National to blame for strikes, falling GDP - Finance Minister Grant Robertson

Industrial action and falling GDP growth are both the fault of the previous Government, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Nurses have just signed a new deal after going on strike last month, primary school teachers won't show up to work on August 15 and Inland Revenue staff have also walked off the job in recent weeks.

"That's really nine years of frustration at the previous Government," Mr Robertson told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"The offer we put on the table to the nurses was double what the previous Government offered, and significantly higher than offers in previous years. We worked our way through that - we stuck to our guns on how much money we had available, but we addressed the issues the nurses wanted.

"We'll do the same and work it through with teachers and other staff. But you know, we can't solve nine years of neglect in nine months."

Recently there have been headlines about business confidence falling, with some suggesting that always happens when there's a Labour Government, regardless of what the economy is actually doing.

GDP growth under National since the global financial crisis peaked at 4 percent in mid-2015 and at the end of 2017.

Mr Robertson says the slide in GDP growth started well before they formed the Government.

"There will be one or two Government policies that one or two of the business community don't like but I still continue to believe, as a country we're well-positioned. Actually the trend and decline in GDP growth started at the beginning of 2017. The difference now is we've got a Government that has a plan to turn that around into a more productive set of growth numbers."

What could hit us hard he admits are the "tit-for-tat tariff exchanges we're seeing between the US and China".

"At the moment I wouldn't say it's having a huge effect. But as you look ahead, if that escalates and goes into a full-blown trade war, there's no doubt that's bad for New Zealand. We're an open economy that relies on our exports to give us the standard of living we all want."

He says the key to surviving the spat is keeping a surplus and diversifying export markets.