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Photo by Joe McMenamin

Year 12 Economics Field Trip

Phillip Carew —

Budget 2015: Q & A Session with the Minister of Finance

Year 12 Economics students had an invitation to hear the Hon. Bill English, Minister of Finance, at a question and answer session on the Budget 2015 at Victoria University on Thursday 17 June. Students travelled into Wellington by van and train. When they arrived at the meeting they discovered that Mr English had had to attend a funeral and that the Hon. Stephen Joyce, the associate Minister of Finance, had taken his place.

Mr Joyce, a very good speaker, covered a wide range of issues, including the importance of languages; such as Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese in developing our trading relationships as New Zealand seeks to establish existing markets and diversify these at the same time. They heard that New Zealand’s standard of living is improving, its level of poverty is falling, of the government’s commitment to debt reduction, and the impact of increasing immigration on house prices, consumption, wage rates, and increased skill levels. He also fielded a number of controversial questions from the audience of 350 students.

The New Zealand economy is doing quite well when compared to other countries with regard to current growth and expected growth over the next three years. New Zealand has a lot of Free Trade agreements enabling it to be competitive internationally. The country also holds its own due to innovation and is doing very well in ICT, technology, and tourism which provide diversity from our current dependence on dairy. Mr Joyce outlined some of the initiatives the government was putting in place to promote tourism and New Zealand education overseas.

Students also heard of the government’s position on the Trans Pacific Partnership and of some of the present obstacles to trade that will be overcome by this agreement.

A student, from another school, raised the issue of the amount of money being spent on promoting a new flag for New Zealand. Mr Joyce drew the audience’s attention to the perceived need to establish a clear New Zealand brand, unconfused with any other country and representative of the distinctive things for which New Zealand is known in order to more clearly profile the country overseas. He gave examples of how distinctive New Zealand symbols had carried “Brand New Zealand” worldwide.

Another controversial issue raised was the impact of the GCSB’s activities on New Zealand’s trading relationships. Mr Joyce put the position of our county’s vulnerability to, and experience of, cyber-attack and of the need to investigate and scrutinise challenges to New Zealand’s international interests.

The presentation was a valuable reinforcement of our recently completed Trade Unit of study and set the scene for a new unit on Government Intervention in the Economy.