Christopher Luxon says Government still spending wastefully as Robertson maintains 'global factors' driving inflation

Christopher Luxon says the Government needs to hit the pause button on wasteful spending despite the Finance Minister insisting that's not what's behind soaring inflation.  

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Grant Robertson was asked if he thought New Zealanders blamed him for the inflation rising.

That inflation - at 5.9 percent per January's Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures - is tipped to hit 7 percent when the latest data is released on Thursday.

It comes after Robertson admitted New Zealand was going through "a difficult period" when it came to inflation and the cost of living - but insisted cutting Government spending on key services such as health wouldn't solve the issue. 

Speaking with AM on Wednesday, National Party leader Luxon said the Government needed to address the increasing inflation.

"The bottom line here is: the Government's blaming everyone but themselves for high inflation in New Zealand," he said. "Let's get really honest about it; New Zealand has a 5.9 percent inflation rate - tomorrow it's probably going to be over 7 percent. Australia's got the same global pandemic challenges, the same supply chain issues - they're at 3.5 percent."

Christopher Luxon.
Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub.

Luxon noted Singapore, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited on Tuesday, had a core inflation rate of 2 percent. Its overall inflation, or CPI inflation, was 4.3 percent as of February. 

Japan, where Ardern is heading on Wednesday, had 1.3 percent CPI inflation, according to its March figures.

"The National Party… has been saying it for the last five months: 'Hey, listen, you've got to rein in that Government spending now because if you don't it's going to drive domestic inflation,'" Luxon said.

"There are things this Government could be doing to diminish the impact of inflation and if they could do their job, then it's not just all left to interest rates and [Reserve Bank Governor] Adrian Orr." 

National earlier proposed increasing tax brackets to meet inflation and stop low-medium income earners from being trapped in higher brackets.

The party has also said it would scrap the Labour-introduced 39 percent top income tax rate for $180,000-plus earners.

Robertson on Tuesday hit back at suggestions the Government was driving inflation. 

Grant Robertson.
Grant Robertson. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I think that New Zealanders understand that this is a global phenomenon," he told reporters. 

"They only need to see the headlines every night where we hear inflation in the US has gone over 8 percent, inflation in the UK has gone over 7 percent.

"What we know is that the Government always has to be careful with the way it spends money on behalf of New Zealanders but these international factors - these global factors - are what is driving inflation."