National’s adjournment speech

For some reason Prime Minister didn’t lead the adjournment speeches in the final day of the term in Parliament yesterday. Neither did his deputy Paula Bennett. Instead it was the lower ranked Gerry Brownlee who spoke on behalf of National.


ADJOURNMENT

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Foreign Affairs): I move, That the House do now adjourn until Tuesday, 29 August 2017. Before I go too much further, I would like to take a few moments to thank the many people who need to be thanked as this Parliament draws to its conclusion. There is of course the Speaker himself, yourself as Assistant Speaker, and the Hon Trevor Mallard also assisting in that regard. I want to thank also, particularly, Chester Borrows for his contribution in that regard. The many presiding officers—and I want to congratulate the Clerk for his successful transition into that role during this particular parliamentary term and wish him all the best for future Parliaments. I would like to thank those who clean and cater the precinct, those who keep it secure, the drivers, and a range of other attendants who do work to make this Parliament work.

Then there are the teams of people who help us in our electorates, in our ministerial offices, and in our parliamentary offices in order that we are able to do that work that we are required to do on behalf New Zealanders. I want to say to all involved that your efforts are very much appreciated.

What a fascinating 3 weeks we have seen in New Zealand politics—plenty of downs, plenty of downs, and one or two ups, but overall a big question about the confidence and the capability of Opposition parties to be anywhere near Government in this country. There is no doubt, though, we have got to acknowledge, we are seeing the rise of a political star in the new Leader of the Opposition—a star in the sense of being right. I understand that Jacinda Ardern is intelligent, that she is competent, and that by all accounts she is a pleasant person to be around. She is a likable person, but a likable person does not necessary translate into a strong political leader.

As she said yesterday, herself, she has been caught between a rock and hard place. She was talking about being caught between Ayers Rock and New Zealand. But let me make it very clear that the rock she is caught between is in fact her own caucus, her own political colleagues, because apart from the new smiley face, nothing has changed at all—nothing has changed at all.

And then, of course, it is very obvious that the hard place is the great record of the National Government over the last terms of Parliament. Without question, that record has been exceptional, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a large number of people, as this Parliament will learn later this evening. A sustainably growing economy and a low-inflation, low-interest environment, with strong employment and rising wages, is important to all New Zealanders.

The Leader of the Opposition and her party lack the depth that is capable of ensuring that that economic direction continues in the best interests of New Zealand. It is the one area where they do not want to have a discussion. The product of a strong, stable, confident Government is that it is able to serve the communities it represents. So there is the hard place for Labour. It is the place where you get the opportunity to show that you care for New Zealanders by doing things. It is where they get their financial security, where they get their welfare security, where they get their safety security, where they get their health security and their education security, and their general prosperity and opportunity in life. It is from the economy, and that is what Labour does not want to talk about.

I will tell you what. We are going to get a speech shortly, and I will bet the economy does not feature, other than to have a look at it with a bit of a squinted eye, from a bit of a distance, and to simply say: “We could do it better.” It is hard work—it is hard work. Never mind that New Zealand now is the envy of the world when it comes to both social and economic matters. Never mind that, according to Labour, it is of no account that Moody’s advice is that New Zealand will be one of the fastest-growing economies, with a triple A rating in the years ahead.

And then, of course, let us not pay any attention to the fact that we have a service sector responsible for two-thirds of the New Zealand economy that is growing and continuing to provide opportunities and jobs for New Zealanders. The average annual wage, apparently, is not a matter to the Labour Party. It is now around $60,000 and projected to be $65,000 in the next few years. But apparently it is just not true that jobs are growing at a remarkable rate. Apparently the 180,000 New Zealanders who are now in work, who would not have been in work had it not been for these policies, do not matter.

The economy in New Zealand is diversified. We now have tourism bigger than the dairy industry. We have a wine industry that is growing at a massive rate. We have high-tech manufacturing growing at a huge rate, and of course we have so many other areas of the economy that are beginning to emerge as strong performers for New Zealanders.

That is the stuff that is important to New Zealanders. That is what really matters. You can go around all you like, taking as many selfies as you like, as many smiley moments as you like, until it is made clear to New Zealanders that this stuff matters, then it is just “I like that position, but can’t vote for them.”

I do not think Labour can avoid talking about the economy for a lot longer.

Phil Twyford: Don’t they ask you for selfies?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well, actually they do.

Phil Twyford: Do they?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yeah, and I always tell them to put on the wide angle lens and then we will both be in it. There is no doubt—[Interruption] I will tell you what. If I turned up to one of your meetings, everyone would think you had a crowd. It would be a novel experience. It would be quite a novel experience for Grant Robertson.

It is without doubt that it was “the rock”—the then finance Minister, and now Prime Minister Bill English—who steadied us through the financial crisis that this Government inherited from the previous Government. People have got short memories, but we will remind them. We were facing decades of deficits when Michael Cullen and his crew left.

We have done a lot, by requiring better value for Government services, by ensuring that we get the best value from the dollars that New Zealanders commit to education, to health, to policing, and to all the range of Government services. We would have done it a lot sooner had we not been having to provide for the catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch that took some $15 billion out of our economy at that time.

The Labour Party will try to pretend that that sort of economic management is easy. It just happens. Do not worry about how it happens; it just happens. Well, that is not going to be an easy conversation. When Labour members have to explain that their $18.8 billion worth of promises, so far, will be paid for from higher taxes, from higher mortgage rates, and from higher costs on all New Zealand families, simply saying “We can do it better, so just do it with us.”, is not going to work.

The other point I would like to make is the pride with which all National candidates go into this election. They are proud to stand on a record that has very much delivered for New Zealanders. In the Budget earlier this year we were able to announce a $2 billion package for New Zealanders from April of next year—1.3 million New Zealand families will be able to keep more of the money that they earn, or through family support, or through the accommodation supplement. Labour members voted against it and the question is why.

Well, apparently it is because they are going to put together some handpicked bunch of cloth-capped economists who are going to give the Government advice on how to tax all New Zealanders more. What a tax—just one. And now you see them out there saying “Don’t worry about it. We’re going to put more costs on farmers, but it won’t have any effect on food whatsoever.” Well, that is the sort of economics that they are trying to sell to New Zealanders that just will not work.

Then there is the vexed issue of capital gains. I think—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Oh, they laugh. They laugh—right? Hard-working New Zealanders who have made a few quid are going to have to pay more under them and they laugh. That is very, very, very sad. I would suggest to Jacinda Ardern that she should today tell the House the terms of reference that she will give to that bunch of left-wing economists to work out the tax system. [Interruption] I do not mind saying that. It is absolutely true.

There should be a great deal more clarity around water tax—a huge amount of more clarity around the water tax. To suddenly say “Oh, when we are in Government we’ll have better information so we’ll know how much we can charge them.” flies in the face of a party in Government who says it will not work. I think that as we go towards the election day, the great call that says “Just do it” will be beaten by a Government—a Government that is delivering and will deliver for New Zealanders.

4 Comments

  1. National were always going to find it difficult to win a fourth term. Recent events seem to have made that harder for sure.

    • Gezza

       /  August 18, 2017

      That was good.

    • Corky

       /  August 18, 2017

      Mikey at his best.

      Undecided- 13%
      Greens-4%
      Toppers-3%

      That’s 20% of the voting pool. Of course those figures will vacillate. One thing for sure, anyone believing they can call this election before the votes are counted is talking bs.

  2. PDB

     /  August 18, 2017

    National always looked likely to need Winston – Winston in govt is poison – National better off sitting in opposition for a term, regroup/refresh the leadership group, and buy some popcorn.

    Perfect world would have Labour/NZL First/Greens all requiring each others votes to pass anything in the house. Peter Dunne may have been useful to the left in this situation in helping the left in passing some legislation.