Winston Peters says business confidence report is 'bias from a minority'

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is unfazed by what the Opposition calls a "damning" new report on a slump in business confidence.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report for the June quarter shows business confidence at its lowest point since 2011, with 19 percent of businesses expecting conditions to deteriorate further in the second half of 2018.

Report author Christina Leung said there was some easing in business confidence heading into the general election, which dropped sharply when Labour took office and has headed downwards since then.

National leader Simon Bridges said the report is "pretty damning".

"It shows really a doubling in the negative numbers so that people are doubly worried about businesses and the economy than they were just even a little while ago."

National finance spokesperson Amy Adams said the report is a response to the Government introducing "anti-growth measures, from industrial relations reforms and hiking fuel taxes to shutting down oil and gas and lower investment in our state highway network, and that's reflected in plummeting business confidence".

She said businesses that aren't confident will not be hiring new staff or lifting wages, while the retail sector was responding to cost pressures by lifting wages.

Mr Peters said the report simply shows the "in-built bias of a minority of New Zealanders".

"I forecast that on the evening where I said that we were going to go for not a modified status quo, but a real change. There were already two quarters being assembled, for which we could not have been responsible, which showed a small drop in our GDP growth.

"As for confidence we've given you the figures, when the economy's been performing at well under 2 percent the confidence has been far higher than when the economy was performing at 3.2 percent. You can't slide past that. So it's not a perception so much as an inbuilt bias of a minority of New Zealanders."

Associate Finance Minister David Parker said: "Surveys of people's opinions as to whether they like the Government are different to investment intentions, and I think investment intention surveys are more reliable than essentially polling people's political preference."