National Party leader Simon Bridges has continued his attack on the Government's handling of the economy, saying the Reserve Bank's reluctance to raise the Official Cash Rate speaks more than words.
The unchanged OCR was not expected by the market, and the New Zealand dollar has fallen from about US$67.50c to about US$65.75c, as of this morning, since the Reserve Bank made its announcement on Thursday.
Mr Bridges, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr's decision to keep the OCR at its current historic low of 1.75 per cent shows he is not confident in the economy.
A graph showing business confidence in New Zealand for the past five years, up until June 2018.
Source: ANZ Bank New Zealand/Tradingeconomics.com
"The reality is he has kept interest rates lower for longer than other places around the rest of world," Mr Bridges said.
"That is the biggest vote of no confidence in the economy ... that he's got."
Mr Bridges said falling business confidence and rising unemployment are symptoms of the Labour Government's policies, including the recent increase of industrial action and working groups.
New Zealand unemployment statistics to June 2018.
Source: Statistics New Zealand/Tradingeconomics.com
"New Zealand should be booming - it should be 3.5, 4 per cent," Mr Bridges said.
"I don't think we're heading for a recession - but I do think, right at the moment ... her [Jacinda Ardern's] focus should be on plummeting business confidence and the economic downturn."
Mr Orr yesterday told TVNZ 1's Q+A that he assesses business confidence based on business' actions, rather than how they respond anecdotally to surveys.
Mr Bridges says Adrian Orr would have raised the rate if he was confident in New Zealand’s economy.
Simon Bridges says the Government could cut funding or at least make their expectations clear to universities in response to former National Party leader Don Brash's talk at Massey University being cancelled.
"We don't want to see a culture war develop in this country, where universities in particular which are meant to be bastions of free speech actually get into narrower and narrower view points where only certain kinds of views are countenanced," Mr Bridges said on TVNZ1's Q+A last night.
"Frankly, we've had the Canadians... but Don Brash and banning him from giving what would have a been a pretty anodyne speech, it's ridiculous."
Massey University said in a statement last week members of the politics club were concerned about violence after a post on social media, which led to the university cancelling the scheduled talk.
Mr Bridges thought the Government had tools to deal with the situation, with the possibility of funding cuts "at an extreme level".
"I do think they need to send a message that free speech really matters."
"They fund the universities, I haven't gone through the legislative framework but they'd certainly have tools there."
Mr Bridges said funding cuts could be "one end of the spectrum", as would the Minister of Tertiary Education speaking with the university to outline expectations.
He said Mr Brash has "controversial views"... "but goodness gracious, he should be allowed on campus, he should be able to say things".
The National leader said Government have the "tools" to cut funding or to make expectations clear of universities in terms of free speech.