The world is an uncertain and difficult place right now. More uncertain and difficult than it has been for some while.
Trade wars and geopolitics define the relationship between China and the United States and threaten our economic stability and our ability to sell New Zealand to the world.
Recent tensions in the Middle East have seen our friends across the western world call for cooler heads to prevail, but the threat to security and stability in the region remains.
Just across the Tasman, our friends are experiencing devastating bush fires which will have impacts for them, for us and our economy.
And coronavirus is both a global health emergency and an economically significant event – more and more serious the longer it continues.
New Zealand is by no means immune.
But our growth has begun slowing before we even start with these international factors.
New Zealanders are doing it tougher, facing more tax, cost and red tape, our economy is slowing, and as a result New Zealanders are worse off.
At a time of global uncertainty, when international events have direct impacts on our way of life, we cannot underestimate the need for a strong economy led by a competent government with a track record of delivering to protect and buffer us.
By most measures, we should be doing much better.
Our commodity prices are high and our terms of trade are near the best they have ever been. From our primary sector through to our technology and innovative sectors, New Zealand should be booming and the envy of the world.
We should be a confident, aspirational nation that is ready to tackle the global challenges head on and succeed.
In short, we should be in a much better situation relative to global uncertainties and headwinds.
The question I’m asking Jacinda Ardern is - why aren’t we?
Because Jacinda Ardern’s Government has failed to deliver on its promises, has piled on the tax, cost and red tape, made things more uncertain domestically at a time of global uncertainty, and as a result New Zealand has become a country of lost opportunities.
The economy is all about its people.
The workers, the business owners, the self-employed, the volunteers and the retirees.
They deserve a government that does what it says it will, that delivers with certainty and removes barriers and burdens like tax, cost and red tape.
Three years ago our economy was growing at nearly four per cent a year and we are now almost half of that and falling.
We have slipped to the seventh lowest GDP per capita growth in the OECD. We are behind countries like Chile, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Spain and even Greece.
Yes, I said seventh lowest spot.
When we slip so far down the chain, it’s having a real impact on you and your family – particularly as we move into global turbulence.
The protection isn’t there – just the tax, cost, red tape and uncertainty.
This all means it’s harder to get ahead, it means that promotion or a pay rise might take longer to get, it’s harder for you and your family to plan for the future, and to save. Indeed for increasing numbers it’s harder to even pay the next bill and stay afloat.
In short, back pockets are shrinking. It’s harder to get ahead under Jacinda Ardern.
In fact, right now, someone on the average wage in New Zealand is almost $4000 a year worse off thanks to Jacinda Ardern’s Government.
The median rent is up $2600 a year because of the Government’s added taxes and regulations on landlords.
Higher petrol taxes have made it $200 a year more expensive for the typical person to fill up their car.
And cancelled tax cuts have cost the average earner over $1000 a year.
Under the last National Government, your after-tax income grew twice as fast as Australia. Yet under Jacinda Ardern’s NZ, they’ve grown slower than Australia.
In comparison, if our GDP per capita were as good as Australia’s, the average Kiwi would be 35 per cent richer.
That doesn’t happen by accident, it doesn’t take a country the size of Australia to achieve it. It happens when you have a strong economy focussed on you. Led by a competent government with a track record of delivering.
As Economic Development Minister and Associate Finance Minister, I saw how real this is.
Whereas two years ago companies were taking on new staff to keep up with demand, they’re now laying people off because they don’t have the workers, and more often than was the case, the work either and the Government has piled tax, cost and red tape so the risk isn’t worth the reward for businesses.
The Government’s own data shows this.
Job growth has dropped from the 10,000 new jobs a month under National to less than 1000 a month.
In less than two years, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has taken 15 years of projected surpluses and taken us into deficit.
And I hate to tell you the bad news but once a Labour government is in deficit it doesn’t get back to surplus.
All of this matters because it affects you and your back pocket.
It’s about your financial security and making sure you can look after your families in good times and bad.
It’s about you being able to live without worrying about the next bill, or paying for your next tank of petrol, or your next shopping trolley.
It’s about ensuring the future you dream of for your family becomes a reality.
It’s about building the roads and the public transport that gets you home on time at night.
It’s about schools and hospitals having the resources they need to teach your children and take care of your family.
It’s about police having the resources to deal with gangs and serious crime so you and your family are safe.
It’s about business feeling confident to take you on and give you a shot and then a pay rise.
It’s about getting up in the morning and seeing New Zealand ambitious and confident about itself again.
I will not accept this is as good as it gets. We should be doing much better.
Hopes and wishes are one thing, but kiwis deserve certainty and a government that gets things done.
National’s focus is simple and resolute.
- We will keep taxes and red tape low and grow incomes to help with your cost of living
- We will be responsible managers of the economy
- We will focus on growing the economy for all
- We will invest more in core public services like health and education
- Finally, we will create more jobs and opportunities for all New Zealanders
To do this, today I am announcing five key measures that I want the sixth National Government’s first term to be measured by. They are things that matter to Kiwis because they impact us in our everyday lives.
- New Zealand’s economic growth is back to at least three per cent per annum.
- New Zealand’s growth rate per person is in the top half of the OECD
- We are reducing the after-tax income gap with Australia
- More New Zealanders feel they can reach their potential at home, rather than overseas
- We have revived business confidence so that businesses feel like they can take more risks and create opportunities for you and your family
Ultimately, it is what we will do that counts the most.
Over the next few months I will be announcing our comprehensive Economic Plan.
The five major planks to it are five packages on:
- Tax relief
- Regulation reduction
- Small Business
Most of these won’t surprise you.
For instance, on tax - we have already announced our plans to index tax brackets to the cost of living, repeal the Auckland fuel tax, and introduce no new taxes
But we recognise we need to do more.
We will announce our full tax plan that will see people on the average wage better off and keeping more of what they earn.
People on the average wage shouldn’t be paying almost 33 per cent in the dollar.
On regulation – you can’t pile more regulation, red tape and more tax and cost onto business like Jacinda Ardern’s Government has and expect New Zealand to succeed.
We have already promised to cut red tape and regulation. We will light a regulations bonfire in our first six months of government, and cut two regulations for every new one we create.
But we recognise we need to do more.
On infrastructure, we not only need to build the roads to get you and your family home on time, but invest in the social infrastructure our country needs in world class hospitals and schools.
We won’t be afraid to use the private sector to partner with government to deliver projects that matter to us all.
That means we can deliver more roads, more rail, more transport and more social infrastructure faster and better.
We will have new thinking on infrastructure and you will see a clear vision – and plan - from us of how we see New Zealand.
Unlike Labour, we won’t flip flop. We believe in infrastructure and have the competence and track record to do what we say we will, to actually deliver.
On small business, we have already promised to repeal employment law changes that this Government has made and restore 90-day trials to all businesses.
But your back pocket is hurting just as much as our families are. And we need to something about that as well.
Finally, on family incomes and cost of living. Tax relief is one part of how your family can get ahead.
We know we need to do more.
We need to raise incomes and get people into jobs and we need to attack the cost of living.
We need to stop rents rising because of bad government policy, petrol going through the roof because of more taxes and levies, and that a surprise bill doesn’t come at your expense on your next supermarket shop.
If we do all of this, not only will New Zealand be in a better position, but you and your family will be too. You’ll be better protected and buffered from international uncertainties with more money in your pocket.
I firmly believe we can do this.
But it's in stark contrast to what’s happening right now.
When I hear about the company in Hawke’s Bay who are locking their tools up and laying off workers because the pipeline of infrastructure projects has dried up, that means less pay, fewer jobs and it means it’s less likely you’ll get home on time.
Through to the mum of a new born in Kawarau who for the first time in her life had to go to the foodbank to get help because Jacinda Ardern’s Government has raised taxes, costs and red tape and ripped money out from your back pocket.
She’s not the only one – demand for emergency grants has spiralled because people can’t fill their trolleys like they used to. City Missions are saying demand now is much worse than it ever used to be.
There is a clear choice this election between a government that has stumbled its way into deficit and debacle, and has us badly positioned because of the tax, cost, red tape and uncertainty as the world becomes more uncertain and difficult.
And National who has a plan and track record of getting New Zealand back on track, creating financial stability for you and your family and building a brighter future.
I firmly believe New Zealand’s best days lie ahead of us.
I know those tradies being laid off in Hawke’s Bay can help build the infrastructure we need to grow New Zealand and create opportunities.
The mum of the new-born wants to be able to not only fill her trolley but create the financial stability and dignity for her and her family that comes with a strong economy. One that creates opportunities for her baby and her family.
She shouldn’t have to make the choice between groceries or shoes, she should be making the choice of how many after school activities she wants to sign her child up to.
There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Kiwis up and down New Zealand who are worse off because Jacinda Ardern’s Government has left them behind.
We are a better country than these past two years. We are better than this.
National’s view is that the 2020s should be New Zealand’s decade.
It should be a time where our kids go to the best schools in the world, where we build the world class infrastructure and create more opportunities for New Zealanders, where we live in one of the safest countries in the world and we have the money to invest where it really matters to you and your family.
When I look forward to 2030, when my oldest son Emlyn will turn 18 and be preparing to take on the world on his own, I want New Zealand to be a place where he and all of his classmates have every opportunity to succeed, to be world beaters.
This Government is a failed experiment.
A failed experiment is fine when you’re in high school science, not when you’re running the country.
So now is our chance.
This election is the most important in a generation.
New Zealand can be better. Much better.
Our ambition as a country can never be too great for what we need to achieve. Because five million New Zealanders need a government that will put them and their families at the heart of everything we do.
Global uncertainties and headwinds need not hold us back as a nation if we have the leadership with the track record, competence, plan and ambition to see it through.
All we have to do is choose this.
I want to be a Prime Minister who delivers a strong, growing economy, world class public services, infrastructure that gets you and your family home on time, safety from gangs and serious crime, and a country that is once again ambitious and aspirational about its future and ready to tackle the challenges of the 2020s head on.
National Leader Simon Bridges has today outlined National’s economic plan heading into election 2020.
“National understands the economy and how it impacts on New Zealanders day to day lives. The global economy is uncertain but New Zealand should have been doing well. Our commodity prices are high and our terms of trade are near the best they have ever been,” Mr Bridges says.
“Despite that, under the economic management of Labour, The Greens and NZ First the economy is declining and we’re drifting when it should be thriving.
Only National has a strong economic plan. This includes;
- Keeping taxes low
- Keeping debt low and being responsible managers of the economy
- Growing incomes and lowering the cost of living
- Investing more in core public services
- Creating more jobs and opportunities for all New Zealanders.
The Measures we will use to hold ourselves accountable include;
- Lifting New Zealand’s economic growth back to at least three per cent per annum
- Lifting New Zealand’s GDP per capita growth to the top ten in the OECD
- Reducing the after-tax income tax gap with Australia
- Reducing the number of New Zealander’s who feel they have to leave for opportunities overseas
- Reviving business confidence so that businesses feel like they can take more risks and create opportunities for you and your family.
“National will release a full package of policies leading up to the election which will address tax, regulation, infrastructure, small business and families.
“Only National will introduce polices that will put more money in your pocket, actually build roads and make your communities safer.”
Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has today paid tribute to outgoing MPs David Carter, Nicky Wagner and Sarah Dowie.
“David Carter, Nicky Wagner and Sarah Dowie have all been fantastic members of our caucus. David was one of the most competent and fair Speaker’s we’ve had at Parliament. Nicky was a hardworking Minister who fought for our most vulnerable and Sarah has been a valuable and passionate advocate for conservation in Government and Opposition.
“Today I am announcing a small reshuffle. As with other outgoing MPs, their portfolios will be distributed to MPs who are planning to stay next term.
“Paul Goldsmith will take over the State Owned Enterprises portfolio. Todd McClay will become our Small Business spokesperson, while Jacqui Dean takes on Conservation. Gerry Brownlee picks up Greater Christchurch Regeneration – following on from the work he did as Minister. Alfred Ngaro will take on the Disability Issues portfolio, and Anne Tolley will become our spokesperson for Veterans. Jonathan Young will become our spokesperson for Arts Culture and Heritage and Tim Macindoe will take over the Seniors portfolio.
“The National Party Board has also decided that Paulo Garcia will become a list only candidate.
“National is the strongest team in New Zealand politics. Only National will put more money in your pocket, actually build the infrastructure to get New Zealand moving and make you and your family safer.”
Reports the Government is ironing out the final details of a deal to buy Ihumātao will be chilling for taxpayers and property owners, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Government will likely be making a backroom deal in Cabinet today. It had no right to get involved in this dispute in the first place. Now hardworking taxpayers will end up picking up the tab.
“This is only the beginning. The deal will call into question full and final treaty settlements. Iwi who have settled will now be thinking seriously about knocking on Jacinda Ardern’s door for a renegotiation.
“They should have sent the protesters home and allow 480 much-needed houses to be built.
“Property owners across New Zealand should be worried. It’s clear they won’t get any help from Jacinda Ardern’s Government if protestors want to move in and lay claim to their land.
“The Government buying its way out of this mess isn’t a solution. Only National will protect property rights and ensure that full and final treaty settlements are just that – full and final.”
National Party Leader Simon Bridges has today ruled out working with NZ First to form a Government after the 2020 election.
“A vote for NZ First is a vote for Labour and the Greens,” Mr Bridges says.
“National wants New Zealanders to have a clear choice and certainty about what they’re getting when they go to the ballot box. A vote for National will mean more money in your pocket, more transport infrastructure and safety for your family. We will get things done. Our decisions will be about what’s best for New Zealanders, not what’s best for NZ First.
“This Labour/Green/NZ First Government has failed to deliver for New Zealanders. The cost of living has gone up, taxes have been piled on, there’s been no new infrastructure, and crime has risen making your family less safe. New Zealanders have been let down and we can’t afford another three years of this incompetence.
“I don’t believe we can work with NZ First and have a constructive trusting relationship. When National was negotiating in good faith with NZ First after the last election, its leader was suing key National MPs and staff. I don’t trust NZ First and I don’t believe New Zealanders can either.
“National had a constructive working relationship with ACT while in Government. We developed the partnership schools model and worked together to reduce red tape. We would again be open to working with ACT.
“New Zealanders have a clear choice heading into this year’s election. The Government I lead will result in families who are better off, can get to work and school on time and are safer in their communities.
“A Labour/Greens/NZ First Government will mean more incompetence and wasteful spending, and you’ll pay for it with more taxes, costs, and burdens on you and your family.”
The Government has forgotten there are more parts of New Zealand in dire need of infrastructure upgrades than just Auckland, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The most disappointing thing about Jacinda Ardern’s infrastructure plan is how many parts of New Zealand she has forgotten about, like, for starters, the South Island.
“It says a lot about the Government's priorities when $3.48 billion is announced for projects in Auckland with less than $250 million for the entire South Island.
“In Canterbury, people are crying out for a motorway between Belfast and Pegasus, with a bypass at Woodend, which is rapidly growing in size. They don't feel safe crossing SH1 to get to the school or catch the bus, and this Government isn’t delivering for them.
“The Prime Minister has also ignored the fact SH1 between Ashburton and Christchurch is the second-most dangerous stretch of road in New Zealand for fatalities and serious injuries.
“Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman, the West Coast and rural Canterbury all completely missed out, and when it comes to the Deep South the only part the Prime Minister seems to be familiar with is Queenstown.
“Regional New Zealand in general got the short end of the stick. There’s was little-to-nothing in the way of infrastructure for Taranaki, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne – the list goes on.
“These are productive parts of the country that, in many cases, are experiencing strong population and visitor growth. They need better infrastructure just like Auckland does.
“These are inconvenient truths a Government that says it wants to deal in facts but isn’t capable of doing so. The latest spin out of their mouths is that National’s big roading projects, which it put on ice back in 2018, were never funded.
“For starters, NZTA briefing papers from when I was Transport Minister in 2017 clearly show it approved an investment programme for SH1 between Whangarei and Te Hana, including the four-lane highway to Port Marsden announced yesterday.
“Unlike Labour, National is the party of infrastructure and we will deliver. We won’t forgot about the New Zealanders who are working hard and paying taxes outside our city limits.”
After failing to deliver on its infrastructure promises, the Government has seen sense and restarted the previous National Government’s plan that was put on ice in 2018, but National will go even further if elected this year, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“After two and a half years Jacinda Ardern’s Government has realised it has no infrastructure ideas of its own that it can deliver on, so it has copied the plans I put in place when I was Transport Minister.
“It’s quite flattering, really. It’s just a shame that an entire term of Government has been wasted by tearing up these plans and putting them back together again.
“Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. The two-year pause on starting these roads has seen our construction workforce go overseas in search of work. We’ll struggle to get them back now.
“This is a tragic wasted opportunity.
“The Government is clearly panicking. New Zealand’s infrastructure pipeline rusted up on its watch while it focused on KiwiBuild and light rail, which have both failed spectacularly.
“The problem now is that Labour is first-class at announcements but third-rate at delivering on them. We won’t see spades in the ground anytime soon.
“They clearly don’t believe in these projects. Labour and the Greens rallied against many of them while in Opposition. The lack of detail released around so-called ‘improvements’ is also concerning. Having promised a campaign based on facts, it’s a real shame.
“National will build the infrastructure New Zealand needs and will give motorists something in return for the extra $1.7 billion this Government squeezed out of them through fuel tax hikes and extra GST.
“National will release a comprehensive infrastructure plan later this year, setting out our vision to get this country moving.
“Unlike Labour, National is the party of infrastructure and we will deliver.”
The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and bring home the New Zealanders stranded in Wuhan, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“A responsible Government would be looking after its people. Countries around the world are evacuating their citizens and putting them in quarantine for 14 days.
“We have a desperate family telling the media they fear they’ll die of the virus or die of starvation. The Government needs to act to protect them.
“The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou have been closed for Chinese New Year, The Government should have told its officials to come back from holiday to deal with New Zealanders in China who need help.
“The Prime Minister has been nowhere to be seen while this situation unfolds and Health Minister David Clark yesterday fobbed it off to officials to answer questions. New Zealanders need assurance during this outbreak.
“Our MPs have been inundated with questions from the public about the coronavirus and what will happen if it reaches New Zealand. Schools are trying to get prepared, as well as tour operators and accommodation providers in case the worst should happen.
“National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse has written to Health Minister David Clark asking for a briefing from officials so we can share information and assurances.
“My colleague Nikki Kaye has also written to the Education Minister about what support is in place for schools, early learning centres and tertiary institutions.
“Tens of thousands of international students will be arriving in New Zealand to study over the coming weeks, some of them from places which have been affected by the outbreak.
“There needs to be clear advice for host families, parents, schools and teachers about what they should do if an outbreak were to occur.
“We sought urgent advice from the Minister of Education on Sunday but we’re yet to get a response. Some schools started back yesterday and more will be starting today and later this week. It’s time the Government gave clear advice about will happen if this virus reaches New Zealand.”
“The Government is missing in action while the rest of the world is taking this seriously. It’s time for action.”
Labour’s track record on infrastructure is clear, it’s great at announcements but doesn’t believe in it and can’t deliver on its promises, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Prime Minister is expected to make an announcement this week about infrastructure – but it will be just that, an announcement that she won’t deliver on.
“Labour has been so incompetent that it won’t get any major infrastructure started this term. It’s failed to deliver KiwiBuild, it hasn’t started light rail down Dominion Road and it hasn’t delivered rapid rail in the Golden Triangle that it promised. Literally, all it has done is stop National’s projects going ahead. We have wasted three years.
“But it’s worse than that. Labour doesn’t actually believe in infrastructure. Phil Twyford believes we have over-invested in roads and Julie-Anne Genter thinks anyone who does want more is a ‘car fascist’. National has forced them into these announcements by winning the debate but announcements is all they will be.
“Any attempt to announce new infrastructure projects this week won’t in reality see the light of day. If the Prime Minister wants an honest campaign, she should start by admitting that while she’s great at announcements, she doesn’t believe in and can’t deliver infrastructure.
“National will build New Zealand’s infrastructure for the future.
“We will get New Zealand moving again by investing in the safe, efficient, high-quality highways that motorists deserve in return for all the tax Labour has stung them with.
“We will repeal and replace the Resource Management Act, develop a major pipeline of infrastructure projects, repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and not increase fuel taxes in our first term, use private capital to build the critical infrastructure New Zealand needs, and introduce legislation that will implement roadside drug testing.
“Unlike Labour, when I say I will do something, I will do it.
“National is the party of infrastructure and we will deliver.”
There is no clear indication yet that an enduring deal to settle the land dispute at Ihumātao is on the horizon, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The land at Ihumātao isn’t leaving Fletcher's hands without some form of compensation, and that could mean taxpayers end up forking over millions to make this problem go away.
“Whatever deal the Government cuts isn’t going to be the end. In fact, it may just be the beginning because the reality is, any sort of Government interference will call into question full and final treaty settlements.
“The Government buying its way out of this mess isn’t a solution. A treaty settlement, a legal land purchase and a court process should not be undone simply because the Prime Minister made a mistake by halting construction.
“Jacinda Ardern has set an appalling precedent by inserting herself into the business of a private company and preventing it from building 480 much-needed houses.
“The Government should have just told the protestors to go home, and not get involved beyond that.
“If Finance Minister Grant Robertson does end up cutting a big cheque at Ihumātao then he and Jacinda Ardern will have some explaining to do to taxpayers as well as all the other Iwi who trusted the Government’s word when it came to ‘full and final’ treaty settlements.”