National Party Immigration Spokesperson Simon Bridges has welcomed the new Government’s major climb-down on its immigration policy as announced by Immigration Minister Ian Lees Galloway.
“This is a very significant u-turn. Prior to the election Labour was going to reduce migration by 20,000 to 30,000 people. New Zealand First was going to cut it by 60,000,” Mr Bridges says.
“Now less than two months later the Immigration Minister is saying ‘we are not fixated on the numbers’.
“This is a major shift in a core policy that needs a proper explanation from the Government.
“It’s great to see them starting to acknowledge and adopt the previous Government’s immigration policy, however how serious are they? And does the anti-immigrant party New Zealand First support this change?
“This flip flop has been coming over recent days and weeks as Labour has belatedly realised New Zealand’s high rate of employment and shortage of skilled labour.
“They’ve been talking of teachers’ visas, police visas, builders’ visas and so on. They’ve also slowly realised they can’t kneecap industries like tourism and international education with unrealistic immigration policies.
“Regions are crying out every other day for skills. The houses and roads won’t build themselves nor will the forests plant themselves.
“The Government needs to be clear about its immigration policy so Kiwi businesses can plan their growth with confidence.
“And then they need to tell us after this latest flip flop why New Zealanders should believe anything they say.”
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is already backtracking from his promise to plant a billion trees in 10 years, National Party Economic Development Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“From his statements earlier today it appears he’s realised that the pledge of a billion new trees is entirely unachievable and now he’s attempting to back away from it,” Mr Bridges says.
“His problem is that the target is recorded unambiguously in both the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement and the Speech from the Throne on the new Government’s programme.
“Now he wants to count around 50 million trees that are already planted every year, about half of the billion he’s committed to over a decade. These are happening regardless of his slush fund or the kind of Government in power.
“So his first action is to cut his target in half. Not exactly impressive.
“He needs to immediately stop using his slogan of 1 billion trees to be planted because it’s completely untrue. He should also stand up in Parliament and correct the Speech.
“This backsliding is becoming a pattern for this Government. They want to count trees that are already being planted in their tree target and houses already being built in their housing target. It’s all very underwhelming.
“The reality for Mr Jones is that even planting 500 million trees over a decade, if that’s what the new marketing catch-cry will be, is unlikely.
“After all, the new Government has also committed to slashing the necessary immigration needed for our workforce and the nurseries will find it difficult to gear up for both private and public sector forestry expansion
“All he will do is displace existing private sector activity. The forestry industry should tell him he’s dreaming.”
The Government is trying to limit scrutiny of its actions by attempting to cut the number of Opposition MPs on select committees because it is short on numbers itself, Shadow Leader of the House Simon Bridges says.
“The role of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account, to scrutinise its actions and to advocate for the views of the people they are elected to represent,” Mr Bridges says.
“One of the most important ways to do that is through the select committee process. But rather than fronting up to that scrutiny, Labour is now saying it wants to allow fewer elected representatives to carry out that vital function – that’s undemocratic.
“While the number of positions on select committees has traditionally matched the number of MPs in Parliament, Labour wants to restrict the number because it doesn’t have enough members of its own.
“This is after Labour’s hopeful speaker Trevor Mallard claimed that under Labour ‘select committees will go back to being creatures of the Parliament and not rubber stamps for the executive’.
“And along with Labour, NZ First and the Greens, have also recently claimed they wanted more powerful select committees to better hold the government to account.
“Reducing the level of oversight is not increasing accountability. It does the opposite.
“Voters elected 56 National Party MPs to Parliament – more than the two governing parties combined - to represent their views and their communities. Under Labour’s plan, 11 of them won’t have that full opportunity.
“Marginalising their ability to carry out their democratic functions is an affront to the voting public who rightly expect their MPs to have full participation in the parliamentary and legislative process.
“We’re willing to compromise but the Government is refusing to.
“The Government must let parliamentary structures fully reflect the decisions of voters and allow its ideas to be tested – that’s in the interests of all New Zealanders,” Mr Bridges says.
“The report highlights the increasingly important contribution that innovative hi-tech companies make to New Zealand, with the collective export revenues of the 200 largest tech companies now earning more than $7.3 billion in export revenues,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government has backed the ICT sector to succeed and we are now seeing the results in the fantastic growth of the sector.”
The record-breaking figure has been revealed in the annual Technology Investment Network’s TIN100 Report, released today.
The TIN Report is an analysis of the performance of the top 200 New Zealand-founded hi-tech exporters by revenue in the areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Hi-Tech Manufacturing and Biotechnology.
Top performers include Datacom Group, Fisher & Paykel Appliances and Healthcare, Xero, and Gallagher Group. Highlights in this year’s report include:The TIN200 tech companies produce the equivalent of 10% of all New Zealand exports; They have created 4,352 new jobs globally to employ over 43,000 staff in total; TIN200 growth has been concentrated outside of Auckland - Hamilton, Wellington and the South Island regions are leading TIN200 growth; Fintech, digital media and agritech are the fastest growing market sectors.
“It is particularly pleasing to see in this year’s report a 7.9 per cent increase in research and development investment, to $882m in total. Additional investment in R&D is a real investment in the future of any company, and helps boost the overall R&D investment levels of New Zealand companies,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“In addition, five Callaghan Innovation customer companies are included in the top 200 list, and generated nearly $94 million of revenue this year. All of those companies are investing in their own future, enabled by the support of Callaghan Innovation.”
“New Zealand’s technology companies are building a strong business-led R&D ecosystem, that is strengthening and diversifying New Zealand’s economy,” Mr Goldsmith says.
This year’s report also profiles several Māori-owned or Māori investment-backed technology companies that are making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s technology sector.
“Estimated to be worth $50 billion, the Māori economy is a significant and important contributor to New Zealand’s economy, and is playing an ever-increasing role in our economy,” Mr Bridges says.
“Our tech companies are leading the way and showing how far New Zealand can go when we invest in world-leading innovation.”
A re-elected National Government will four-lane Te Ngae Road between Rotorua City and the airport, Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“National is committed to delivering the infrastructure our regions need to support our growing country. That’s why we are accelerating the delivery of this critical transport project for Rotorua,” Mr Bridges says.
“National will start construction on this project in the next term of Government.”
Te Ngae Road (along State Highway 30) links Rotorua with the city’s airport and serves both local and inter-regional traffic, connecting Rotorua to the Western Bay of Plenty, including the Port of Tauranga, and Eastern Bay of Plenty.
Rotorua has experienced strong economic growth in recent years, growing 3.9 per cent in 2016, above the national average.
“As more people and businesses choose to be in Rotorua and its surrounding districts, National wants to ensure the city’s infrastructure provides for and supports future growth,” Mr Bridges says.
“Te Ngae Road supports a growing number of tourists travelling to Rotorua and growth in the region’s primary industries, making it increasingly important to connect people and products to key domestic and international markets.
“This key transport route is playing an increasingly important part in unlocking the city’s future growth.
“We recognise the need to meet anticipated residential and commercial growth, as well as increased traffic freight volumes and the need to provide certainty for local government and developers.
“National wants to get ahead of forecast growth now and stop congestion becoming a handbrake on the city.”
It is estimated that extending the programme of work to Rotorua Airport, including four-laning, will cost $75 to $100 million. Funding for the project will be met from the National Land Transport Fund and the budget capital allowance.
“The project will be added to National’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme, which is an important part of our plan to support our growing regions. We know that when the regions do well, New Zealand does well,” Mr Bridges says.
“This regionally significant project for Rotorua will expand on the comprehensive package of projects that have been delivered across New Zealand. They all improve safety, resilience and boost economic productivity and ensure centres like Rotorua have the modern, fit-for-purpose infrastructure they need to support their strong growth.
“We can make investments in infrastructure that help ensure New Zealand continues to get ahead because of our growing economy supported by National’s strong economic plan.”
National will fast-track construction of the new Melling interchange as well as the investigation and design of a new interchange at Kennedy Good – both along State Highway 2 in Lower Hutt, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“State Highway 2 is the main commuter and freight route linking Wellington, the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa through to the Hawke’s Bay. It is a busy and strategically important highway which is a critical route in and out of the Wellington region,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Melling intersection is currently a real choke point, particularly at peak times and the use of traffic signals at the intersection is a safety and crash risk.
“A new interchange at Melling has been talked about for decades, but in recent years there have been growing calls for work to start to support the growing traffic flows.
“So a re-elected National-led Government will start work on the new interchange as quickly as possible to unblock the growing congestion and get traffic flowing freely, with our aim to start construction in the next term of government,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new interchange will improve travel times for people and freight moving around the Wellington region, support economic growth and boost the region’s productivity.
“It will also ensure a safer and more reliable connection to the Hutt City Centre and Western Suburbs.
It will cost an estimated $72 million to complete with the funding to come from the National Land Transport Fund and the budget capital allowance.
The council-owned Melling Bridge across the Hutt River will also be replaced, with discussions to continue about how the replacement of the bridge and will be paid for.
National will also fast-track the investigation and design of the increasingly busy Kennedy Good interchange at the junction of State Highway 2 and Fairway Drive, north of Melling.
“We will complete this work in the next term of Government and agree on the timing for construction with the Hutt City Council to ensure the project is built faster.”
A detailed business case will be developed for both projects, which will also fully integrate flood management plans for the Hutt River.
“Fast-tracking these important interchanges on State Highway 2 will ensure this strategic highway in and out of Wellington is resilient and supports the region’s strong growth.
“We know that one of the factors that underpins productivity is New Zealand’s infrastructure. A National-led Government will continue to build this essential infrastructure to keep New Zealand’s economy growing,” Mr Bridges says.
Freight is rolling again this morning on the South Island’s Main North Line, ten months after November’s Kaikoura earthquake, Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced today.
The first train carrying goods into Christchurch from Picton is due to arrive in Christchurch by 2pm today, marking the start of a five nights per week service.
“Keeping freight flowing easily and efficiently around New Zealand is critical to our economic growth and keeping our communities connected,” Mr Bridges says.
“Having this key freight service running again is an immense achievement, which will take pressure off the inland routes while helping with the rebuild of State Highway 1 during the day.
“Today’s first rail services, even in a limited capacity, will take around 2000 trucks off the road each month, building to 4000 trucks when the line is fully operating again by the end of the year.”
Following November’s earthquake, there were close to 60 major damage sites, including tunnels, bridges and embankments, and the line had been buried under more than 100 slips and landslides. Approximately 60 bridges were damaged and repairs required at more than 750 sites.
“Over 1500 workers from KiwiRail, the NZ Transport Agency and their partners in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR) have done a fantastic job in what have been challenging conditions,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government is committed to restoring the road and rail services along this important coastal corridor, and it’s great to see the significant progress being made.
“We have also provided a range of business support packages and support for the tourism industry and primary sector to help get the most affected communities back on their feet and rebuilding the local economy.”
National will re-invest $24 million over 10 years in Gisborne’s road network to support strong growth in the district’s forestry sector, Economic Development and Transport spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“National is committed to delivering the infrastructure our regions need to support the growing economy. That’s why we are accelerating a package of work to upgrade and maintain the districts roads to help ensure our regions continue to thrive,” Mr Bridges says.
“We’ve made great progress in the Gisborne District recently through the establishment of Tairawhiti Roads, a joint venture between the Gisborne District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency that looks after both the local and State Highway network in Gisborne.
“The joint venture is delivering savings of around $3.3 million per year for NZTA and the Council through better management of the regions roads. National will direct NZTA to reinvest its share of those savings - $24 million over 10 years – back into improving the roading network in Gisborne.”
East Coast MP Anne Tolley says the strong growth of the forestry sector, supporting local jobs and higher incomes, has driven a significant increase in the number of heavy vehicles on Gisborne’s local and State highway networks.
“Export log volumes through Eastland Port have grown from a couple of hundred thousand tonnes in 2007 to almost 3 million tonnes now. This trend is expected to continue with the forestry sector forecast to grow further over the next few years, creating 630 new jobs in the region,” Mrs Tolley says.
“National will ensure the right infrastructure is in place to support this exponential growth.
“NZTA will work with the Gisborne District Council to use the reinvested $24 million to upgrade selected rural roads to take the heavy vehicles used by the forestry sector.”
Mr Bridges says logging is a key part of the Gisborne economy, and National will ensure the region has the roading infrastructure needed to support the growth of that industry.
“Earlier this year the National-led Government released the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan. Tairawhiti’s forestry production was identified as an opportunity for growth because the sector is not only one of the largest contributors to the community but because it contributes 14 per cent of New Zealand’s log exports,” Mr Bridges says
“I’m delighted that a re-elected National-led Government will be step in to provide the district with the roading network we need and deserve to support further growth”, Ms Tolley says.
National today released its plan for regional New Zealand and committed to working with regional communities to grow jobs and incomes and tackle challenges, rather than imposing new taxes which will stall the economy and punish hardworking New Zealanders, Simon Bridges and Nathan Guy say.
“New Zealanders now have a very clear choice between two very different visions for New Zealand this election,” Economic Development spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“National has a plan to keep New Zealand moving forward - a confident plan for a confident and growing country.
“Labour doesn’t have a plan. They want to risk our success through unclear policies and higher taxes, and that’s not good enough.
“New Zealanders have worked too hard. We are a nation of growing opportunities – together we’re creating more jobs, growing family incomes, building new infrastructure and delivering better public services.
“We have been able to do all of that together because of the hard work and enterprise of New Zealanders, backed by National’s clear economic plan.”
National’s six-point plan for regional New Zealand is:
- Raising family incomes and delivering more jobs
- Building the infrastructure to support growth in our regions
- Helping regional businesses to grow
- Getting government finances in order
- Investing even more in world-class public services for regional New Zealand
- And we won’t impose new taxes which will take New Zealand backwards
“Labour wants to hit our regions with new taxes that would slow New Zealand down – a capital gains tax, a water tax, a land tax, a regional fuel tax and an inheritance tax as well as adding farmers to the Emissions Trading Scheme,” Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“National wants hard-working New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. Under National someone on the average wage will receive a tax cut of $1000 per year on 1 April –tax cuts Labour has promised to cancel.
“The primary sector is the backbone of our economy and National backs the hard-work and commitment of our farmers and growers.
“We believe in the ability of our rural communities to tackle the tough issues and to get ahead, backed by a Government that supports them. Our primary sector has been doing it for decades and that’s why they are among the most efficient in the world.
“The products of their hard work are sold and savoured around the world and National is committed to ensuring they have even more opportunities to sell their produce to more markets through growing our international trade connections. That’s how you grow regional economies.
“National will work with regional New Zealand and with farmers and growers and we will back them to succeed.”
National will invest up to $6 million from the Regional Growth Programme to make the Whanganui Regional Velodrome redevelopment project a reality, National Party Economic Development spokesperson Simon Bridges has announced.
The project will see the current velodrome upgraded by installing a roof, improved amenities for cycling and speed skating, and includes provision of an area for hosting a range of other sporting and non-sporting events, such as concerts.
“National knows this is an important project for Whanganui. We recognise the value of the development of the velodrome to the region and national cycling community and that the community has been working incredibly hard to bring it to fruition,” Mr Bridges says.
“That’s why we will work with the district and regional councils, community organisations and local businesses to deliver this project.
“We will add the project to the National-led Government’s Regional Growth Programme andcontribute up to $6 million toward the cost from that fund.
“Thanks to the work of the Regional Velodrome Development Trust, the project is well underway. Resource consent has been granted, and the project is now proceeding through final detailed design stages.
“Developing the velodrome will deliver significant economic and social value to Whanganui and the wider Manawatu – Whanganui region. It will become a multi-purpose venue with the flexibility to use it as a sports venue and a wider events venue. Importantly, it will provide certainty for running weather-dependent events.”
Through the Regional Growth Programme, National is helping regions realise their economic potential.
“We’ve been working closely with the regions on economic action plans which aim to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand. We’ve already launched plans in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū-Whanganui, Southland, Gisborne, the West Coast and Canterbury.
“This investment in Whanganui demonstrates National’s on-going commitment to supporting sustainable growth in regional New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.