“Today’s data shows the economy grew 0.9 per cent in the months March-June inclusive, but this occurred against a backdrop of huge inbound immigration. In the same quarter, Statistics New Zealand reported a net migration gain of 20,156 people coming to New Zealand. ACT is in favour of migration, but if the population increased by 0.4 per cent in one quarter from migration gains alone, 0.9 per cent doesn’t look so flash.

“According to Immigration New Zealand, the figures for the full year tell a similarly sombre picture. The provisional net migration gain of 86,800 in the year ended June 2023 was made up of a net loss of 34,800 New Zealand citizens, which was more than offset by a net gain of 121,600 non-New Zealand citizens.’ In other words, the economy is growing because the population is growing, not because productivity is improving.

“Leading economists are pointing to a tough time ahead. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research’s latest forecasts show subdued economic growth for the next two years. Infometrics economist Brad Olsen has said the country will remain in a “shadow recession”.

“This is because the headline GDP figure masks the fact New Zealanders are facing a ‘personal recession’.

“While GDP growth is (just) positive, it’s not what matters for individual wellbeing. Real GDP per capita growth (i.e. economic output per person, adjusted for inflation) is what matters. It is the best measure of whether output, incomes, and wellbeing per person are growing.

“If total GDP is growing at around 1% and population growth is 2% then GDP per capita is declining. At an individual level, we are in recession. Indeed, Treasury forecasts that in 2024 real GDP per capita will be -0.7% and in 2025 just 0.6%. New Zealanders are literally getting poorer.

“That’s why you feel worse off even though the economy is technically growing.

“The next government is likely to open the books and find that Grant Robertson has not just left the cupboard bare, he has borrowed several cups of sugar from the neighbours which will need paying back.

“It’s clearer than ever that New Zealand’s economic recovery, and eventual economic strength for New Zealand, will require real change. Later today, ACT will release our Alternative Budget, which will outline a realistic path to economic recovery and revitalisation.

“ACT is committed to fixing New Zealand’s economy and creating a more productive and prosperous future. The economy isn’t just the biggest issue facing Kiwis today, it is the biggest issue for generations to come.

“This is why Kiwis can’t afford pharmaceuticals. Its why families have been hit harder by the cost of living crisis. It means there’s less money to put away for retirement.

“The next Government can deal with the hard issues, or it can carry on pretending they don’t exist. Successive governments have ignored problems and taken the easy road and New Zealanders are paying the price. Labour’s approach is just continuing the decline away from first world status.

“ACT is committed to cutting waste from government and returning that money to New Zealanders through lower taxes and targeted, sensible spending on core public services.

“ACT will ensure quality public services by setting clear targets for chief executives and removing the scourge of identity politics from the public service.

“ACT will cut down on red tape and regulation by insisting the problem is defined and the cost and benefits are compared before the new rule is made, this is essential to restore the number 8 wire Kiwi can-do attitude. So people can spend more time producing and less time complying.

“People like to think of New Zealand as a first world country but our income figures tell a different story. Until we have a government focussed on economic growth we will continue to see tragedies in our health system, out of control crime, diminishing education standards and poverty.

“These challenges can be addressed, but to do that there needs to be a strong economy built around creating conditions for prosperity, giving people the opportunity to get ahead. New Zealanders face a choice: more of the same, or real change.”

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