Helen Clark says the "circuit breaker" in combatting falling business confidence is engagement, however the former Prime Minister told Q+A there was "without a doubt" bias against the Labour Party in parts of the community.
ANZ Bank's monthly survey shows sentiment turned more gloomy with a net 50 per cent of firms expecting the economy will deteriorate over the next year, down five percentage points from July.
When asked by host Q+A Corin Dann how she navigated her way through the 2000 "Winter of Discontent", Miss Clark said business may not like the policies, "but they like predictability; they like certainty; they like to know that they can have a dialogue with you".
Miss Clark said there was "without a doubt" bias against a Labour Government.
"It doesn't apply to every businessperson…but there is a vocal group that just doesn't like Labour being in government, and they will continue to complain."
"We [the Fifth Labour Government] didn't roll anything back, but we did have a lot of engagement with business around New Zealand.
"The record shows that for years we delivered good growth in unemployment, so there wasn't a basis for low confidence."
She thought the circuit breaker was "pretty much what Jacinda Ardern has announced", after the Prime Minister released plans to establish a Business Advisory Council led by Air New Zealand’s Christoper Luxon.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson also told Q+A low business confidence was a risk if the sentiment "translates into the investments that businesses make".
"But I don't believe it has and I don't believe it needs to."
Mr Robertson said he is committed to the current debt target and thought the Government had the "balance about right in the economy at the moment".
National Party leader Simon Bridges told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning small to medium business owners (SMEs) "can't deal with the swings and the round-abouts in bad Government policy" the way large businesses could.
"The cost, the compliance, the taxes of this Government, they're killing SMEs. [Businesses] want to do best by their workers, but getting unions in really hurts them.
"An investment decision that goes against them, an immigration decision that goes against them can mean the difference their business going forward or not."