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.”
The early release of double murderer Jason Reihana without telling his victims’ families is an appalling breach of victims’ rights and shows Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has lost control of his department, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Jason Reihana carried out what can only be described as the brutal and heartless murders of the mother of his children and her new partner. I know how terrible the murders were because I was the Crown Prosecutor in this case. I remember it like it was yesterday, the murders were gruesome, premeditated and were carried out in cold blood.
“Reihana was sentenced to a minimum of 21-years in prison. The families of his victims’ were not informed he was going to be released nine years early. Reihana’s son, whose mother was murdered, came across his father when he believed he was still in prison.
“This is a case I will never forget prosecuting. If I had walked into a room and seen Reihana when I believed he was in prison I would have been shocked. I can’t imagine how his victims must feel.
“The crimes that Reihana carried out were so serious that he received one of the longest sentences this country has seen. He wasn’t eligible for parole but has been released on compassionate grounds because he has cancer. Where is the compassion for his victims?
“The families of the two people who were murdered are victims. They asked to be on a victims register which meant they should have been told when he was released, they filled out the paper work. That is simply not good enough.
“Corrections needs to immediately apologise, review its systems and ensure this never happens again.
“Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is responsible for this department. This week it has been revealed that the man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch terror attacks was allowed to send inflammatory and intolerable views in several letters. There are clearly serious problems in Corrections and Kelvin Davis needs to answer to them.”
National’s petition to stop Labour’s car tax has reached 10,000 signatures in just over a week, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.
“New Zealanders can see how unfair Labour’s car tax is, that’s why almost 50 people an hour are signing our petition to stop it.
“Labour’s car tax will increase the price of some of New Zealand’s most popular vehicles by up to $3000. If it is introduced alongside a proposed emissions tax on importers then it could hike the price of some vehicles by more than $6000.
“Electric vehicles can’t be used by everyone. This policy will hurt farmers, tradespeople and low-income earners. A Nissan Leaf is no good on the farm and too expensive for a low income family.
“Our petition is open until August 20, we’re continuing to call on Kiwis to make their voices heard by signing our petition and submitting on the car tax proposals by email or online survey before consultation closes on August 20.
“New Zealanders already can’t afford this Government. The cost of living is through the roof after Labour piled on more fuel taxes, a regional fuel tax and caused rents to go up $50 a week because of its poor policy making decisions. The last thing we need is for this sneaky tax grab to go ahead.”
National’s petition can be found here: http://www.stopthecartax.nz/
Negative interest rates and quantitative easing are closer to becoming a reality in this country thanks to this Government’s bad economic management, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Reserve Bank has slashed interest rates because of slowing economic growth. This comes at a time when export prices are high and New Zealand should be doing well. It is an indictment on the Government’s poor economic management.
“The Reserve Bank Governor has talked about the possibility of negative interest rates and by cutting the OCR to the lowest level ever, it is now more of a probability.
“The bad economic management of the Labour Government means hardworking New Zealanders who have managed to build up some savings might soon have to pay the banks to hold on to their money.
"The Governor is also dusting off plans for quantitative easing, otherwise known as printing money. National’s good economic management helped us avoid such extraordinary steps during the Global Financial Crisis. Now, it’s being considered.
“National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn. We won’t introduce any new taxes in our first term and we have committed to tax indexation - we won’t allow future governments to use inflation as an annual tax increase by stealth.
“National would revive the economy by having a plan for growth. We will provide tax relief, invest in infrastructure and would see confidence bounce back and the economy gain the strength it’s lost under this Government through clear, certain, pro-business policies.”
By issuing a halt to home building the Prime Minister’s interference at Ihumātao has called into question her commitment to full and final Treaty of Waitangi settlements. She now has no choice but to sort it out, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Prime Minister has got involved here where she shouldn’t have and in doing so is setting an appalling precedent. She is rewarding protestors and runs the risk of reopening full and final settlements which is incredibly dangerous and expensive.
“Some two weeks on from her interference there is a lack of leadership from the Prime Minister when it’s badly needed. What she needs to do is right the wrong of getting involved by telling protestors to go home and let the landowners build houses for Aucklanders.
“When I asked her this week at Parliament what her position was on this clear breach of property rights, she talked about solutions for Māori by Māori with no clear view on how to resolve matters.
“Since the Prime Minister’s involvement, the protestors have been empowered to get aggressive with the Police who are there to keep the peace. They have yelled at them, and racially abused them.
“It’s been two weeks since the Prime Minister wrongly intervened in the Ihumātao land protests. She has shown no leadership since then.”