Winston Peters accuses Simon Bridges of 'balderdash' over business confidence figures

The latest ANZ survey describes business confidence as being 'in a funk', with business confidence dropping five points and nearly half of respondents expecting business conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead.

In Parliament, National leader Simon Bridges asked Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters if he accepts that the country has its worst business confidence levels since the Global Financial Crisis.

But Mr Peters said those comments were "balderdash".

"The IMF [International Monetary Fund] has refuted them in their very confident prediction as to where this Government is taking the growth of the economy," Mr Peters said.

Mr Bridges asked if the Acting Prime Minister was aware New Zealand has fallen from the second-highest level of business confidence in the OECD in 2016, to the second-lowest under his Government.

But Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters questioned the quality of the survey.

"It is not surprising that the ANZ, despite having record profits at the moment, has a chairman who's been talking down the economy nonetheless," he said.

That chairman is former National Prime Minister John Key.

"Why is it," Mr Bridges pressed on, "that business confidence in New Zealand is at a 10-year low, while business confidence in Australia is at a 30-year high?"

Mr Peters said only 1000 of 500,000 enterprises were being surveyed.

"That's not the kind of elitism we promote in this country," he said.

Retail was the least confident sector in the latest ANZ survey. Retail New Zealand CEO Scott Fisher confirmed there's broad concern in the sector, with the rising cost of labour, rates and rentals unable to be passed on to consumers. 

"Confidence varies by region and sector, with clothing and footwear retailers under particular pressure," Mr Fisher said.

But Brian Gaynor from Milford Asset Management told Newshub it's not getting the same gloomy message from companies it's investing in. 

"Most of them are relatively upbeat, but not as positive as they were a year ago", Mr Gaynor said.

Mr Peters took a final jab at Mr Bridges' accent when asked to compare New Zealand's policies on oil and gas exploration and mining with Australia's.

"Whatever that industry called "moining" is, I'm having trouble trying to understand it", he said.