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Week in Review
Government inaction will cost jobs and livelihoods.
New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell 2.9% over the year to Dec 2020. The largest annual fall ever in New Zealand.
GDP per capita over the same period declined by 4.9%. In the last quarter of 2020 alone GDP fell by 1%, while other countries grew (Australia 3.1%, Canada 2.3%, Japan 2.8%, UK 1%, US 1%).
Our tourism sector is on its knees, Kiwis are desperate to re-unite with family, and critical workers are urgently needed.
So earlier this week, National launched a petition to urge the Government to get on with the trans-Tasman bubble so we can help reunite families, free up Managed Isolation space, and back our regions desperately in need of support.
It’s now been signed by over 40,000 people who back our call. With the right measures in place, we can, and should, open quarantine-free travel from Australia. Government messaging on this issue has been slow and weak at best, and it’s finally good to see them taking steps to get on with it after consistent and sustained public pressure.
You can read more here from Judith Collins, Andrew Bayly and Todd McClay.
Auditor General asked to investigate Ihumātao land purchase
National has written to the Auditor-General, requesting that he investigate the apparent misuse of $30m taxpayer dollars used by the Government to purchase the Ihumātao land from Fletchers.
Evidence released this week from Treasury warned the Government against using ‘Land for Housing’ funds, as it could run counter to the purpose for which those funds were intended.
The Land for Housing programme was set up with the explicit purpose to build homes “at a significantly faster pace”, but the Government has still not said how many, if any, houses will be built at Ihumātao, and when this will actually happen. Fletchers, on the other hand, were going to build 480 desperately needed homes on the site.
The Ihumātao situation is a problem of Jacinda Ardern’s own making, and taxpayers should not be bailing her out.
You can read more from Michael Woodhouse and Nicola Willis here.
Emergency motel costs spiraling out of control
Labour’s lack of solutions to the housing shortage has seen the Government fork out millions of dollars in emergency housing grants to some motels and hotels.
New figures released to National show the 10 highest-paid emergency housing providers were paid more than $40 million in grants in 2020. One of those received more than $6 million last year.
The Government is relying too much on using hotels and motels as emergency housing, which has seen the owners of these establishments charge prices as high as $440 a night, while charging the public less than half that rate.
Unsurprisingly, Carmel Sepuloni seemed unaware of this even though she is paying the bills. Marama Davidson also seemed put out by housing questions this week, after it was revealed she has not taken any papers to Cabinet, issued any press statements, and continues to ignore the safety concerns of people living in and around emergency accommodation.
It’s not a good use of taxpayers’ money and it’s not good for the people being forced to live in motels without the support services many of them need. The Government should be spending more money on community housing providers and support services, and less on paying these eye-watering motel bills.
A National Government would address the supply problem fuelling the housing shortage by scrapping the Resource Management Act and introducing emergency powers to bypass government red-tape and get more houses built at pace.
You can read more from Nicola Willis here.
Prison assaults skyrocket under Davis
The number of prisoner assaults on corrections officers has skyrocketed in recent years with more than 2000 incidents taking place under Kelvin Davis’s watch.
Figures released to National show the year to June 2020 was a stand-out with 889 assaults. This is a 92 per cent increase on year to June 2017 – the last full financial year of the previous National Government.
Adding insult to injury, Kelvin Davis only started requesting reports on assaults in February and hasn’t requested any advice on law changes that could reduce assaults on Corrections staff. He’s only been the Minister for nearly four years.
Let’s be clear: no assault is acceptable. But neither is sitting back and turning a blind eye to the dangerous environment facing our hardworking corrections officers.
You can read more from Simeon Brown here.
Oil and gas ban will drive up gas imports and prices
A flurry of revelations in the past month shows Labour’s oil and gas ban is unfolding exactly as officials predicted, with exploration plummeting, coal use skyrocketing, and power prices likely to climb steeply.
Megan Woods told Parliament this week that since the 2018 ban, 88,000 square km of exploration permits have been relinquished, and she has now asked for reports on whether New Zealand will soon need to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
100,000 square kilometres permitted for exploration has plummeted to less than 20,000, with no exploration happening outside of Taranaki. With gas production falling, New Zealand burned 800,000 tonnes of coal for electricity generation last year. That is four times the amount being burned before Labour was in Government.
Wholesale electricity prices are also reaching $300 a megawatt hour, compared to about $50 a megawatt hour before Labour took over. This will soon filter through to retail prices for consumers.
Labour’s oil and gas ban is turning out exactly as predicted: New Zealand has lost energy security, greenhouse gas emissions have gone up, and consumers will pay more for electricity. All because the Prime Minister needed something to say at the UN Climate Summit in 2018.
You can read more from Barbara Kuriger here.