Week in Review

We’re focused on holding the Government to account for their policies, decisions, and highlighting how they will affect the lives of everyday Kiwis.

Our priorities for delivery are the COVID-19 Response, Economic Recovery, Hardship & Public Safety, Housing, Infrastructure & World Class Cities, and the Tech Sector and our opportunities post-COVID.

Catch up on the latest in politics with our Week in Review below.

→ Hate Speech Laws: This is about controlling New Zealanders’ lives
→ COVID-19 Response: Labour raiding rainy day Covid Fund
→ Transport: Labour’s Car Tax another tax grab, vital transport projects cancelled again
→ Mental Health: Minister Little all out of answers on mental Health
→ Police & Corrections: Offenders not completing Te Pae Oranga & Kelvin Davis missing in action

Hate Speech Laws: This is about controlling New Zealanders’ lives

The National Party believes that freedom of speech is a fundamental right. We want to be very clear with New Zealanders, the National Party will reverse any attempts Jacinda Ardern’s Government makes to criminalise speech beyond the threshold of ‘inciting violence’, which is already provided for in New Zealand law.

This is an opportunistic grab at one of our most fundamental rights and New Zealanders can be assured that we will fight this on their behalf. The National Party condemns vile speech that is intended to insult, but there is a big leap from condemning it to criminalising it.

This is about control. It is about ensuring that only approved opinions are allowed and making questioning those opinions criminal. The matter of who decides what opinions are acceptable is unclear.

We are calling on Jacinda Ardern to front these proposed ‘hate speech’ laws herself. If she is going to erode our democracy and control our speech, she needs to own it.

This Government, unable to deliver on much else, appears to want to regulate New Zealanders in every facet of our lives. Not content with just telling us what car we are allowed to drive they want to restrict and regulate the words that come out of our mouths.

You can read more from Judith Collins here, and Simon Bridges here.

Labour raiding rainy day COVID Fund

Half of the $10 billion Grant Robertson set aside in the case of a further COVID-19 resurgence has been spent funding Labour’s non-COVID-related ideas.

The Government allocated $62 billion to support the COVID ‘response and recovery’. Then it said it was setting $10 billion aside for a resurgence but following the recent budget only $5.1 billion is now left.

If Wellington’s latest COVID-19 scare had resulted in another major lockdown, $5 billion wouldn’t go very far in supporting businesses and New Zealanders through it.

Instead, Grant Robertson has spent the COVID Fund on a play about New Zealand’s response to COVID-19; a ‘modern approach to night classes’; water safety; funding for the Olympics; and the Government’s housing acceleration package.

This is irresponsible. The COVID Response and Recovery Fund was effectively an insurance against the worst effects of COVID-19. But Labour has spent half of it on unrelated projects.

If we do have a resurgence of COVID-19 in New Zealand, Grant Robertson will need to create an even larger debt burden for our recovery, debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back.

You can read more from Andrew Bayly here.

Labour’s Car Tax another tax grab, vital transport projects cancelled again

Labour is pushing through a second car tax that will see Kiwis have to pay the likes of $12,000 more for a Hilux in 2025, unfairly punishing farmers, tradies, and those who don’t have the option to switch to an electric vehicle.

What’s worse is that the Ministry of Transport told Michael Wood an emissions target of 105g by 2025 would require a 40 per cent drop in emissions in just four years ‘would disrupt vehicle supply, push up vehicle prices, and slow the turn-over of the existing fleet’.

Michael Wood has also reluctantly admitted that while he plans to halt his car subsidy if too much money is paid out, he has no similar measure to make sure his policy doesn't turn into a tax grab.

National will repeal Labour’s Car Tax. We support transitioning to a low emission economy, but this policy goes too far and will only end up hurting New Zealanders who can’t make the switch right now.

Furthermore, Auckland Transport told councillors last week that greater walking and cycling investment means that the critically important Eastern Busway would need to have $450 million of spending delayed.

In just the last few months we have seen light rail further delayed and re-evaluated. The investment in Mill Road, Southern Motorway Widening and Tauranga Northern Link that was announced only last year now cancelled, and Councils we’re told there isn’t enough money for maintenance of regional roads.

National will deliver the Eastern Busway. We will build a second harbour crossing for cars and public transport, we will build Mill Road, and we will widen the Southern Motorway.

You can read more from Michael Woodhouse here and here.

Minister Little all out of answers on Mental Health

Last week, Health Minister Andrew Little had few answers to questions on the mental health crisis Labour has allowed to balloon in its four years in Government.

It comes as revelations last week showed that of the $235 million set aside in 2019 for building mental health and addiction facilities, just $500,000 or 0.2 per cent has been spent. A grand total of 5 extra acute mental health beds.

Mental Health is a priority for National, and we would rather hear how Andrew Little is going to ensure that children are receiving mental health care in much less time than the eight weeks many are waiting currently.

Labour need to get the funding out the door, build the capacity & workforce, and deliver on the promises it made to New Zealanders. We will hold the Government to account for the targets and commitments they have made to Kiwis in need.

You can read more from Judith Collins here and Matt Doocey here.

Offenders not completing Te Pae Oranga, Kelvin Davis missing in action

Labour’s Te Pae Oranga programme is failing to hold offenders to account with 59 per cent of people being sent to the alternative justice panels failing to complete the programme. By comparison, people given a community-based sentence has a completion rate of 75 per cent.

When questioned about the abysmal statistic, Police Minister Poto Williams argued that ‘it’s about ‘the ability of victims to be part of the process.’ We question how this can take place if the offender does not show up and complete the programme.

Offenders who assault police officers are also being referred to Te Pae Oranga, meaning that their victims – Police Officers – have to attend restorative justice style mediations with them.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said not all offenders who assault Police Officers are sent to Te Pae Oranga, just the ones at the ‘lowest end’. Assaulting a Police Officer is never a ‘low-end’ offence and it is unacceptable that these cases are being referred for alternative justice.

Kelvin Davis also appeared before the Justice Select Committee last week to brief the Committee about the 92 per cent increase in assaults against Corrections Officers under his watch.

Whilst the Minister has recently launched a plan on addressing violence and aggression in our prisons, none of the initiatives within the plan come with timeframes and targets that can be measured and judged on whether they are working or have been completed.

National has released a 5-point plan on how we will address violence in our prisons. We do not tolerate violence against Corrections Officers and urge the Minister to wake up and take firm action now.

You can read more from Simeon Brown here and here.