Labour has 'absolutely' made life better for New Zealanders, Grant Robertson says

Grant Robertson isn't concerned despite receiving brutal report cards from some of New Zealand's most prominent business leaders.

Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were blasted in last week's NZ Herald Mood of the Boardroom survey, which found tumbling confidence in the pair. 

While Robertson conceded it has been a tough year, the Finance Minister was still optimistic believing New Zealand was faring better than many other countries. 

"We're well-positioned for the current economic storms that we're facing but, clearly, there were people in the room who didn't appreciate the Government. As I say - not that unusual with the Mood of the Boardroom," Robertson told AM.

"The Mood of the Boardroom's never exactly been a Labour Party love-fest." 

Despite the criticism, he believed the Government was fixing the core fundamental issues facing New Zealand such as health, education and crime.

"In the health sector, for example, we've done undertaking one of the biggest reforms that New Zealand's seen in two decades - the creation of the Māori Health Authority to really get to the core to some of the issues here - along with Health New Zealand and moving away from the DHBs.

"We're very much focused on those things and making sure that we have the fundamental basics of the New Zealand economy and society right."

He argued the Government had "absolutely" made life better for New Zealanders in terms of education, crime and housing.

Grant Robertson.
Grant Robertson. Photo credit: AM

But Robertson admitted "this little thing called COVID" had disrupted progress.

"Obviously, the last couple of years have been massively challenging for New Zealand when it comes to COVID but we're building more houses than any Government since the 1970s.

"We are doing the things the Government can control in terms of the number of houses we're building - the way in which building consents, more broadly, are happening."

Robertson told AM host Ryan Bridge "overall levels of crime" were also trending down.

"There are areas where we know we can do better and we're supporting the police to do that [but] we've got 1500 more police on the front line than we had, so I'll stand by our record. 

"Is it perfect? By all means, no - but we believe we are making progress."

The Government's work to tackle crime has come under fire as New Zealand deals with a wave of offences - often committed by youth - including ram raids and smash and grabs. 

Crime has spiked in New Zealand this year, with 254 ram-raids in the first six months of 2022 - a 518 percent increase from the same months in 2018.  

A police report found 76 percent of ram raids were committed by youths under 17 years old, with 17 percent being under 13.

Earlier this month, the Government announced the "better pathways" youth crime package. It saw youth engagement and employment programmes amended to allow thousands more young people to participate, the Government said. That included the Youth Guarantee programme (1100 additional participants), He Poutama Rangatahi - Youth Employment Pathways (1400 more participants) while the Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund was extended to the end of next year to support another 2750 young people and whānau. 

However, critics said the package wouldn't address serious offending.