Prime Minister’s Statement

John Key kicked off debate in Parliament for the year with the Prime Minister’s Statement.

As usual Key sets out a modest programme for the year and put more effort into getting a few digs in at Andrew Little and Labour. It looks like pettiness and bitchiness is resuming where it left off.

But Labour had left themselves wide open on the Trans Pacific Partnership – Key said that as far as Labour was concerned TPP meant Two Position Party.

And he said a lot more negatives about Labour, while saying he didn’t have enough time to mention all the things the Government will be doing.

But what he did say about that his party will be doing was more of the same, there was nothing much new on offer.

Draft transcript:

Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I move, That this House express its confidence in the National-led Government and commend its programme for 2016 as set out in the Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament. Mr Speaker, is it not great to be back?

I hope that you had a good holiday and members did, and what a wonderful time it was for New Zealand. What a great display of cricket yesterday afternoon by Brendon McCullum in the Chappell-Hadlee series. New Zealand up against Australia one more time under a National-led Government—what a wonderful result.

And, of course, the Sevens—a tremendous result by the Kiwis, not only just here in Wellington but in Sydney—the Warriors, of course, at the final; and then Lydia Ko back in New Zealand on Friday to defend her New Zealand Women’s Open.

But it is not just sport that has the country in good; so it is in so many other economic forums.

We had a record number of tourists come to New Zealand this year—3.15 million tourists came to New Zealand to enjoy our country. No wonder they are coming, because many of them are coming to live here as well. They can see New Zealand is a great place to live under the policies of a National-led Government.

We are seeing more carriers flying direct to New Zealand. Emirates is deciding it is not enough just to fly all those times through Australia to New Zealand but it is coming direct to Auckland. Of course, Air New Zealand is doing tremendously well, bringing people from the United States through its new Houston leg and through Buenos Aires in Latin America.

Let us just look around and see what is happening in the data that we see in the early part of the year. The ANZ business confidence survey saw confidence rise to an 8-month high, with a net 23 percent of firms being confident. When it came to consumer confidence, we saw record sales over Christmas, and the Roy Morgan survey having us up at 121.4—a very strong result for consumer confidence.

Manufacturing activity—the December business numbers were stronger than in any other month in March of 2015, and the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index saw the fastest rate of expansion since October 2014.

In fact, when one looks at the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index and the expansion of manufacturing, this has gone up every single month since the moment Labour declared there was a crisis—38 consecutive months in a row. And was that not great?

Of course, when it comes to business optimism, look no further than the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which said “What a great result. What’s happening out there?

Very strong—people looking to hire.”, and hired they were. Last week we were greeted with a new unemployment rate here in New Zealand: a dramatic fall to 5.3 percent. That is a very strong performance. We have the third-highest employment rate in the OECD , we have very strong results of growth for young people, and, of course, wages are rising faster than inflation.

That was greeted with absolute joy by New Zealanders, with one exception—one exception. It was a great annoyance to the Labour Party and, in particular, to Grant Robertson, the doom merchant when it comes to employment. Grant Robertson is worried about a robot taking his job.

A cynic could say: “Too late, one already did.”—the job he wanted—but, never fear, he has got his people working with every editor of every women’s mag around the country, getting Jacinda Ardern nicely positioned on the front of all of those, just waiting.

But Grant is so worried about work, he decided that when Parliament packed up he would go off to Paris to the OECD to learn about work and the future of work. He is going to base his commission that he is setting up on that.

Here is how it went. It started at 10.30, a nice little break of an 1 hour and 45 minutes for lunch, than a quick 20 minutes for afternoon tea, all done and dusted by 6 o’clock, 1½ hours for cocktails. That is the future of work under the Labour Party. Job done. It was a big day.

Of course the big issue—the big issue—is the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the “TPP”. What a tremendous trade deal this is for New Zealand. What a tremendous trade deal: 93 percent elimination in tariffs, 40 percent of our markets covered, 800 million middle-income consumers, $2.7 billion of value to New Zealand.

So it had, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, significance for the Labour Party. Do any of us know why? Well, when we think “TPP”, we think Trans-Pacific Partnership; they think “two-position party”—that is what “TPP” says to them.

This is because when it comes to David Shearer, he rightfully said to the New Zealand Herald—before he got a good spanking from the leader—“I’ll be voting for it. There’s no change there. Nothing’s changed my mind and the international interest analysis—fantastic.”

Phil Goff, he is definitely voting for it, because it is, to quote Phil, the same as the China free-trade agreement taken under Labour.

Helen Clark, she is a tremendous supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

In fact, every Labour leader in the last 20 years supports the agreement except the current one. Well, that actually is a bit debatable. So when you look at Andrew Little’s positions—and I will grant you he has had more positions than the Labour Party has had leader in the last 5 years—he says he hates the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

He got asked a pretty simple question by Mark Sainsbury: “Will you withdraw New Zealand from the TPP?” Do you know what his answer was? It was: “We won’t.” He is going to kick up bobsy-die , but no, no, he will not.

So then they asked him: “Will you vote against it?” A pretty simple question. He went: “Yeah, well, we already said—aah—if there—yeah—er—aah—if this legislation—aah. We don’t get to vote on TPP,” he said.

What about pulling out? That apparently is incredibly difficult to do, even though the text, of which he has read 500 of 6,000 pages, says you can just do it by simply putting in notification for 6 months.

When he was asked “Why won’t you pull out of TPP?”_—this was my particular favourite for the summer—he said: “Because we are the free-trade party.” Yeah, right. “We are the free-trade party.”

So when you look at his opposition it seems to be around sovereignty. So what he thinks is the problem is that other people, other corporations, other Governments can come to New Zealand and they can put a submission in against our law. That is apparently the problem.

Here is a little technical issue. The first issue is, quite right, they can do that. In fact, anybody is free to come to New Zealand and put in a submission at our select committees. It is called open and transparent Government.

But what did Andrew Little do at the end of last year? I know. He rushed off to Australia to go to put a submission in against its legislation and last night he was telling me to give David Cameron a ring, so I could put in a submission about their legislation. So he has got a massive problem with everybody else doing it except himself.

So let us just go through one or two of the myths of Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sovereignty—I think you all agree we have covered off. Anyone is free to come and put in a submission about New Zealand, but this Parliament determines its law and this Parliament on its own.

There is a theory out that somehow this affects Māori. Well, it does—positively—because the text says the Treaty of Waitangi is specifically excluded and when it comes to Wai 262 that is excluded as well.

And, by the way, the wording in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is basically the same as the wording in the China and Korea free-trade agreements. There is nothing new and you did not see the protestors out there then, but funnily enough you see them now.

Apparently, the problem is that it was behind closed doors. That is what Andrew Little said at Rātana: the whole problem was that it was behind closed doors, expect the only minor technical problem was that, one, it was exactly the same in one form as any other free-trade agreement we have done, including the China free-trade agreement that was concluded by Phil Goff, sitting over there, and the Labour Party.

But what is more than that, for years the Government has been undertaking consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We did not wait for the text to be completed. We did not actually wait for the national interest analysis to come out. What we actually did was we went up and down the country, including to substantial groups of iwi, including to the Federation of Māori Authorities.

In fact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade tells me there has been more consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership than on almost any other free-trade agreement that it can see or any other things that we have done.

The last issue is theoretically we can be sued under the provisions of investor-State. Well, do not accept my word for how difficult that is. Let me quote this for you, from Phil Goff who said, and quite rightly so because he actually understands what he is talking about when it comes to this area: “The barrier to get investor-State dispute is very high, and the chance is very unlikely.”

We have had investor-State in this country for 30 years. Forget about a case being won. There has not been a case taken in 30 years.

Andrew Little came out with quite a little doozy when he was trying to summarise his position, and, to be granted, his press secretaries must have had quite a field day with that. He put up: “TPP highlights divisions in New Zealand.” The right heading, I should have pointed out to them, was: “TPP highlights divisions in the Labour Party.”

David Shearer and Phil Goff might be prepared to say what they think, but quite a lot of MPs are out there, talking to people in the business community. Names are getting named about who is quietly supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Labour Party ranks.

We know why Andrew Little is not. It is because every single union came out pretty much in opposition to it. We know who elected the Labour Party caucus. It was not the people sitting over there, but the union movement of New Zealand. They are opposed, and that is what it is. They are the two-position party.

It is not just when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I remember in this House a very spirited debate about sending our guys, our men and women, over to Iraq to train people. I remember that spirited debate. What great work they are doing. We saw Ramadi taken back over Christmas—people trained by our men and women. I remember that debate.

At Christmas, despite Andrew Little telling us he did not want to send traitors, by Christmas he wanted to send the SAS. They are the two-position party.

When it comes to the flag I am not even going to bother. It is still on their website. Their position is still a change of flag by a referendum.

Let us get to the Government’s agenda. It is long and varied. Employment law will be an important piece of legislation passed this year, and important work done by the Government.

When it comes to pay equity, the Government is dealing with the issues of Terra Nova—the court cases there. We are working with the stakeholders. I think we are working very constructively there. We are looking for sensible and practical guidelines that can be implemented, and good progress is being made. Good progress is also being made on the minimum wage.

There is more to come from the Government on that front, but every year this Government has encouraged and put up the minimum wage, and of course we are seeing wages growing faster than inflation.

When it comes to legislation around minimum employment standards, that too is going through this Parliament in 2016 along with work around the zero-hour contracts.

When it comes to the costs for employers and employees, ACC, we are going to see those costs fall by $450 million in 2016. There is great work being done by the Minister and by the ministry.

When it comes to average motor vehicle costs for ACC, they are being cut by a third, down to, on average, about $130.

The Business Growth Agenda—it was good to see Winston Peters coming along and supporting Steven Little, our man—well, Steven Joyce. That would be Andrew Little. I forgot his name; he has had so much attention recently.

But the Business Growth Agenda, what is it going to do? There will be more of the regional programmes, more initiatives around tertiary education, more for ICT, more graduates in ICT, the roll-out of three graduate schools around the country, and the lifting of the number of engineers. It is about skills and innovation.

When it comes to apprenticeships, there has been a big increase in both the number of apprenticeships—those being trained—and particularly pleasing, a very big increase in the number of Māori and Pacific students doing well in our education system.

We can see that with the increase in the NCEA level 2 levels, we can see it through the numbers going through our universities in the successful completion rate, we can see it in our apprenticeships, we can see the growth in the Māori economy—and all of this happened on the back of the Business Growth Agenda, with more science and innovation, and certainly the National Science Challenge is helping to drive that.

I do not have a huge amount of time to go through all of the initiatives for education and health, but it is fair to say that the Government will invest more money this year—more money in both the infrastructure supporting our education and health systems, more availability for drugs in our community, more choice for people when it comes to education, and better opportunities to equip youngsters for modern New Zealand, providing access to not only world-class education but world-class health systems.

Infrastructure will be a big part of the Government’s programme for 2016. This year the Government will alone spend $6 billion in infrastructure.

What is fair to say is we build the infrastructure, and the Labour protesters lie in the middle of it—but at least it is providing some use for them from time to time.

But we will be at the table with the City Rail Link, we will be there with the East-West Link, doing work on that, the Waikato Expressway, more roading for Christchurch, and more regional roading projects. They are still cheering in Taranaki about Mt Messenger—still cheering about what has been happening there.

When it comes to housing affordability, Resource Management Act reform is high on the Government’s agenda. And for those parties who want to talk about housing affordability, the costs on business, and the costs on households, there is a simple solution: come to this Parliament and support sensible Resource Management Act legislation, and the Government will work with you. Connectivity is a big part of this Government, with the world with free-trade agreements but also with ultra-fast broadband—for that initiative of 80 percent, and also rural broadband.

And as I said, when it comes to housing there will be work in a number of areas including more land being released, work on withholding taxes and their implementation—and almost certainly for foreigners there—and of course, more work on the special housing areas.

When it comes to rental properties, legislation will be introduced in relation to the installation of smoke alarms in rental properties.

When it comes to the environment, there is the important legislation around the oceans sanctuary of the Kermadec Islands: 620,000 square kilometres going into an ocean sanctuary twice the land mass of New Zealand and the equivalent of the land mass of France—what a great way to preserve our environment.

And for the least well-off in our community, benefits will arise by $25 per week for beneficiaries with children from 1 April, there will be more obligations on sole parents, a major review of Child, Youth and Family—the review has been completed, the work has been done, and the Minister is now working on that.

When it comes to social housing we will see the transfer of social housing to social housing providers in Invercargill and Tauranga, new places in Auckland.

When it comes to Māori, there will be more work when it comes to Treaty settlements so that by 2017 all iwi who want to settle with the Government can. There is enormous work happening in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act reforms.

When it comes to security legislation, the Government is working hard on the reforms being proposed in the new report by Patsy Reddy and Michael Cullen in relation to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau.

There will be the small issue of the flag referendum in March.

This is going to be a very, very busy year for a National-led Government. We are hungry, we are energetic, we are ready to go, and, unlike the Opposition, we are united. We know what we stand for and we know what we stand against.

We have many policies but we are on the same pages. We are the one-position party, and with great momentum for New Zealand.

Meanwhile the two-position party can spend the rest of 2016 arguing with each other, because they are the only people who are going to be listening to them—themselves.

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  1. Zedd

     /  9th February 2016

    BORING B-S !! 😦

  2. Rob

     /  9th February 2016

    ” What a great display of cricket yesterday afternoon by Brendon McCullum in the Chappell-Hadlee series. New Zealand up against Australia one more time under a National-led Government—what a wonderful result.”
    What the hell does that have to do with anything. If it’s relevant to anything to do with a National-led Government then the fact that we lost the World Cup under a National-led Government is as well.

  3. Blazer

     /  9th February 2016

    ‘New Zealand up against Australia one more time under a National-led Government—what a wonderful result.’…taking the piss!Say its not true!!

  1. Cunliffe unclear, Key wrong on TPPA | Your NZ

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