Simon Bridges – leader’s address, National conference

Simon Bridges’ address at the 2018 National conference. It starts with what looks like party raffle results.

Stuff:  Smaller class sizes under Nats, says Simon Bridges in major speech

National leader Simon Bridges has delivered a commitment to reduce class sizes in primary schools, during a major speech in which he also attacked the Government’s economic management.

In a fiery speech to the National Party annual conference on Sunday, Bridges promised National would increase the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids “more teacher time”.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” he said.

The announcement was met with thunderous applause…

A conference without thunderous applause would be kinda strange.

UPDATE: The speech transcript isn’t available on National’s website but it has been sent out as a ‘press release’.

SPEECH: Simon Bridges – Speech to National Party Annual Conference

It is such a pleasure to be addressing you as leader of this amazing party, which I’m proud to have been a member of for 25 years.

I want to begin by thanking each and every one of you for giving your time to support us. For putting in the hard yards, raising money and knocking on doors.

You are the beating heart of the National Party.

Your commitment was put to the test following the last election.

It’s been a tough adjustment.

But National is strong.

National is vibrant.

And if we work together, National is going back to the Beehive in 2020.

We’re a fantastic team. And that is in large part down to our tireless President, Peter Goodfellow. Thank you Peter.

And can I also thank someone who never lets me forget my Westie roots. She has been an incredible support for me – my deputy Paula Bennett.

Paula and I lead a team of 56 talented, driven MPs who are truly committed to New Zealand.

From Invercargill to Northland, they live in, love and fiercely represent their communities, so let’s give them a big round of applause.

I also want to thank one particular MP who left Parliament this year after nearly three decades of service.

It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of a man I respect and admire so much, Sir Bill English.

Delegates, I want to tell you about a woman who moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

She has never lacked aspiration or a commitment to hard work. Through plenty of perseverance she now has her own successful business and does pro bono work for charities and community groups.

She is a mum to three young children that she is home alone with on far too many nights.

So many working mums are like her up and down this country.

But alongside all of that, she is also my biggest supporter, my wife, my partner for life

Could you please join me in welcoming Natalie on to the stage.

And these are our three children Emlyn, Harry and our baby Jemima.

Everyday this family amazes and delights me. They inspire me to do all I can to make New Zealand a place we are all proud of.

I love you. Thank you so much.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am proud to be a New Zealander.

We are all lucky to live in this beautiful country, tucked away in our corner of the South Pacific.

We are a successful, prosperous, confident nation that can and does foot it with the best in the world.

I love this place.

New Zealand is filled with so many opportunities.

It wasn’t always the case – ten years ago 30,000 people were leaving New Zealand every year to move to Australia, because that’s where the opportunities were.

Well, last year there were more coming the other way.

We’ve made great progress – because of the principles National bought to government.

The belief in personal responsibility, that if you put in the hard-yards, you deserve to reap the rewards.

The belief in an individual’s freedom to choose how to live their life.

The belief in enterprise as a way to create jobs, lift incomes and drive prosperity for all.

And the belief in a shared sense of social justice – a desire to give a helping hand to those in need.

These are my principles. They are National’s principles. And they are New Zealand’s principles.

There is a perception that on the right of politics we don’t care as much as on the left.

Our opponents do their best to make people think that, but they’re wrong.

Actually, if I think where I’ve come from, and everything about my upbringing, from my mum’s role as a teacher to dad’s work as a Minister – it’s all shaped me into someone with a strong sense of justice.

It is what drives me.

I want everyone to be given the best opportunity to live life to the full – and that’s especially important for the most vulnerable who need the extra support that New Zealanders as a fair minded people want to give them.

I mentioned personal responsibility earlier. Because there’s two sides to that coin.

We should do all we can to help people lead amazing lives.

But if people choose not to fulfil their end of that social contract, I believe there should be consequences.

If you commit a crime, you do the time. It’s for our safety, and victims deserve justice.

If you’re on a benefit and can work, you should be actively looking for a job.

But this Government sees things very differently.

They want to drastically cut the number of people in prison, regardless of the amount of crime committed.

They want to remove all benefit sanctions, so there’s no consequence if you fail a drug test or skip a job interview.

That’s just wrong.

It will not happen in a government I lead.

Delegates, this new Government had 9 years to get ready.

They did nothing.

Now they’ve set up 130 working groups at well over $1 million a pop – because they don’t have ideas of their own.

They’re incapable of making decisions and nothing is getting done.

Taxpayers are paying for Labour’s laziness.

Well, National will be the hardest working opposition this country has ever seen.

I don’t want to win in 2020 just because the Government is incompetent.

I want to win a contest of ideas, to demonstrate that National has the vision and the team to deliver a better future for everyone.

We’ll have the best ideas on the environment, how we can clean up our waterways and protect our beautiful country for our grandchildren.

We’ll have the best ideas for supporting the most vulnerable, to help them turn their lives around.

We’ll have the best ideas on law and order, on how to keep you safer by keeping our most violent predators locked up.

We’ll have the best ideas on health, on education, on housing, and on infrastructure.

And we’ll have the best ideas on the economy, because frankly, that’s an area where the Government has no idea at all.

Actually that’s not fair. Their plan is to tax and borrow more, so they can spend it – or at least ask a working group how to spend it.

Cancelling National’s tax cuts, and increasing costs by raising fuel taxes and housing taxes. All so they can spend billions more on diplomats, a tertiary fees policy that doesn’t deliver any more students, and a slush-fund for New Zealand First’s pet projects.

They’re out of control.

Unlike Grant Robertson, I believe hardworking Kiwis should keep more of their own money.

Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or it means we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.

But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for new workers.

About wages for our families.

About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.

About the opportunities we can give our kids to move into work and follow their passion.

About our ability to invest more in education and infrastructure and health.

All of this flows from the economy.

But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.

They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.

They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports.

They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed – the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.

National backs every single one of them.

Under National, we built one of the best performing economies in the developed world.

We dealt with the Global Financial Crisis and the earthquakes and we were getting ahead.

But we need to keep it going to ensure all New Zealanders can share in the gains – not everyone has yet.

But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Government doesn’t have a clear plan for the economy.

They’re slowing New Zealand down, not speeding us up.

Whether it’s transport, with higher taxes and fewer new roads.

Whether it’s back to decades-old labour law changes which give power to the unions and just add compliance costs.

Whether it’s the cost of living, where changes such as higher fuel taxes, rent increases and higher income taxes are costing some Kiwi families over $100 a week more.

And whether it’s the decision to shut down oil and gas exploration.

Each of these policies on their own are bad.

Together, they’re going to see more New Zealanders head overseas because there’ll be fewer and fewer opportunities here.

New Zealand can’t afford this Government.

National’s approach is very different.

I believe in sensible, consistent economic policies that provide clear direction and encourage businesses to grow.

Policies that deliver new infrastructure, support investment, drive exports and help grow skills – because that is how opportunities are created.

Those opportunities are hard won, but easily lost.

I talked earlier about the 30,000 people that were leaving for Australia every year just a decade ago – because Australia was where the opportunities were.

I’m proud we’ve been able to turn that around, by creating opportunity for our kids here at home.

But I tell you what, other countries aren’t sitting still waiting for this Government to get its act together.

Other countries want what we have, and we can’t afford three years lost to working groups and inquiries and uncertainty.

We certainly can’t afford six.

Under this Government, business confidence is already at its lowest level since the Global Financial Crisis – while in Australia it’s the highest it has been in 20 years.

We can’t let Australia beat us.

We need to keep pushing. Otherwise it is all too easy to become an also ran, a place where our kids don’t see a long-term future.

I worry all we’ll export to Australia is our young people.

I want my kids to raise their kids here. And I know you do too.

I’m always thinking about how we can make this country better for our children.

How we can create opportunity for all, and help New Zealanders realise their dreams and ambitions here.

As a father of three young children, I feel it.

I want more for them.

More choice, more opportunities and for them to lead the best life they can.

I want all our children to see a pathway to their success, whatever that may be.

For too many, that pathway can look bleak.

If Social Investment has taught us anything, it’s that some of our children have the odds stacked against them.

That without targeted help they won’t achieve their dreams.

I want to fight for a better future for those kids.

I want to fight for all our kids.

The forgotten, the naughty, the good, the exceptional.

They all count. They all matter to me.

It’s got to be about opportunity for all, here in New Zealand.

And that starts with education.

So I want to put a few ideas on the table.

Education is the future leveller.

It was for me – from Rutherford High in West Auckland to Oxford University – and it must be for our country’s children.

If a little person’s brain is nurtured and taught how to think and work and learn, that child can go on to achieve great things.

Giving them the best start in life matters more than anything.

The early years are vital, and I believe there is a lot that can be done to improve early childhood education.

It starts with a focus on quality.

Most centres do a good job of looking after our young children, but a few not doing good enough is a few too many in my book.

We need to know what is happening in every early childhood centre in the country.

National will invest more to make sure our kids get the best quality start to their education, but we will also demand nothing but the highest standards.

Or frankly the centre should close its doors.

The next step is improving our primary schools.

With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into.

The child that finds it hard to sit still and follow instructions.

The bright child that wants to be challenged.

The gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

What they all have in common, what they all need, is attention.

Attention from a teacher that has the time to acknowledge their individual needs and nurture them.

A teacher who can set a learning programme that is suited to the child, who isn’t so busy managing a room of too many young children that they can’t recognise the individual qualities that sit within all of them.

All our kids should get the individual attention they deserve.

That’s why I want more teachers in our primary schools, to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

Schools currently get one teacher for every 29 nine and ten year olds. It’s lower than that for younger children.

Those ratios should be reduced.

By giving our kids more attention, we can improve their education and set them up to take advantage of all the opportunities life throws at them.

Imagine the difference that would make to the children and to the teachers.

More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

Frankly, they need less Facebook and more face time.

Some will say that class size is less important than teacher quality.

Well I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive.

Teacher quality matters a lot, but I also believe that simply having more attention from teachers will make a difference to young children.

Sure older kids that are more self-managing can be in larger classes, but our young ones will be better off having more attention from their teacher.

After parents, teachers are often the most influential people in the lives of our children.

I come from a family of teachers – my mum, my sister and my brother. I want teachers to be highly respected professionals in our communities. They deserve that.

Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Unlike our opponents, we will be prepared for Government in two years’ time.

We’ve got a two and a half year process to run the ruler over our existing policies, and propose new ones for 2020.

This year is about listening.

We want to hear from you – parents and pupils, families and farmers, businesses and communities.

We want your views.

We want to talk and challenge ourselves, and contest ideas.

In education, our team led by Nikki Kaye will use that input to develop discussion documents next year, and our plans and policies for the 2020 election.

Unlike our opponents we welcome different views.

And unlike them before 2020 we will have made decisions and we will be ready to lead.


My team and I will be working hard to ensure the next government is National-led.

We will make every day count.

We want to undo the damage this Government is doing now.

Come election year we will have the detailed, thought out and costed ideas to do that.

We will show you we have the plans and the policies and the people to earn your support and continue to build the country you deserve.

This country can do better.

In fact we can be brilliant.

National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference.

I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.


Leave a comment


  1. lurcher1948

     /  29th July 2018

    9 years to get smaller classes,not done under their rule
    national suddenly loves charter schools,must have read the hatred on kiwiblog or probably supplied the hatred for Farrar to post
    SEEN IT ALL BEFORE over the years

  2. Applause is usually thunderous, as assaults are brutal, screams are piercing, heroes reluctant * and books are made into major motion pictures. People who are rescued are ‘plucked to safety’ and relations going to visit injured people make mercy dashes.

    * one of the silliest ?

  3. PartisanZ

     /  29th July 2018

    Smaller class sizes!? Are they kidding …?

    Every political party since Adam have offered more teachers and smaller class sizes. It never happens …

    This hardly seems like a Annual Conference Earth-shattering policy announcement …

    I guess its the right time though … Two years out … No-one will remember come 2020 and they either won’t have the opportunity to do it or they just won’t do it …

    Expect the usual roll out over the next 24 months … More police, bought to you by The Police … More prisons, bought to you by Serco/Fletchers/Macquarie and The Police … Crack down on drugged drivers, bought to you by Lion Nathan & the Liquor Industry …

  4. Gezza

     /  29th July 2018

    1ewes at six did a bit of a sly hatchet job on the conference, imo.

    John Key getting a sound bite with his embarrasingly obviously forced fake smile saying that Bridges must be highly thought of by the public because otherwise the National Party wouldn’t be doing so well in the polls showed that he hasn’t lost his penchant for lying thru his teeth without blinking an eyelid.

    • Gezza

       /  29th July 2018

      PS: 1ewes also briefly showed one of those awful, narrow, portrait upright cellcam selfie vid clips that idiots take from Jacinda saying she was looking forward to coming back soon & throwing herself into her work as PM, noting that she deliberately chose the occasion of the National Party Conference to post it to her Facebook page.

      I thought they did a bit of a hatchet job there too, tbh. Frankly, I realised I’d rather have Peters in the job. I haven’t missed her.

    • PartisanZ

       /  29th July 2018

      Gezza … Given the quality of public television nowadays, it could have been 1ewes’ best work for many a long year and just looked to you like a hatchet job …?

      Lying through the teeth without blinking an eye is covered in the first 5 days of politician boot camp … which lasts 5 days …

      • Gezza

         /  29th July 2018

        Well they generally do a hatchet job on the Party Conferences of whoever is in opposition, by inserting the opinion of whichever political reporter gets the assignment. To be fair now they’ve got Jess Mutch as their Senior Polical Editor the woman has a few clues & her political analysis skills are reasonably sharp.

        Thank Allah they’ve got rid of Andrea Vance & Giggles Bradford – Giggles should only be doing liteweight lifestyle, entertainment news & women’s magazine items. And Andrea could happily just sink without trace for all the use she was.

        The difference between the various politicians who lie thru their teeth is that the others all affect a serious look. John Key always does a fake smile.

        Any update on how we effect a change to the system & to what kind of new one?

  5. lurcher1948

     /  29th July 2018

    Simon got an old Australian PM to praise him and National,so more groveling and arse licking coming up, will it never end from the sell out party called national

  6. PartisanZ

     /  29th July 2018

    Sure enough, as we speak, Te Heraldo is reporting –

    Trevett: Prime Minister ‘Peeing on Bridges’ parade’ …

    ‘Claire Trevett: PM Jacinda Ardern gatecrashes Simon Bridges’ party’

    What a terrible thing for her to do!!! (And rock the baby at the same time!)

    Oh the depths our Fourth Estate plumb these days!

  7. Gezza

     /  29th July 2018

    Well I just listened to the speech – only got audio in PG’s clip, but that might have been a bonus.

    He’s addressed his diction. Someone’s voice coached him.

    That’s actually a good speech by Bridges. A couple of flat spots. Tuff on crime – but nothing about rehabilitation. Tuff on benefit sanctions – these are overly punitive & often just make a bad situation worse. Optimistic about job creation if they get back in power, but nothing about low pay, immigration, housing crisis. Committed to tax reduction, but misses the point these aren’t worth much to people on low pay. These are issues that concern ordinary, average, rational, working voters.

    But he articulates the Party’s philosophy on the economy well, & his argument for focussing more resources on early childhood education because that’s where there’s the best opportunity to rescue troublesome & troubled kids from shit backgrounds with more individual attention & support in the earliest developmental years & that can make the biggest positive difference to their outlook & self-confidence & opportunities to learn & develop the habits & skills to be & do the best they can for themselves & their communities.

    Promising to spend the next two years talking to people & developing & costing their policies so that by the next election they have all the detail the current government so obviously lacks – and can lay all their cards on the table for voters & show how they intend to pay for their policy & what they are expected to achieve, is also the obvious smart approach.

  8. Simon Bridges is the young, new-ish National Party Leader. Historically National has had more turns at running things than the other parties. For this reason he is probably somebody to take notice of, even if not in power at the moment. Bridges is currently doing a tour of regional towns in order to gauge the mood out there and to introduce himself to the many who are unaware that he has spent the past 10 years in parliament. A member of AWSM had a front row seat as the leader arrived late for his public meeting in Rotorua. This is a summary of the main part of the meeting…


    • Gezza

       /  30th July 2018

      Thanks for that. Useful background perspective. His focus on crime & punishment but not rehabilitation is a minus, I think, to most people who don’t want crims bsck on the streets but who can can see the causes of crime, especially youth crime, are not being addressed, & who want to know how National plans to prevent kids committing burglaries, thefts & violent crimes in the first place.

      It seems their early education-boost plan might have some vague intentions in that area.

      The other gaps I list in my comment above don’t seem to have be covered in his meetings. Limited appeal to voters I think. Just doesn’t come across as having much of a personality – although aspects of his Party Conference speech give some indications of reasonably clever speechwriters.

  9. A lot of ‘my’ from Bridges (13 times in the speech). He is often saying things like like “My team and I”. Teams are usually ‘us’.

    • Gezza

       /  30th July 2018

      Yes, I’ve noticed that, PG.

      It was something Andrew Little always used to do too.

      I think it’s a major mistake for any party leader to do that – except maybe Trump who’s always been such a narcissist he can get away with it.

      If they’re not polling well & not popular it kills the potential support for the party, imo. Folk do expect more “we”. We’re looking for a team of cooperating, competent potential Ministers in a government – not a one man band.

    • Gerrit

       /  30th July 2018

      Nitpicking and pedantic?

      Leaders lead a team so the use of My team (as in the team I lead) is perfectly acceptable.

      Using “us” (or “we”) means he is part of a team but not necessarily the leader.

      Subtle but important difference when positioning oneself in the leadership stakes or role (some would say he is not that entrenched in the role at the moment thus his reinforcement is strategic with Collins the most effectrive minister in the house as possible alternative.

      Message, I suggest, is more internal than external focused. Some would consider it a sign of weakness (external observers) but others could well see it as stake in the ground or rallying point (internal observers).

      One could argue that the use of “My Team” shows an ability to delegate and foster talent and an openness to let the “team” get on with their work.

      Sort of a direct opposite to Winston Peters who has the “my way or the highway” style of leadership.

      Could be strategic to start in gaining back the conservative vote from NZ First. Hence the excessive use of “My Team and I” to foster specific nuances.

      • Gezza

         /  30th July 2018

        Well, ok, maybe some people do like the Mein Fuhrer approach.

        Party Conference speeches being primarliy for internal consumption these days doesn’t really fly with me. You don’t need to win over the party faithful. They’ll happily give riotous applause to a total plonker, even if Brutus is busy at the same conference pulling plotters together for a knife job at some point.

        • Gerrit

           /  30th July 2018

          Holy smoke, Godwins law in action already?

          If the speech was not for internal consumption than it suggest (as I proposed) that National is differentiating it’s leadership styles compared to the truly “Mein Fuhrer” approach as show by Winston Peters.

          National strategically needs the conservative NZ First voter to switch from a sinking NZ First to National and a differentiation in leadership styles could be the starting signal for that.

          • Gezza

             /  30th July 2018

            Don’t be ridiculous. Not Godwining (or God winning either) at all. The Fuhrer concept is all about being The Leader, & that’s what the title means.

            And if you really ever watch & analyse Peters in action you can’t miss the constant, obligatory references to all policy & important decisions being made by or subject to the theoretical assent of the Party members.

          • Gerrit

             /  30th July 2018

            Yep, can understand that but to pick up on one political team leader using the “My Team” terminology and call it the “Fuhrer concept” when ALL political team leader use the “My Team” moniker and thus have your Fuhrer concept prognosis as well) is disingenuous.

            Disingenuous as you wont tolerate the obvious comparisons but happy to pick out one without acknowledging the others.

            • Gezza

               /  30th July 2018

              I’m equally unimpressed when other party leaders do it,too, Gerrit – if you read what I actually wrote.

              I’m actually pointing out what a turnoff it is generally to voters & it can – in my opinion, I should stress – backfire bigly.

              How well has it served, Shearer, Cunliffe, Little – who all did it? Disastrous. Nobody believed they were strong leaders of an endlessly plotting shower of shit with not a competent-looking potential Minister among them.

              Peters is Der Fuhrer of the NZF party. Makes up policy on the fly as & when he needs to target rednecks again. Everybody know. But he’s a smart enuf operator to know when you’re asked about anything in the policy line you at least make the public pretence it’s actually a unit of soldiers when it’s really just an obvious pack of noddies just doing what they’re told. The only other star of that shambles in His Pomposity, The Champion Of The Provinces.

              Ardern’s popularity comes from people who read women’s magazines, credulous female 20 somethings, and wimpy blokes who go along with them hoping to be allowed to score sometime because that’s the only way they will. And Blazer. Look at her portfolios. Useless. Do you think she’s really leading her team? Grant Robertson’s running the show. And Peters (of all people) has outclassed her in just 4 weeks.

            • Gezza

               /  30th July 2018

              But – I meant to add – this page is about Bridges, so my analysis is of HIM.

              Are you a committed ‘come what may’ National party member or voter, or something?

            • Blazer

               /  30th July 2018

              ‘Key’s popularity came from people who read women’s magazines, a skilful PR campaign,and the party faithfull. And PDB. Look at his own portfolios.
              Delegating ,a must for an effective politician.
              Do you think Key ever had an original idea?
              Corporates ran the show.
              Why do you think Key resigned?
              More rewards,less work as his masters extended their rewards for his stewardship and a nice profit to be had after overseeing the destruction of the ‘Kiwi Dream’ of home ownership.

            • Gezza

               /  30th July 2018

              Bridges is the man to focus on here. And Peters. And Ardern. Come into the now.

  10. Blazer

     /  30th July 2018

    peoples most prevelent ‘pathological obsession’,although ‘evil muslims’…is fast eroding its…lead.
    Brought to you by the Corporatocracy.

  11. Zedd

     /  30th July 2018

    I was in Aust.for 20 years & returned after redundancy.. the opportunities are not as good now as 1980-90s BUT also kiwis are not getting ‘equal rights’ (welfare etc.) as they once did, as long as you had worked for several years

    BUT I think their economy is more equal; not as much ‘mind the gap’ as here !

  1. Simon Bridges – leader’s address, National conference — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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