The faceoff between Finance Minister Grant Robertson and National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith in the Mood of the Boardroom debate has taken a feisty turn.
Robertson used his time on stage to call out some of the errors Goldsmith had made over the last few weeks.
"Their economic approach is in disarray, with a plan riddled with basic errors," Robertson said.
"Paul Goldsmith admitted to a $4 billion error in their fiscal plan. He called that 'irritating'. Judith Collins called it 'entirely inconsequential'. Then he admitted to another sloppy error - this time a shortfall of $88 million. Judith Collins said "yes" she still trusts him. Then we found out they had double-counted some of their transport spending. Another $3.9 billion blunder and no answer of how to fix it."
Goldsmith didn't take it lying down, snapping back by attacking the government's performance.
Goldsmith questioned how many of the Government's promises had actually materialised, particularly in respect of the number of houses built.
Goldsmith also called the first lockdown brutal and questioned the Government's strategy in combating the pandemic.
The exchange in barbs come in a year fraught with complexity, during which the economy has become the major talking point in the lead up to the election.
This makes today's debate between Finance Minister Grant Robertson and National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith for Herald's Mood of the Boardroom all the more important.
The debate is being chaired by NZME managing editor Shayne Currie at a breakfast event in Auckland.
This marks the 19th edition of the Mood of the Boardroom, which this year surveyed 165 business leaders from across the spectrum about their views on the local and international economy, biggest worries, and how they rate the performance of political leaders.
O'Sullivan said it was heartening that a record number of CEOs took part in the 2020 Survey against a background of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Optimism may have been at the lowest levels seen in the survey's history but their responses demonstrated their own commitment to turning the economy around."
O'Sullivan said despite the admiration for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership during the Covid-19 crisis there was a sense that the private sector's own ideas were not filtering through to either Ardern or finance minister Grant Robertson.
"Business has had almost enough of "9th floor" reign and wants a full seat at the table," O'Sullivan said.
As Robertson and Goldsmith face off against each other today, the question will be which of the pair is most capable of winning the confidence of the nation's business leaders at such a tough time in our history.
The stakes simply couldn't be higher.