Today’s ANZ business confidence survey shows a net 50 percent of businesses are pessimistic about the economy and sentiment has plummeted even further since the Prime Minister returned to office, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Business confidence has slumped further to levels not seen since the global financial crisis 10 years ago. This time the crisis is of the Government’s own making and the return to duty of the Prime Minister a month ago has only made it worse.
“The Government’s desperate charm offensive can’t conceal policies that are slowing growth, driving up the cost of living, deterring investment and hurting job creation. They’re taxing more only to waste taxpayer money.
“Investment intentions in the ANZ Business Outlook, which ANZ itself says are a very good directional signal for GDP growth, have turned negative and are at the lowest level since 2009.
“ANZ says companies have real concerns about industrial relations policy, minimum wage hikes and rising costs, and their ability to pass on costs and maintain profitability, which stayed negative.
“Confidence worsened in all sectors apart from construction, which is still at negative 50 points. And ANZ says the issues in the construction sector are starting to cause stress in other industries.
“These surveys show more than just sentiment. The intentions of businesses have real impacts on New Zealanders.
“NZIER forecasts this week showed the average New Zealander will be $1600 worse off by 2022 compared to the same forecasts made just three months ago.
“The Government’s economic management is in disarray. The Prime Minister’s words are contradicted by NZ First. Their only strategy is to throw every problem to a working group.
“National believes in sensible, consistent economic policies that encourage businesses to grow. We want New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. Instead we have a Government that appears determined to take New Zealand backwards.”
As a consequence of the Government’s anti-growth policies NZIER is now predicting it will not meet its own budget responsibility rule of keeping core Crown debt below 20 per cent of GDP by 2022, says Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges.
“Grant Robertson has tied his economic credibility to his ability to reduce debt to below 20 per cent of GDP by 2022. Today’s NZIER quarterly predictions forecast the target will be missed by $2 billion.
“And this doesn’t even take into account the extra $6 billion in Crown Entity debt the Minister has hidden off the balance sheet in the last Budget.
“The Government has been spending up large and hoping the next rainy day doesn’t happen under its watch – but its own anti-growth policies are putting a handbrake on the economy and causing debt forecasts to rise.
“They’re not treating taxpayers’ money with the respect it deserves - instead throwing billions at a slush fund for New Zealand First, foreign diplomats and a tertiary fees policy that isn’t delivering any extra students.
“NZIER have also signalled there are risks that debt will blow-out even further – highlighting increased downside risks to the economy.
“Bad economic policies and uncertainty for businesses are quickly eroding previously hard-earned gains. The consequences of this Government’s economic mismanagement are going to be felt for many years to come.”
The message from economists is loud and clear: the Government’s bad economic policies mean New Zealanders will be thousands of dollars a year worse off, says National Party Leader Simon Bridges.
“In the last three months alone NZIER has revised down their GDP growth forecasts which means every man, woman and child will be $1600 a year worse off on average by 2022. That is $6400 for a family of four.
“NZIER are clear that the decline in the economic outlook isn’t just sentiment. Profitability has deteriorated and businesses’ own activity, a measure closely correlated with GDP growth, has weakened. There are real implications for businesses, workers and New Zealanders trying to get ahead.
“The reason GDP growth is now faltering is because this Government has imposed a wide range of policies that are bad for growth. They have imposed more taxes, shut off foreign investment, significantly increased labour and compliance costs, banned oil and gas exploration and wasted billions on low-quality spending.
“And what was the Prime Minister’s solution this morning: another working group. The Government needs to understand that lower growth has real consequences for New Zealand families. Working groups do not drive economic growth, good policies and hardworking New Zealanders do.
“So the goal is simple. We must grow the economy if we want New Zealanders to be better off. A growing economy means more jobs, higher incomes and more revenue to pay for the things we need.
“We need to be pro-growth as that is the only way we can improve our standard of living. National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. Higher taxes, more regulation, compliance costs and a rising cost of living do nothing to help families get ahead.
The Prime Minister’s announcement of yet another working group to try and shore up plummeting business confidence will do nothing to address the uncertainty created by the Government’s anti-growth policies, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.
“This is a Government that believes it can talk its way out of anything – but instead of trying to shout over the conveyor belt of weak economic indicators they should be taking concrete steps to change their anti-growth policies.
“The Prime Minister talks about wanting to lift wages and grow a sustainable economy – everyone wants that. But the way to do it is to take real steps to support businesses, not driving uncertainty through endless working groups and bad policy.
“Instead Ms Ardern has announced a Business Advisory Council, a body with a chair but no members yet, and a Business Partnership Agenda that merely repackages existing, problematic policies, a third of which are working groups.
“There’s a growing sense of panic from this Government. The Prime Minister is desperately trying to deflect attention from poor economic indicators with a list of well-meaning objectives without detailing how they’ll be achieved.
"The Government inherited an economy growing at 3-4 per cent, generating 10,000 new jobs a month, strong surpluses, declining debt and a residential building boom. It is rapidly eroding that buffer.
"GDP per capita has fallen to its lowest annual level since 2011. Job creation has plummeted. Business confidence is at its lowest level since the GFC. And the cost of living is rising.
“Over 90 percent of our businesses are SMEs who are really hurt by the piling on of costs, taxes and compliance. They won’t be comforted by today’s slogans and slides from the PM - with no clear economic leadership delivering a plan for our economy.
“This fact is the Government has inherited an economic buffer which is protecting New Zealanders from the worst. But those gains made under National could be easily lost.
“Responsible economic management matters - National delivered a solidly growing economy that lifted wages and created jobs. But the government’s anti-growth policies will undo that good work and take us backwards.”
The bill for the Government’s constant outsourcing of its job to 152 working groups and reviews has reached $170 million so far, with a third still to be costed, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“During the election the Government ramped up pay expectations with nurses, teachers and public servants and now it’s failing to deliver. How can it tell teachers there’s no more money when figures released to the Opposition confirm it’s spending at least $170 million on asking people to give them the ideas they should have had before taking office?
“The refusal to make sensible spending choices has led to thousands of parents and caregivers scrambling for childcare during the teacher strikes and the responsibility for that lies squarely at the feet of this Government and the choices they’re making.”
What’s worse is the Government doesn’t know the cost of over a third of the 152 working groups and reviews announced to date.
“This is a Government caught badly unprepared and New Zealanders are now paying an exorbitant price. And now we know Ministers are ordering reviews and setting up groups without even knowing what they will cost, while the reviews are coming back with recommendations for more reviews.
“The Government doesn’t know the cost of its summit to help Taranaki undertake a ‘just transition’ after the Prime Minister gutted the local oil and gas sector without warning. David Clark’s review of the health system comes without a price tag, Kelvin Davis has no ideas about his flagship Freedom Camping group, and Clare Curran hasn’t worked out the cost of her public media funding commission, which is tasked with figuring out how to distribute funding.
“Who knows how much the taxpayer will be forking out for this by the end? With a review coming every two days, these costs could really blow out over the next two years.
“The only thing we know for certain is that the Labour-NZ First Coalition is squandering New Zealand’s real economic success and creating uncertainty. Business confidence has plummeted, economic growth forecasts have slumped, the cost of living is on the rise, unemployment is up and job creation has more than halved.
“That’s not good enough and we won’t make the same mistake. We’re doing the work now to ensure a National Government I lead will be ready for office and won’t be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on asking other people what to do.”
Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has congratulated Scott Morrison on winning the leadership of the Australian Liberal Party and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“I want to congratulate Scott Morrison on becoming Leader of the Australian Liberal Party, and Prime Minister of Australia” Mr Bridges says.
“When I met Scott I was struck by what a warm friend of New Zealand he is, he knows our country very well.
“Australia is New Zealand’s closest bilateral partner. The relationship between our two countries is strong, and enhanced by shared values on issues like trade, defence, and security matters. I look forward to further strengthening this relationship as Leader of the Opposition with Mr Morrison.
“I would also like to acknowledge Malcolm Turnbull for his commitment to the Australian-New Zealand relationship. Mr Turnbull has been instrumental in ensuring the relationship between our two countries continues to grow from strength to strength and I am confident that this close relationship will continue to grow under Mr Morrison’s leadership.”
The Government’s decision to impose a plastic bag ban while neglecting to address plummeting business confidence and slowing economic growth shows it’s focused on low-hanging fruit that won’t make any real difference, National Leader Simon Bridges says.
“National wants to see an end to plastic bags too but both consumers and businesses were phasing them out voluntarily already and the Government’s failed to explain why a total ban is now needed within a year.
“Measures introduced by the previous Government alongside industry would already have seen a more than 75 per cent reduction in plastic bag use without new regulations and higher costs.
“Kiwis were reducing their plastic usage because it’s the right thing to do. They didn’t need to be told what to do by a Government increasingly looking like it thinks it knows best.
“Now it’s done though the Prime Minister should turn her attention to fixing the very real concerns around plummeting business confidence and our slowing economy because she has done nothing to ease those concerns or recognise the impact her Government’s anti-growth policies are having.
“Those policies are already costing Kiwi families who are trying to get ahead. New petrol taxes, union friendly labour law changes and rent increases have New Zealanders worried.
“And businesses are very concerned, meaning fewer jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders but the Government which has established 140-odd working groups to tell it what to do is refusing to listen.
“Nothing the Prime Minister has done this week will help right these real concerns and she and her Government need to get their priorities straight.”
The Government’s reckless and low-growth approach to running the economy is yet again on display with business confidence dropping to levels not seen since the global financial crisis, says Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges.
“When it seemed as though business confidence could go no lower, the latest ANZ business confidence survey has business confidence dropping another six points taking it to their lowest levels in 10 years. Firms’ views on their own activity are also down a further 5 points for the month.
“Businesses are becoming increasingly unlikely to hire more workers or increase wages, meaning fewer opportunities - meaning Kiwi families are less likely to get ahead.
“The fact that these numbers are at their worst levels in 10 years show just how worried businesses are and the Government must take responsibility as there is no other driver of this change.
“It is their low-growth policies such as union-friendly industrial relations reforms, restrictions on overseas investment, immigration uncertainty, axing oil and gas exploration and increasing costs on small businesses which have all been bad for business sentiment and the economy.
“Today’s ANZ numbers are on top of figures showing New Zealand had already fallen to second lowest in the OECD’s business confidence index after being the second highest in 2016 – a drop of 33 places. That’s a real concern.
“This is in comparison to Australia where there was a new job advertised in its mining, resources and energy sector every six minutes. While Australia is expanding the Government here in New Zealand is making it more and more difficult for businesses to grow and invest and we are going to find it harder to compete.
“The Prime Minister has made it her personal mission to turn around tanking business confidence. She needs to do it urgently by recognising her Government’s low-growth policies are causing real concern and slowing New Zealand down and she needs to put a stop to it.”
It is such a pleasure to be addressing you as leader of this amazing party, which I’m proud to have been a member of for 25 years.
I want to begin by thanking each and every one of you for giving your time to support us. For putting in the hard yards, raising money and knocking on doors.
You are the beating heart of the National Party.
Your commitment was put to the test following the last election.
It’s been a tough adjustment.
But National is strong.
National is vibrant.
And if we work together, National is going back to the Beehive in 2020.
We’re a fantastic team. And that is in large part down to our tireless President, Peter Goodfellow. Thank you Peter.
And can I also thank someone who never lets me forget my Westie roots. She has been an incredible support for me - my deputy Paula Bennett.
Paula and I lead a team of 56 talented, driven MPs who are truly committed to New Zealand.
From Invercargill to Northland, they live in, love and fiercely represent their communities, so let’s give them a big round of applause.
I also want to thank one particular MP who left Parliament this year after nearly three decades of service.
It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of a man I respect and admire so much, Sir Bill English.
Delegates, I want to tell you about a woman who moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.
She has never lacked aspiration or a commitment to hard work. Through plenty of perseverance she now has her own successful business and does pro bono work for charities and community groups.
She is a mum to three young children that she is home alone with on far too many nights.
So many working mums are like her up and down this country.
But alongside all of that, she is also my biggest supporter, my wife, my partner for life
Could you please join me in welcoming Natalie on to the stage.
And these are our three children Emlyn, Harry and our baby Jemima.
Everyday this family amazes and delights me. They inspire me to do all I can to make New Zealand a place we are all proud of.
I love you. Thank you so much.
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am proud to be a New Zealander.
We are all lucky to live in this beautiful country, tucked away in our corner of the South Pacific.
We are a successful, prosperous, confident nation that can and does foot it with the best in the world.
I love this place.
New Zealand is filled with so many opportunities.
It wasn’t always the case – ten years ago 30,000 people were leaving New Zealand every year to move to Australia, because that’s where the opportunities were.
Well, last year there were more coming the other way.
We’ve made great progress – because of the principles National bought to government.
The belief in personal responsibility, that if you put in the hard-yards, you deserve to reap the rewards.
The belief in an individual’s freedom to choose how to live their life.
The belief in enterprise as a way to create jobs, lift incomes and drive prosperity for all.
And the belief in a shared sense of social justice – a desire to give a helping hand to those in need.
These are my principles. They are National’s principles. And they are New Zealand’s principles.
There is a perception that on the right of politics we don’t care as much as on the left.
Our opponents do their best to make people think that, but they’re wrong.
Actually, if I think where I’ve come from, and everything about my upbringing, from my mum’s role as a teacher to dad’s work as a Minister – it’s all shaped me into someone with a strong sense of justice.
It is what drives me.
I want everyone to be given the best opportunity to live life to the full – and that’s especially important for the most vulnerable who need the extra support that New Zealanders as a fair minded people want to give them.
I mentioned personal responsibility earlier. Because there’s two sides to that coin.
We should do all we can to help people lead amazing lives.
But if people choose not to fulfil their end of that social contract, I believe there should be consequences.
If you commit a crime, you do the time. It’s for our safety, and victims deserve justice.
If you’re on a benefit and can work, you should be actively looking for a job.
But this Government sees things very differently.
They want to drastically cut the number of people in prison, regardless of the amount of crime committed.
They want to remove all benefit sanctions, so there’s no consequence if you fail a drug test or skip a job interview.
That’s just wrong.
It will not happen in a government I lead.
Delegates, this new Government had 9 years to get ready.
They did nothing.
Now they’ve set up 130 working groups at well over $1 million a pop – because they don’t have ideas of their own.
They’re incapable of making decisions and nothing is getting done.
Taxpayers are paying for Labour’s laziness.
Well, National will be the hardest working opposition this country has ever seen.
I don’t want to win in 2020 just because the Government is incompetent.
I want to win a contest of ideas, to demonstrate that National has the vision and the team to deliver a better future for everyone.
We’ll have the best ideas on the environment, how we can clean up our waterways and protect our beautiful country for our grandchildren.
We’ll have the best ideas for supporting the most vulnerable, to help them turn their lives around.
We’ll have the best ideas on law and order, on how to keep you safer by keeping our most violent predators locked up.
We’ll have the best ideas on health, on education, on housing, and on infrastructure.
And we’ll have the best ideas on the economy, because frankly, that’s an area where the Government has no idea at all.
Actually that’s not fair. Their plan is to tax and borrow more, so they can spend it – or at least ask a working group how to spend it.
Cancelling National’s tax cuts, and increasing costs by raising fuel taxes and housing taxes. All so they can spend billions more on diplomats, a tertiary fees policy that doesn’t deliver any more students, and a slush-fund for New Zealand First’s pet projects.
They’re out of control.
Unlike Grant Robertson, I believe hardworking Kiwis should keep more of their own money.
Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or it means we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.
But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for new workers.
About wages for our families.
About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.
About the opportunities we can give our kids to move into work and follow their passion.
About our ability to invest more in education and infrastructure and health.
All of this flows from the economy.
But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.
They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.
They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports.
They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed - the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.
National backs every single one of them.
Under National, we built one of the best performing economies in the developed world.
We dealt with the Global Financial Crisis and the earthquakes and we were getting ahead.
But we need to keep it going to ensure all New Zealanders can share in the gains - not everyone has yet.
But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Government doesn’t have a clear plan for the economy.
They’re slowing New Zealand down, not speeding us up.
Whether it’s transport, with higher taxes and fewer new roads.
Whether it’s back to decades-old labour law changes which give power to the unions and just add compliance costs.
Whether it’s the cost of living, where changes such as higher fuel taxes, rent increases and higher income taxes are costing some Kiwi families over $100 a week more.
And whether it’s the decision to shut down oil and gas exploration.
Each of these policies on their own are bad.
Together, they’re going to see more New Zealanders head overseas because there’ll be fewer and fewer opportunities here.
New Zealand can’t afford this Government.
National’s approach is very different.
I believe in sensible, consistent economic policies that provide clear direction and encourage businesses to grow.
Policies that deliver new infrastructure, support investment, drive exports and help grow skills - because that is how opportunities are created.
Those opportunities are hard won, but easily lost.
I talked earlier about the 30,000 people that were leaving for Australia every year just a decade ago – because Australia was where the opportunities were.
I’m proud we’ve been able to turn that around, by creating opportunity for our kids here at home.
But I tell you what, other countries aren’t sitting still waiting for this Government to get its act together.
Other countries want what we have, and we can’t afford three years lost to working groups and inquiries and uncertainty.
We certainly can’t afford six.
Under this Government, business confidence is already at its lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis – while in Australia it’s the highest it has been in 20 years.
We can’t let Australia beat us.
We need to keep pushing. Otherwise it is all too easy to become an also ran, a place where our kids don’t see a long-term future.
I worry all we’ll export to Australia is our young people.
I want my kids to raise their kids here. And I know you do too.
I’m always thinking about how we can make this country better for our children.
How we can create opportunity for all, and help New Zealanders realise their dreams and ambitions here.
As a father of three young children, I feel it.
I want more for them.
More choice, more opportunities and for them to lead the best life they can.
I want all our children to see a pathway to their success, whatever that may be.
For too many, that pathway can look bleak.
If Social Investment has taught us anything, it’s that some of our children have the odds stacked against them.
That without targeted help they won’t achieve their dreams.
I want to fight for a better future for those kids.
I want to fight for all our kids.
The forgotten, the naughty, the good, the exceptional.
They all count. They all matter to me.
It’s got to be about opportunity for all, here in New Zealand.
And that starts with education.
So I want to put a few ideas on the table.
Education is the future leveller.
It was for me - from Rutherford High in West Auckland to Oxford University - and it must be for our country’s children.
If a little person’s brain is nurtured and taught how to think and work and learn, that child can go on to achieve great things.
Giving them the best start in life matters more than anything.
The early years are vital, and I believe there is a lot that can be done to improve early childhood education.
It starts with a focus on quality.
Most centres do a good job of looking after our young children, but a few not doing good enough is a few too many in my book.
We need to know what is happening in every early childhood centre in the country.
National will invest more to make sure our kids get the best quality start to their education, but we will also demand nothing but the highest standards.
Or frankly the centre should close its doors.
The next step is improving our primary schools.
With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into.
The child that finds it hard to sit still and follow instructions.
The bright child that wants to be challenged.
The gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.
What they all have in common, what they all need, is attention.
Attention from a teacher that has the time to acknowledge their individual needs and nurture them.
A teacher who can set a learning programme that is suited to the child, who isn’t so busy managing a room of too many young children that they can’t recognise the individual qualities that sit within all of them.
All our kids should get the individual attention they deserve.
That’s why I want more teachers in our primary schools, to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.
Schools currently get one teacher for every 29 nine and ten year olds. It’s lower than that for younger children.
Those ratios should be reduced.
By giving our kids more attention, we can improve their education and set them up to take advantage of all the opportunities life throws at them.
Imagine the difference that would make to the children and to the teachers.
More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.
Frankly, they need less Facebook and more face time.
Some will say that class size is less important than teacher quality.
Well I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive.
Teacher quality matters a lot, but I also believe that simply having more attention from teachers will make a difference to young children.
Sure older kids that are more self-managing can be in larger classes, but our young ones will be better off having more attention from their teacher.
After parents, teachers are often the most influential people in the lives of our children.
I come from a family of teachers – my mum, my sister and my brother. I want teachers to be highly respected professionals in our communities. They deserve that.
Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.
Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government in two years’ time.
We’ve got a two and a half year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.
This year is about listening.
We want to hear from you - parents and pupils, families and farmers, businesses and communities.
We want your views.
We want to talk and challenge ourselves, and contest ideas.
In education, our team led by Nikki Kaye will use that input to develop discussion documents next year, and our plans and policies for the 2020 election.
Unlike our opponents we welcome different views.
And unlike them before 2020 we will have made decisions and we will be ready to lead.
My team and I will be working hard to ensure the next government is National-led.
We will make every day count.
We want to undo the damage this Government is doing now.
Come election year we will have the detailed, thought out and costed ideas to do that.
We will show you we have the plans and the policies and the people to earn your support and continue to build the country you deserve.
This country can do better.
In fact we can be brilliant.
National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference.
I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.
National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.
“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.
“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.
“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them.
“More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.
“To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need less Facebook and more face time with teachers.
“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.
“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.
Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.
“Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government. We’ve got a multi-year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.
“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.
“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”