The Government’s constant outsourcing of work has left taxpayers with a $317 million bill, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Over the past 21 months, there have been 279 working groups created or reviews launched. That’s a working group every two days since the Labour-led Government has been in office.
“The Government has used working groups as an excuse to stall on doing any work while the coalition squabbles in the background.
“It shipped off work to the Tax Working Group, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, the Business Advisory Group and the Fair Pay Working Group. All of these groups reported back with recommendations but the Government has done little or nothing with them.
“New Zealanders will be scratching their heads wondering why their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent on working groups when the work isn’t even being used. They’ll be asking themselves, what is the point of this Government?
“The Government has broken many promises it made leading into the 2017 election, like $20 million for rare disorders, $10 cheaper GP fees to all New Zealanders and free annual health and eye checks for seniors.
“Not every review is wasteful. We support the Government in calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attacks, but the constant outsourcing of work takes the focus off the important reviews that really matter. Over the same time period when we were in Government, we had 113 reviews, less than 40 per cent of what this Government has called for.
“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.
“On top of all the working groups, the Government is making poor spending decisions, including more than $2 billion for fees-free tertiary, which has resulted in fewer students, $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund and $2 billion on KiwiBuild, which has resulted in next to no houses.
“National would cut the waste and invest taxpayer dollars in more considered and targeted ways. Savings from these reviews alone could fund the Roxburgh children’s village for the next 90 years, fund 5,600 cochlear implants, restore and maintain full facilities at the Lumsden Maternity Clinic for more than a hundred years, or axe the regional fuel tax.
“National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready should we earn the right to govern in 2020. We have already released three comprehensive discussion documents and there are six more to come. Our polices will be in place and our legislation will be ready to go in time for 2020.”
New Zealanders who are wasting up to 85 hours a year in motorway gridlock had better get used to the slow crawl because the Government has no plan to rescue them any time soon, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Today’s Auckland Congestion Report, released by the Automobile Association, will have motorists sinking in their car seats. It shows they are losing an average of 85 hours a year to congestion, up from 79 hours in 2017.
“The only reason Auckland’s congestion hasn’t got significantly worse is because National unlocked the city’s network by building the Waterview Tunnel.
“But congestion is going to get worse under this Government, which has no meaningful roading relief planned. Its only idea is to pump billions into a slow tram down Dominion Road that will do little to improve the lives of most Aucklanders.
“Meanwhile it has cancelled, delayed or gutted a dozen major transport projects across New Zealand, including Auckland’s East West Link.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford is deaf to motorists’ pleas for help, having spurred the Business Council’s call to get on with these roads to avoid an infrastructure crisis.
“What really stings is that Auckland motorists are getting less but are paying more in the form of a regional fuel tax on top of the three fuel tax increases since Labour took office.
“The only thing motorists are getting from this Government is a tax on the price of their car, multiple taxes on fuel, and the chance to go slower through reduced speed limits.”
The paltry 135 electric vehicles that have been added to the Government fleet since the Labour coalition took office shows it is failing to lead by example, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Information released to National shows only 135 electric vehicles have been registered for the first time to any government agency since the present Government took office. In real terms, the Government itself has done nothing on electric vehicles since the election, except propose more taxes.
“There’s about 15,500 vehicles in the Government’s fleet. Prior to the last election, National committed to a hard target of making one third of them electric or hybrid vehicles by 2021, alongside our much bolder ambition of having 64,000 EVs in the country by then.
“National believes electric vehicles are the future. Since our Electric Vehicles Programme launched in May 2016 the number of EVs on our roads has increased from 1406 to 14,867.
“Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has been quick to tell New Zealanders they need to go out and buy an electric vehicle to avoid paying the Government’s car tax. But she clearly isn’t putting the screws on public servants.
“The Government is sending a clear message to New Zealanders, do as we say, but not as we do.
“Rather than taxing ordinary New Zealanders into compliance, Julie Anne Genter and Transport Minister Phil Twyford should be getting tougher with government agency chief executives, pushing them to adopt EVs at a faster pace.
“National supports incentivising people to buy electric vehicles if their lifestyle can accommodate them rather than dictating what cars people can and cannot drive, and slapping them with new taxes.
“Instead, as it has in so many other areas, all the Government wants to do is pile on taxes of up to $6000 a car. New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has today apologised to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter for releasing false information about the Government’s car tax.
“In recent statements, National claimed Labour’s car tax would increase the cost of some of New Zealand’s most popular vehicles by up to $3000. We were basing this on information in the Government’s Clean Car Discount Scheme.
“But we’ve since had a good look at another piece of work by the Government – its Clean Car Standard Scheme – and discovered even more hidden costs.
“The truth is, the actual cost of Julie Anne Genter’s car tax on Kiwis could be more than $6000 per vehicle.
“Alongside the Government’s plan to tax higher-emissions vehicles, it is proposing a vehicle emissions target, meaning importers will be charged a penalty of between $50 and $100 per gram of CO2 on vehicles that don’t come in under the target from 2025.
“That could slap an extra $4500 onto the import cost of an average new car and an extra $2250 onto the cost of an average used car – costs that will almost certainly be passed on to buyers.
“More than 91 per cent of the vehicles being imported into the country today don’t satisfy the Minister’s emissions expectations, so this could be a massive tax grab for the Government.
“Julie Anne Genter wants to tell Kiwis what cars they can and cannot drive, and dictate to dealers what cars they can and cannot sell.
“She’s clearly spent too much time in Wellington and not enough in the regions because she hasn’t clicked that not all New Zealanders have low-emission vehicle options that fit their lifestyle.
“What, then, are car dealers in Feilding, Greymouth and Dargaville supposed to do? They can’t just start selling cars their customers don’t want.
“I’d like to say sorry to the Minister for underestimating the true cost of this tax on hard-working New Zealanders, which she thinks is just a ‘small fee’ they’ll be happy to pay.”
If the Government is serious about improving road safety it needs to get on with building safer, well-engineered highways, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Julie Anne Genter is completely out of touch with New Zealanders if she thinks that reducing speed limits is the answer.
“Kiwis lead busy lives and we don’t need the Government telling us to go at a slower pace. We would rather see our tax dollars spent on new, high-quality roads that are safe to travel on at 100km.
“Getting the kids to school, tradies getting across town to finish a job and delivering fresh produce to our supermarket shelves is the reality of our everyday lives and we shouldn’t be standing in the way of that.
“This Government hasn’t built a single new road. A few rumble strips and reducing the speed limit isn’t a plan.
“Julie Anne Genter is determined to force people out of their cars by piling on more costs. She showed her true colours when she called motorists ‘car fascists.’ This Government has piled on higher petrol taxes, a regional fuel tax and a proposed car tax.
“Slower speeds will isolate regional New Zealand and put a handbrake on our economy.
“National committed to major investment across New Zealand’s regions to fund much needed highway projects, and we committed to the second generation of our Roads of National Significance. These projects would have dramatically reduced road harm, created jobs and provided economic opportunities.
“If the Government is serious about wanting to save lives then it will reverse its policy of not investing in quality new roads, act on drugged drivers by introducing roadside drug testing and put more money into road safety policing, which saw a cut, in real terms, in this year’s Budget.”
The Government’s car tax will hike the price of some of New Zealand’s safest vehicles, while making some with the poorest safety ratings considerably cheaper, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter appears hell-bent on pushing her car tax agenda at the cost of keeping people safe on our roads.
“She doesn’t seem to realise many of the vehicles she wants to subsidise with her car tax may be banned from entering the country because of their low safety rating.
“A Government working group is considering a ban on importing cars with 1-star and 2-star safety ratings, including models like the Suzuki Swift and Mazda 2 Demio. Both of these cars will be cheaper under Julie Anne Genter’s ‘feebate’ scheme.
“Even stranger is the Government wanting to tax a large number of 5-star safety rated cars, including the Toyota Camry, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado.
“Julie Anne Genter has been selling the public on her car tax by claiming it will make many popular cars, like the Nissan Tiida, cheaper. But she seems to have forgotten her own vehicle safety policies.
“Unfortunately for the Minister, it will be illegal to import a Nissan Tiida into New Zealand in 2021 because cars that don’t have electronic stability control are being phased out.
“In fact, many of the cars identified by the Government as being cheaper as a result of its car tax also won’t meet import safety standards from 2020.
“As the Minister responsible for road safety, how can Julie Anne Genter propose subsidising vehicles that are too dangerous to be on our roads?”
The Government will pocket almost half a billion dollars in new taxes even if its plan to hike the price of higher-emissions vehicles doubles the amount of cleaner cars on our roads, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter claims her plan is revenue-neutral. But her ministry’s own numbers reveal she is misleading the public.
“National calculates that even if imports of electric and low-emission cars doubles – putting an extra 26,000 on our roads each year – the scheme will raise $85 million more in taxes than it pays out in subsidies each year, adding up to $426 million over the first five years.
“If the scheme was introduced today, and there was no change in motorists’ behaviour, New Zealanders would be forking out more than $1 billion in tax on vehicle sales over five years.
“Basically, the scheme will only be revenue-neutral if the uptake of low-emissions cars happens at an unprecedented and unrealistic rate. Otherwise it’s just another sneaky tax grab from hard-working Kiwis already struggling with the rising cost of living.
“The Government may say its policy is ambitious, but it has already shown it can’t live up to its own hype. It campaigned on an ambitious promise of building 100,000 affordable houses through KiwiBuild, only to abandon that target less than 18 months into its term.
“Setting aside the big numbers, the true cost here is the extra few grand a Mum and Dad with three kids will pay for a used seven-seater van, just so a banker can buy a cheaper Tesla.
“The Associate Transport Minister needs to be honest about how much money her plan will actually take from Kiwis’ back pockets, and what she’ll do with her tax bounty if it isn’t paid out in subsidies. Another slush fund to keep NZ First happy perhaps?
“National supports greening the vehicle fleet through incentives, not penalties. Our policies saw the number of EVs on our roads jump from 1406 in May 2016 to 14,867 in June 2019.
“New Zealanders simply can’t trust the Labour-led Government on tax. The capital gains tax debacle demonstrated it can’t sell new taxes to the public direct, so now it’s finding creative ways to dress them up as ‘small fees’ – as Julie Anne Genter likes to say.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has today announced a reshuffle of the National Caucus.
“Paul Goldsmith will become the spokesperson for Finance and Infrastructure following today’s announcement from Amy Adams that she will leave at the next election.
“Paul is the natural choice for the Finance role. He has done an outstanding job holding the Government to account in the Economic and Regional Development portfolio.
“Regional and Economic Development will now be split across two spokespeople. Todd McClay will look after Economic Development, while Chris Bishop will take over the Regional Development and Transport portfolios.
“Chris has done a brilliant job as spokesperson for Police and deserves to take on more responsibility.
“Jo Hayes has been appointed the spokesperson for Māori Development and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations following the departure of Nuk Korako. Jo is a passionate advocate for Māori.
“Gerry Brownlee will pick up the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Brett Hudson will take on the Police portfolio and Tim Macindoe will become the Shadow Attorney-General.
“Other changes include Michael Woodhouse as the Associate Finance spokesperson, Maggie Barry taking over the Disability Issues portfolio, Stuart Smith will be the spokesperson for Immigration, Todd Muller will be the spokesperson for Forestry, Nicola Willis will take on the Youth portfolio and our newest MP Paulo Garcia will become the Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank both Amy Adams and Alastair Scott for their valuable contributions to the National Party and Parliament. Amy was a brilliant Minister across a range of portfolios. The changes she made to domestic violence laws as Justice Minister have made families in New Zealand safer. Amy has excelled as our Finance spokesperson and has been an outstanding member for Selwyn.
“Alastair should be proud of the work he has done to prevent drug driving, and for the way he has represented and advocated for the people of Wairarapa. I’m pleased they will be here for the rest of the term to help us form policies for the 2020 election.
“National is the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen. I’m proud to lead such a talented and hardworking team.”
Kiwi households will be $1750 a year worse off on average because of the taxes being piled on by the Labour-led Government, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“This Government has increased fuel taxes three times since it came into power, it’s added on a regional fuel tax in Auckland, introduced ring fencing of losses, an Amazon Tax, GST on overseas roaming, extended the bright-line test, increased Worksafe levies and cancelled tax relief.
“When you add all of these taxes together and take into consideration the cancelled tax relief, Kiwi families are looking at $7000 out of their pockets over four years. That does nothing to increase the wellbeing of an average family.
“The economy is continuing to weaken because of this Government’s poor policy decisions. The cost of living is increasing, rents are up an average of $50 a week, petrol and electricity are increasing.
“New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.
“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to tax. National will index tax thresholds to the cost of living and will not introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn.”
Today National has released our third discussion document, this one on the primary sector. It showcases our positive and innovative approach to what is the backbone of our economy, Leader of the National Party Simon Bridges says.
“The primary sector contributes $45 billion in export revenue and employs over 350,000 people. We must continue to support the sector’s growth and ensure our policy is fit for purpose.
“We understand that farmers and growers are concerned about mounting workforce shortages, employment law reforms, climate change and environmental regulations and increasing taxes.
“Rural communities deserve access to top quality education and health services, and reliable infrastructure and connectivity.
“Our experienced and dedicated team of rural MPs have worked hard to come up with a series of ideas and proposals that we think can address these issues, and we are excited to hear your feedback.
“There are 23 proposals in the document. Some of the most exciting proposals highlighted in our document are a Primary Sector Visa which will address workforce shortages, increased penalties for biosecurity offences, and Mobile Rural Health Clinics to ensure our most remote areas can access quality healthcare.
“Throughout the document we also address important areas that have been neglected by the Coalition Government, such as water storage, biotechnology and food safety.
“This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever. This Government has no plan to grow the economy and is failing to deliver for New Zealanders, particularly those in rural communities.
“National holds every rural seat in Parliament except one and we’re proud to represent rural New Zealand. We’re working hard to ensure we’re ready to govern in 2020.”
Primary Sector Discussion Doc can be found here