Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says a Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed into our Security and Intelligence Agencies following the Christchurch terror attacks and our security legislation needs to be revisited with some urgency to ensure New Zealanders are kept safe.
“A Royal Commission is the only suitable level of inquiry to ensure this is investigated thoroughly and independently.
“We need to understand whether this could have been prevented. It will need to ask hard questions about whether our security and intelligence agencies had their focus in the right places.
“In 2013 the Government of the day made the decision to abandon Project Speargun which would have scanned internet traffic coming into New Zealand and given an extended degree of protection to all New Zealanders. Similar systems are used in other jurisdictions.
“We currently have Cortex as part of our cyber-security systems, which is much narrower and designed to protect institutions. It’s never easy to balance the rights of privacy against security but where we draw the line must now be reconsidered.
“However, an inquiry cannot be an excuse by the Government not to answer questions in the meantime. Our security risk has now changed and New Zealanders need to be kept safe. The Royal Commission should look at the past, and Parliament should get on with actions for the future.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has welcomed the changes proposed by the Government today to reform our firearms legislation.
“The terrorist attack in Christchurch last week has changed us as a nation.
“National has been clear since this devastating attack that we support changes to our regime and that we will work constructively with the Government.
“We agree that the public doesn’t need access to military style semi-automatic weapons. National supports them being banned along with assault rifles.
“We also support the Government’s proposals to limit the access to other high powered semi-automatic weapons and ammunition.
“We remain committed to ensuring the safety of New Zealanders and fighting extremism in all forms.
“National will work constructively with the Government to ensure we get this right.”
Mr Speaker, as New Zealand woke on the 15th of March 2019, none of us could have imagined the horror and terror about to be unleashed on our way of life and on our people.
As mums and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Christchurch went to work, or to school, or to prayer on the 15th of March 2019, none of them thought for a moment that they would return home that night changed forever.
For 50 of the worshippers who entered Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre for Jumu'ah, or Friday prayers, in Christchurch, it would be their last day in this world.
These New Zealanders had their lives ended and all of ours changed forever. For some, New Zealand had been their home for a long time.
They had made their lives here, working in our businesses, going to our schools, living in our rich and diverse communities and espousing everything good about New Zealand. For some, New Zealand was somewhere they found solace in a world full of hate.
New Zealand was, for them, a new opportunity. The chance to live in a country which embraced tolerance, respect, compassion, opportunity and the freedom to be who you want to be.
It was, for them as it is for us, the best country in the world. We let them down. And for that we are sorry.
The unimaginable hurt that our Islamic community is feeling is shared amongst all New Zealanders. Because I know every New Zealander feels this wasn’t just something targeted at our Islamic community, or just to Christchurch.
Over the past four days, there’s been a lot of soul searching, reflection, sadness, anger, and shame across New Zealand, and around the world.
On Saturday, I was honoured to join the Prime Minister and other party leaders in Christchurch for what was a day of anguish and tears. It was moving, it was uplifting, it was tragic and it was humbling.
I was privileged to meet with the Christchurch Islamic community and the many people who came to support them.
I came away realising we all have a choice following the violence that tore through their community. To choose fear, hate or anger. Or to choose compassion, love and forgiveness.
Martin Luther King put it so well. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Our strength as a nation is our compassion and our welcoming of diversity. It has been a hallmark of our culture for hundreds of years. This will not change us. Because at times like these we do not consider ourselves Christians or Muslims, Sikhs or Jews. Or Maori or Pakeha, Chinese, Pacific Islander, Indian or any other ethnicity.
Today and forever we are all New Zealanders.
In recent days I have visited mosques in Auckland and Hamilton, adding my support to the voices and prayers of hundreds of thousands of others.
They welcomed me in, as they are welcoming their wider communities with open arms. Dr Asad Mohsin from the Hamilton Mosque told me yesterday that he chooses love over hate.
We will choose love too.
However, because our peaceful existence is so treasured, hard questions will need to be asked about how this could occur here.
Why are small networks of hateful people able to congregate online and elsewhere, and attempt to sow disharmony?
How can these hateful people then take tangible steps to carry out evil acts?
Do our Police and Intelligence Services have the people, the resources, the legislation and the technology to seek out and prevent such acts?
While these heinous acts were carried out by an individual, there can be no doubt that he had sympathetic associates – certainly online, and probably offline. How do we combat this in an age of social media and increasing technological challenges?
These questions and others need to be asked of Government agencies, individuals, companies, public commentators and numerous other groups.
National will play a constructive role in this and in overhauling New Zealand’s firearms laws. No-one can understand why anyone needs military-style semi-automatic weapons for recreational use.
In addition, I would like to see New Zealand re-evaluate the boundaries of acceptable social and political discourse.
Our resolve now should be to take every opportunity to push back against extremism.
To call out hate and fear when we see it. And to stand up to the vile ideologies that exist to spread hate, fear, mistrust and lies.
What we say has the ability to influence the actions of others. Because everything changed on Friday the 15th of March. It showed the fragility of the peace we’ve come to treasure.
The National Party looks forward to learning more in the days ahead about what form this examination of the events that occurred in Christchurch will take. The formal investigations into these events needs to be thorough, open and honest.
As is always the case when tragic, evil acts occur, we see an immediate counterweight of bravery and compassion. Christchurch has been no exception.
Both civilians and law-and-order professionals immediately showed superhuman courage in the face of rapidly unfolding, extremely frightening and unprecedented events. Medical professionals have worked non-stop since to save lives in truly horrific circumstances.
I want to pay tribute to the New Zealand Police, the Ambulance services, the Red Cross, our Defence Force, healthcare workers, and the vast range of volunteers who have done some much to try and soften the blow since Friday.
While I was in Christchurch I met with a young Policeman. I know his family well.
He was one of the first responders on the day of the shootings. He was emotional as he told me about what it was like that day. He’s been a policeman for six years but said that no amount of training or experience could have prepared him for what he and his colleagues faced that day.
No one could be.
All of those who were working that day will never forget what they saw. To everyone who has responded on the ground in Christchurch – thank you. You are heroes.
New Zealand owes you a debt of gratitude.
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has today visited Christchurch alongside the Prime Minister and other Party Leaders and met with the Islamic community, some of the affected families and emergency responders.
“Now is not a time for politics. The National Party stands in solidarity with the Prime Minister and the Government in condemning the horrific and violent terrorist attack in Christchurch yesterday.
“My deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers go to all those directly affected by yesterday’s events, but also to the wider Canterbury community.
“This is not something that has happened to just the Islamic community, or just to Christchurch. It has happened to all New Zealanders.
“It is foreign to everything that makes us Kiwis, our beliefs, our values, our tolerance, how we live and get along with one another.
“We offer our support in any way we can. We are with you today and tomorrow.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has condemned the Christchurch attacks and expresses condolences to the people of Canterbury.
“Details are still emerging but the attacks are shocking.
“We stand with and support the New Zealand Islamic community. No one in this country should live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.
“My thoughts, and the thoughts of the National Party are with the victims of today’s attacks, along with their families and friends. My heart goes out to all of you.”
Valuing every single business, farm, rental property or family bach to comply with a Capital Gains Tax regime would impose billions of dollars of costs on New Zealanders while benefiting no-one apart from valuers, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Tax Working Group recommends small businesses, rental properties, family baches and farms be subject to a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on all gains made after April 2021. As a result, eligible assets without an up to date market value would need a new valuation.
“Valuations don’t come cheap, especially for business owners who want a value robust enough to stand up in court if challenged by the IRD. If every small and medium-sized business owner in New Zealand had to pay for a new valuation at say $10,000 apiece, the cost to the wider economy would be about $5 billion.
“Remarkably, that’s roughly how much a CGT is projected to raise in its first four years. That isn’t fiscal neutrality, it is economic stupidity. It adds costs just to tax growth.
“Every small business owner, farmer and property owner would want to maximise the valuation on ‘valuation day’ to limit the tax they have to pay on future capital gains. Such an incentive would ultimately undermine the credibility and fairness of the tax system.
“Other proxies for assessing the valuation of properties - such as local authority rating valuations (RVs) – are unlikely to be used as they typically understate the true market value and would, therefore, increase any future CGT.
“Mass automatic valuations have also been suggested as a way to avoid the compliance cost of valuations, but these should be ruled out because they would inevitably create significant errors and inequities in some cases.
“The huge compliance costs required to implement the recommended CGT are yet another reason why it would be disastrous for the New Zealand economy.
“National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn and will fight the Government’s proposed tax grab every step of the way. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term.”
Labour’s proposed Capital Gains Tax would apply to more than 400,000 properties around the country because they are greater than 4,500 square metres, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Figures from Land Information New Zealand show there are 403,883 freehold properties around New Zealand that are greater than 4,500 square metres. About 50,000 of those are farms.
“The Tax Working Group has claimed that the family home will be exempt, except for lifestyle blocks over 4,500 square metres. The reality is, that’s a little over half a rugby field.
“The 403,883 figure doesn’t include those who run a business from home, or who have flatmates, they would also be subjected to a CGT.
“The multi-million dollar home in Remuera and Oriental Bay will be protected from a CGT, but the three bedroom house on two acres in Wyndham in Southland, listed on Trade Me with an asking price of $260k would be included. The owner may be hoping the proceeds will be enough to secure a room in a retirement village.
“Labour claims this is about fairness, but how’s that fair?
“National will fight the Government’s proposed tax grab every step of the way. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term.”
The Government has said a Capital Gains Tax is about fairness and equity, but by looking to exclude Māori from a GGT, it’s contradicting its own position, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“Māori aspirations are the same as all New Zealanders. Māori want more money in their back-pockets and to know their tribal assets are working for them. Māori work hard, scrimp and save, start businesses, create jobs and pay wages, just like all hard working Kiwis do.
“By excluding iwi from a Capital Gains Tax, the Government would be sending a clear signal that a CGT would have a negative impact on Māori and their assets. If the proposed Capital Gains Tax will have negative implications for Māori, then it will have negative implications for all New Zealanders.
“The Government has repeated that a Capital Gains Tax is about fairness, but extending tax-breaks on the basis of race is anything but.
“The Government is mistaken in thinking a Capital Gains Tax is the answer, that it can maintain the economy’s momentum and lift productivity by taxing more and exempting Māori at the same time.
“National believes all New Zealanders already pay enough tax. The Government should be looking at tax relief for all, not taking even more out of the pockets of New Zealand families.
“We say no to new taxes, for all Kiwis.
“If a Capital Gains Tax is bad for Māori, then it’s bad for every New Zealander. There shouldn’t be exemptions for some. That’s not the Kiwi way.”
A Capital Gains Tax would reduce retirement savings for an average earner’s KiwiSaver by $64,000 over the course of their working life, making a nonsense of the Prime Minister’s claim that her tax plans are about fairness, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“This literally poses a $64,000 question because that’s about the same as the average annual wage. Would the ordinary Kiwi be happy to work an extra year when their retirement is in sight?
“The Government’s tax scheming is a direct attack on the incomes and assets of everyday Kiwis. They want to tax your savings. The Government should be protecting the nest egg that many New Zealanders are building up for their retirement not taxing it more.
“Under the Working Group’s proposal, if the value of the New Zealand and Australian shares in their scheme rises it will be taxed – even if the shares aren’t actually sold. It would discourage people from saving and stop them investing in anything except the family home.
“This is the last thing New Zealand needs – a tax that encourages people to hide more of their money in the family home, where capital gains will be tax-free, instead of saving or investing in more productive parts of the economy.
“The estimated $64,000 reduction in value assumes a 45-year working life and is based on 15 per cent of a ‘balanced’ KiwiSaver fund being in Australasian shares, which would be taxed on an accrual basis on total annual gains. It also assumes the minimum employer and employee contribution rates.
“For anyone making more than the minimum contribution it would be worse. At 4 per cent, the value at retirement is reduced by $74,000 and at 8 per cent it widens to $113,000. The more you save, the more you pay. We haven’t included the possible offsets because the Government hasn’t committed to them and in a whole package of changes, they may not lead to revenue neutrality.
“Most New Zealanders would be caught by the tax because almost 3 million of us have KiwiSaver and some will also be hit through owning a family bach or a lifestyle block.
“The Prime Minister says this is about making sure Kiwis pay their fair share as well as getting a fair go. But there’s nothing fair about being taxed on your retirement savings or being discouraged from any investment except the family home.
“National will fight the Government’s proposed tax grab every step of the way. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn and don’t need ever more ways to be parted from their hard-earned dollars.”
New Zealanders should trust National as much with the environment as they do with the economy, and today’s launch of our first policy discussion document on the environment shows National has practical and science-based plans to meet New Zealand’s environmental challenges, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
"National's ambition is to be the party that is best able to deliver a clean environment with a strong economy. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We know we can deliver a better environment without imposing a whole series of unneeded environmental taxes.
“We take climate change seriously. We are supportive of an independent climate change commission and we want to see New Zealand meet its Paris commitments, with the smart use of technology like electric vehicles and continuing growing renewable energy.
“We view infrastructure investment as critical to improving water quality and improving New Zealand's resilience to climate change. The Government has chosen to end support for water storage infrastructure whereas we will consider expanding support with a new Water Infrastructure Fund.
“New infrastructure is needed in cities to properly separate and better manage storm and wastewater, while in rural New Zealand sustainable water storage schemes are required to improve water quality and management.
“It is time New Zealand steps up its approach to reducing waste and litter. More responsibility should be put on industry to design products using modern concepts of a circular economy. The Litter Act should be updated to reflect this, and a timetable to achieve zero avoidable waste needs to be set.
“We introduced Predator Free 2050 to ensure the survival of the birds that define New Zealand, like kiwi. We continue to believe in that vision. We take a different approach to this Government which has banned work on new biotechnologies. We are also proposing expanding New Zealand's national parks with a suggestion for a new 14th National Park in the Catlins.
“National is a hard-working, constructive Opposition focused on holding the Government to account and putting forward ideas to improve the lives of New Zealanders. As part of that we’re undertaking the biggest policy development process by an opposition in over a decade, and ensuring New Zealanders can have their say.
“Our eight policy discussion documents will cover issues including the economy, law and order, infrastructure, education and health. You will see us stick to our core principles like ensuring New Zealanders can keep more of what they earn and providing world class public services. We will also propose some new thinking for discussion, and take the feedback on board.
“We are doing the work now so that should we earn the right to govern again in 2020 we will hit the ground running.”
The ‘Our Environment’ discussion document can be found here