Election 2023: New GDP figures spark row over economy

It's official: New Zealand's economy is not in recession.  

The latest GDP figures showing growth rather than contraction, but it's slow, and rather flat.  

It also means the National Party will have to find a new attack line on Labour's economic chops.

It wasn't just the National Party's message Luxon was spreading in Southland, but the filling for its delicacy - cheese rolls. 

And it wasn't just the bread rolling on Thursday, but the economy rolling out of recession, with GDP growing 0.9 percent in the last quarter.

"I certainly think it's a victory for the New Zealand economy, and for the people who work hard every single day to make sure we deliver quality jobs," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The recession's been one of the main attack lines for the Nats.

Luxon has repeatedly mentioned New Zealand being the only country in the Asia-Pacific that has been in recession.

But not anymore, meaning they'll need new ammunition. 

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said National can't credibly accuse the Government of poor economic management.

"The New Zealand economy is not in recession and has not been in recession," he said.

National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said it feels like recession. 

"We can have a big debate about the technical numbers, but this is the cold hard reality."

While National won't scale back its attack line, ACT has had to scale back its promised tax cuts. 

David Seymour said Robertson has left the economic cupboard bare. 

The Government's economic management is still being rubbished, despite the GDP figures and Luxon's still claiming the economy's cooked, and he'd be the better chef. 

Both Hipkins and Luxon want to be Prime Minister, and it all boils down to the economy. 

"Anaemic growth is hardly worth celebrating," said Luxon. 

One way Luxon's proposing to boost that growth is to return international student levels to pre-COVID. 

That's 55,000 international students. Their visa will be fast-tracked within a fortnight if they pay an undetermined fee. Their working hours limit will be extended and their partners can work too, and they don't want the focus to solely be on Asia.  

"We've got one of the lowest diversity. Only nine countries where we source most of our students from, so we really need to be looking at the economies that are growing fast," said Luxon. 

But Hipkins said the country is seeing international education rebounding, though China has been slower to rebound, not just for New Zealand. 

It begs another question too - who will process the visas if National is gutting the backroom staff. 

"What we're doing is making sure we can deliver frontline services, but we want every resource focused on delivering outcomes," Luxon said.

Delivering cheese rolls today though.