The Finance Debate will be livestreamed on Stuff from 7pm tonight.

Tonight, the two men vying to be finance minister after October 17 will face off in the Stuff Finance Debate.

In ordinary times, the debate would be important enough: each side would give their accounts of debt, economic growth and deficits: but there would usually be surpluses either here in the present, or on the not-so-distant horizon. Covid-19 has changes that completely.

Now the real debate will be about which major party – and which potential minister – has the plan to grow New Zealand out of what will be a long coronavirus slump.

The Finance Debate will stream live on Stuff tonight.

Stuff

The Finance Debate will stream live on Stuff tonight.

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Given the lockdown smashed economic growth to the tune of 12.2 per cent in the last quarter – much less than expected – the economy will grow, and we will be officially out of recession next quarter.

But the overall size of the economy will have contracted.

International tourism is clearly the worst-hit sector and won’t be coming back any time soon to what it was before. If a travel bubble with Australia opens in, for example, in the next six months, that will help. But there are big questions about that.

More generally, the debate will likely focus on which plan to rebuild and stimulate the economy Kiwis are more comfortable with.

The original centrepiece of Labour’s plan – which was basically backed by all parties in Parliament – was the wage subsidy. As that runs out,