• Winston Peters

An editorial in the Australian Financial Review peddles some tired old assumptions about the New Zealand Government's economic policy which it claims will lead to policy "slippage," Treasurer Winston Peters said today.

"The editorial is based on claims that have no basis and on the more negative musings of some members of the New Zealand economic analysts' community," Mr Peters said.

"We welcome analysts' fiscal vigilance because we share that vigilance.

"But some claims being made have no currency whatsoever."

There will be no pause in the reform process, Mr Peters said. "This Government is committed to reforming all sectors, and no particular group is above that process."

"We want greater efficiency in all sectors of the economy, including government." Mr Peters said this had been made plain by the Coalition Agreement, the Budget Policy Statement and statements from ministers.

"The Government has been under attack for the reforms it has initiated and I can't understand how anyone could believe we are sitting on our hands.

"On numerous occasions ministers have indicated New Zealand can expect a radical shake-up of the welfare state in the Budget.

"The electricity sector is deregulated and is way ahead of Australia in this regard.

"This Government is keen to continue to drive electricity costs down for domestic consumers.

"The Producer Boards Acts Reform Bill before the House, which will introduce wide-ranging changes to the main producer boards, has been conveniently overlooked by the newspaper."

The Coalition Government has also indicated it is prepared to attack the vexed area of ACC reforms to ensure that organisation and delivery become more efficient.

Mr Peters said the Australian Financial Review editorial appeared to be based on the more negative aspects of the National Bank's Economic Forecasts for April.

"I note that overall the forecasts are positive with gross GDP growth projected to increase in 1998 and 1999.

"Economic growth projections of around 3% a year are not disappointing, but very welcome."

The National Bank, and the AFR, are critical of the Coalition Government's spending plans.

Mr Peters said the Government will spend more on the critical areas of health, education and making New Zealand's streets safer.

"The Government has been extremely upfront about this, but has emphasised it is not abandoning fiscal responsibility and will keep within its self-imposed spending limit of $5 billion.

"Talk of the Government expenditure blowing out is nothing but unsubstantiated scaremongering.

"We will continue to run healthy surpluses, unlike the Australian Government," Mr Peters said.