Average worker to earn $62K - English
GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
New Zealand's exports hit $50 billion for the first time ever, Finance Minister Bill English revealed in Queenstown today.
With only days to go until Thursday's delivery of this year's Budget and four months until the election, English displayed his trademark humour, but edged it with some serious politicking to party faithful at a National Party conference being held in the resort town.
Hitting $50 billion in exports, which happened last week, was a benchmark English labelled ''quite a significant achievement'' and the announcement of which earned hearty applause from the crowd.
The budget would hit deficit - something National Party supporters now expected, and he expected to deliver English said, before letting some other stats out of the bag.
In the hard data department, 84,000 new jobs were created last year. Government spending had also lost a chunk of its importance to the nation's Gross Domestic Product, meaning private sector earning was on the rise.
''In 2008 government spending was 35 per cent of our GDP,'' he said.
''Now that has dropped to 30 per cent, and we want that to be dropping to 26 per cent and 25 per cent in the next six and seven years.''
In the prediction department English weighed in with two sure to prick up voters' ears: firstly that the average income would rise by $7,500 to $62,000 in the next four years, and that economic growth would increase by 10 per cent in the next three years.
Tying dollars and cents together with the strength of community fibre and the ever topical subject of welfare, English singled out one particular example.
''In 2008 there were 4,300 people under 20 on a single parent benefit, and figures show each one of those people usually remains on a benefit for 20 years, which equates to about $350,000.
"On the left they might say 'it's not your fault' and give them another $20 per week just to show they care. Today there are 2,800 sole parents under 20 on a benefit. We are dealing with those young people on a case by case basis, and want to say it is not a hopeless situation if you are a parent at 17 - but we want people to have aspirations and be a government that is there to help them achieve.''
The Government would also be looking to exert influence on the housing market, to avoid the "runaway'' pre-recession situation English said heavily contributed to and exacerbated the recession.
"Houses are much more expensive than they need to be. From 2000 to 2005 the cost of a house doubled, and it's not fair if New Zealanders are locked out of the housing market because they can't afford it.''
- The Southland Times
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