The Government plans to squeeze an extra $17.7 billion in tax out of ordinary New Zealanders in the next four years even as the economy slows, meaning it will take a bigger bite out of our national pie, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Treasury has trimmed its economic growth forecasts through until 2023 and ordinarily that would see the amount of tax pouring into the Government’s coffers slow as well. But the Government wants more of everything, so New Zealanders get less.
“We’ve heard a lot from the coalition about ‘transformational Government’. Now we know it means higher taxes, lower growth and households worse off.
“Why does this Government think it is OK to take more money out of New Zealanders’ wallets at the same time as their living costs such as rent, electricity and fuel are rising?
“The Government isn’t content with the raft of extra taxes and costs it has imposed in its first year and clearly sees the back pockets of ordinary Kiwis as theirs to raid. As a result New Zealanders will be paying $17.7 billion more in taxes compared to what they would be paying under a National Government. That’s almost $10,000 per household.
“New Zealand families are already having to make each dollar stretch further. The last thing they need is a Government continually adding to household costs, especially by an administration with a track record of wasteful spending.
“The size of the waste is significant, including $2.8 billion wasted on its failed fees-free tertiary education policy and $280 million so far on reviews and working groups.
“Poor Government decisions make it harder for New Zealanders and place our strong economic performance at risk. We need to get back on track before things go wrong and we miss out on the opportunities created by hard-working Kiwis over the last nine years.”
New figures released by National show that since being sworn in, the Government has announced 206 reviews and working groups, or one approximately every two days, at a cost of almost $700,000 dollars a day, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“The Government has abandoned New Zealanders and delegated the job of governing to officials, think tanks, consultants and former politicians while it focuses on tidying up after itself and cashing its coalition negotiation cheques,” Mr Bridges says.
“This is a Government whose parties had three terms – nine years – to develop their own ideas, but they’re now farming the thinking out to others and charging the taxpayer as they do.
“The Government has no plans for growing the strong economy it inherited, or for improving the lives of New Zealanders. Rather than having a plan and a vision for New Zealand it’s focused on keeping the Coalition together and treading water while we wait for the ever-growing list of reviews and working groups to report back with instructions.
“Meanwhile taxpayers are forking out half a million dollars a day to pay for this Government’s laziness.
“The total cost so far is around $280 million but it is set to be much higher. The Government doesn’t know the cost of 79 of their reviews, so taxpayers could be looking at a $450 million bill. At a time when cost of living is on the rise, rents are going up, and more taxes and regulations are being piled on, New Zealanders don’t need this wasteful spending as they feel the pinch at Christmas time.
“It is flabby spending. National would cut the waste, stop mulching trees and rolling out free fees, and invest taxpayer dollars in a more considered, targeted way. Savings from these reviews alone could fund the Roxburgh children’s village for the next 90 years, end the teacher strikes, fund 5,600 cochlear implants or axe the regional fuel tax.
“Kiwis can go into this Christmas knowing that only National will be doing the hard yards all summer to hold this Government-of-missed-opportunities to account. We’ll do the work so we’re ready should we earn the right to govern again in 2020.”
National would pull New Zealand out of the UN’s Global Compact on Migration because of its potential to restrict New Zealand’s ability to set its own migration and foreign policy, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
"National is supportive of global action on major issues and of migration into New Zealand because it brings skills, capital and connections and makes New Zealand a better, more diverse place. And we support the ability for New Zealanders to travel and live and work overseas should they choose.
“But immigration policy is solely a matter for individual countries and must take account of their individual circumstances – and New Zealand’s policies are already held up as international best practice. There is no automatic right to migrate to another country without that country’s full agreement, a view which the United Nation’s Global Compact on Migration, set to be signed next week, seeks to counter.
“While not binding, the Compact could restrict the ability of future governments to set immigration and foreign policy, and to decide on which migrants are welcome and which aren’t. While National is the party most open to immigration, we cannot accept this.
“This Government’s own immigration policy is weak and confused, including its unfulfilled campaign promises to slash immigration. Signing up to this only clouds things further – like its working groups the Government appears to be relying on the UN to set its migration policy rather than making its own decisions.
“While a number of countries are pulling out of the agreement as the extent of its potential impact on the decision-making of individual countries is realised, our Government is refusing to outline its own position.
“For these reasons, National will not be supporting this agreement and we will reverse the decision if this Government signs up to it.”
National Party Leader Simon Bridges has thanked retiring MP Chris Finlayson for his immense contribution to New Zealand and the National Party, following his announcement today he will leave Parliament in January.
“Chris Finlayson has been one of Parliament’s smartest MPs, keenest legal minds and an incredibly successful Minister. He will be a big loss to the National Caucus.
“He helped forge a new era in Crown-Maori relations, negotiating more than 60 Treaty of Waitangi settlements over his nine years as Minister.
“Chris’s immense understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, his ambition to ensure full and final settlements and use of legal innovations have helped set New Zealand up for a post-settlement future.
“During his career he also oversaw a rewrite of New Zealand’s security and intelligence legislation, reformed the arts sector and repealed the divisive Foreshore and Seabed Act, replacing it with the Marine and Coastal Area Act which restored the common law customary rights removed by the previous Government.
“Chris has been a great and often forthright colleague whose counsel was sought regularly by colleagues and by successive National Party Prime Ministers and Leaders, including myself.
“I am sorry to see him announce his resignation from Parliament but am sure he will go on to have a successful career post-politics.”
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has confirmed he is unfit for office by finally coming to the same conclusion on convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek that every other New Zealander reached weeks ago, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“After taking 45 minutes to make the decision, then a month to review it, the Minister has finally realised he made the wrong decision by granting a dangerous criminal residency in New Zealand.
“He now says Mr Sroubek is liable for deportation – though if Mr Sroubek appeals then this could clog up our courts for months and cost taxpayers significantly.
“To justify his original decision, Mr Lees-Galloway is throwing his officials under the bus, even though he didn’t bother to read all of the information they gave him.
“Clearly he should have. This was a convicted drug smuggler, currently imprisoned, who came to New Zealand on a false passport and associates with gangs.
“Mr Lees-Galloway claims the fact Mr Sroubek went back to the Czech Republic was difficult information to find and yet the Opposition and the media found it easily with a Google search.
“Mr Lees-Galloway realised early on that he had this badly wrong but tried to be secretive and sweep it under the carpet by claiming the public didn’t deserve to know the reasons behind his decision.
“He has put at risk the safety of New Zealanders because he didn’t do his job properly and read the file – all of which he should now put in the public domain so the public can judge for themselves.
“The Minister claims he was using processes put in place by the previous Government but none of our Ministers ever read a file involving a serious criminal in just 45 minutes without asking the relevant questions and allowed them to stay.
“Mr Lees-Galloway has lost all credibility, undermined our immigration system and made New Zealanders less safe. He should resign.”
National Leader Simon Bridges says there will be no Capital Gains Tax under a National Government, it would repeal a CGT if put in place by the Labour-led Government and there wouldn’t be any new taxes in its first term.
The announcement was made today in Auckland, as National also launched its ‘Have your Say’ Families campaign.
“Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group has announced it is putting together two options for a Capital Gains Tax. Even the Tax Working Group has conceded that this won’t fix the housing market but will lead to higher rents for those who can least afford it.
“Under this Government rents have risen 2.5 times faster than under National. This is because of a raft of poor policy decisions including imposing new taxes and regulations on landlords including ring fencing of losses, extending the bright line test, changing the Residential Tenancies Act and introducing more costly standards.
“A Capital Gains Tax is a tax on small business owners and entrepreneurs, people who have worked hard for decades to grow the value of their business, paying tax and employing people, only to get whacked with yet more tax when they sell for retirement.
“This Government claims to be kind, but these policies are hurting Kiwi families. A Capital Gains Tax would only add to the pain.
“A Capital Gains Tax would also affect everybody’s KiwiSaver, directly taxing people saving for their retirement.
“Kiwis pay more than enough tax already. If this Government reined in its wasteful spending it would be able to continue increasing funding for core public services without more taxes.
“National is committed to helping families get ahead. Under this Government petrol and rents are increasing. Nobody’s doubting that this Government has good intentions but those good intentions have consequences that are doing more harm than good.”
The cost of Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s flagship housing scheme KiwiBuild has been woefully underestimated, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.
“Documents released to National show KiwiBuild will cost 10 times more than what Labour calculated and announced in Opposition. This raises serious questions about the credibility of KiwiBuild.
“Earlier this year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) advised Mr Twyford that the $2 billion budget was only enough to build 1,000 houses a year under Labour’s original model.
“But Labour has promised it would build 10,000 homes a year by the end of its first term in office. Rather than increasing the budget 10-fold, Labour has shifted the policy from KiwiBuild to KiwiBuy and is underwriting private developers to build the houses for them.
“Labour had nine years in Opposition to come up with policies. It’s unbelievable that one of its flagship policies that it campaigned on in the election was miscalculated by such a huge amount.
“We’re not talking about a small error, Labour underestimated its flagship housing policy by $18 billion dollars.
“Taxpayers are forking out for a housing subsidy scheme for middle to high income earners.
“This adds to the headaches KiwiBuild is already causing the Government. Houses are not being built in the right places, at the right size, for the right price, which means they’ll have to be sold for less than what the Crown paid for them.
“MBIE also advised there was a high risk that there won’t be enough buyers for the KiwiBuild homes the Government is underwriting. This is clear already with one of the first ballots for a KiwiBuild home already extended due to a lack of interest.
“MBIE expects the cost of the underwriting scheme to go into the hundreds of millions, or possibly billions, over the next 10 years. This is a huge under-estimation from the Government.
“KiwiBuild hasn’t been properly thought through and it’s costing taxpayers millions more than first announced.”
National Leader Simon Bridges has today launched the ‘Have Your Say’ campaign for Seniors as the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process.
“National knows how important it is that we care for older New Zealanders. We want all New Zealanders to live enjoyable and meaningful lives.
“We’re making sure we do the work in Opposition so we’ll have the plans and policies in place should we earn the right to govern again in 2020. The current Government didn’t do its homework and it shows with over 180 working groups, potential new taxes, and other rushed policies creating huge uncertainty.
“New Zealand has an aging population so we have a unique opportunity to work with older New Zealanders to ensure we help get them the support they need.
“We want to see a high-performing health system that helps people lead longer, vibrant lives. At the moment 70,000 Kiwis are living with dementia today, and by 2050 it will be over 170,000. We need to make sure there is a range of care support for the elderly and their families. We also want to look at aged care services and how they can be improved.
“We want to provide certainty for New Zealanders when it comes to retirement. That means a robust superannuation system.
“The opinions of all New Zealanders matter to us, we value the contribution of older New Zealanders and we want to keep connected to our communities so we can develop meaningful policies that will improve lives.”
Rent increases are accelerating under this Government, making a mockery of its claim to be prioritising New Zealand’s lower-income households, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.
“Median rents have risen by $30 a week in the past 12 months, which is an increase of $1560 a year.
“Rents have gone up 2.5 times faster under the Labour-led Government than under National, adding to the strain on households forced to stretch each dollar further as the cost of living rises.
“Rent hikes are just the latest burden on Kiwis from a Government slow to learn about the unintended consequences of bad policy such as fees-free tertiary education that largely benefits high income households or petrol taxes that are regressive and disproportionately hurt the poor.
“A raft of poorly thought through policies are behind the recent spike in rents, including extending the bright-line test, ring fencing of losses, more burdensome regulations, the ban on foreign investment and the threat of a capital gains tax. All of these policies discourage private rentals and inevitably drive up rents.
“For the third of New Zealanders who don’t own their home these policies are doing more harm than good.
“Mum and Dad investors are being driven out of the property market by the ‘like it or lump it’ Housing Minister. But as the KiwiBuild mess shows, Phil Twyford has lost credibility to manage change in his portfolio, having inflated expectations and under-delivered.
“The Government hates to admit it, but it inherited an economy in good shape and National is pleased to see that momentum continue. The Finance Minister claims credit for any positive data but the reality is that the economy’s strength was built under nine years of National.
“And the rising costs are flowing through to more hardship grants issued by the Ministry of Social Development, which has jumped by 54,000 in the past 12 months.
“National believes a strong, growing economy delivers the best returns for New Zealanders. Growth doesn’t just mean profits. It means more jobs, higher wages and a better standard of living. Right now we have a Government that is just costing New Zealanders more.”
Confirmation from Immigration New Zealand that its review into Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek’s residency has been delayed is yet another sign of incompetence from the Labour-led Government, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“Embattled Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said this review would be done within three weeks. He then said he expected it to be sooner than that.
“This was backed up by the Prime Minister who said ‘Neither of us are satisfied with the long timeline around going back and looking at what's happened in this case…I'm hoping and expecting we will get a response very, very soon’.
“When Winston Peters was Acting Prime Minister he said the report would be made ‘within a number of days.’
“Now we have learned that Sroubek and his lawyers have been given an extension to respond. That means there’s no way the review can be done within three weeks.
“Jacinda Ardern said we shouldn’t judge the Government on how it’s handled the affair so far, rather how it fixes up the mess. There are no signs of this mess being fixed. It has gone from bad to worse to beyond belief.
“There are still serious questions which need to be answered, such as - who made representations in this case and did they influence the decision making of the Minister? Why is the Prime Minister standing by Iain Lees-Galloway and his decision?
“There are still so many unanswered questions and no sign of New Zealanders getting any answers.”