National Party Leader Simon Bridges has thanked retiring MP Nuk Korako for his hard work and dedication to the National Party after he announced his retirement today.
“Nuk Korako has been a valuable member of our caucus. He is highly regarded by his local community, his colleagues and Iwi.
“Nuk was instrumental as chair of the National Party Māori Caucus in developing Māori capability within the National Party. He established the regional Kahurangi National Māori Groups and will continue this work.
“As Chair of the Māori Affairs Select Committee Nuk has made a positive difference in the lives of Māori, including 16 Iwi by helping to bring their Treaty Settlements to a conclusion.
“Nuk has been a supportive leader in his community following devastating events like the Port Hills fires and the Christchurch terror attack. He will be missed immensely.
“I am sorry to see him announce his retirement from Parliament but I know he will stay actively involved in his community and the National Party.”
The Government will this week report back on what it will do with a Capital Gain Tax, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges understands.
“The Government will take its decision to Cabinet tomorrow for sign off. National’s fierce opposition to additional taxes on New Zealanders has forced the Government to back down on many of Sir Michael Cullen’s recommendations.
“The Government will now only accept the ‘minority report’ which will mean a Capital Gains Tax on rental properties. But let’s not be fooled by this. Just because the Government isn’t kicking people in the leg, it doesn’t mean they should be grateful when it punches them on the arm instead.
“The Capital Gains Tax that Cabinet will sign off tomorrow will still be bad for New Zealanders. A Reid Research poll shows people don’t even support a Capital Gains Tax on property.
“Rents have jumped by $50 a week under this Government and a Capital Gains Tax on rental properties will push rents even higher. The Tax Working Group itself acknowledged that. Under National, the median weekly rent only increased by an average of $12 a year.
“The Government desperately wanted to tax businesses and farmers and is embarrassed to be backing down. No surprise then that it will cynically release the report on Thursday just before Easter, when most Kiwis are more focused on taking a break.
“New Zealanders should be wary and cynical about what the Government is doing. This is a Trojan Horse Tax because we know both Labour and Greens want to go further and they will if they get another term. This Government can’t be trusted on tax.
“National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. It’s not too late for the Government to drop a Capital Gains Tax completely. If they go ahead with this, we will repeal it.”
The 100+ ‘wellbeing’ indicators released by Stats NZ today are not achievable and will not improve the wellbeing of New Zealand families, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“These include far-reaching, immeasurable and deeply personal indicators such as spiritual health, sense of belonging, ability to be yourself, experienced wellbeing, hope for the future, locus of control and sense of purpose.
“It was easy for the Government to talk about ‘wellbeing’ when they first came into Government because the economy was growing, incomes were rising and there were 10,000 jobs being created every month.
“But the economy has started to weaken under their bad economic management. What will really improve the wellbeing of Kiwis is a strong economy and more money in their back pockets. Kiwis need access to a good education system, healthcare services and housing.
“In the past 12 months economic growth fell to just 2.3 per cent and economic growth per person has been flat for the past six months.
“As the economy slows ‘ability to be yourself’ and ‘locus of control’ won’t help pay the rent, buy the groceries or fill up the car.
“There are also major concerns with the Government entrusting Stats NZ to measure the immeasurable indicators. They’ve recently botched a Census, had to make significant upward revisions to GDP under National, produced volatile migration data and stopped counting how many Kiwis are leaving for Australia.
“The Government needs to stop distracting itself with unachievable wellbeing indicators and focus on what really matters for New Zealanders.”
National can reveal that more than 500,000 small businesses would be hit by the Government’s proposed Capital Gains Tax and no region of New Zealand would escape this damaging new tax, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“In the Waikato, for example, some 56,073 businesses would be at risk from a Capital Gains Tax, based on Stats NZ’s Business Demography figures, hitting everything from biotechnology and agricultural start-ups to packaging, food processing and data analytics firms.
“Some 29,187 Otago businesses would be caught in the extended tax web, ranging from tourism ventures to engineering firms, cancer diagnostics and computer graphics companies. Nationally, 569,907 businesses could be hit.
“Small businesses make up 97 per cent of all businesses but the Government is ignoring them and the damage it would inflict. In MYOB’s latest survey, more than two-thirds of them opposed a Capital Gains Tax. No wonder the economy is weakening, business confidence is near record lows and the Reserve Bank is considering rate cuts.
“It may surprise the Government that small businesses are unhappy because it isn’t listening. The Tax Working Group didn’t even count small businesses when it tried to estimate how much extra revenue the Government would take from a Capital Gains Tax.
“The Tax Working Group report says elements of the tax base including shares in private companies and intangible property such as goodwill ‘are not known and so are not costed’. That means it didn’t count small businesses or the value of their owners’ hard slog.
“Because the TWG did not count small businesses in its revenue projections, it is highly likely that a Capital Gains Tax will raise a lot more revenue than the $8 billion over five years it has projected.
“A Capital Gains Tax would hit kitchen-table start-ups, those wanting to raise capital and it would clobber business owners who want to sell up and retire. Before then they’d be hit with increased costs such as having to get their business valued.
“The message it sends is don’t bother starting a business because the Government will tax your efforts. Instead of discouraging our innovators and entrepreneurs we should be encouraging them to grow and create jobs.
“National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn. We will fight the Government’s proposed tax grab every step of the way. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term.”
This tax-happy Government is piling more costs onto New Zealanders like rising rents and it is only going to get worse with a Capital Gains Tax, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“New data out today shows the median monthly rent is up $50 a week under this Government, an annual hike of $2600. The median national rent has climbed to $450 a week from $400 when the Government came to power.
“This Government claims to be about fairness but its track record is anything but fair. A Capital Gains Tax is just its latest scheme for taking more money from the back pockets of Kiwis. This deeply divisive tax is bad for New Zealand families and will further slow our economy down.
“The Tax Working Group concluded that a Capital Gains Tax won’t help with housing affordability or high house prices as the Government had claimed and was likely to result in higher rents.
“A Capital Gains Tax would follow other bad Government policies that have contributed to rent increases including the extension of the bright-line test, ring-fencing of losses, more onerous and expensive regulation and the ban on foreign investment.
“Instead of looking for new ways to tax New Zealanders more the Government should focus on the quality of its spending and cut down on waste. We should be encouraging Kiwis to get stuck in and contribute to our economy, not discouraging them from trying to get ahead.
“National will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn and don’t need ever more ways to be parted from their hard-earned dollars.”
Tax officials advised the Government 15 months ago that our small companies, start-ups and innovators were better off without a Capital Gains Tax, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Even before Sir Michael Cullen and others were named to the Tax Working Group in December 2017, Inland Revenue officials told the Government that the absence of a Capital Gains Tax in New Zealand was ‘potentially advantageous to start-ups’.
“Not having a Capital Gains Tax is ‘advantageous’ to every Kiwi willing to give it a go by starting a small business and creating jobs. People who take risks with smart ideas and build something bigger than themselves shouldn’t be discouraged.
“Governments should encourage innovators because smart people will take us to a better future. We need people who take risks and stretch themselves because the ones who succeed create more jobs.
“The Government was also told that the lack of a Capital Gains Tax ‘indirectly incentivises’ people to put more of their own money into a venture because they have the chance of a better return when they sell. That could be somebody who wants to stop working, sell the business and retire.
“But the Government seems to have other plans. A paper prepared for the Tax Working Group last August shows the Government could use a Capital Gains Tax to claw back some of the cost of the R&D tax credit.
“National opposes the Government’s proposed tax grab. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn.”
14 Dec 2017 – Inland Revenue advice to Minister
Para 13. New Zealand does not have a comprehensive capital gains tax. This indirectly incentivises R&D as when a business ultimately decides to sell its idea, it is not subject to tax.
19 Dec 2017 – Inland Revenue advice to Minister
Para 9: A final point is that there is currently no capital gains tax, which is potentially advantageous to start-ups. This issue, however, is within the terms of reference of the Tax Working Group.
3 Aug 2018 – Advice prepared by Treasury and Inland Revenue to the TWG
Para 99: The proposed introduction of an R&D tax concession will subsidise business R&D that is performed in New Zealand. In this context, an ETCI may help to ensure that the Government shares in the additional returns from R&D as an ETCI would apply to the sale of start-ups or IP that was generated as a result of the R&D subsidy.
The Government can’t afford to be complacent about a slowdown in economic growth which will lead to fewer jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Government inherited an economy growing three to four per cent but has squandered that momentum with bad policies, more taxes and wasteful spending. A weaker economy means less money in the back pockets of New Zealanders and less for core services like health and education. This Government’s solution? Yet more taxes.
“Westpac’s employment confidence survey shows workers are less confident, ANZ’s business confidence survey has dropped to -38 per cent and the Reserve Bank now says it may cut interest rates to support an economy that is slowing considerably under this Government.
“This is a real warning sign for the Government, which has been too willing to dismiss evidence that its policies are damaging New Zealand’s economy. It should focus on policies that help New Zealand to prosper but instead, it seems intent on discouraging enterprise and putting roadblocks in the way of our innovators and entrepreneurs.
“The proposed Capital Gains Tax is a case in point. It would tax people saving for their retirement, investors, small business owners, farmers and people living on lifestyle blocks. It adds to costs and hurts economic growth.
“Other anti-growth policies include increasing petrol taxes, banning new oil and gas exploration, banning foreign investment and introducing union-friendly labour reforms.
“National has a proven track record as competent managers of the economy. We believe Kiwis should keep more of what they earn and that Government has a responsibility to spend tax dollars carefully and in a way that delivers results.”
Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says a Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed into our Security and Intelligence Agencies following the Christchurch terror attacks and our security legislation needs to be revisited with some urgency to ensure New Zealanders are kept safe.
“A Royal Commission is the only suitable level of inquiry to ensure this is investigated thoroughly and independently.
“We need to understand whether this could have been prevented. It will need to ask hard questions about whether our security and intelligence agencies had their focus in the right places.
“In 2013 the Government of the day made the decision to abandon Project Speargun which would have scanned internet traffic coming into New Zealand and given an extended degree of protection to all New Zealanders. Similar systems are used in other jurisdictions.
“We currently have Cortex as part of our cyber-security systems, which is much narrower and designed to protect institutions. It’s never easy to balance the rights of privacy against security but where we draw the line must now be reconsidered.
“However, an inquiry cannot be an excuse by the Government not to answer questions in the meantime. Our security risk has now changed and New Zealanders need to be kept safe. The Royal Commission should look at the past, and Parliament should get on with actions for the future.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has welcomed the changes proposed by the Government today to reform our firearms legislation.
“The terrorist attack in Christchurch last week has changed us as a nation.
“National has been clear since this devastating attack that we support changes to our regime and that we will work constructively with the Government.
“We agree that the public doesn’t need access to military style semi-automatic weapons. National supports them being banned along with assault rifles.
“We also support the Government’s proposals to limit the access to other high powered semi-automatic weapons and ammunition.
“We remain committed to ensuring the safety of New Zealanders and fighting extremism in all forms.
“National will work constructively with the Government to ensure we get this right.”
Mr Speaker, as New Zealand woke on the 15th of March 2019, none of us could have imagined the horror and terror about to be unleashed on our way of life and on our people.
As mums and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Christchurch went to work, or to school, or to prayer on the 15th of March 2019, none of them thought for a moment that they would return home that night changed forever.
For 50 of the worshippers who entered Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre for Jumu'ah, or Friday prayers, in Christchurch, it would be their last day in this world.
These New Zealanders had their lives ended and all of ours changed forever. For some, New Zealand had been their home for a long time.
They had made their lives here, working in our businesses, going to our schools, living in our rich and diverse communities and espousing everything good about New Zealand. For some, New Zealand was somewhere they found solace in a world full of hate.
New Zealand was, for them, a new opportunity. The chance to live in a country which embraced tolerance, respect, compassion, opportunity and the freedom to be who you want to be.
It was, for them as it is for us, the best country in the world. We let them down. And for that we are sorry.
The unimaginable hurt that our Islamic community is feeling is shared amongst all New Zealanders. Because I know every New Zealander feels this wasn’t just something targeted at our Islamic community, or just to Christchurch.
Over the past four days, there’s been a lot of soul searching, reflection, sadness, anger, and shame across New Zealand, and around the world.
On Saturday, I was honoured to join the Prime Minister and other party leaders in Christchurch for what was a day of anguish and tears. It was moving, it was uplifting, it was tragic and it was humbling.
I was privileged to meet with the Christchurch Islamic community and the many people who came to support them.
I came away realising we all have a choice following the violence that tore through their community. To choose fear, hate or anger. Or to choose compassion, love and forgiveness.
Martin Luther King put it so well. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Our strength as a nation is our compassion and our welcoming of diversity. It has been a hallmark of our culture for hundreds of years. This will not change us. Because at times like these we do not consider ourselves Christians or Muslims, Sikhs or Jews. Or Maori or Pakeha, Chinese, Pacific Islander, Indian or any other ethnicity.
Today and forever we are all New Zealanders.
In recent days I have visited mosques in Auckland and Hamilton, adding my support to the voices and prayers of hundreds of thousands of others.
They welcomed me in, as they are welcoming their wider communities with open arms. Dr Asad Mohsin from the Hamilton Mosque told me yesterday that he chooses love over hate.
We will choose love too.
However, because our peaceful existence is so treasured, hard questions will need to be asked about how this could occur here.
Why are small networks of hateful people able to congregate online and elsewhere, and attempt to sow disharmony?
How can these hateful people then take tangible steps to carry out evil acts?
Do our Police and Intelligence Services have the people, the resources, the legislation and the technology to seek out and prevent such acts?
While these heinous acts were carried out by an individual, there can be no doubt that he had sympathetic associates – certainly online, and probably offline. How do we combat this in an age of social media and increasing technological challenges?
These questions and others need to be asked of Government agencies, individuals, companies, public commentators and numerous other groups.
National will play a constructive role in this and in overhauling New Zealand’s firearms laws. No-one can understand why anyone needs military-style semi-automatic weapons for recreational use.
In addition, I would like to see New Zealand re-evaluate the boundaries of acceptable social and political discourse.
Our resolve now should be to take every opportunity to push back against extremism.
To call out hate and fear when we see it. And to stand up to the vile ideologies that exist to spread hate, fear, mistrust and lies.
What we say has the ability to influence the actions of others. Because everything changed on Friday the 15th of March. It showed the fragility of the peace we’ve come to treasure.
The National Party looks forward to learning more in the days ahead about what form this examination of the events that occurred in Christchurch will take. The formal investigations into these events needs to be thorough, open and honest.
As is always the case when tragic, evil acts occur, we see an immediate counterweight of bravery and compassion. Christchurch has been no exception.
Both civilians and law-and-order professionals immediately showed superhuman courage in the face of rapidly unfolding, extremely frightening and unprecedented events. Medical professionals have worked non-stop since to save lives in truly horrific circumstances.
I want to pay tribute to the New Zealand Police, the Ambulance services, the Red Cross, our Defence Force, healthcare workers, and the vast range of volunteers who have done some much to try and soften the blow since Friday.
While I was in Christchurch I met with a young Policeman. I know his family well.
He was one of the first responders on the day of the shootings. He was emotional as he told me about what it was like that day. He’s been a policeman for six years but said that no amount of training or experience could have prepared him for what he and his colleagues faced that day.
No one could be.
All of those who were working that day will never forget what they saw. To everyone who has responded on the ground in Christchurch – thank you. You are heroes.
New Zealand owes you a debt of gratitude.