Prime minister John Key came to the defence of his economic development minister Steven Joyce today in the face of mounting criticism of slow job growth.
Labour’s new economic development spokesman David Clark says Mr Joyce is going to be a “tough customer” to come up against, but claims Mr Joyce does not appear to have a plan for economic growth.
Mr Key says the situation is not perfect but people have to be realistic about the struggling global economy.
“We’ve got a minister of economic development, not a magician.
“We’re dealing with a global financial crisis, still working through what’s happened with the earthquakes in Canterbury. There’s generally a tough trading position with much of the world and a high exchange rate.”
He says he is impressed with Mr Joyce’s performance as a minister over the last four and a half years, having been catapulted straight into cabinet in 2008.
"And on the back of all of that, we’ve got pretty good results. I’m not saying it’s perfect but we are growing, when most countries aren’t.
“He’s been hugely successful and largely the opposition has been telling us he is the minister of everything and capable of handling everything.
"So if David Clark has got a different view to the rest of the Labour caucus team, fair enough.
"But I’m a person who likes to deal with the evidence and the four and a half years Steven has been a minister he has proven to be an extremely competent one.”
Statistics New Zealand’s latest figures show the unemployment rate fell 0.4% to 6.9% in the December 2012 quarter. The number of people unemployed decreased by 10,000 people but the employment rate also fell, with 23,000 fewer people employed.
Meanwhile, Mr Key is hoping to tap into a combined $US4 trillion GDP when he visits Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil next week as part of the government’s focus on strengthening bilateral relations.