National's economic message upbeat
By Sarah Robson
Predictions of an economic slowdown on the back of lower dairy prices have been on the minds of the National Party faithful.
But Finance Minister Bill English says New Zealand remains on track for moderate sustained growth.
Nearly 700 party members have descended on Auckland's SkyCity convention centre for the party's first annual conference since its election victory last year.
Mr English moved today to reassure the members that the Government has what it can under control.
"Over the last couple of months, we've had some negative news from the world, lower dairy prices, headlines about Greece, uncertainty in China," he said.
"But we remain on track for sustainable moderate growth - that is the growth that can deliver to households the one to three percent pay increases, not just one year but year after year through to 2020, which will continue to generate new jobs and also lift incomes."
Mr English said the Government was working to ensure the economy remained resilient, despite the challenges.
"We're finding out we can't control dairy prices," he said.
"The issue is not so much whether the Government can guarantee New Zealand can get the prices it wants, it's whether we can manage our way through the difficult passages and take advantage of the very positive opportunities that we get."
Earlier, Prime Minister John Key said he was cautiously optimistic about another election victory in 2017.
He used his opening speech to the conference to hit out at political opponents.
"I don't spend a lot of time talking about them for very, very good reason," Mr Key said.
"Their view of modern New Zealand is not mine. Nor is it, I believe, the view of the vast bulk of New Zealanders.
"They are inward-looking, they have a very negative view of our country. I think we should be celebrating the fact that we're globally connected, that we're multicultural."
Housing, welfare and Auckland's infrastructure woes have also been hot topics of discussion among ministers and party members.
Mr Key will make his keynote speech tomorrow morning, when he is expected to make an announcement.