The Government’s handling of Ihumātao has shown it has no respect for property rights, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“It’s been eight weeks since the Prime Minister told Fletcher Buildings it had to stop developing much needed houses on land that it owns. Since then, Fletchers has not been invited to be part of negotiations. It’s had to sit on the side-line as others have tried to take away its rights.
“It has set an appalling precedent for a Prime Minister to insert herself into the business of a private company and prevent it from building 480 much needed houses.
“No wonder business confidence has plummeted when the Prime Minister shows such blatant disregard for businesses and property rights.
“It doesn’t matter where in the world the Prime Minister is, it’s time for her to set the record straight. She needs to tell the protestors to go home, make it clear that the Government won’t be spending taxpayers’ dollars on buying the land and rule out any sort of deal.
“This matter doesn’t concern her. It’s time to butt out and give Fletchers back the land they legally own.”
The Prime Minister needs to put a stop to the mess that is Ihumātao and just say no to taxpayers’ money being used to buy back the land, or any other sort of deal being struck, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“This situation wouldn’t be out of control if the Prime Minister hadn’t inserted herself into it in the first place. Now she’s left the country and clearly she and her Ministers aren’t in agreement about what should happen next.
“Ministers have been careful about the language they’ve been using. Winston Peters was vague this morning about whether a deal would cut across other treaty settlements, saying ‘It depends how it’s handled, it depends on where the financial origins that enable the return to happen come from.’
“Clearly the Government is trying to come up with some sort of deal. The reality is, any sort of interference would call into question full and final treaty settlements and they should just butt out.
“Ministers now need to be upfront about who will visit Ihumātao. Will Kelvin Davis and Nanaia Mahuta visit in the coming days?
“New Zealanders will rightly be asking themselves now whether a treaty settlement, legal land buying and court processes can all be undone simply because of a protest and a Prime Minister naively saying she will get involved.
“The Government is in this position because the Prime Minister got herself involved. It’s now time for her to be clear that the Government will back off and not jeopardise all full and final treaty settlements.”
When Jacinda Ardern leaves tomorrow to go to the Rugby World Cup and the United Nations she will be leaving behind a mess at home, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Jacinda Ardern’s Government is in chaos following revelations it tried to cover up sexual assault allegations. Getting on a plane won’t give the victims the support that they need and the answers that they deserve.
“The country is in the midst of a growing measles epidemic which has affected more than a thousand people. One of the first things her Government did was drop immunisation targets which has resulted in fewer people being immunised against the deadly disease. As the Prime Minister herself once said ‘what gets measured, gets done.’
“Ms Ardern is flying away from the disaster that is KiwiBuild, one of the biggest public policy failures in a generation.
“The numbers of people on the dole have increased by 15,500 since her Government took office and the numbers of people on the social housing waiting list has more than doubled to 12,600.
“The latest GDP figures are due out this week. The economy has slowed sharply in the past two years, largely because her Government has created uncertainty, added many costs and demonstrated incompetence. Some economists are speculating this trend will continue.
“Instead of directing her departments to put as much resource as possible into fixing these messes, her biggest priority is the Christchurch Call, and, while the sentiment is nice, it won’t actually achieve anything.
“The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party has dismissed allegations of sexual assault as ‘rumours’ and Finance Minister Grant Robertson is embroiled in the Party’s poor handling of the sexual assault cover up.
“New Zealanders will be rightly thinking, who is here to show some leadership?”
It’s a pleasure to be here today. It’s my pleasure to address you as Leader of the Opposition and the largest party in our Parliament. Can I thank our hosts for their generous invitation to talk about the opportunities that exist between our two countries and in particular areas for greater cooperation between our respective business communities.
New Zealand's relationship with India is a deep and long-standing one. We are of course both committed members of the Commonwealth.
This relationship goes right back to the 1890s when travellers from India first arrived in New Zealand. It is to our mutual gain that this relationship has deepened significantly since then.
There are now some 200,000 people of Indian descent who call New Zealand home, working, studying, making a huge contribution to New Zealand society. My parliamentary colleagues Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi MP and Dr Parmjeet Parmar MP are fantastic examples of this. I’m very proud of the work they do for my party and New Zealand.
New Zealand and India are joined by a history of shared values and sacrifice.
New Zealand’s sacrifice at Gallipoli during World War One is often cited in our national story as we remember those who gave their lives defending freedom.
But we were not alone on ANZAC Cove. We stood shoulder to shoulder with our friends from India, along with Australians, Brits and French amongst others.
We stood together then and we will continue to stand together now defending shared values and freedom.
The most important value we share and have fought for is our commitment to democracy.
India is the world’s largest democracy. The most recent election in India saw more people voting than total votes ever cast in New Zealand during our 179 year history.
We trade with one another, sharing goods and services, creating wealth and prosperity for our citizens.
Our people visit each other, living in, learning in and experiencing each other’s countries.
While we sometimes test that friendship on the cricket pitch, I am constantly reminded of the enormous affection that India has for New Zealand. I am reliably informed that 1.25 billion Indians were supporting the Black Caps in the World Cup Final in July. In fact, it was said to me today here in India that the Black Caps didn’t actually lose the Cricket World Cup final, they just didn’t quite win it either.
We need to be ambitious about translating this mutual affection for each other’s countries into mutual opportunities. Leveraging every opportunity to do more with each other.
Travel and tourism
Visitors from India to New Zealand have more than doubled since 2011, with over 67,000 Indian tourists visiting New Zealand last year. India is New Zealand’s second largest source of international students, with over 29,000 Indian students studying in New Zealand.
Our systems are not perfect. Presently, too many Indian nationals wanting to visit New Zealand for tourism or study face unreasonably long delays with Immigration New Zealand. This did not used to be the case. Visa processing times have slipped significantly over the last two years. This uncertainty is now having a significant impact on tourism affecting smaller tourism businesses and international education providers who are losing out on this important market.
This year alone tens of millions of dollars have been lost to New Zealand companies because students and visitors have not had their visas issues in time to start their studies or take their trip. This level of uncertainty is unacceptable and I call on the New Zealand Government to invest in the Indian market and urgently fix this problem before more harm is done. This is not how we should be treating nationals from a respected and valued friend like India.
Earlier this year, I committed the National Party to a bold new trade agenda which includes completing the India-NZ FTA. We firmly believe that freer trade between nations is the best way to gain mutual benefits, to secure growth, and to build a more prosperous world.
In New Zealand, trade secures $82 billion worth of exports in goods and services, has helped create 600,000 jobs and is responsible for a higher standard of living and better quality of life for New Zealanders.
New Zealand’s story is one that shows the value free trade can deliver. It is not zero sum: when we trade together, we prosper together. India is an extremely important market for New Zealand. This year we reached over $3 billion in two way trade.
India currently imports about $680 million worth of goods like timber, wool, aluminium and fruit from New Zealand while New Zealand imports about $615 million worth of medicines, machinery and textiles from India.
Over the past five years our services trade has also increased quickly, since 2013 we have seen a 64 per cent increase and we have seen almost double the number of tourists from India come to New Zealand in the last year.
Many New Zealand businesses are bolstered by our relationship and directly benefit from strengthening the ties between our nations.
An example of this is Indian conglomerate Tata investing in a second consultancy office in New Zealand in Wellington recently opened by my Economic Development and Trade spokesman, Todd McClay.
While our economic prospects have been positive, by contrast, our two-way trade with India is only about one tenth of our trade with China. If we are to continue to grow the bilateral relationship, we must innovate and put our best foot forward.
John Key made two state visits to India in his time as Prime Minister. The last National Government saw frequent Ministerial visits to India to deepen and broaden our bilateral relationship.
Since the swearing-in of the current Government almost two years ago, no New Zealand Ministers have visited India. If we are going to make serious progress in our relationship with India, our Government needs to demonstrate our commitment.
The last National Government was deeply committed to the India relationship.
The cornerstone of this work was our hard work to initiate free trade negotiations between New Zealand and India.
Trade will continue to build in the absence of one but real opportunity and benefit for Indian and NZ businesses will only be properly realised when a trade deal is completed.
A free trade deal with India is important for a number of reasons:
- It would help address the current barriers to trade we currently see between our countries.
- New Zealand companies currently face high tariffs. For example, kiwifruit is charged a 30 per cent tariff at the border. Similarly, New Zealand milk and cheese is hit with high tariffs which place a barrier that, while not insurmountable for New Zealand companies, raise costs for Indian consumers.
- Increasing the competitiveness of New Zealand goods in India has the potential to make us both better off. Better access for New Zealand businesses allows us to connect with the huge and growing demand in India for such products. This is a win-win scenario.
- Seizing this opportunity for New Zealand businesses to sell India high quality products to support India’s growth. We already export hundreds of millions of dollars of logs, wool, aluminium and fruit but the growth of India coupled with a New Zealand committed to trade would help unleash further opportunities for our countries
We have also been actively engaging in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations which, if successful would see increased trade across the Asia-Pacific and between India and New Zealand.
Refreshing the NZ-India Strategy
The last National government launched the NZ Inc India Strategy, a plan for securing a greater partnership with India across economic and political lines.
That strategy set a number of goals including:
- Growing our trade to $2 billion by 2015, a step we have now easily surpassed
- Growing our merchandise exports and services trade
- Improving the bilateral investment framework and facilitating growth in the investment relationship.
- Engaging more deeply with India on regional and global issues that will impact on New Zealand’s future prosperity and security.
- And to raise the profile of New Zealand’s in India
The NZ-India strategy is almost a decade old. We need to look at it again in Government as an early priority and refresh our ambitions. We need to renew our commitment to a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement covering goods, services, and investment. We need to take into account the growing influence of the Indo-Pacific. We need to improve our political contacts. In short, we will make India a key priority for foreign affairs and trade policy.
We know through experience that transport links between countries are the fastest accelerators of growth in tourism and trade. When I was Minister of Transport, I signed an air services agreement with the Indian Government to allow for code-sharing of airline services between New Zealand and India. It is now time for us to prepare for the next step. The Government I lead will champion a direct flight between Auckland and Mumbai as the first stage in deepening our relationship.
What we now need to do
Today we have opportunities in front of us that we must seize if we want to see this relationship deepen, grow and prosper.
India is the world’s fastest growing major economy in recent years and by 2020 is expected to be world’s 5th largest.
With that growth, there is the opportunity for increased trade.
New Zealand must ensure we are not sitting on our laurels. New Zealand understands that India is a fast growing country and we want to ensure the foundation of our relationship we built over the past years is built on.
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges and National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee will depart today to visit India and China.
“National understands the importance of trade and building relationships with our international partners.
“During this visit we will meet and talk with New Zealand businesses, hear about new trade opportunities and promote trade between our countries,” Mr Bridges says.
While in India Mr Bridges and Mr Brownlee will be accompanied by Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and will stay in New Delhi and visit Amritsar. They will attend the Namaste Pacific event hosted by the New Zealand High Commission. They will also meet with New Zealand businesses operating in India and meet with members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government.
In China they will be accompanied by Jian Yang and will visit Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen. They will attend the 21st China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) where they will open the New Zealand Pavilion. Mr Bridges will also speak at The Belt and Road Agricultural Products and Material (E-Business) Trading Fair and address the New Zealand Studies Centre, Xiamen University.
“China and India make up 35 per cent of the world’s population. By 2050 China and India are expected to be the two largest economies in the world. We need to ensure that we’re open for business with these important markets,” Mr Bridges says.
“This week National released our Economic Discussion Document where we proposed committing to doubling our two way trade with China from $30 billion to $60 billion over the next decade. We also committed to aggressively pursuing free trade agreements in new markets and questioned whether we should eliminate all remaining tariffs on imports.
“This trip will help us form our trade policies. We will strengthen our diplomatic relationships, show our support for New Zealand business, foster relationships and reinforce our long friendly relationships with these countries.”
National has today released its fourth Discussion Document, which focusses on the economy and outlines a range of policies that will help rebuild business confidence, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“National’s economic plan will focus on creating a more productive, competitive economy that lifts incomes, lowers the cost of living for all New Zealanders and provides responsible economic management that delivers world-class public services.
“National understands that a strong economy is what puts more in the back pockets of New Zealanders and allows us to invest more in the things that matter to New Zealanders.
“Without a strong economy we won’t be able to afford a healthcare system New Zealanders can rely on, transport that gets Kiwis home on time and the world class education Kiwi kids deserve.
“The economy has sharply declined under the current Government. GDP growth has slowed from around four per cent per year to barely two per cent. Per person growth is less than one per cent and benefit numbers are rising rapidly. New Zealand families are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the rising cost of housing, rents, petrol and electricity.
“Led by Finance Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, today we’re proposing a range of positive initiatives which will bring back confidence to businesses in New Zealand and support a strong, growing economy.
Some of the most exciting commitments include:
- Requiring all government departments and government agencies to pay their contractors on time and within 30 days;
- Establishing a ‘Small Business Payments Guarantee’;
- Repealing 100 regulations in our first six months of office;
- Eliminating two old regulations for every new regulation introduced in our first term;
- Requiring quality cost-benefit analysis for any major new regulation;
- Māori land reform; and
- Ensuring the Treasury has a greater focus on providing sound advice on the effectiveness of Government spending, identifying wasteful spending and driving higher productivity in the public sector;
We’re also proposing or asking for New Zealanders feedback on:
- Considering new innovative approaches to infrastructure funding;
- Pricing mechanisms to manage the flow of traffic that are revenue neutral;
- Allowing savers to deduct the inflation component from their interest income;
- Accelerated depreciation of business assets;
- Removing the ability for Governments to give preferential pay agreements to union members during public sector wage negotiations;
- Bank account number portability; and
- Removing all remaining tariffs.
And we’re re-confirming a number of previous commitments, including:
- Indexing tax thresholds to inflation;
- Repealing the Regional Fuel Tax;
- Overhauling the Resource Management Act;
- Reintroducing targets in health, education and law and order;
- Encouraging direct investment in productive assets by overturning the Government’s foreign investment changes;
- Repealing the ban on oil and gas exploration; and
- Repealing recent Government changes made to the Employment Relations Act, such as removing 90-day trial periods.
“A strong economy means more, higher paying jobs. It means more opportunities for Kiwis to get ahead, to look after themselves and their families, and to afford the good things in life.
“Today we are also committing to progressively increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67 starting in 2037, reinstating the social investment approach and not introducing any new taxes in our first term.
“This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever. The current Government has no plan to grow the economy and is failing to deliver for New Zealanders. We’re doing the work now in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
National’s Economy Discussion Document can be found here
Thank you so much for that warm welcome.
I’d like to welcome you all here today, I acknowledge everyone who’s taken the time out of their busy Monday morning to be here.
I’d like to especially thank Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for hosting us today and Managing Director David Searle for the introduction.
I’d also like to acknowledge my team from the National party for joining me today.
It’s appropriate to have a New Zealand wide company that specialises in tax hosting us today. I will outline exactly why tax, or less tax, is so important to us later in this speech.
Why the economy matters
A strong economy means New Zealanders have more in their back pockets to afford the things that matter to them.
Whether that is putting more food in the table or being able to afford nice things for your kids.
A strong economy also means we can invest in the things that matter to New Zealanders.
But a strong economy, first and foremost, needs confident thriving businesses that are willing to invest in new technologies, create more jobs and pay higher wages.
National recognises that Government does not drive the economy.
The economy is driven by all of the people who have good ideas, get up early, work hard, invest their time and money, take risks and try and build opportunities for themselves and others. It’s driven by the people in this room.
New Zealanders need a Government that backs them to compete on the world stage and provides the foundations they need to get on with doing business.
We’ve heard a lot lately about business confidence. Baker Tilley Staples Rodway knows something about this. For the past two years it’s been carrying out its own Business Confidence Survey.
This year it found that 63 per cent of business leaders think the Government is managing the economy poorly, up from 48 per cent last year.
Business confidence has continued to plummet even further, it’s now at the same levels as we were in the depths of the Global Financial Crisis. This means businesses are less likely to invest, hire new staff or lift wages.
According to the Government, it’s all because of global headwinds.
Of course there’s some global uncertainty out there, but it doesn’t explain New Zealand’s economic slowdown to date.
The IMF expects global growth to increase from 3.2 per cent this year to 3.5 per cent next year.
And our terms of trade, which reflects the prices we receive for our exports relative to the prices we pay for our imports, is near historical highs.
New Zealand should be booming.
Instead, we’re in danger of stalling. In just three months since the Reserve Bank’s last Monetary Policy Statement it has revised down its growth forecast for 2020 by half a per cent. That’s equivalent to about $1.5 billion of economic activity lost to New Zealand in just three months.
This Government pulled together the so called Business Advisory Group to help address flailing business confidence.
All it’s resulted in is more working groups, more taxes and more buzz words. It hasn’t resulted in any new policies to revitalise the economy.
The Government’s poor policy making decisions has increases costs on business and created massive uncertainty. This Government has also demonstrated profound levels of incompetence.
The Government seems blind to the impact that its anti-growth policies are having on the economy.
Whether it be the union-friendly industrial laws, higher petrol taxes and a Regional Fuel Tax or the huge slowdown in visa-processing times making it more difficult for businesses to get workers.
It’s no wonder businesses are reluctant to invest and take chances when the Government has introduced almost 300 working groups.
Businesses are crippled with uncertainty.
Whether it be the 18 month prospect of a Capital Gains Tax which scared the life out of small business owners, the threat of so-called ‘Fair Pay Agreements’, more restrictive overseas investment changes or even changes to monetary policy which all have the potential to slow New Zealand down.
They have also made reckless decisions like banning new oil and gas exploration and blocking gold mining in Waihi.
It’s also demonstrated its complete inability to deliver on its promises, most famously with KiwiBuild, but also other more important areas like infrastructure development.
Meanwhile it’s wasted billions on a slush fund for Shane Jones and on Fees Free which has resulted in fewer university students.
We will go into the election with a clear set of economic policies that will restore business confidence and revitalise the economy. I will outlines some of those today.
We are announcing in our Discussion Document fifty commitments or proposals we want to take to the election as well as more than thirty questions we want feedback on.
Since we’re being hosted by a tax accountancy firm, it’s only right I begin with tax.
National supports a broad-base, low-rate tax system. We believe New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn.
We believe the tax system should incentivise New Zealanders into work and encourage productivity and investments.
We have already committed to indexing tax thresholds to the cost of living, so Kiwis aren’t taxed more by stealth every year, and we won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term.
We will also repeal the Regional Fuel Tax and not increase petrol excise taxes in our first term.
In our Economic Discussion Document released today we have also asked whether there are some changes to our tax system that could be made.
We have asked whether we should allow savers to deduct inflation from their interest income to help address New Zealand’s low level of private savings and reduce the high effective tax rates on savings.
New Zealand has one of the highest company tax rates in the OECD at 28 per cent and we collect the fourth largest share of tax in the OECD from companies.
Tax is one of the single largest costs for businesses and can be the difference between a business surviving or not. So we’re asking questions about whether the company tax rate is becoming uncompetitive.
We’re asking New Zealanders whether we should introduce accelerated depreciation for business assets.
We’ll also consider whether there’s merit in targeted tax relief for small businesses, like exists in Australia.
Borrow and spend
We all know you can only keep taxes low and affordable when you spend responsibly.
As our discussion document firmly lays out, National believes that governments should not be measured by how much money they spend but on the outcomes they achieve.
We will re-introduce targets in health, education and law and order that this Government scrapped. We will do that because they have a proven track record of delivering better outcomes for New Zealand families.
We will also continue the Social Investment Approach to government spending, which this Government has largely abandoned.
We will consider amending the Public Finance Act to improve accountability and reporting of results of all government spending.
And we will ensure the Treasury has a greater focus on providing sound advice on the effectiveness of government spending, identifying wasteful spending and driving higher productivity in the public sector.
By reining in wasteful spending and focusing on targeted, measurable outcomes we can afford tax relief for hardworking New Zealanders.
We will also aim to reduce our overall debt burden when the economy is growing so there is capacity to borrow when times are tough.
It’s pretty simple: National will be good economic managers.
It’s frustrating to me to watch what this Government is doing, or not doing around infrastructure.
It’s not just physically slowing us down, it’s slowing down the entire economy.
The Government’s failure to deliver more, high quality infrastructure is slowing the economy and contributed to the Reserve Bank’s historic decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to just one per cent.
In this year’s budget the Government had to trim back its forecast of capital spending by $3.3 billion over the next five years.
This Government has stopped or postponed a dozen roading projects, which were ready to get underway, and replaced them with projects that aren’t ready to go and won’t be for a long time yet.
The Government has admitted it’s not going to start its slow tram down Dominion Road this term. Another failure to deliver.
The failure to deliver a high quality infrastructure plan has destroyed confidence in the construction sector and contributed to New Zealand’s slowing economy.
New Zealand is now closer than ever before to having negative interest rates and unconventional, unreliable monetary policy like quantitative easing, otherwise known as money printing. This is partly because of the infrastructure deficit created by this Government.
National is considering new approaches to infrastructure funding and procurement ranging from commercial revenue schemes, partnerships with the private sector and capital injections from general government spending.
We are also open to exploring pricing mechanisms that will help to efficiently manage the flow of traffic and is revenue neutral.
And as we have already committed, we will overhaul the RMA to make it more efficient and predictable. This will mean that rules are clear and well defined, outcomes adequately balance costs and benefits and timeframes are short and consistent.
In short, National will revive the economy by having a plan for growth that would see confidence bounce back and the economy gain the strength it’s lost under this Government.
Small business package
Today I am also announcing that a National Government will require all government departments and government agencies to pay their contractors on time and within 30 days.
Getting paid on time is a big issue for New Zealand small business owners. Long delays in payments can inhibit their ability to invest and expand. In the past year, only half of all small businesses were cash flow positive in any given month.
National wants to find ways to ease the stress for small business owners and ensure healthier cash flows. We believe the Government should lead by example, instead of punishing others into compliance.
We will also establish a ‘Small Business Payments Guarantee.’ This will be a voluntary initiative committing large New Zealand businesses and not-for-profits to ensure New Zealand small businesses are paid on time and within 30 days.
New Zealand’s economy is driven by hardworking small business owners. Every government should do what it can to reduce costs and uncertainty so that our small businesses have the confidence to take risks, invest, hire new staff and lift wages.
National has committed to implementing these changes in our first hundred days in Government.
National understands the effect that excessive regulations can have on competitiveness and productivity. We want to encourage an environment where businesses can thrive and don’t get caught up in red tape.
So we will light a regulations bonfire.
A National Government will repeal 100 regulations in our first six months in Government and we’ll eliminate two old regulations for every new one we introduce.
We need to regularly test whether regulations are still needed, remove barriers to new businesses entering markets and streamline unnecessarily slow and expensive bureaucratic procedures.
That’s why we’ll require future governments and regulatory agencies to undertake at least one regulatory simplification process every three years that looks at reducing the complexity and number of regulations.
Over a number of years New Zealand has developed good processes to encourage discipline around the spending of taxpayer money. However, the current Government has lacked that discipline.
When government imposes regulatory costs on New Zealanders it should be held to account.
National understands the importance of moving quickly to introduce new regulations for new technologies to get established, and sometimes to disrupt old patterns. The previous National Government worked quickly to establish a regulatory regime for New Zealand’s growing space industry.
The document we’re releasing today is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever.
The current Government has no plan to grow the economy and is failing to deliver for New Zealanders.
I hope you all take the chance to submit your thoughts to us.
We’re doing the work now in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.
I’d now like to hand over to my colleague Paul Goldsmith, our spokesperson for Finance to add some more detail to National’s economic policies.
It’s been a month since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stuck her oar in Ihumātao and we still haven’t seen any leadership, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Jacinda Ardern is the reason construction was halted at Ihumātao, stopping much needed houses from being built.
“The Prime Minister set an appalling precedent and has brought into question full and final Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
“Iwi leaders have told me that if this treaty settlement is unpicked, they all will be. There is now speculation that Iwi will buy the land back.
“Why on earth would the Kìngitanga or Tainui spend nearly $40 million to get the Government out of the mess Jacinda Ardern has created for herself unless the Crown set up a backroom sweetheart deal for them?
“A deal would unravel our Treaty settlement process, and be very dangerous and costly.
“The Prime Minister has this week spoken in riddles about Ihumātao, saying she speaks directly to herself. It’s time to speak directly to the protesters by telling them there will be no sweetheart deals, so it’s time to go home and let some houses be built.”
The laws around prisoners with extremist views sending letters from jail are fit for purpose as long as Corrections managers and Minister Kelvin Davis are doing their jobs properly, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Prime Minister has told media that Cabinet will discuss today whether the laws are adequate. They should save themselves some time - they are.
“There are laws in place which should have stopped this from happening, they just weren’t applied.
“Both Kelvin Davis and Corrections bosses have said the letters shouldn’t have been sent, that is an acknowledgement that they could have been stopped under the current laws.
“What’s happened in the case of the alleged Christchurch gunman and another prisoner with extremist views came down to incompetence from Kelvin Davis and Corrections.
“New Zealand has never had a prisoner like the man accused of murdering 51 people in the Christchurch terror attacks. It was Kelvin Davis’ job to ensure that Corrections had the procedures in place to deal with him. Mr Davis has failed the victims.
“Instead of Cabinet sitting around talking about this today, they should save some time and focus on ensuring the laws that are in place are followed properly. It’s time for Kelvin Davis to get on and do his job.”
After three weeks of inaction, a hikoi to the Prime Minister’s electorate office this week by the Ihumātao protestors is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to finally show some leadership, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Jacinda Ardern needs to undo the damage she did when she halted construction of much needed houses at Ihumātao. When the hikoi reaches her office on Thursday, she should tell them that leaving Ihumātao was the right thing to do and they should keep walking.
“It’s been three weeks since Jacinda Ardern inserted herself into the Ihumātao dispute. She has set an appalling precedent and has brought into question full and final Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
“The Prime Minister should clearly tell the protestors when they reach her office not to go back.
“It’s time for some leadership.”