Government is 'fluffing around' on economy while New Zealanders 'lose jobs at a rate of knots' - National's Paul Goldsmith

The Government is "fluffing around" on the best approach to reopening New Zealand's economy while Kiwis are "losing their jobs at a rate of knots" due to COVID-19, National's finance spokesperson says.

Paul Goldsmith says the Government's "woeful" track record on infrastructure projects should be a major concern for New Zealanders going into the next phase of economic recovery, saying there's "not very much at all" to show for all their announcements so far.

Thousands of Kiwis have lost jobs over the past few weeks, with Treasury forecasting New Zealand's unemployment rate will rise further over the next few months before peaking at about 9.8 percent in September.

And Goldsmith believes the Government isn't moving fast enough to prevent things getting even worse.

"I do think the critical thing is opening up the economy as fast as we can… Everybody's got a plan, but it's got to be an effective plan and you've got to deliver on it," he told Magic Talk host Peter Williams on Friday morning.

"The Government's track record on the delivery of infrastructure is, of course, woeful - we talk about KiwiBuild and light rail. Light rail was their biggest plan and they quietly shelved that; on the roads, they cancelled everything, then decided two years later that they might start them again.

"So there's been a lot of big announcements, but in terms of shovels going into the ground there's not very much at all. That's the big worry."

Goldsmith says it's also "a bit concerning" that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister can't agree on how to handle the economic crisis New Zealand now finds itself in.

Jacinda Ardern admitted earlier this week that Winston Peters' New Zealand First party had "serious concerns" about the pace at which Cabinet had been moving down the COVID-19 alert levels.

"What's the enemy we've got now? It's not COVID-19," Peters told Newstalk ZB on Tuesday. "It's the inability to turn this economy around with the speed we should be doing and as fast as possible."

Goldsmith backs Peters' view of the situation, telling Magic Talk the restrictions on businesses are "still very substantial" and have made it more difficult to operate effectively and productively.

"It's all very well being able to open," he said, "but if you can't do it because of the restrictions in a way that you can actually make a profit, then you're no further ahead."

The Government's handling of our international education and polytech and training industries also came under fire by Goldsmith, but for quite different reasons.

While he said Ardern is proving to be moving very slowly to give the green light for universities to quarantine international students, he believes she was too trigger-happy in making apprenticeships free, claiming the restructuring has turned the sector "upside-down".