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
Good afternoon, it’s great to be here again at Fieldays.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging ANZ’s Commercial & Agri general manager Lorraine Mapu.
It’s also great to see Nathan Guy here, Nathan has been leading an able team of rural MP’s including the likes of Barbara Kuriger, Todd Muller, Parmjeet Parmar, Tim Van de Molen, Hamish Walker and Lawrence Yule, who are all in attendance.
Last year at Fieldays I gave a speech about climate change where I talked about taking a pragmatic, science-based approach that is in line with our global partners and doesn’t result in harming our rural communities.
At the moment I’m concerned that well-meaning incentives are driving perverse outcomes. The Government is proposing an onerous methane target with no scientific backing, and farmers are not going to be able to meet it. Hill country farmers are concerned about the One Billion Tree Programme and its impact on rural communities. The arbitrary target is overriding best land use resulting in trees being planted in the wrong place. Government needs to be cautious of subsidising forest plantings and skewing the overseas investment rules against pastoral farming.
We will not let rural NZ fade into a sea of trees.
This year, I have another important speech, this time about our Primary Sector Discussion Document. Unlike the current Government, we’ve been using our time in Opposition wisely. Last year we released our ‘Have Your Say’ Rural campaign. From this we learnt the huge concerns that our rural communities have around accessing services, attracting enough skilled workers, more taxes and excessive regulation and red tape.
We’ve used the information to feed into a discussion document which will ultimately help form our election policies.
We’re running the ruler over all of our policies. This year we are launching our discussion documents, phase two in our policy development.
We’re focused on being a constructive and hardworking Opposition, holding the Government to account and putting forward ideas to improve the lives of New Zealanders.
So today we’re launching National’s third discussion document – the Primary Sector Discussion Document.
New Zealand has natural resources that position us as efficient and sustainable producers of food and fibre products. Our hard working innovative farmers are world leading. Demand for our products is set to grow and our policies are about allowing New Zealand to make the most of these opportunities.
The primary sector contributes $45 billion in export revenue and employs over 350,000 people. We must continue to support the sectors 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 MP’s 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.
This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition in over a decade.
National holds every rural seat in Parliament except one… but I can assure that we’re coming for West Coast Tasman. Damien O’Connor, the man who said ‘The Government is no friends of farmers’ and who told farmers to ‘suck it up’ when talking about increasing costs - should look out.
We’re proud to represent rural New Zealand. We’re working hard to ensure we’re ready to govern in 2020 should we have the opportunity.
What are we proposing?
Our biosecurity system is under immense pressure with 5.5 million passengers entering the country each year, along with increasing imports.
We’ve seen the devastating effects that can happen from things like M-Bovis, the Queensland Fruit fly and the brown marmorated stink bug.
We want to toughen up on those bringing in items which could put our biosecurity at risk.
This would mean increasing fines from the current $400 to $1000 for those found to have risk materials, and giving Ministry for Primary Industry officials the power to immediately deport those who are found to knowingly conceal concerning items.
National also wants to ensure importers are held accountable for signing off Import Health Standards on goods that aren’t free of biosecurity risk items. These measures will go a long way to better protecting our border.
The National Party understands the issues that the rural community faces around worker shortages more than any other party in Parliament.
That’s why we’re proposing a Primary Sector Visa to help provide workforce certainty for employers in the primary sector.
Our primary sector is growing rapidly as we feed an increasing global population, so it’s important that we have the workforce to manage, develop and maintain New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural businesses.
Farmers and growers are crying out for skilled labour but there isn’t enough workers to meet demand. Many are experiencing serious implications of food rotting because of a lack of labour stifling growth and will have to downsize. A solution is needed now.
The Primary Sector Visa would act as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here.
It would work alongside other National initiatives such as supporting vocational education and agricultural training, extending the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and promoting the sector as an attractive career prospect to turn the tap on the waning workforce.
But we know we can’t rely on immigration solely. We need to train New Zealanders to work in the rural sector.
Last year the Government announced the closure of Taratahi, the leading vocational training establishment.
This will have far reaching effects on the industry. A lack of skills will mean a lack of workers. We propose to increase vocational training opportunities in the primary sector.
We also know the health pressures that are facing our rural communities. Hamish Walker has done a great job of fighting for the Lumsden Maternity Unit.
Despite how vocal he’s been, we’ve still seen women give birth on the side of the road. National will reinstate funding so services can resume in Lumsden and we’ll do it in our first hundred days.
We’re also proposing a mobile rural health clinic to administer ‘WOF’ style health check-ups in remote areas to ensure those in rural communities have easy access to quality healthcare.
More than 600,000 New Zealanders live in rural communities, and while it’s accepted not everyone in rural New Zealand can live next to a hospital, it’s important they have access to modern healthcare.
National wants to pilot some mobile health clinics serviced by health practitioners which will travel to remote rural communities on a regular basis, where they can administer general health check-ups for busy locals.
This initiative has the potential to make a tangible difference to those in isolated areas who too often simply ignore potential health warning signs because of their busy lifestyles and the lack of convenience.
These are just some of the ideas that we’re canvassing in this document. We also want your views on Landcorp, the M-Bovis response, climate change, food safety, RMA, water storage and Shane Jones’s one billion trees programme.
Today is a chance to hear your thoughts on our proposals.
What could go further, or what needs more development.
We appreciate and respect the impact our primary sector has on New Zealand.
So thank you for coming today. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback and developing our policy further so that come election 2020, we’ll be ready.