National is calling on Jacinda Ardern to do the right thing by voters and finally release the secret coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First.
“There are serious questions which need to be answered about Winston Peters’ hold over Jacinda Ardern. In the past week he has behaved in ways that can only be described as unethical but Jacinda Ardern has done nothing,” Mrs Bennett says.
“This includes knowledge of who took covert photos of journalists and posted them online in an effort to intimidate them.
“Jacinda Ardern promised to oversee ‘the most open and transparent government ever’ and yet voters have no idea what Winston Peters is holding over her.
“Winston Peters has described the coalition agreement as ‘a document of precision on various areas of policy commitment and development’.
“How much of that policy was influenced by donors to the NZ First foundation, which is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office?
“Labour signed away its principles when it signed that agreement. It wanted to be in Government at any cost and has no regard to the voters who put them there.
“New Zealanders are faced with a clear choice at this election. A vote for National will mean more money in your pocket, more transport infrastructure and safety for your family. We will get things done. Our decisions will be about what’s best for New Zealanders, not what’s best for NZ First.
“If they get the chaotic coalition back – New Zealanders deserve to know the sorts of deals they’re doing behind closed doors.”
The two year anniversary of Winston Peters appointing a Labour Government is a reminder of the trail of broken promises and failures to deliver, National’s Campaign Chair Paula Bennett says.
“Jacinda Ardern promised to lead the most open and transparent government ever. She promised to lift children out of poverty and to end the housing crisis. Not only has she not delivered, things have got worse.
“The number of people on the dole is up by more than 22,000. The number of children living in benefit dependent households has increased by 8,000 in just over a year despite the Government’s commitment to halve child poverty in a decade. Hardship grants are higher than ever before.
“The cost of living is through the roof. Rents are up an average of $50 a week and petrol taxes have been piled on. The Government promised there would be nobody sleeping in cars this winter and yet homelessness has increased.
“KiwiBuild is the largest public policy failure this country has ever seen. Labour talked a big game on housing but has failed to deliver meaningful change and dropped all of its targets.
“Business confidence is through the floor and continues to plummet further which is no wonder when the Government has made decisions like banning oil and gas exploration.”
This is in addition to other broken promises including;
- Introducing seven new taxes despite saying there’d be none
- Seven out of nine child poverty indicators have increased
- Failing to deliver 1800 new police
- Failing to deliver 100 per cent qualified ECE teachers
- The number of people in motels has increased threefold despite saying there’d be none
- Failing to deliver a surgical mesh register
- Failing to strengthen the OIA as promised
- Embarrassed into action on Cancer by National
- Failing to increase the age of Breast Screening to 74
- Fees free resulting in fewer students
- Failing to reduce the Gender Pay Gap as promised
- Cannabis referendum won’t be binding
- Has not introduced a Volunteer Rural Constabulary (cowboy cops)
- Job growth has more than halved from 10,000 new jobs a month under National to only 4,000
- Thankfully hasn’t introduced a Capital Gains Tax like it promised
- Failed to reduce teacher child ratios in early learning
It’s not just broken promises either. The Government has displayed a staggering level of incompetence;
- Outsourcing work to nearly 300 working groups
- Cancelling all of our Roads of National Significance
- There’s a looming infrastructure crisis
- Threatening to introduce a new car tax
- Introducing a regional fuel tax
- Elective Surgery numbers decreasing
- DHB deficits blowing up
- Won’t release the letter from Julie-Anne Genter
- State Housing waiting lists going up
- Overseeing a Census disaster
- Teacher strikes
- Junior doctors strikes
- Emissions will keep rising until 2025 but were flat under National
- Couldn’t keep their own budget secret
“This Government is failing to deliver on its promises and New Zealanders have a right to feel let down. National is doing the work in Opposition and we’ll be ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
The Labour Party still has a raft of questions that need answering about the cover up of an alleged sexual assault by a staff member who was employed in Jacinda Ardern’s office, National’s Deputy Leader Paula Bennett says.
“It’s been five weeks since the Labour Party brought in a QC to take over the investigation after Labour let down the alleged victims. But we still don’t know what the terms of reference are or what the report will even look into.
“The very people who originally dismissed the serious allegations are the ones who will be deciding the terms of reference. The victims continue to be let down.
“They have added an additional insult to the victims by appointing one of the panel members as the Acting President of the Labour Party. If they were serious about this being a victim centred approach, she would have stepped aside for someone else.
“This process has never been victim-led and the fact that we don’t know what the report is looking into, what the terms of reference are and the same people who originally dismissed the serious allegations are still involved shows Labour has no intention of putting the victims first.
“The Prime Minister and Grant Robertson can’t continue avoiding questions because of the QC’s report.
“It’s time to stop hiding behind the QC’s report, start a proper process which respects the victims and be transparent with New Zealanders.”
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern must finally do the right thing and stand down the staff member in her office who is accused of serious sexual assault while the matter is reviewed, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.
“The shocking details of this alleged assault, which have been reported in the media this morning, are confronting and bring into sharp focus just how serious the matter is.
“The staff member accused of these violent acts needs to be stood down and removed from Parliament immediately until an earlier investigation into his conduct is completed.
“Any other workplace would take this sensible step to ensure the safety of its entire staff.
“The Prime Minister cannot distance herself from this issue. The alleged attacker works in her office. She would be rightly criticising any other organisation that handled something like this so badly.
“Labour doesn’t need an investigation into whether this was handled appropriately at the beginning – that much is blatantly clear.
“The victim who has spoken up today is incredibly brave. She deserves to be respected, and to not have to live in fear. It’s concerning to read reports that parts of her testimony appear to be missing.
“She is not alone. Five people have now come forward to me for help because they don’t feel they have been taken seriously. Two other women have similar stories of sexual assault and numerous others of intimidation and bullying all by the same perpetrator.
“If the Labour Party truly believes in a victim-led response then its handling of this has been appalling to date. It calls into question the decision-making of Party president Nigel Howarth.
“I’m also concerned about the process. It is not independent, as the findings will be reported back to the Labour’s ruling council, and it is not being led by a specialist in sexual assault.
“The victims in this sorry saga have lost faith and trust in an organisation that they believed would look after them.”
The past week of political announcements showed the Labour-led Government is still out of ideas and isn’t up to the job it was elected to do, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Paula Bennett says.
“If 2019 is Labour’s year of delivery, as the Prime Minister called it, then why is her Government continually kicking decisions down the road? She should apologise to New Zealanders for this inaction.
“Last week was a master class in making announcements without actually announcing anything. The Government simply deferred any real decisions or actions to a later date.
“It started with the disappointing interim report on the Health and Disability System review. It was 300-plus pages and cost taxpayers more than $30,000 per page, but didn’t contain a single recommendation. It’s basically a $9.6 million paper weight.
“Then we finally got the KiwiBuild reset only to discover it was a complete retreat from Labour’s election promises, with no new initiatives to speed up the delivery of houses.
“All we got from the Government was an admission of defeat, with no targets for new housing and the foreshadowing of schemes like rent-to-buy.
“There was also no guarantee this would be delivered before the election, despite it being in Labour’s confidence and supply deal with the Greens. Where’s the urgency?
“The Government’s Freshwater Discussion Document mirrored its approach to Resource Management Act reform. Labour knows it won’t get consensus on these issues with its coalition partners so it’s pushing the decision making out beyond the next election.
“It’s extraordinary that after nine years in Opposition and two in Government, Labour has done so little work on its policies that it needs to engage in seemingly never-ending consultation rather actual delivery.
“The year of delivery has been a con. The only thing New Zealanders will remember about 2019 is that it was Labour’s year of discussion, and not much else.”
The Prime Minister’s deafening silence on the rights of Māori over freshwater is cementing a trend of indecisiveness on critical issues, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.
The Government has failed to confirm their position on freshwater rights after a Waitangi Tribunal report recommended that water could be owned by iwi and hapū.
“The Prime Minister must clarify that the Tribunal has got it wrong and that water is a public resource.
“National has consistently and reasonably maintained that no one owns fresh water, it is a resource all New Zealanders should enjoy and get benefit from. The Government cannot afford to play both sides on this issue, indecisiveness will cause a rift and divide the country.
“The Prime Minister’s hesitation on ownership only distracts from discussions around how we can best manage and improve this critical resource and take greater economic opportunities from it whilst maintaining its environmental integrity.
“This comes a month after the Prime Minster stuck her oar in at Ihumātao and failed to take decisive action. There is now speculation that iwi will buy the land back. This raises concerns that the Government has set up a backroom sweetheart deal, an intervention that would be dangerous, costly and ultimately, unravel our Treaty process.
“This complete lack of initiative followed up by hollow waffle is what has come to be expected from this Government.
“The Environment Minister has made excuses for the Government’s indecision, saying ‘we have to be careful what we say in this space’. The answers to these questions are simple - No one owns water and the protestors need to go home.”
The Government is playing politics when it comes to pay equity and it’s time to take action, National’s Women’s spokesperson Paula Bennett says.
“The Equal Pay Amendment Bill has been ready to be debated at second reading in Parliament since May 13th. The Government has left it languishing on the Order Paper.
“Today Julie Anne Genter released a statement saying that the Bill is currently in front of a Select Committee. The Minister either doesn’t know that the Bill came back from Select Committee three months ago, or she’s deliberately tried to mislead the media.
“The work behind this Bill was originally done by the National Government. The current Government refused to bring it with them when it was sworn in. It then voted down a National Members Bill from Maungakiekie MP Denise Lee.
“If the Government had kept our Government Bill, or Denise Lee’s Bill, they would be law by now and women would be benefitting from the changes.
“Instead, they waited until Suffrage Day last year to introduce the Equal Pay Amendment Bill which was 90 per cent copied and pasted from our work.
“Today I’m asking Julie Anne Genter to ensure that this Bill is brought back before Parliament as soon as possible and to stop playing politics. It seems that Government is once again cynically waiting until Suffrage Day to debate it so it can use this as a publicity stunt.
“Julie Anne Genter should apologise for releasing false information in her press release today. She should then do everything she can to progress this Bill. Women shouldn’t have to wait even longer for this Bill because she wants to do a press release on Suffrage Day.”
From today the Police will be directed not to prosecute all drug users as the Government sneakily introduces the decriminalisation of drugs, National’s spokesperson for Drug Reform Paula Bennett says.
“National supports both greater rehabilitation and tougher sentences, treatment and deterrence should go hand in hand. However this Bill means Police will not be able to individually prosecute people who are buying and using hard drugs including P, heroin and cocaine.
“The Government says it’s putting the legalisation of cannabis to the public in a referendum, yet at the same time it’s telling Police not to prosecute when it comes to prosecuting Class A and B drugs.
“The Government has a million and one questions it needs to answer about marijuana and the Prime Minister’s referendum to legalise its personal use, before it starts saying Police should not prosecute for wider and harder drug use.
“Both the Police Association and the NZ Drug Foundation presented at Select Committee and agreed the Bill amounts to de facto decriminalisation of drug use. Police are not social workers, it will be up to them to help people try to find services that simply don’t exist.
“National consistently increased investment in rehabilitation and pledged $40 million more over four years for drug treatment and education services during the election campaign, including an additional 1,500 treatment beds. This Government has been big in talk but we haven’t seen any action.
“National will fight for safer communities and ensure these issues get the scrutiny they deserve.”
Today the Prime Minister could not rule out serious offenders being able to hold a licence to manufacture and grow cannabis under this Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Paula Bennett says.
“While the Prime Minister was unable to answer questions today on her Government’s policy, National has the detail because we’ve read the consultation proposal.
“Active gang members, people currently addicted to drugs, those in rehabilitation for drug issues, serious offenders, and even people currently in prison, can have a licence to manufacture cannabis under the Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme, so long as all other licence holder criteria are met.
“Health Minister David Clark may think gang members will be able to contribute their skills to society, in other words, they know how to grow cannabis, but most New Zealanders will see this as just another opportunity to put our communities at risk.
“The Prime Minister says this is just a consultation proposal and these details will be hammered out, but the Government should’ve done the work in the first place and made sure convicted criminals and those people addicted to drugs can’t hold a license to cultivate.
“The Government has only just released a consultation proposal on its medicinal cannabis policy, despite passing the Bill last year. It’s clear it rushed the process as we’re seeing major holes in the Government’s scheme.
“In contrast, National’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill is comprehensive and has been well researched. It doesn’t allow those convicted of a serious offence to become a licensee and it doesn’t allow a licence to be granted if you are currently addicted to drugs.
“This is another example of a Government that’s been lazy in developing its policy, couldn’t swallow its pride and pick National’s Bill up, and is now left with a scheme full of holes.”
Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf should have offered his resignation following the early release of Budget information, and at the very least should apologise for how he handled it, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.
“Mr Makhlouf had a responsibility to keep Budget information confidential. It is disappointing that he has taken no responsibility for the incompetency he has shown.
“It is clear the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes felt he should offer his resignation. If Mr Makhlouf wasn’t already leaving, his position would be untenable.
“He will now likely leave the country, having collected a remuneration package of at least $640,000 a year, without any public apology for overseeing one of the biggest blunders in the Treasury’s history. The New Zealand public deserve better.
“Questions now need to be asked of Finance Minister Grant Robertson. He is ultimately responsible for the Treasury and the Budget, and the buck stops with him. It’s clear he did not ask the right questions of Mr Makhlouf and only heard what he wanted to hear – which was that the National Party was engaged in systematic hacking. He was happy to sit on that lie for more than 36 hours. He has never corrected his false statement.
“Mr Robertson is the one who publically linked the National Party to a false hacking claim. Given Mr Hughes felt it appropriate for a resignation to be offered by Mr Makhlouf, the Prime Minister should expect the same level of accountability from her Finance Minister.
“At the very least, Mr Robertson owes an apology to all New Zealanders, not just the National Party.
“The handling of this by the Treasury and the Minister has been incompetent. New Zealanders deserve better from what is arguably this country’s most important and influential Ministry.”