The Prime Minister has serious questions to ask Minister Kris Faafoi about his failure to declare a conflict of interest in an immigration case, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Revelations from Newshub that Kris Faafoi messaged a friend offering to get involved in an immigration case, claiming to ‘have a plan’ and offering to talk to ‘people who can speed things up’ are incredibly serious.
“Minister Faafoi acknowledged in his messages that if he dealt with it, it would be a ‘direct conflict of interest’ and asked his friend not to go public about it. He knew it would be a breach of the Cabinet Manual.
“The Prime Minister didn’t know anything about this when she was contacted. She needs to immediately ask Mr Faafoi what went on here.
“When it comes to immigration matters there must not be special treatment for some people. Not everyone has a friend in Cabinet they can call to ask for a favour.
“What’s really sad for the Prime Minister is that Kris Faafoi appeared to be one of her only competent Ministers. Now, even he’s let her down.
“The Prime Minister needs to show some leadership and deal with this matter quickly so New Zealanders can be assured that the immigration system is fair for everyone.”
The annual Labour Party conference will be a sombre affair this year as they reflect on how little has been delivered for New Zealanders in the so-called ‘Year of Delivery’, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised New Zealanders so much, but it was all talk and no action and so little has eventuated.
“Kiwis have less in their back pockets. Economic growth has almost halved under this Government and monthly job growth is down almost 70 per cent.
“Cost of living has increased sharply with Kiwis paying more tax at the petrol pump and rents rising an average of $50 a week.
“Seven out of nine measures of child poverty have worsened under this Government. Food grants have doubled under Labour.
“There have been no significant roading or other major infrastructure projects started under this Government, in fact, it’s cancelled the projects we had planned.
“New Zealanders are less safe with the Government’s soft on crime approach resulting in 1400 new gang members.
“Fewer than 300 Kiwibuild houses have been built for first home buyers.
“The ‘Year of Delivery’ has been a failure. New Zealanders will be left asking themselves what’s been delivered for them in the past year and the answer is not much.”
National has today released the seventh in our series of Discussion Documents. The law and order document has a range of proposals to put victims at the heart of the justice system, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“National believes victims should get justice, criminals should be held accountable for the harm they cause and offenders should be rehabilitated so they can become contributing members of our society.
“We will crack down on gangs whose numbers are increasing at almost twice the rate of new police recruits. We’re proposing a new police unit which would harass and interfere with gang activity, banning gang patches and revoking parole for those who associate with gangs.
“We also want to speed up access to justice, make the justice system fairer for victims and apply our Social Investment Approach to stop people offending in the first place.
We are committing to:
- Giving Police greater powers to search the cars and homes of violent gang members
- Reintroducing our Social Investment Approach to justice
- Reintroducing the Meth Action Plan, updated for the 2020s
- Increasing penalties for those caught supplying synthetics
- Reintroducing a pilot programme of mental health nurses in Police watch houses
We are proposing to:
- Ban gang patches and insignia in public places
- Create a new sentence for violent gang crime
- Widen the clean slate programme for young offenders
- Increase penalties for the most serious young offenders
- Make working prisons compulsory
- Streamline the courts system
- Make the Victims Notification Register an opt-out system
- Refuse parole to murderers who don’t give the location of a body
“Law and order is personal for me. I worked as a Crown Prosecutor on more than a hundred jury trials. I’ve seen the harm serious offenders have caused families and communities. I want New Zealand to be the safest country in the world.
“National is the party of law and order. We’re doing the hard work now so we can hit the ground running in 2020.”
Good morning, I’d like to welcome you all here today for the launch of this document, as someone who, as a Crown Prosecutor, has worked closely with the victims of serious violence, rape and murder, this discussion document is close to my heart.
As the party of law and order, it is also part of National’s DNA.
Labour thinks you need to be soft on crime to be caring. National knows keeping people safe with a tough response to crime and reducing it through Social Investment measures such as prevention and rehabilitation go hand in hand. Both are essential.
Softening up just breeds more criminals.
Hardening up in partnership with preventative and rehabilitative tools ensures less crime.
In addition, while Labour soft pedals on prisoners we will ensure victims of crime are even closer to the centre of the criminal justice system.
One of the reasons we are so different from Labour on law and order is because of our experience.
I couldn’t be more proud when I look out around our caucus, and at those in our Justice team. From my criminal jury trial experience down we have acumen in spades.
Mark Mitchell leads this team, he has dedicated his life to law enforcement and community safety. His life of hands on experience is the perfect complement to my courtroom career. And he is not the only former police officer we have.
In addition we have many lawyers who understand how to make it all work, including Courts spokesperson Chris Penk.
My thanks to this brilliant team.
Mark will take you through the paper in a little more detail. I will highlight a few specific proposals I think show the quality and breadth of this work.
It won’t surprise you gangs are at the top of my list. Patched gang members have increased 26 per cent under Labour – that’s 1400 men. Our proposals range from setting up a specialist unit within Police with similar powers and a similar approach to Strike Force Raptor in New South Wales, to banning patches in public places, and getting harder on parole and sentencing for gangs.
To me it all raises one fundamental question. Are we serious or not? Like most New Zealanders, National isn’t fooled by gang PR campaigns. We know gangs peddle misery in the form of meth and violence and so we are serious. The Government I lead will harass and disrupt gangs every single day I am Prime Minister, with the single minded goal of eliminating them.
Victims of crime, as I have said, should be at the centre of the justice system, not an afterthought. In recent days preparing for this I have had the privilege of talking to three families who’ve had loved ones murdered and who haven’t got the justice they’ve deserved as victims in their own right. Our proposals seek to correct this, whether that’s by automatically signing victims and their families up to the Victim Notification Register or by giving them the right to read their Victim Impact Statements in court, uninterrupted and uncensored.
Our Police are clearly vital to fighting crime. We are concerned to see standards for entering the Police lowered. They must stay high. Additionally, we will ensure Police know what law enforcement targets they must meet and we will free them up to do so with a greater use of non-sworn or authorised officers and mental health professionals for example. To illustrate, whereas now burglaries and thefts are left unsolved in far too many cases, we will let authorised officers get on with resolving these so that police stay focused on first response in areas such as family violence and gangs.
Other proposals show we are more than simply toughening up the system. Our social investment approach will for example give people who’ve committed crimes a second chance where warranted. In certain circumstances, where set criteria are met, we will wipe the convictions of young people so their life isn’t defined by one incident. And we will put the estimated one third of prisoners who could be working in prisons into work or training because that will set them up for success on the outside.
This is our seventh Discussion Document and shows National has the ideas and momentum in New Zealand politics while Labour is stuck in a rut, failing to deliver on its promises for New Zealanders. In short, this document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever.
We hope you like it – but more importantly that you enter into the contest of ideas with your feedback.
The National Party is proposing compulsory education, training or employment for prisoners who are serving sentences of two years or more, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Working prisons were introduced by National to get prisoners doing something productive. It is currently an opt-in system. We are proposing it becomes compulsory.
“Working prisons provide people with the skills and opportunities they need so they’re able to become contributing members of society. Current estimates are about 59 per cent of prisoners participate in employment or industry training. This helps in achieving better reintegration into the community when they are released.
“There are a small number of prisoners who won’t be able to take part. This will include people with disabilities and those in maximum security - this is for the safety of prison officers. Maximum security prisoners make up less than two per cent of the prison muster.
“We have also announced today the Victims Notification Register should be opt-out, rather than something victims should have to sign up to. This policy was designed after I was contacted by a family who was unaware their brother’s murderer had been released from prison. It’s not fair or right that they didn’t know.
“National is also proposing Victim Impact Statements should be able to be read in court exactly as the victim has written them. Often judges present edited versions or won’t let them be read out at all. We believe victims should be fully involved in the court process and be able to have the final say.
“National is the party of law and order. We’re also the largest and most popularly supported party in Parliament. We’re doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020. We will release our full Law and Order Discussion Document on Tuesday.”
This soft on crime Government is more focused on giving rights back to criminals than protecting victims, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“By giving voting rights to criminals they’re giving them back the voice they have taken away from others.
“Only days after Corrections announced they are now calling prisoners ‘men in our care’ or ‘clients’, it’s obvious this Government’s priorities lie with prisoners instead of their victims.
“Prisoners who have received sentences of up to three years aren’t petty criminals. They’re people who have committed serious assaults, robberies, family violence and sexual offences.
“If you do the crime, then you deserve to lose your voting rights and do the time.
“National is the Party of law and order, we will change this back should we earn the right to govern in 2020.”
The Prime Minister should take her own advice that she gave Shane Jones and spend some time reading the Cabinet Manual, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she won’t comment on the scandal surrounding NZ First’s donations as it wouldn’t be appropriate for the leader of one political party to comment on the practices of any other political party.
“This is not about the leaders of NZ First and the Labour party. Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters are the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. They’re supposed to be running the country.
“The Cabinet Manual is clear, the buck stops with Jacinda Ardern. It clearly states at all times Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. Ministers are responsible to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.
“It’s time for Jacinda Ardern to take control of her Government, show some leadership and assure New Zealanders her Deputy Prime Minister hasn’t been breaking the law.
“The Prime Minister can’t be a bystander. She is running the country and New Zealanders deserve to know whether Ministers are behaving lawfully.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has joined thousands of people on the West Cost as they rally against the Government’s assault on the region.
“The West Coast is full of hardworking and passionate New Zealanders. Many of their livelihoods depend on the land and the Government wants to rip that out from under them.
“The Government is making a full frontal assault on this region. It is attempting to ban whitebaiting, it’s banning mining on all conservation land, blocking the Waitaha Hydro Scheme and putting tough restrictions on farming. All of these things are the lifeblood of the West Coast.
“Coasters have had enough and I don’t blame them. Today I am announcing Maureen Pugh as National’s spokesperson for the West Coast. There is too much at stake for this region and they need a strong advocate.
“Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor seem intent on destroying the West Coast economy and the way of life of Coasters.
“The sad thing is that Damien O’Connor is the local MP and he has completely disregarded the concerns of his constituents for his party’s ideology.
“I went to the Coast today to show my support for the region. A National Government would give approval for the Waitaha Power Scheme, we will use scientific evidence and facts before making decisions about farming and aquaculture and we will allow access to stewardship land on a case by case basis.
“The West Coast is another of New Zealand’s proud regions getting the rough end of the stick from this Government. We need to build a strong West Coast, not make it dependent on government handouts.”
National has today released our sixth Discussion Document which will ensure children get a quality education and have the skills to succeed, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“National believes all children in New Zealand should have options and opportunities. We want all children to go on to achieve great things. With the right education we can overcome the challenges some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into.
“We will support teachers so they can spend more time actually teaching. Too often our teachers are burdened with too much bureaucracy, teachers should be focussing on face-to-face time with our children.
“We’re committed to smaller class sizes in primary schools and more teachers. More time with a teacher means more opportunities for children to ask questions and get answers, and for teachers to focus on areas where a child may be struggling.
“It’s important parents know how their children are progressing. National will ensure that we continue to improve school reporting systems including better access to online reporting for parents.
We’re also committing to:
- Strengthening teacher training
- Investing to ensure children with complex needs are supported
- Ensuring every child from year 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language
- Better management and investment in education infrastructure
- Restoring power and assets back to regional polytechnics and restoring industry training industry
- Ensuring we have a university in the top 50 university rankings by 2030
- Reinstating partnership schools
We are also proposing or asking for New Zealanders’ feedback on:
- Creating a parent, child, teacher progress record (Child Passport)
- How we can strengthen monitoring and evaluation of early childhood education services
- Exploring alternatives to first year Fees Free
- How we can improve our reporting systems for schools and parents
“Education is one of my top priorities. National in Government will ensure we are giving our children the skills and opportunities to succeed in life.
“This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever. National values education, we value the work our teachers do, and we want to ensure our children are supported. We’re doing the work now so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
I am really excited about today. Education is a top priority for me because I know it can transform lives. For me going to great schools in West Auckland and then Auckland and Oxford University opened doors and provided lifelong opportunities. While there are many different pathways to opportunity that’s what it can do for all New Zealanders as well.
I think about it all the time for my own three young children, Emlyn, Harry and Jemima, and I know all parents do.
Education is a great leveller which allows us to overcome the circumstances into which a child is born. It will also skill up and make New Zealand more productive and strong, allowing us to do so much, from building more roads and houses to solving scientific problems and understanding ourselves better.
Education along with health and infrastructure will be my top three investment priorities if I am Prime Minister.
I want to thank the education team led so well by Nikki Kaye for all of their hard work in developing this document and the thinking behind it.
Nikki will take you through it shortly. I just want to highlight a few things that stood out to me, acknowledging there is so much more here we could talk about that’s important that I won’t in the interests of time.
In Early Childhood Education you will see a continued focus that’s been in other work we have done on a child’s first 1000 days which is so critical, on social investment and on quality for our young.
In classrooms at our schools again the focus will be resolutely on quality. To me, as a son and brother to teachers, this involves valuing teachers and smaller classrooms in which our children get more attention. Over a long period of time teaching has become a less attractive career. Our proposals will ensure a greater respect for the profession of teaching and with the smaller classroom sizes we are putting forward this will be much better for our kids.
To get that quality, we know we also need to significantly strengthen what’s taught in our classrooms, the standards and curriculum. We will introduce progress reporting so you know how your child is doing. And, after slipping backwards over time relative to other countries, we will strengthen numeracy and literacy and a knowledge rich curriculum and the teacher training in this. Children must leave school with firm foundations in core areas of reading, writing, maths and knowledge.
A couple of other things may catch your eye in schools. As parents, Natalie and I want my kids to be digitally savvy. But I worry about how much time our young spend on screens. We are thinking about how we make sure kids aren’t spending too much time on devices and are also doing quality learning off-device as well as running around outside.
I also think about school rooms. You’ll see as the party of infrastructure we have significant plans for building our schools and classrooms. But personally I worry about so called ‘modern learning environments’ with 60 or more kids in them. I acknowledge some teachers and principals I greatly respect swear by them but rather than pushing all schools wholesale into them we will give schools the power and choice on this.
To develop the skills and increase productivity the way New Zealand needs to, what we do at tertiary level is obviously vital. First year Fees free has been an expensive failure. Not only has it not increased participation, there are fewer learners now than before. We propose scrapping it and think there are better ways to invest in education. We are exploring options and one is exciting: Education Saver. School age kids could receive a small sum into an account each year to go to their education future. It’s done in the likes of Singapore and could change the game, creating a value shift in all our families about the importance of education from a young age.
We are also clear on aiming for a University in the global top 50 and not slipping backwards as we have over time, a rural medical school for regional New Zealand’s success, and we will stop Labour’s disastrous polytechnics merger in favour of localism that works and increases apprenticeships.
This is our sixth discussion document and it shows National has the ideas and momentum in New Zealand politics while Labour is stuck in a rut, failing to deliver on its promises for New Zealanders. In short, this document is part of the biggest policy development process by an opposition ever.
We hope you like it – but more importantly that you enter into the contest of ideas with your feedback.