Labour Government 'not the right party' to handle economic downturn - Sir John Key

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key is warning the global economy could be about to head south, and the current Government isn't the one to set it right.

Speaking to reporters at the National Party's annual conference in Auckland, Sir John said the economy is coming to the end of its cycle and it is starting to slow. 

"There's no question that when I look around the world at the things I am now involved in internationally, you can start to see the pressure in the system," he said.

Sir John, who is now on the board of ANZ and Air New Zealand, said weakening Chinese and European economies along with American deficit meant a downturn was likely coming.

At the conference yesterday, National Party finance spokesperson Amy Adams said New Zealand currently had the second -lowest business confidence in the developed world, down from being the second best in 2016 when National were in power.

Sir John said the drops in business confidence reflected New Zealand businesses being uncertain about the Government's current economic policies.

He said while he hopes the downturn was avoided, if it wasn't to be, the current Government wouldn't be the right ones to handle it.

"If it doesn't, then I think the right political party won't be the one that's currently there."

This was the first party conference the former National leader has attended since his shock resignation at the end of 2016.

Sir John maintained high rankings both before and after becoming Prime Minister in 2008.

His economic work following the Global Financial Crisis and Christchurch Earthquake with then-future Prime Minister Bill English became the envy of many countries around the world.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has downplayed the drops in business confidence as a bias against the typically progressive Labour Party.