Time to switch barbecue chat off house prices: panel

Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014

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The poor quality of political debate in Parliament and around the barbecue is damaging New Zealand's economy and society, an economic panel says.

The panel in Auckland yesterday discussed issues raised in a new report on New Zealand's economy by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

The report, Future [Inc], said New Zealand had several strengths, such as an open economy and an abundance of natural resources, while the rise of Asia and advances in technology offered opportunities to boost its economy.

But New Zealand was vulnerable to natural disasters, and faced income inequality and an ageing population.

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said he was less than inspired when listening to New Zealand's current politicians.

"We continue to see reducing engagement in politics in New Zealand, both at the local and national level, and that's incredibly disappointing."

Eaqub said important issues such as education and the "sacred cow" of immigration were rarely discussed in any depth.

Although the panellists agreed New Zealand's politicians needed to show leadership, Eaqub said the public also needed to embrace discussion on important issues.

"The barbecue talk has to move from house prices to education and poverty and all those things that matter, not just house prices," he said.

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