Over the past two years National has held this Government to account while working on our positive plans to continue the nine of years of progress we made in Government, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“National is the most popularly supported party in Parliament. We have a track record of effectively governing and delivering on what we promise.
“Over the past two years in Opposition we’ve released four discussion documents on the economy, primary sector, environment and international affairs. We have four more discussion documents on the way.”
In these discussion documents we have made a range of commitments including;
- Requiring all government departments and agencies to pay their contractors within 30 days
- Overhauling the Resource Management Act
- Repealing 100 regulations in our first six months in Government
- Eliminating two old regulations for every new one we introduce
- Introducing a Primary Sector Visa which will address workforce shortages
- Increasing penalties for biosecurity offences
- Modernising the rules around biotechnology
- Introducing Mobile Rural Health Clinics.
National has also committed to;
- Indexing tax thresholds to the cost of living
- Not introducing new taxes
- A $200 million cancer fund
- An Independent Cancer Agency
- Smaller class sizes
- Bringing back partnership schools
- Reinstating maternity services in Lumsden and committing to maternity care in Wanaka
- Introducing roadside drug driving tests.
“We’ve taken a constructive and bipartisan approach to the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. We improved this with a number of amendments. We supported the introduction of a Climate Change Commission and we supported the first tranch of the firearms legislation following the terrorist attacks in Christchurch.
“We’ve outlined constructive changes that should be made to legalisation including the second tranche of the Firearms Bill, the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Zero Carbon Bill.
“I’m proud to lead the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen. Our 55 MPs will continue to hold this Government to account and we’ll be ready to hit the ground running should be have the privilege to Govern in 2020.”
Good afternoon, it’s great to be back here again in Hawke’s Bay. I’d like to acknowledge Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule and MPs Scott Simpson, Ian McKelvie, Barbara Kuriger, Alastair Scott, Parmjeet Parmar and Hamish Walker who are also here with me today.
National holds every rural seat in New Zealand with the exception of one, but I can assure we’re planning to have the West Coast Tasman seat by the end of next year. Labour MP Damien O’Connor, the man who has been telling farmers to ‘get over it’ and ‘suck it up’ when they ask about increasing costs at public meetings over the last couple months should look out.
When I came here and spoke to farmers last year I got a sense of growing concern within the primary sector. This year I can see that this feeling has swelled, and it’s because of this Government’s policies.
Farmers have put up with a lot since this Government came to power, whether it be the Tax Working Group report and the uncertainty of the Capital Gains Tax campaign which included proposals for a water tax, nitrogen tax and fertiliser tax, good pastoral farm land being converted to forestry due to what is effectively subsidisation, onerous methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill that aren’t even in line with science, and now the Freshwater proposals and cynical consultation process surrounding them.
National has and is continuing to stand up to the Government on these issues, unlike NZ First who pretend to walk the walk but have sidled up with the Greens and Labour to produce the most anti-farmer sentiment we have seen since Helen Clark said it was a ‘sunset industry’.
Quite frankly, this Government just doesn’t understand rural communities, and it’s been tremendously short-sighted in its approach. While a lot of these have been thrown to the scrapheap once the Government has realised the implications of its proposals, it still amounts to months and months of waiting and indecision for those of you who have to mitigate costs and are unsure about what your bottom line is going to be by the end of the year, all because there might be a new tax waiting for you soon.
We are concerned about the Government’s so-called consultation process around Fresh Water reforms. We are particularly concerned about the pace of change and the lack of flexibility of land use and the significant costs that it will impose on farmers. I know it has left with you with questions about your future and whether the banks will stand by you through all of this.
All of this is why confidence is at record lows. Just look at the anxiety and uncertainty the Government is causing.
Given that, I’d like to also take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the Rural Support Trust for the work that they do. We know the struggles faced by some in rural New Zealand with mental health. I know what a great job the rural support trust does working with you and supporting you.
If there’s one saving grace of this Government, it’s that it is so incompetent that it very rarely gets to implement these dangerous policies. But make no mistake - David Parker, Damien O’Connor and James Shaw have you in their sights.
This sort of kneejerk politics is detrimental to our country as a whole, just look at the oil and gas ban that was implemented despite the Government’s own advice telling it that emissions and fossil fuel usage would actually rise, and lo and behold, we’re now burning the most coal that we have in years.
The irony of this is that the more taxes and limitations that are placed on farmers, the less there is for farmers to spend on on-farm improvements that improve their sustainability. New Zealand farmers have shown time and time again their ability to farm their ways to improved outcomes, and increased taxation and regulation for little gain only limits this.
While it’s good to see ag leaders working with the Government on lowering emissions through their climate change commitment, it’s concerning to see the Government has given themselves a backstop to bring agriculture into the ETS as early as 2022. National has been very clear that we’re not comfortable with agriculture entering the ETS unless farmers have the tools to lower emissions in a way that doesn’t lead to herd culling and decreased food production. Anything less and we put ourselves at a disadvantage to our international competitors and risk losing our valuable market share.
National is doing the hard work in Opposition to ensure we’re prepared with well thought out policies if we have the privilege to Govern next year. Earlier this year we released a discussion document with a series of policy proposals such as a primary sector visa and improved vocational education to strengthen our workforce, stricter biosecurity laws to deter shortcuts, and a mobile rural health clinic to ensure our isolated communities are experiencing the healthcare they deserve. We’re currently going through the feedback to this document and it will help inform our policy for next year.
The Primary Sector Visa would act as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here. Our primary sector is diversifying so we can try and feed an increasing global population, which is why it’s important we have the workforce to manage, develop and maintain New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural businesses. 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 for young people.
National hasn’t changed its position on water storage. When we were in Government we put around $280m into irrigation and water storage projects. We only collect 2 per cent of the rainfall in New Zealand – the rest flows out to sea. More water security means farmers and growers have more certainty about the amount and kinds of food they can grow. Not only do these projects help the sector grow, they also have environmental benefits such as better summer river flows and flushing out algae. Irrigation and water storage could return $2.2b a year to our economy.
I know that farmers are working hard to protect their natural environment. An environmentally sustainable farming operation is not just a source of pride within the community, it’s an asset to pass down to future generations.
We produce enough food to feed around 40 million people worldwide, and it’s our reputation as a safe producer of food underpinned by sustainable farming practises that is paramount to international consumers and to our reputation.
We’re the most sustainable farmers in the world, and should be telling the world this. New Zealand farmers have made enormous sustainability gains over recent decades and continue to stay ahead of the pack in terms of efficiency and sustainability. In the past 30 years we’ve managed to produce more sheep meat from a third fewer sheep due to improvements with enhanced breeding mixes and enhanced lambing percentages.
I’m not saying we should rest on our laurels here either. I’m simply saying that we should be proud of what we’ve achieved so far, while striving to continue improving in a similar manner – through practical, science-based advances in technology and practice.
There is plenty to be excited about on the horizon as well. Research being led by animal scientists in Palmerston North is proving that boluses and vaccines will be a breakthrough for biological emissions. AgResearch is conducting Biotechnology research on a type of Ryegrass that would lower animal emissions 23 per cent, while also being more drought resistant.
We should be showing the world just how innovative and world-leading our agriculture sector is, and as we further develop these technologies then we can export them and show the rest of the world how they can lower their emissions. This is what I think leadership around emissions looks like - not endless speeches and meaningless rhetoric.
The Primary Sector is facing significant challenges with emissions, environment, water use, and water quality. Thankfully there are great advances being made and lots of work being done to continue improving. I’m confident that thanks to our farmers we will continue to be the most sustainable producer of food in the world. And it’s important that we keep pushing the stories that show just how important the primary sector is.
Should National win the election and form the Government next year our policy in regards to the Primary Sector will be very different to the current Government’s.
Instead of forcing more taxes, more regulations, and less support like this Government. We will focus on what matters for rural New Zealand;
- Stronger workforce
- More rural health services
- Better biosecurity
And pragmatic, sensible initiatives and investment that allows farmers to farm your way to the better outcomes that you have consistently shown you’re capable of.
Thank you for having me here today and thank you for everything you do. We appreciate you and what you’re doing for New Zealand and we want you to have certainty so you can keep being world leaders.
Auckland Transport has ignored the views of Aucklanders and slowed the city down, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“It already takes too long to get around Auckland, particularly in the CBD. A central city reduced to 30 or 40 km per hour will be a nightmare for commuters.
“The majority of people who submitted to Auckland Transport (AT) didn’t want this – but AT’s ignored the very people this will affect.
“A blanket speed limit drop is a drastic step. For people to abide by this, you need to take other measures, like having roads which look like they’re designed for slower speeds. Without doing this, people will keep doing 50 km per hour and all you have is a revenue gathering scheme.
“The Government has done nothing to improve transport in Auckland except promise a slow tram down Dominion Road which has no sign of actually happening. Now AT has added to Auckland’s transport woes by ensuring the infrastructure which is there is as slow as possible.
“We all want to reduce the road toll but the evidence shows the measures already being taken have reduced deaths and serious injuries.
“All this decision will do is create further frustration for Aucklanders.”
Auckland Transport should listen to the views of Aucklanders and reject blanket speed limit reductions on hundreds of kilometres of Auckland roads at its board meeting tomorrow, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Auckland Transport (AT) will tomorrow make a decision on its draft bylaw to lower speed limits on 800km of roads in Auckland, including 30km per hour limits on major arterials like Nelson Street, Hobson Street and Fanshawe Street.
“National understands AT will make the decision to lower speed limits – but it’s not too late to change its mind.
“There is strong opposition to the proposal, 3317 submissions expressed general opposition compared with just 2503 in support of the proposals. In relation to specific roads, 2063 expressed opposition and just 1562 expressed support.
“National takes road safety seriously and speed limit reductions on some roads make sense, but blanket reductions like this bylaw will only frustrate motorists and slow Auckland down. Compliance will depend on public support, which doesn’t exist, so the proposals have the potential to be counterproductive.
“It’s important we tackle the road toll. Buried in the papers is the admission that ‘in 2018, following a deliberate increase in enforcement and heightened awareness of speed management as well as targeted engineering interventions, deaths and serious injuries (DSI) dropped by 22 per cent’.
“The papers also show that AT has dramatically increased investment in safety interventions such as the rural delineation programme, red light cameras, delivery of improvements to high risk intersections, education programmes to targeted groups, and pedestrian crossing upgrades.
“Aucklanders don’t want to be slowed down even further. AT should focus on programmes with proven results, rather than try and ram through speed limit changes not supported by the public. AT needs to listen to Aucklanders.”
The National Party believes in freedom of speech and will continue to argue for the right to use footage from Parliament on an ongoing basis, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“To achieve this outcome, we have agreed that it is in the interest of good parliamentary order for the issues surrounding the use of Parliament Television, as in Appendix D of the Standing Orders, to be modernised as quickly as possible.
“The Speaker, in his capacity as Chair of the Standing Orders Committee, has indicated the work of the Standing Orders Committee would progress more quickly and effectively if the videos deemed to be advertising were taken down.
“We have agreed to that action and are encouraged by the timeline for resolution of these matters which should be concluded by early-November.
“National will remove the videos by 5pm Friday.”
An explosion of 6,700 more people on the dole in the last quarter shows this Labour-led Government isn’t serious about getting Kiwis off welfare, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“More than 22,000 extra people have gone on the dole under this Government. Employers are crying out for workers and there shouldn’t be more New Zealanders lining up for benefits.
“This latest increase is the equivalent of all of Ōtaki or Ngaruawahia going on the dole. The numbers are out of control.
“It isn’t kind or caring to let New Zealanders languish on the dole when they could be living better lives. The Government’s PR campaign for a ‘kinder’ image is in tatters.
“It has crowed about low unemployment rates but if the economy is in such good shape then why is the number of people on benefits skyrocketing?
“Northland is one of the hardest hit regions, with a 12 per cent increase representing more than 1,000 people.
“The number of people on the dole in Northland is already double the national average. The Prime Minister declared Mana in Mahi, which was targeted at Northland, a ‘win-win situation’. Right now, it looks like an abject failure.
“There’s also been almost a 25 per cent increase in Māori on the dole, more than twice the rate of Pākehā.
“More people on benefits means more people struggling to survive. National believes the best way out of poverty is through work, but more Kiwis on the dole shows that this Government is failing to move New Zealanders out of poverty.
“The cost of living has dramatically increased under this Government, and that’s reflected in the more than half a million hardship assistance grants paid out in the past three months.
“More and more New Zealanders are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”
Andrew Little needs to seriously consider the changes put forward by the National Party for the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill or he will lose our support, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The safety of New Zealanders is paramount to National. The sensible changes we have put forward will keep New Zealanders safe from terrorists. Andrew Little being so quick to dismiss them without even meeting with us is arrogant and could put lives at risk.
“Mr Little clearly wrote the Bill to try to get the support of the Greens. We believe it is inadequate. Given the Greens won’t support this, he now needs to rewrite it so that it represents the wider Parliament.
“Andrew Little needs to commit to a meeting with National next week and show that he will work with us in good faith and in the interest of National Security, or we will pull our support before first reading.
“The Government claims that it wants to keep New Zealanders safe, but it’s saying one thing while its actions are inadequate. National is serious about keeping New Zealanders safe. If Andrew Little can’t work with us in good faith, this will be on his conscience, not ours.”
National will support the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill through to Select Committee where we will seek changes to strengthen the legislation, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“National takes national security incredibly seriously and we won’t be shying away from this important issue like the Green Party. The Government needs National to pass this legislation and we will work with them in good faith but there are changes we need to see.
“The changes National are proposing include:
- Lowering the age limit for control orders to those aged 14 years and over
- Increasing the maximum duration of control orders
- Removing the financial penalty entirely and increase the term of imprisonment to five years
- Including a new provision to ensure the control orders will capture those convicted of a terrorist offence in New Zealand
- Including a new provision to allow Police to detain returnees if necessary to comply with the requirements of a control order
“These changes would strengthen the legislation to be more in line with Australia’s laws and reflect the serious risk posed by terrorist activity.
“National wants to send a strong message that terrorism won’t be tolerated and that we need to protect our communities at all costs. We will work constructively with the Government to ensure New Zealanders are safe.”
National's proposed changes can be found HERE.
National will work with Police Minister Stuart Nash and the Government to ensure our Firearm Prohibition Orders are included in the new gun laws, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“It’s great Stuart Nash is finally going to take National’s Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) to Cabinet, despite initially rejecting a request from National to include this in our new gun laws.
“National campaigned on introducing FPOs in 2017, and we had a Bill before Parliament last year that the Government voted down. We’ve also included FPOs in our proposed 13 changes to the Government’s gun law reforms, but again it wasn’t picked up.
“It’s great Stuart Nash has changed his mind, and we have a Bill ready to go which I will move to introduce to Parliament on Tuesday. All the Government needs to do is support it.
“FPOs give Police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members. They apply to the most dangerous gang offenders who have convictions for firearms offences or serious violence.
“When Police have reason to believe an FPO has been breached or an offence has occurred, they will be able to search the gang member, their vehicles or premises to look for illegal firearms.
“Right now gang membership is growing rapidly, there has been a 26 per cent increase in patched and prospect gang members since this Government took office.
“Gangs have publicly said they won’t hand in their illegal firearms, showing why National’s FPOs are needed. We’re reaching out to the Government to ensure they are passed.
“National will work with the Government to ensure our FPOs become law. Gangs do nothing but peddle misery and create more victims. This is just one way we can crack down on gangs, and ensure New Zealanders’ safety.”
The Government has overseen a rapid increase in the number of people joining gangs since it took office, but it’s no closer to achieving its promise of 1800 extra police on the beat, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Just released figures show it’s taken the Government more than two years to add only 747 new police officers. Police Minister Stuart Nash has no chance of reaching his target of 1800 Police by July 2020 and keeping his commitment to New Zealanders.
“We’ve seen this week there are more gang members peddling misery and violence in our communities since this Government took office.
“Now more than ever the Government should be focused on ensuring there are enough police officers to stop criminals offending. Patched and prospect gang members are up 26 per cent since the election, there is more recorded crime and New Zealanders are feeling less safe.
“But this Government has no plan to keep New Zealanders safe.
“It wants to clear out prisons, but has no plan to reduce crime. It refused to pick up National’s Firearms Prohibition Orders which would have given Police more powers to search gang members for illegal firearms. It’s also dropped National’s target of 95 per cent of New Zealanders living within 25 kilometres of an on duty police officer.
“And now it’s set to fail to deliver 1800 more police in our communities.
“Stuart Nash claiming his Government is ‘winning’ when it comes to reducing crime and cracking down on gangs, but that’s a slap in the face to the New Zealanders who can see more gang members and crime occurring, and not enough Police on the streets to stop criminals offending.
“National is the party of law and order and our priority is keeping New Zealanders safe. All this Government is delivering is more gang members, more crime, and not enough Police officers.”
A graphic from Police showing their progress on the promised 1800 increase to constabulary staff can be found HERE.