Week in Review

The Prime Minister’s continued refusal to state her view on recommendations in the He Puapua report is a worrying sign for the future of the country. Jacinda Ardern claims the report hasn’t found its way to the Cabinet table, but her ministers are busy implementing some of its recommendations already.

It’s sad that she has chosen to lower the tone of the debate by brushing it off as ‘playing politics’. In doing so, she herself is playing politics by trying to muddy the waters.

In the spirit of being open and transparent, National has made its position clear on the report. We believe many of its recommendations, as written, are a step to far.

It is right that we acknowledge and address the wrongs of the past, which is why National continues to support targeted programmes based on need, such as Whānau Ora. But we do not support division along racial lines when it comes to running core services and ownership of things like the foreshore and seabed.

We are better off addressing the flaws within the current systems that aren’t working for Māori. Ethnicity should not divide us. We are better together.

→ You can read more from Judith Collins here, and a speech she gave on this issue here.

Labour’s union paymasters get their rewards

Labour’s so-called Fair Pay Agreements (basically compulsory wage controls) are an ideologically driven project without any sound analytical or evidential basis for the problem they claim exists. Treasury themselves acknowledge this point.

The Cabinet Paper says FPA’s could lead directly to:

  • businesses having to cut costs by reducing staff numbers and hours.
  • businesses possibly leaving the market.
  • driving costs up for goods and services.
  • wide-spread negative effects on employment.
  • uncertain implications for productivity.

The Government says our labour market has an “entrenched weakness” in that a majority of employees are not in a union. This is despite also claiming our labour market has strengths in creating jobs, high rates of participation, and our workforce is relatively skilled and qualified.

Once again, it’s an ideological solution looking for a problem. It is also deeply concerning when you actually consider that unions:

  • help decide who is the Labour Party Leader.
  • donate a significant amount of money to Labour (over $450k since 2017).
  • are made up of mostly Labour Party members.

 So, what do these agreements actually do? Well, they:

  • Clearly breach the principle of ‘freedom of association’.
  • Essentially re-stablish compulsory unionism for workers.
  • Legislate that non-union members contact information can be obtained by unions.
  • Will not prevent unions from including other messages in communications.
  • Will allow unions access to workplaces without employer’s consent.
  • Will see up to $75,000 paid by the Government to a union for bargaining each FPA.
  • Will see annual payments of $250,000 to the Council of Trade Unions for three years.
  • Will see 90 per cent of a workforce at the mercy of the other 10 per cent.
  • Will see entire industries bound by agreements whether they participate in the FPA bargaining process or not.

So basically, Labour have delivered a policy their own Treasury say isn't supported by evidence, will not help workers, but will substantially help the unions that fund them directly.

National’s position is clear. We respect the individual freedom and choice of Kiwis to make their own decisions in their workplace. The National Party will repeal these recycled National Awards.

→ You can read more from Scott Simpson here.

Government vetoes mental health and prison violence inquiries

It’s disappointing the Government has chosen to block an inquiry into the increasing violence being experienced in our prisons.

Under Kelvin Davis, there has been a 92 per cent increase on prisoner assaults on corrections officers and a 30 per cent increase in prisoner-on-prisoner assaults.

Such a rapid increase in violence is unacceptable. Our corrections officers put their lives in danger every day. We owe it to them to make sure their workplace is as safe as possible.

→ You can read more from Simeon Brown here.

Labour also blocked an inquiry into the sanitised Mental Health and Addiction Services annual report, calling into question once again its openness and transparency.

New Zealanders deserve to have confidence in the Ministry of Health. An inquiry would’ve investigated:

  • the reasons why the report was published late.
  • why data sets weren’t published in the usual format.
  • whether there had been any impropriety by the public sector in preparing the report.
  • which data sets the report should publish.

The previous National Government was upfront with New Zealanders about our mental health sector, we monitored key statistics and published data so the public could hold us accountable.

Labour has taken a different route and the results speak for themselves.

→ You can read more from Matt Doocey here.

Labour not interested in transparency on COVID-19

It is deeply disappointing that Labour has not agreed to National’s call for a new COVID-19 Select Committee to hold the Government to account on its COVID-19 response.

National called for this committee after the Health Select Committee debacle in April where Labour MPs fired multiple patsy questions at Dr Ashley Bloomfield and MIQ officials to kill time and shield them from proper scrutiny.

Few issues are more important to New Zealand than effective management of our border, the proper roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, and well-managed contract tracing and testing.

It is particularly concerning when you learn:

  • The Sir Brian Roche Advisory group hasn’t provided any advice on recent breaches that revealed a security guard had not been tested for six months.
  • Saliva testing at the border moving at a glacial pace, despite a report in September 2020 stating they should be done as soon as possible.
  • Many companies at the border have not been using the Government’s border testing register, and it’s only just been made compulsory.
  • Government only started analysing the data on the voluntary register a few weeks ago.
  • New Zealand is currently 166th in the world for vaccinations.
  • We have no proper targets for vaccinations, and the government has published misleading graphs.
  • We are miles behind the Government’s own vaccination plan from January
  • Vaccination of frontline border workers was supposed to take just two to three weeks but has stretched on for two to three months.
  • Vaccines are waiting in cold storage to be used, and the government is deliberately slowing down the rollout.
  • Our IT systems critical to the vaccine rollout are still not up and running.

We can’t go on the way we have, with Ministers and officials subject to little scrutiny through the existing committee process.

You can read a speech from Chris Bishop here on our approach to COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout.