National Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Paula Bennett to the new position of Spokesperson for Drug Reform as the Government pushes ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation, to signal National’s commitment to holding them to account.
Mr Bridges has also appointed Amy Adams Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Mitchell Spokesperson for Pike River Re-entry and Nick Smith Spokesperson for Crown-Maori Relations, filling the positions formerly held by outgoing MP Chris Finlayson, while Shane Reti will take over the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment portfolio from Mrs Bennett.
Incoming MP Agnes Loheni will be appointed the Associate Spokesperson for Small Business and Associate Pacific Peoples roles when she enters Parliament next month.
“New Zealanders expect their Government to be firm but fair. When it comes to drugs we need a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balances public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.
“This Government’s confused and dangerous commitment to decriminalisation and its soft approach to crime shows it’s not up to that task.
“Our work creating a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime shows we are and that’s why I’ve created this new portfolio which will coordinate the work being done across our policy teams in health, education and law and order.
“It will build on our significant work in Government around the Meth Action Plan, cracking down on drug dealers and stopping trafficking at our borders, while ensuring those who need rehabilitation get access to the best services.
“There is no better person than former Police Minister Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues to coordinate this work.
“To allow Mrs Bennett to focus on this important task, Dr Reti will take over the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment portfolio. Through his excellent work on National’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill and in his Cyber Security portfolio, he has shown he will do an exacting job in holding this Government to account and progressing National’s plans.
“As a lawyer and former Justice Minister Amy Adams will also prove a formidable Attorney-General, Mark Mitchell is doing an excellent job as our Justice spokesperson and his appointment reflects the fact the Justice Minister holds the Pike River Re-entry portfolio while Dr Smith’s appointment to the Crown-Maori portfolio aligns with his work in State Services and will ensure the Government is held to account.”
The Prime Minister must dismiss Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha after a damning report from the Independent Police Conduct Authority, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“It was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who appointed Wally Haumaha. She now has to take responsibility and dismiss the man that she appointed to one of the most senior and powerful roles in the country.
“It would be unconscionable for Mr Haumaha to stay in this constitutionally important role given the seriousness of the IPCA findings.”
National Party Leader Simon Bridges has congratulated the next Chief Justice of New Zealand, the Honourable Justice Helen Winkelmann.
“Justice Winkelmann has had a distinguished career on the bench since 2004, following a lengthy career as a litigator specialising in insolvency and commercial litigation. She served as Chief High Court Judge between 2010 and 2015, when she was elevated to the Court of Appeal.
“New Zealanders can have confidence that Justice Winkelmann will continue the fine tradition of Chief Justices in New Zealand upholding the rule of law and ensuring due process.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the outgoing Chief Justice, the Right Honourable Dame Sian Elias.
“To preside over the judiciary for almost two decades is a remarkable achievement, and jurisprudence in New Zealand has developed significantly over her time as Chief Justice.”
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.”
Thanks for having me here today to talk about National’s plan for helping you and your families.
We have a lot of ideas already and we’re excited about them - but we also want to hear from you.
We’re a year into Opposition and we’re taking a good look at all of our plans and policies, running the ruler over what worked and what we could do better.
We did a lot of things well in Government but we didn’t get it all right.
A big part of that process is talking to New Zealanders about how you want us to help you.
You know your families, your own circumstances and the issues facing you better than anyone else.
We know you are ambitious for yourselves and your families and we know you want to make New Zealand a better place for your children.
You are in the forefront of our minds every time we make a decision and every time we critique the Government.
Decisions made in the Beehive directly affect you and in my view a lot of the ones made recently have had negative consequences for you and other New Zealand families.
Cost of Living
National MPs are heavily involved in our communities and one of the things we hear about more than anything is the rising cost of living.
Keeping the cost of living down is one of National’s top priorities.
It's just as important as growing incomes because if your weekly costs are going up faster than wages then it’s harder for you to get ahead. Living becomes less affordable and you have fewer choices.
And that's exactly what’s happened in the past 12 months. Costs are increasing faster than wages – and much of that is the result of new taxes and poorly thought through policies.
It’s becoming more expensive to get by, the Government is taking more of what you earn, and incomes aren’t rising fast enough. The Government has more and you have less. That’s wrong.
Nobody is doubting the Government’s good intentions but these good intentions have consequences that are actually doing more harm than good.
Take just one of the biggest cost increases in the past year - rents.
This is a classic example of good intentions that have resulted in bad policies and bad outcomes.
The Government is imposing a raft of new taxes and regulations on landlords including ring fencing of losses, extending the bright line test, changing the Residential Tenancies Act, introducing more costly standards and threatening a capital gains tax.
Well those decisions have had negative consequences.
Here’s an example. The Government have banned letting fees.
But Landlords are now charging more rent to cover these new costs. Some are even selling up because it’s become too expensive, too difficult and too complicated. Fewer rentals, higher rents. Good intentions, bad outcomes.
Now the Prime Minister is “hoping” rents don’t increase. She can hope all she likes - but rent increases are already a reality for many families.
In just the past 12 months, the median rent across New Zealand has gone up by $30 a week - or $1,500 a year.
That’s two and a half times faster than when we were in Government.
And rents are rising rapidly in almost every region across New Zealand.
In Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne they’re up almost $50 a week.
Petrol prices also recently reached record highs. It not only costs you more to rent your house - it costs you more to drive to and from it.
Part of this is out of New Zealand’s control. But for reasons best only know to them, when international petrol prices were rising rapidly, the Government decided to make it even worse by piling on more taxes.
Over three years they are introducing three rounds of petrol tax hikes plus a regional fuel tax in Auckland. And that’s on top of the extra GST they get when the global price rises.
For most of you, these are taxes that simply cannot be avoided.
The kids still need to be dropped off at school or picked up from sports practice. You still need to get to work and to the supermarket. People lead busy lives and the Government should not be making those lives more and more expensive.
But this Government is. The typical car now costs $15 more to fill up than this time last year thanks to new taxes, a slumping dollar and higher oil prices.
The impact is real. We hear it every day.
We’ve heard from a mother in Canterbury who can no longer afford to take her Down Syndrome son to a special school in the next town over because she can’t afford the petrol.
Another person has told us how they are buying their parents petrol vouchers for Christmas so they can afford to go to their regular hospital visits a 45 minute drive away.
And a hearing clinic in Auckland says people are not turning up for appointments because they can’t afford the visits, or the petrol to get there.
So why is the Government persisting with its deliberate cost of living increases? Because of an ideological commitment to wasteful spending, such as slow and expensive trams in Auckland, the failed fees free education policy and the regional slush fund.
In the meantime, Kiwi families are hurting.
Flow on cost increases
We also know that when fuel prices and rents go up, so does the cost of everything else.
When it costs more to get groceries to the supermarkets, or produce them in the first place, then groceries cost more.
If those costs are not passed on to consumers, then New Zealand businesses have to absorb the cost, which risks their futures and means they are less likely to expand or hire someone new.
One small supermarket owner is so worried about the Government’s labour law changes that instead of hiring seven staff, he’s putting in four new self-scanning machines and hiring just three people.
This is all because the Government’s decision making has led to an economy where incomes are not rising fast enough, families and business are struggling to get ahead, and basics like petrol and rent are costing New Zealanders more.
Right now, 1.7 million families are worse off because the Government cancelled our Family Income’s Package which would have seen most families at least $1000 better off each year.
Wrap-up of costs
The bottom line is this Government’s decisions are hurting New Zealanders.
Why should a family in West Auckland which is trying to make ends meet have to pay $15 extra every time they fill up their car, $30 extra every week in rent, and be forced to forego tax cuts that would have left more than $40 each week in their back pockets?
That adds up. That makes their lives harder.
National is ambitious for you and your family, and we will develop policies that help you get ahead and fight against needless costs being imposed on you.
What will National do?
So let's be clear what we would do:
First, a focus on good outcomes over good intentions
The current Government is prioritising good intentions over good outcomes.
The Oil and Gas ban may have sounded good – its aim was to reduce emissions. That’s a good intention. But we now know that not only will it not do that, it will actually increase global emissions.
On top of that it will result in less energy security, higher electricity prices, fewer jobs and lower incomes for New Zealanders. We will have to import coal and gas from overseas instead of producing it ourselves – that is madness. Good intentions but a very bad outcome.
All the changes the Government is making to the rental market are supposed to make it better for renters. But, unfortunately, the opposite is happening. Good intentions, bad outcomes.
The expensive tram from Auckland’s CBD to the airport. It might fulfil an election promise but it means billions of dollars in extra costs, paid for by higher taxes. That’s one of the reasons why you are paying higher prices at the pump than this time last year. Good intentions, bad outcomes.
This Government cares a lot about rhetoric. We care about results.
Second, we will repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax
Phil Goff should run his council more effectively and manage his books. If he did what he promised and cut wasteful spending Auckland could meet its transport needs without the regional fuel tax.
We will get rid of it.
Third, no nationwide petrol tax increases in our first term
We wouldn’t be adding an excise tax at a time when petrol prices are already rising.
The Government is already collecting more revenue from higher petrol prices and it should not be adding new taxes.
Core to our values, there will be no new taxes
We will not introduce any new taxes during our first term.
Unlike the current Government which promised during the election not to introduce new taxes yet did so anyway, we will actually deliver on that promise.
Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group has announced it is putting together two options for a new Capital Gains Tax.
But this will lead to higher rents. Even the Tax Working Group concedes that.
And there will be flow on effects. A Capital Gains Tax will also affect everybody’s KiwiSaver – directly taxing people saving for their retirement.
A Capital Gains Tax would be a tax on hard-working New Zealanders’ retirement funds, the family farm and the family bach.
It is another tax on small business owners and entrepreneurs - people who have worked hard for decades paying tax and employing people, only to get whacked with a new tax when they sell up.
It won’t fix the housing market, but it will increase rents for those who can least afford it the most.
I believe Kiwis pay too much tax already.
So today, I am making a commitment to you – if the Government legislates a Capital Gains Tax, like the Tax Working Group has signalled it will recommend, before the next election, then we will get rid of it.
Finally, we will continually increase funding for core public services
Just because we will let New Zealanders keep more of what they earn does not mean we won’t keep increasing spending on core public services like Health, Education and Transport.
That’s the benefit of having a strong economy – you can do both.
We will spend taxpayer money wisely, and eliminate wasteful spending. We will fund core services based on good outcomes, not good intentions.
We championed the Social Investment Approach which meant that every taxpayer dollar was invested in a way that provided genuinely better outcomes for New Zealanders.
We like to think of it as how a family or a small business manages their own budgets. You have to account for every single dollar you spend, make sure you don’t overspend and if you do, find ways to save a little. You make sure every dollar is spent as wisely as possible.
You should expect nothing less from your Government.
So when we see tax relief for every New Zealander replaced by a $3 billion regional slush fund which resulted in $160,000 of trees being mulched, or a $2.8 billion fees free policy that saw 2,400 fewer students in tertiary education, and at least $250 million on 190 working groups because the Government didn’t do the work in Opposition, we know they’re not spending wisely.
All of these are examples of this Government taking money off New Zealanders, money which they could be using to help make ends meet, and wasting it.
Focus on growing the economy
National will continue to focus on the economy because New Zealanders deserve more jobs, higher incomes and better opportunities.
We understand that it is businesses and individuals, not the government, that create jobs and allow New Zealand to prosper.
One of the best indicators of how people view economic opportunities is how they vote with their feet.
When we came into Government, 30,000 people were leaving for Australia. We turned that around. Last year more people were coming back to New Zealand than leaving for Australia. However, the outward trend has started again. This year alone a net 2,700 people left for Australia.
That’s because people are now starting to see more opportunities for them over the Tasman than they see here.
We want to make New Zealand the place where people want to live, work and raise their families.
We want your children and grandchildren to stay here and have opportunities. That’s why this matters.
Have Your Say Families/Conclusion
One of National’s top priorities is helping you and your families get ahead.
You have heard today some of our principles and our commitments to you because we know those things will make a difference to your lives.
But we also want to hear more from you.
You know what is keeping your families from reaching your full potential.
So as part of our policy process we’re asking you specifically what you want the next National Government to prioritise.
Our next Have Your Say campaign is about families.
My commitment to you is we will keep you at the heart of whatever we do.
And should we earn the right to govern again, helping you and your family get ahead will remain our priority.
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.”