New Zealand owes the world too much. It's not a government problem, but government can help the privatae sector fix it. That stock of debt was the main driver for the downgrades we faced on Friday. It's the main thing politicians have wanted to avoid, but now it has happened.
Our fiscal situation is broadly OK. Government paid off a lot of debt in the 1990s and 2000s, and the level is quite low. We need investments to drive growth that will help close the debt gap, and we need a tax system that drives productive investment and closes the fiscal gap in the future, but Labour's already set those things out.
Private sector savings is the next big frontier. KiwiSaver was really starting to turn things around, building a culture of savings where people could see the cash adding up and plan what to do with it when they retired.
It was a good scheme that's been cut at, but it needs to be rebuilt and extended. We need to tackle with even greater urgency the need for Kiwis to save more. It's the only way we can #ownourfuture.
By itself though it won't be enough, and Labour's acknowledged already that in the 2000s we didn't move in the right direction or fast enough on some things. I think savings is one. Regulation of the finance sector, and doing something about the property bubble are two others.
The election is now going to focus more sharply on these things than it was going to before the downgrades. The country needs a credible plan to lift growth, reduce the government deficit without cutting needed investments, and get people saving again.