Goldsmith Update - February 2015

Goldsmith Update
Friday, February 20, 2015

In this, the first Goldsmith Update of 2015, let me begin by wishing you all well for the year.  It’s been a great summer, the economy is in good shape and New Zealanders have good cause for confidence.

As a father of four school-aged children, I’m conscious that this time of year is very expensive for families.  School donations, uniforms, stationary, music lessons and everything else adds up fast.

A strong economy that creates lots of well-paying jobs holds the best promise for all Kiwi families, large and small.  And that remains this National Government’s focus. Fundamentally that involves maintaining a stable and sensible political and economic environment that leads to confidence and investment, and steady reform to make our economy more internationally competitive.  As ever, in Government we constantly have to balance economic efficiency with the need to maintain social cohesion and protect the vulnerable.

In my Commerce and Consumer Affairs portfolio I’m currently concentrating on completing regulations flowing from the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, which we amended last year. These regulations are designed to make it easier for people to make informed choices when they’re borrowing money and to reduce the chances of debt spiralling out of control. We’re finalising a Responsible Lending Code in the next couple of months, which will guide lenders towards good practice. Irresponsible lending, such as by loan sharks and unscrupulous pay-day lenders, will attract the keen attention of the Commerce Commission.

I spoke about my plans for the year in the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement last week. The video can be viewed here.

In Parliament this week I helped launch a new biography of our longest serving Prime Minister, Richard Seddon.  Reading it I found the dynamics of politics unchanged.  In the 1899 election we saw a Premier being assailed by a hostile press, bouncing from one ‘scandal’ to another, before romping home to yet another popular victory.

More than a century later the things New Zealanders value in leadership are still recognisable.  They like leaders, such as Seddon and John Key, who are essentially aspirational and upbeat.   They expect their leaders to be energetic.  Seddon was legendary stomping around the country, and it’s no different today.  Centrism is still prized.  Seddon positioned his government as a ‘bulwark against extremism’ and found favour, as has John Key.   And, above all, we like our governments to be competent.  Seddon ran surpluses and over 13 years didn’t increase taxes (the top income tax rate was a glorious 5%).  After the massive challenges of the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes, I’m very pleased this National Government is one of the first in the OECD to be back on track to surplus.

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy Chinese New Year (Xin Nian Hao).

With my colleagues Jian Yang, MP and Parmjeet Parmar, MP, and the God of Fortune at the Chinese New Year Festival at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane on Saturday.

Hon Paul Goldsmith
National List MP based in Epsom

P: (09) 524 4930