COVID-19: Voters aren't looking to National Party for economic answers because they don't blame the Government in first place - economist

An independent economist says New Zealanders aren't blaming the Labour-led Government for the country's current economic "weakness" and are instead blaming COVID-19, hence why voters aren't turning to the Opposition.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll released on Monday found 62.3 percent of New Zealanders trust a Labour-led Government under Jacinda Ardern to run the economy after COVID-19, while just 26.5 percent would trust a National-led Government under Judith Collins.

Economist Tony Alexander says voters are seeing the market perform well under Labour.

"The Government's got the ready excuse of, 'whatever's wrong in the economy, it's COVID-19', so I don't think people are feeling, 'the economy's bad, it's the Government's fault'," he told The AM Show on Tuesday. "COVID-19 is basically a good screen for the Government for any mistakes they may have made in managing the economy.

"Although we can see the negative of the border still being closed and the foreign students not getting in, you've got record-low levels of interest rates there - the farming sector is doing very well - looking through 2021 I think we can talk about an economic recovery and an upturn in our economy but we've still got some bumps in the road, obviously, for the remainder of this year."  

Alexander also gave his verdict on whether New Zealand had enough workers to meet the demand of the Government's shovel-ready infrastructure projects. The Government unveiled a $3 billion infrastructure fund earlier this month aimed at delivering jobs to recover from COVID-19.

"I'd say we probably don't [have enough workers] because those skills are not sitting there," he said. "We're not going to see a whole lot of redundancies come in the likes of farming, manufacturing [and] construction - they're [workers] not just sitting there waiting to be plucked up again."

He said there were no long-term economic plans from either the Government or the Opposition.

"There's no great drive in terms of sustainably boosting New Zealand's rate of productivity growth [or] developing new industries in any particular way."

Alexander said both the major party's economic policies were short-sighted.

"It's all pretty myopic stuff - 'we will build another road, we will build a storage lake' or something like that," he said.

"There's got to be a lot more innovative stuff that could be brought forward but I'm not sure that people are in a mood to be listening to it at the moment, and that's the difficulty."

National finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said Kiwis trust his party to run the economy effectively.

But Finance Minister Grant Roberston said the Government has worked hard to earn Kiwis' trust by being careful with spending.

"We saved for a rainy day. The rainy day arrived," he said on Monday. "We've put the umbrella up to protect New Zealanders and I think that's what they want."