Bridges versus Ardern in Parliament

The return of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Question Time in Parliament yesterday seemed to pass largely unnoticed as most attention was on the Brash speech ban at Massey.

Simon Bridges holding Ardern to account wasn’t very newsworthy anyway, but here it goes.

2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I’m nothing if not consistent: yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: Some things don’t change.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think that’s sort of now 2-1 in the out-of-order comments. We’ll just get back to the questions.

Hon Simon Bridges: When she dismissed business confidence yesterday as “perceptions” and said, “I’m interested in the reality of what our economy is doing and how it is performing.”, had she then seen yesterday’s report from Treasury that stated, “… weaker confidence, in conjunction with other data, highlight the risk that growth over the coming fiscal year may be weaker-than-forecast in the Budget …”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would not characterise that as dismissal at all. I hear what business is saying in the same way I hear what nurses have said, what teachers have said, what anyone who works in the well-being space has said around the need to rebuild confidence in New Zealand’s social well-being outcomes as much as our economic outcomes. What I will say is that I also have to acknowledge the international environment, which is having an effect here in New Zealand, which is why we need to diversify our economy and make sure that we are not vulnerable, which is exactly the place that last Government left us in.

Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the member, I am going to ask David Bennett to go the rest of this question and the series of supplementaries and answers without interjecting.

Hon Simon Bridges: On the international environment, why is it, then, that New Zealand’s the only country to have gone from near the top of the OECD in business confidence to right near the bottom?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We’re actually a fraction away from the long-term average, and I have to say, when you look at the OECD comparisons around our growth forecast, actually we stand up pretty well.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept the weaker growth talked of now by Treasury is the reality, as is a decline in GDP per capita in just the last quarter?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If we’re going to quote what Treasury have said, let’s share the entire picture. They’ve said that the housing market was cooling faster than expected. And actually, the housing market was overheated under that last Government, and we need to stand up and fully confront that and the harm that it was doing New Zealand’s people. Secondly, we need to acknowledge the international environment, which Treasury has, as well. And, at the same time, they’ve said that labour income—wages—are growing strongly, that employment growth is solid, and that we have issued things like more building consents. If you’re going to talk about the economy, let’s talk about all of the indicators, not just some of them.

Hon Simon Bridges: On her discussion, once again, of the international environment and Treasury’s view on it, does she not accept that they’ve said, “The international environment remains broadly stable.”—nothing’s changed?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If the member is reading the voice of business—like, for instance, I would imagine he would look at the KPMG survey, which has highlighted that that is, in fact, having an impact. So if the member thinks the KPMG survey is babble, does he think that what John Key has said was babble as well? Because he’s raised it, too.

David Seymour: Does the Prime Minister stand by education Minister Chris Hipkins’ statement that the Tertiary Education Commission will have new powers under the Act to monitor the tertiary sector and hold providers to account for their use of public funding?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If he’s asserting that the Minister of Education is saying that we should strive for high-quality tertiary education, then that is no bad thing.

David Seymour: Would it be a bad thing if a university failed to use its public funding in alignment with section 161 of the Education Act 1989 to uphold academic freedom, such as by refusing to allow speakers to speak on university campuses because of their political views?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Ultimately, institutions have their own freedom on a day-to-day basis, but if he’s asking me for a personal opinion, the example I think that he is pointing to I would characterise as an overreaction on the part of the institution.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Does the Prime Minister think it is tenable for the Government to threaten to cut funding for universities when they make decisions that the Government disagrees with?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Absolutely not. We continue to hold a personal view, and, as I say, there are a number of examples where politicians and ex-politicians have caused a stir on university campuses. I think the reaction we’ve seen has been an overreaction. Will we retaliate? Of course not.

Hon Dr David Clark: Ha, ha!

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Who made that noise?

Hon Dr David Clark: Mr Speaker, if you’re referring to the laugh—that was me.

Mr SPEAKER: Right, OK. Thank you.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept the weaker growth foreshadowed by Treasury and the decline in GDP per capita in just the last quarter to be a reality?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course Treasury has put out its forecasts, and I acknowledge that, yes, the housing market has cooled. International tensions have had an effect. But on the flip side, if I’m going to accept that, I’m also going to accept the wage growth, which is benefiting New Zealanders; high employment, which is also benefiting New Zealanders; and the fact that we have seen, for instance, a decrease in the number of young people in unemployment. I accept that we have challenges in front of us. That’s why we’re investing in boosting productivity, it’s why we’re investing in diversifying our trade, and it’s why we’re investing in R & D. I’m not shying away from those challenges.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Regarding the international influence upon New Zealand’s economy, is the Prime Minister encouraged by all of a sudden the number of highly-placed European Union officials and representations with respect to a free-trade deal with the European Union?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Absolutely. We have a visit today which only helps us further our relationships and New Zealand’s interests. I also applaud the work that the Minister for Trade and Export Growth is doing on our Trade for All, alongside negotiating the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the EU free-trade agreement. We are moving at pace, because growing exports grows jobs.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept a 60 percent decline in job growth since her Government came into office is a reality for the thousands of New Zealanders who didn’t get a job as a result?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We have 94,000 more people employed at the end of June 2018 than there were in June 2017. Our unemployment rate has decreased. So the member is picking a figure and interpreting it in the way that he chooses, but I am proud of the fact that we are putting people into jobs.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept a 4,000-person increase in unemployment in just three months to be a reality for those families?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It’s down from 4.8 percent, I would first point out. The second point that I would make is that we have seen a rise in participation—more people moving into the job market. I would interpret that to be that they see hope that there are jobs and work available for them. The ANZ Job Ads indicates that that is indeed the case.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept more industrial strikes in the last nine months than in the last nine years to be a reality for those businesses and workers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I just want to highlight today we’ve also concluded the nurses’ pay agreement, which is something that I would like to celebrate—and you’re welcome. We concluded that after inheriting it halfway through. We concluded it because we doubled the offer, we addressed the safety concerns, and, just as we have with teachers, we’ve already scrapped national standards. We’ve brought in more funding for teacher aides and for those with learning needs, and we have increased their operational funding. There is more to do, but we’ve done more in nine months than that Government did in nine years.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept the collapse of multiple construction companies to be a reality for those businesses, their workers, and their customers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Look, absolutely we’ve acknowledged that’s happened. That’s why we sat down with the vertical construction industry yesterday. I acknowledge that it’s a very different case for residential and those working in infrastructure, because they are seeing a huge boost in investment out of this Government in those sectors. When it comes to vertical construction, 18 percent of the work for that industry comes from Government. Even though we represent only 18 percent, we are fronting up and saying that if we can play a leadership role to ensure that we do not have a further collapse in this sector, we will play it. That’s what this Government has done. We hadn’t gone far enough with the reforms of the last Government, and we are, again, happy to pick up the pieces.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she think there will be real impacts for New Zealanders from us having the lowest business confidence since the global financial crisis, while in Australia it’s at a 30-year high?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Australia’s at a 30-year high, and yet we’re outperforming them on things like the employment rate.

Hon Simon Bridges: No, we’re not—not on anything.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: On things like the employment rate, we absolutely are. We have the third-highest rate of employment in the OECD. We have steady economic growth and, according to the OECD, at 3 percent, the same as Australia going into 2019. Where we don’t sit on the same page as Australia is our low wages, and we’re doing something about that, too.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the Prime Minister seriously denying that in Australia right now they are growing faster than us for the first time in several years, that their business confidence is at a 30-year high while ours is at a 10-year low, and that there are more New Zealanders leaving for Australia than there have been for some quite considerable time?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: What I am arguing is that if we’re going to look at the health of our economy, then we should look at a range of indicators. Employee confidence is up. Job ads are up. Consents are up. Unemployment—we have incredibly low unemployment in this country. We have 94,000 more people in work and—and—we have, on average, over $70 going into the back pockets of working New Zealanders and those in need, which, of course, is stimulating our economy. I’m proud of the changes we’re making. We need to modernise our economy and we are working hard on doing just that, as well.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept any responsibility in terms of her Government’s policies such as industrial relations reform, shutting down the oil and gas sectors in terms of new exploration, higher taxes, and banning foreign investment, and the hurt they’re causing business confidence, and therefore the direct impact they’re having for families all around New Zealand?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Look, as I’ve said, I absolutely acknowledge that businesses have shared with us via the confidence surveys that there are issues they wish us to work on. I’ve heard that. When you ask business what it is, they say to us it is the skills gap, so we’ve invested in training and educating our workforce, and business can access that just as much as anyone else. They’ve told us that it’s our productivity challenge. They’ve told us that it’s that we’re not investing in R & D. They’ve told us that we’ve underinvested in the regions, which is why we have the Provincial Growth Fund. They’ve told us it’s because we need to modernise our economy and because of the challenges of climate change, which is why we have the Green Investment Fund. I acknowledge that as with any Labour-led Government in the past, this coalition Government needs to challenge the perception that exists. I’m not shying away from that challenge, and that’s why I’m fronting it head-on.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t the Prime Minister in complete denial about our economy’s reality and any number that any of us could pick in her Government policies’ impact, and doesn’t she need to start listening to businesses, small and large, around New Zealand and make some serious changes?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said, I’ve acknowledged every single economic indicator that tells us we have a lot to be proud of, and I also acknowledge 94,000 more New Zealanders in work—something to be proud of. If that member wants to go around dissing our economy and the potential that exists in this country, that, I have to say, is a damn shame.

30 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  August 8, 2018

    In that one small exchange – Ardern;

    “Absolutely not.”
    “Absolutely. We have a visit today which only helps us further our relationships and New Zealand’s interests.”
    “Look, absolutely we’ve acknowledged that’s happened.”
    “On things like the employment rate, we absolutely are.”
    “Look, as I’ve said, I absolutely acknowledge that businesses have shared with us via the confidence surveys”.

    • robertguyton

       /  August 8, 2018

      And all the while, Bridges went Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap!

      • Corky

         /  August 8, 2018

        Wait till Jude becomes leader. That yapping will turn to growls. Mix that with the whining of Labour becoming opposition in 2020 and we will have a symphony of epic proportions.

        • robertguyton

           /  August 8, 2018

          Jude, the purveyor of fake news?
          More snarls than growls .
          Mind you, she’d have been growly at herself for her latest snarl-up; calling upon the delightful Mother Jacinda to decry something that didn’t exist; you’re trying too hard, Judith. He Corks; your predictions sound strained ; feeling a little desperate, are you? Jacinda deals with Soimon in such a casual, off-hand manner; I can see that would grate with an over-wrought Righty like yourself. What do do, what to do?? Elevate the Queen of Fake News to the leader’s seat? I see in the clip Sarah Dowie occupying Bennett’s chair; got her lined up for further promotion, to pair with some photogenic puppet bloke as yet tucked away in the Nat’s box of tricks, is my bet.

          • Corky

             /  August 8, 2018

            ”What do do, what to do?? Elevate the Queen of Fake News to the leader’s seat? ”

            Well, yes, sooner rather than later. But with National still more popular than Labour in the polls..and the economy tanking, I think we have a little leeway should National decide on a selection process.

            In the mean time I’m sure Andy, Jonesy and Phil will keep us over wrought Righties entertained.

      • Ray

         /  August 8, 2018

        He is back!
        So the evil rumours you were marooned up an apple tree by a tangled beard were just that.
        But just in time as even Blazer has been slipping towards a more neutral view of New Zealand politics.

        • robertguyton

           /  August 8, 2018

          The rumours were true, Ray; or at least as true as Jude’s Issue of National Import, but I’m on terra firm again and much worse than before, having tired of the constant yapping from the National Party puppies. Mind you, it is pruning time and I’ve much to do; probably just spray and walk away (to further the puppy theme).

      • Zedd

         /  August 8, 2018

        welcome back RG.. good to see another (more) ‘Green/leftie’ in here 🙂

      • Not really, if he’s only come back to be offensive about National instead of making any useful contribution. He is unlikely to convert anyone to the cause.

        • robertguyton

           /  August 8, 2018

          Not my intention, Kitty. You? You trying to convert anyone to “the cause”?
          Jacinda’s looking energised, confident; radiant even! Simon and Jude look … wobbly , donchathink?

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  August 8, 2018

            No, I don’t think so.

            She looked very haggard when we saw her sans makeup. 10 years older, bags under her eyes, drawn and pale….

            I don’t try to convert anyone. it’s a waste of time.

          • Gezza

             /  August 8, 2018

            Well, I don’t think Simon looks anything. He’s not scoring any hits in Parliament, he tends to mostly just dryly read off the same script & move from one item to another, unintelligenty. Winston keeps needling him that his days are numbered. They probably are. He’s as alive & inspiring as a parking meter.
            Jacinda may be spouting platitudes but to watch it – she wins – he just plods on.

            Judith copped more stick about her fake news tweet debacle in General Debate again today. It got a mention of course in QT yesterday. It’s harmed her credibility.

    • Gezza

       /  August 8, 2018

      It’s up there with ackshilly from a past PM.

    • alloytoo

       /  August 8, 2018

      We should absolutely start a petition calling on the Prime Minister to find an alternative to the word “Absolutely”

      • I absolutely agree that is an absolute necessity.

        The thesaurus has about 40 synonyms for absolutely.

  2. Zedd

     /  August 8, 2018

    I commented yesterday in ‘open forum’..

    bridges looks like a; ‘roaring mouse’ 😀

  3. David

     /  August 8, 2018

    There is a bit of anger around the place at Arderns return, 3 people I have caught up with today seperately with one “what the hell is going on with this government” one was “the wife stopped me putting my fist through the TV, and the other was formulating a plan to keep his hands in his pockets, live off a passive income but is ready for a fire sale if need be.
    Left me a bit depressed given I am usually the only one who brings up politics. I am guessing the wall to wall gushing return coverage, her empty announcement on a trade working group and we can all feel the economy slowing is getting people a bit excited. Strange day though.

    • Corky

       /  August 8, 2018

      This government has so many negative situations surrounding them, it isn’t inconceivable an early election may result. Should that happen, the Left are finished for a very very long time in New Zealand. It will probably take a new generation of voters before they get a sniff of power again.

      • Gezza

         /  August 8, 2018

        Have you seen any analysis breaking down how voters last election voted by age & gender?

        • Corky

           /  August 8, 2018

          No, I haven’t.

          • Gezza

             /  August 8, 2018

            No, neither have I. So I don’t like to guess at who the young generations of voters vote for. We know who the loud ones probsbly vote for but the loud ones may not represent 99% of them & younger people often tend to be very idealistic & know everything they need to know without having much life experience yet to make the kind of voting assessments we older voters make after a lifetime of observation of outcomes. Labour & the Greens I suspect attract a lot of younger & female voters. They attracted a lot of Maori voters, old & young. I would guess that mostly older voters voted NZF – seems that way from what we see of their meetings. It’s a complex picture I imagine.

            • David

               /  August 8, 2018

              I had one son voted Labour and one voted Green, the Greenie will stick the Labour one is horrified at what he has done. The Labour one didnt like Key at all which was quite a common thing amongst his mates and despite him being gone it put him off National..he has come right now though.

            • Gezza

               /  August 8, 2018

              @David. The Labour voter. What exactly are the things this government has done that have horrified him?

            • David

               /  August 8, 2018

              Having a baby annoyed the hell out of them and I guess thats because they are of an age where if they had a baby it would ruin their plans and they have mates who have babies and they get a first hand look at how disturbing it can be to ones life plans.
              They both plan to have kids but are sensible enough to want to time it to when it will work, they see her as careless and selfish now. The other thing that annoys them both, especially the one with a science degree is the free tertiary education and again because he has first hand experience of half the people with him at Uni shouldnt have bothered being there as their degrees are a waste of time and so easy why would you subsidise it.

            • David

               /  August 8, 2018

              And Gezza he gets all his info from Facebook so despite my best efforts had no idea what Labour planned to do. He works crazy long days and makes the most of his weekends is busy getting ahead in life he knows nothing but the place being run well and government is nothing to worry about.

    • lurcher1948

       /  August 8, 2018

      Hell David i hope no one you knows employs anyone, they sound mentally disturbed, i was going to use the F word in the head but im moderated.. i love free speech as long as im going with the flow

      • David

         /  August 8, 2018

        Dont panic they are all independently wealthy enough to not have to work again, certainly wouldnt work for anyone..bloody horrifying thought.

    • robertguyton

       /  August 8, 2018

      “There is a bit of anger around the place at Arderns return, 3 people I have caught up with today…”
      That’s just hilarious !