


"We have to move past the description of Nirvana and have an explanation of how to get there," Adams said.

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Adams said that while the fundamentals of the economy remained strong, there are concerns about the direction the economy was heading in and whether the government was doing enough to ensure New Zealand had a prosperous economic future.

She said that while the Coalition Government had inherited a strong economy, there was no guarantee this would remain in place.

"In last 12 months, we've seen clear our advantage ebbing away," Adams said.

"We're seeing rising costs. We are seeing increasingly regular strike action and we're seeing growth slowing.

"Seventy-two per cent of you are less optimistic than you were a year ago and that's a real cause of concern," she told the 250 people at the event, explaining that New Zealand needs to be in good enough shape to withstand a potential international shock.


She said the National Party would in the coming year carve out an alternative to what Labour was offering, but said this doesn't imply dropping the principles underpinning the current Government's policies.

Taking to stage before his opposition counterpart, Robertson reminded those in attendance that the economy was still in good shape.

This was no doubt in response to the issue of waning business confidence, which has become a major talking point in recent months with survey after survey confirming a more pessimistic outlook in the business community.

Robertson stressed that fundamentals of the economy are still sound and that we have a relatively stable financial system.

"We're still at the top of ease of doing business index. The fundamentals of our economy remain sound. We are still at the top of the Transparency International ratings. We have a relatively stable financial system. These things are important to remember," he said.

"There is good data out there on the real economy."


Government, he said, was committed to achieving a more inclusive, more productive and more sustainable economy than came before.

He urged the business community not to understand these commitments as an indication that the government was losing focus on the importance of financial responsibility, saying this was fundamental to achieving the wellbeing targets.

He pointed to recent strong GDP figures and to the fact that debt was nearing the target of under 20 per cent of overall GDP.

"A critical part of our well-being as a nation is ensuring as a nation is continuing to ensure that we operate a careful fiscal management approach," he said.