Adjournment speech – David Seymour

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Not in living memory has our country entered an election against such a backdrop of global uncertainty. The medical, economic, and geopolitical impacts of COVID-19 remain unpredictable, but we know that these impacts are on New Zealanders’ businesses, on their household finances, on their jobs, and on their mental health.

We politicians enter this election campaign with a job to do. The world is changing all around us, and our small island nation must find its place anew in that ever changing world.

At the same time, people’s faith in our politics in this Parliament is at an all-time low ebb, and it’s not just the most recent, highly publicised ructions that have led to that low ebb; it is a long period over the past three years of poor quality delivery and poor quality lawmaking. We all know the examples: KiwiBuild, light rail, child poverty, the gun buyback, the oil and gas exploration ban, the Provincial Growth Fund. It’s been one disaster after another.

I think it’s fair to say that we have a disaster Government led by a disaster Prime Minister, because, if it wasn’t for the disasters, what we would have is a long series of let downs, where everything the parties over there promised in 2017 has been a failure.

Let me say that that’s not a personal critique; I happen to like our Prime Minister as a person, and I admire what she’s done holding people together at critical times of disaster. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the world is changing, and a different style of leadership is required. We require problem solving.

We require an open debate about what exactly New Zealand’s public health strategy is, because, at the moment, the Government would have it that we can either remain physically isolated from the world and borrow to paper over the cracks or we can open it up and people will die. In other words, they want us to be either dead broke or dead. I believe that this country deserves an open debate, not a state of fear; asking what we can do, not what we can’t; going country by country when it comes to the border; working together with, not against, the private sector; and embracing technology to augment our public health response.

Those are the principles of a smart public health response, and when we’ve done that, we can start being honest about the debt, because my army of 14-year-old Instagram followers have been sending me messages saying, “David, who is the Government borrowing all this money off and who has to pay it back?” You know, if 14-year-olds can figure out that the Government borrowing $140 billion is a problem, and it is for them, maybe we in this Parliament need to start being honest about this country’s fiscal track.

If we can do those things, we can seize the opportunity of a lifetime: an island nation on a pandemic planet that actually, for once, is the place that skills and capital want to go to—if only we’re prepared to seize the opportunity and stop being so hostile to foreign investment and wealth-creating activity in this country.

That is what New Zealanders need out of this election debate, and that is what the ACT Party brings: a consistent, constructive critique and contribution to the challenges that our country faces at this time, about the challenge of a country finding its place in a world that is changing around it. That’s what New Zealanders need out of this election debate. That’s what the ACT Party will be bringing, and I look forward to a group of independent-minded, thoughtful ACT MPs sitting across here, on the cross-benches, supporting a Government far more competent than the one that we have now.

That is why you give your party vote to ACT. That is a positive future for New Zealand. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Adjournment debate – James Shaw

Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe. It’s always a pleasure to follow the Rt Hon Winston Peters in debate. I’ll miss it, to tell you the truth. Here we are at the final hour of the final day of the 52nd Parliament—our business for the moment complete. I know everybody here is champing at the bit to get out and campaign around the country; trying out their new election slogans. There’s Labour: “Let’s keep moving”, New Zealand First: “Let’s not”.

You could almost see the advertisements, can’t you: “New Zealand First: you can stop progress.” ACT are making a serious play for the assault rifle vote: “The ACT Party: more deadly than serious.” National, of course, have settled on a new leader with a new slogan: “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

Now, it’s not all slogans, of course. Parties will be laying out their policy platforms in advance of the election—or maybe they won’t. But it is important, as we think about the post-COVID rebuild, that voters are aware of the political philosophies that are on offer.

National want to grow the pie, Labour want to share the pie, ACT want you to get your own God damn pie, New Zealand First want a billion pies, and the Greens, of course, say that the growth of the pie is constrained by the size of the oven, and whilst you’re making pie, perhaps you should keep your oven clean, otherwise your tamariki will get really sick. Look, I know that’s not exactly bumper sticker material, but we reckon there’s at least 5 percent in it.

Speaking of which, I did ask my colleagues for the privilege of giving the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closing of this Parliament, particularly so that I could deal with the PTSD I have from election 2017. You see, I also gave the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closure of that Parliament too, and about 15 minutes before I had to come down and speak, I got that evening’s TVNZ poll result, which had us under the threshold at 3.5 percent. The whole time that I was delivering that speech, the thought weighed on my mind that it might well be the very last speech by a Green Party member of Parliament ever.

Well, 10 weeks later we were in Government, and four weeks after that I met the Pope. So I’m just saying, a lot of things can happen in the final six weeks of an election campaign, and I am mostly saying that to give the National Party a good dose of false hope for themselves, but also, honestly, because the reality is that there is a non-zero probability that this speech could also be our last—speaking statistically. Actually, no I was going to tell another statistics joke, but it isn’t significant. [Interruption] Thank you, I’ll be here all night—I actually will, ha, ha!

Actually, I do think that the most likely outcome of this election is that the Greens will be back in Parliament and in Government after the election, but if we aren’t, every one of us—current MPs, former MPs, current and former staff, volunteers, members and supporters—can be tremendously proud of the contribution that we have made as a partner in this, our first Government.

We laid down the path to a zero carbon future for Aotearoa. We made sure that more of our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbours have warm, dry, and safe homes in which to live. We’ve given people all over the country better, cleaner, and safer options for getting to work in the morning and home again at the end of the day.

We’ve expanded conservation and put more people to work restoring and replenishing our native birds, forests, and fish than ever before. Our Government has put an end to new sources of fossil fuels. We championed changes to our democracy and we reformed the way that we tackled domestic and sexual violence.

Standing here today, I can proudly say that because of the progress that we have made, a better, a cleaner, and a more equitable future for Aotearoa New Zealand is closer than it has ever been before.

Now, that is in large part due to the seven committed, passionate, and highly effective Green MPs working alongside me. To each of them, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for making the last three years as fun, as successful, and as weird as it has been. To Gareth Hughes, our friend and colleague, we bid you farewell. Everyone here is going to miss the wisdom and the passion that you bring to this place.

It is because of who we are and what we stand for that after just three years in Government, with only eight MPs, that more people up and down New Zealand can make ends meet, that our economy is greener, and nature is healing.

In those times when we didn’t get everything that we wanted, we didn’t give up, we didn’t get disillusioned, and we kept working, because for thousands of people all across New Zealand, having the Greens in Government shows that we can keep making life better for everyone.

The only way to make sure that the next Government does everything it can not just to navigate ourselves through the present crisis but to build a better world for future generations is to make sure that the Greens are a part of it. We know that we need to get out every vote that we can—we know that.

Right now there are thousands of volunteers working tirelessly in their communities, knocking on doors, picking up the phones, talking to people about where the Green Party wants to take New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic crisis. They keep at it every single day—even amidst all of the nonsense that accompanies every election. To every single one of you, I say thank you. Because of you, I am more optimistic than I have ever been that together we can change the world.

In the three years since the Green Party helped to form this Government, we have never forgotten that every action that we take, future generations are watching. Young people don’t look at this place the same way that others do. They don’t see the political point-scoring in what we do. They don’t see the one-liners and the headline grabbing antics; rather, our ideas and our actions are the prism through which they see their future.

When the polls open in four weeks’ time, that is what we are deciding; not which individuals will fill these seats, but who together will have the power to shape the kind of country that our children and our grandchildren will grow up in.

I do want to thank the Labour Party and New Zealand First for your partnership and your hard work over the last three years—in particular, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Rt Hon Winston Peters—thank you. Everything that we have done, we have done together. Thank you to all of the people who make this place, especially those who work the longest hours for the least pay. Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I said in 2017, we’ll see you in six weeks. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Adjournment debate – Winston Peters

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): Thank you very much. That was eyebrow-raising stuff—and I don’t use Botox! All that criticism, for almost 10 minutes, and not one new idea. Out there in the provinces, in the hamlets of this country, all those people who were expecting something at least now, at the start of this campaign, from the leader of the National Party just got carp, can’t, and criticism, but no vision, no plan, no policy.

Worse still, after nine years of doing nothing about the Resource Management Act, she says we’re at fault. Extraordinary. This is somebody who’s a trained lawyer saying that sort of stuff. [Hon Judith Collins stands] Don’t go now—this is your best chance to learn something!

Can I say to all the staff here—the cleaners; the caterers; the guards; the drivers; library and Hansard and many office staff; and you, Mr Speaker, and your staff, who have been of great assistance to us, sometimes not as much as usual but usually of great assistance to us—thank you very, very much. And can I say to my colleagues in New Zealand First that our caucus has been united by consensus decision-making—

Hon Member: Goodbye.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —hard work, and civility. I’ll be around long after you’re gone, sunshine, and I was here for decades before you arrived. Don’t you feel bad?

The quality of our caucus has been very, very good, so thanks to you, as well as to our parliamentary and ministerial staff. And to the seventh floor of the Beehive, thank you for your—in inverted commas—frank advice. It’s been an excellent office to work for, the very best, and can I say that coming up to night time, at about five to six when we stop for a quiz, they are absolutely brilliant, as Grant Robertson can attest to.

Can I say, we made the right decision on 19 October 2017.

Hon Member: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: You know, I cannot believe that you’d be so youthful in shouting out these shibboleths when you know nothing or you’re the living proof for what George Bernard Shaw said: “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything.”—which truly points to a career in politics. Good God.

It was a tough choice for caucus—

Hon Member: You’ve been telling those jokes for 40 years.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and for our board colleagues, but three years—well, not as big a joke as you are, my colleague. But three years on and we have no regrets. National had run out of answers. It was making and framing the wrong questions, and only a change of course was going to allow the policy transformation that we sought.

When this term began and through the first months, you can remember the cacophony of sound from some in the media that the Government wouldn’t last. Well, last we have. Providing stable and constructive Government again is now an undeniable fact, and we’re proud of our record. We recall the media trepidation, Prime Minister, when you said that you were going to have a baby. Well! The sky was going to fall in. “The Government will hit the rocks.”—that was the basic refrain of the proletariat. But the ship of state didn’t flounder; it kept on sailing calmly throughout until you came back.

We stand on our record in office for what we’ve achieved, for honouring the commitments, for leaving the country in a better position after inheriting nine years of neo-liberal neglect. What’s worse with these neo-liberals is they don’t even understand the philosophy. It shows up every day, because so many of them have never been in business, and their chief articulator wouldn’t know what a business was or is, and that’s the truth.

No less than the New Zealand Herald, though, just recently said—and it’s not one of our most vocal fans, the New Zealand Herald, but they trumpeted our 80-plus percent success rate in getting our coalition agreement policies delivered. It’s because of our steady focus on delivering the coalition agreement, and we’ve never softened from it. If you doubt that, ask some of my colleagues on this side of the Chamber.

We’re here to get by and to work hard with two other parties: the Labour Party, being our coalition partner, and also the support party for the Labour Party in terms of the Greens. We were never forced to agree. If we did, we wouldn’t be three separate parties. We wanted the narrative to be more intelligent, more wise, and more factual and actual. The Prime Minister announced that we’ve got over 190 bills passed. That suggests that we have got by on agreeing on most of the things, or, if we couldn’t, that we got to a compromise and got there in the end.

A hundred and ninety is a staggering testimony to progress. History will judge the coalition agreement as one of the most significant agreements in modern political history, and here’s why: we signalled a long-term strategic plan to rebuild our country, and we had the audacity to demand it—to demand that we had things like a billion trees, which was unthought of; to demand that we spend $3 billion out in neglected provincial New Zealand, the places we go to and get elbowed aside every day by National Party members, whilst they come down here and use the clown—sorry, I can’t say that; use the MP from Epsom—to downgrade with a cacophony of envy every time, as though Epsom and he know anything about the Kaitāias, the Invercargills, the west and east coasts of this country, the very people who drive the economy to pay his salary. He dumps on it.

And the Prime Minister said they’re going to go out and two votes for blue. Well, I’ve just been to Tauranga recently and the Bay of Plenty, and guess what I saw—guess what I saw. I saw the photographs, the posters up there, of three National Party leaders: Mr Bridges, Mr Muller, and Judith Collins. Three, all up in the same province, in the same area in the Western Bay of Plenty. No wonder the people down there are confused—terribly confused.

Chris Bishop: One of them is the one who beat you.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Bishop, leave it alone. I mean, that member’s got a long way to go before he’s going to be frontbench material. He just hasn’t got the learning capacity. He doesn’t seem to be able to absorb that the most fundamental thing in this business is to do your homework and get the facts right—be impervious to attack because you got the facts right. Let me say, when the Provincial Growth Fund came under attack, guess what they tried to do about it. They tried to say it was a slush fund.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is Gerry Brownlee saying it is a slush fund. Well, you know, the people of Christchurch would have wished he’d have done something too, because he was in charge of its rebuild, and I’ve never seen someone so incompetent. Of course, people don’t realise that Gerry Brownlee’s experience in business is five weeks running an illegal casino, before Winston Peters outed him and the president of the National Party, one Goodfellow. Five weeks running an illegal casino, and a colleague across the House, namely yours truly, outed him, and that’s his total business experience. Those National Party people up in the gallery who were cheering don’t know that, do they?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, they do.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: They’re not cheering now. Oh, they do.

Can I say that in this time, we preserved the SuperGold card. We got it improved. We got over 5,000 new business, 130,000 people using the app, and we’ve got another improvement coming in the future. But on top of that, in the last Budget we secured one eye test for superannuitants a year—that will save 5,000 to 7,000 people from going blind, by early identification—and one free doctor’s visit. If only one of those people in the hundred doesn’t go to the hospital as a result of that test, it’s fiscally neutral.

These are the far-sighted plans that New Zealand First has, and we thank the Labour Party and, dare I say it, the Greens for ensuring that this was maintained.

It’s critical, but we know for whom the ferry will call if they get into power, because their last outing when it came to super wasn’t very good. They promised to get rid of the surtax, and when they got in, they put it up to 92c in the dollar. That fellow in Epsom—that’s exactly what he will do, because he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure.

I can see why you people aren’t smiling any more, because they’re seriously shaken. If he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure, guess who’s going to feel the pain for that—and it won’t be Gerry Brownlee. It won’t be their front bench—no, no. It’ll be all those people who were fooled to go and vote for them in the first place. Every economist has said that’s impossible.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, they haven’t.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh yes they have. Well, if the number one spokesman for the National Party is a woodwork teacher, you can see what their problem is.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s right—that’s right. Winston hates the workers.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Hear that? He thinks that noise and bluster substitutes for policy. Excuse me. The National Party may be making a comeback sometime, but it’s not any time soon. I’m saddened by that, because the people of this country need a sound, strong Opposition. They need people of talent and capability, and they need far better than what they’re getting now. So to our people out there, our message is: hang on. The campaign starts on Saturday morning, and help is on its way. Thank you very much.

Adjournment debate – Judith Collins

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I’d like to turn to acknowledge those who are here today and I wish to start—not to end—with thanks. Those thanks are to yourself, Mr Speaker, for the job you do, even though sometimes I’m sure it’s quite difficult—we certainly find it quite difficult, actually. Can I also thank all the other parliamentarians who are here and for those who have decided to leave us at the end of this term, thank you for your contribution—

Hon Chris Hipkins: Too many to name.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —and to helping making this such a good place. Of course there’s a lot of members of the Labour Party, as the Hon Chris Hipkins is just mentioning, who will be leaving. They may not be planning it, but they’ll be going their way home. Thank you very much.

Can I also thank all of the National team. Thank you, team; it’s about time. It’s about time. Thank you for putting your faith in me and thank you, particularly, to the Hon Simon Bridges and Todd Muller for the support that they have been able to give me in helping us through to this transition. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Can I also take the opportunity to thank all those who work in Parliament and around the precinct. Can I particularly thank the Clerk of the House, the Office of the Clerk staff, the Table Office, the Bills Office, Hansard, select committee staff, the messengers, security, the catering and, particularly, the cleaning staff who often work in hours when we are not here. Can I thank the amazing team at the library and all of my staff who I must say recently have grown to such an enormous number I can’t remember everyone’s names, but that comes with the office.

Can I thank everybody who has kept Parliament running through the COVID-19 lockdowns making sure that we could actually have some form of democracy, even though it seemed extremely limited at the time. And a big thank you to the National Party team, then led by the Hon Simon Bridges, who made sure that there was actually an Opposition voice despite the best efforts for there to be otherwise. So thank you for everybody for doing that.

I’ve just heard the Prime Minister make what I think is going to be one of those speeches that we’re going to look on and we’re going to say, “Well, that was very interesting, wasn’t it?”, because she is going to be more famous than usual and that is going to be because she will be a one-term Labour leader. And that is what I’m here to tell her today. I’m here to tell her today that the last one was Bill Rowling and, good for her, she’s about to join him.

Now, I think it is really important that when we look at our energised and extremely, extremely united team, which is full of extraordinary talent—

Hon Phil Twyford: Where are they? Where have they gone?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I look instead, I look instead—Phil Twyford’s asking, “Where have they gone?” Well, Phil Twyford, he’s clearly one of the best performers of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, now promoted to No. 4. Well, what does that say about the rest of them? What does it say about the rest of them when they’ve got Phil Twyford at No. 4 and he’s ahead of Dr Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins and just about everybody else. What does that say and what does it say about the excellent work of the Hon Kelvin Davis at No. 2. Isn’t that amazing, wonderful—when there’s so much talent, so much talent.

Let’s just have a look at what, though, is facing New Zealand. This is going to be an extremely important election because it’s about who is going to be best able to manage what has been described by the New Zealand Reserve Bank as the biggest economic downturn in 160 years. That is even older than our dear friend Rt Hon Winston Peters. That is 160 years and what did I just hear from the Prime Minister, the leader of the Labour Party? What I hear from the leader of the Labour Party: a whole lot of pixie dust and talking about how everything’s just going to be fine. That’s what I heard. An awful lot of dust; dust—that was all it was.

Let’s just look at this. Let’s look at the numbers that Jacinda Ardern did not wish to say. Let’s look at the 212,000 New Zealanders who are now receiving the unemployment benefit—212,000 New Zealanders. Surely they need a bit better than being told, “It’s all fine. We’re in charge.” They need something better than that. And how about the 450,000 New Zealanders who are having to receive the wage subsidy? There are 450,000 New Zealanders whose jobs are being kept in place because of the $13 billion that the Government has borrowed in order to keep them in employment.

We agreed with it. We agreed with it because we had to do something. We had to do something. But in that time, in that time, a good finance Minister—a good finance Minister—would have thought of a plan to take us out of it, because it’s really easy to close the border. It’s really easy to close the border and to say to people, “Well, we only live so far away for the rest of the world.” Of course, it’s easy to close the border. It’s easy to close down the economy.

The hard thing is to get that economy back going again, particularly when two of our biggest export markets, like international tourism and international education, have been, effectively, closed down. And who have got in charge from the Government to look after international tourism? Well, we’ve got the Hon Kelvin Davis, so what could go wrong? What could possibly go wrong? I can’t even remember who’s in charge of international education from that side because we’ve never heard of them.

So we’ve got the one shining light in the New Zealand economy, which is agriculture—agriculture, an industry that has been in a sector that has been bagged for years by that Government. They hated agriculture. Remember that? They put Damien O’Connor in charge, which shows you how much they thought of it. Absolutely hated it. Remember that, how the farmers with the dirty dairying—dirty dairying, all this sort of stuff. Now, suddenly, farmers are back being trendy. Now, suddenly, farmers are woke. Actually, thankfully, farmers will never be woke. They’ll always be on trend. And the trend is National. That’s where they’re going to be.

I want to say to this Government, “Resource Management Act (RMA) reform.” We’re getting rid of it. Now, suddenly, after three years, they say, “Oh, a working group told us it was a bad thing.” A working group told them it was a bad thing. I wrote to David Parker last year about this time and I said, “The two biggest parties in Parliament should agree on RMA reform. Let’s sort it out together.” He sent me back a letter on his letterhead with, basically, a one-fingered salute. That’s the sort of response you get from a Government like that—a nasty, nasty little response. So we will be getting rid of it. We will get rid of it. We will be putting in place an environmental standards Act and we will be putting in place a planning and development Act. And they will not be the same that that lot would—they’re entirely different.

I would like to say too, let’s just think about some of the shovel-ready projects we’ve been hearing about. Where are they? Where is this list? Poor old Phil Twyford—Hon Phil Twyford—and Shane Jones put out a letter, a press release, on April Fool’s Day this year saying out to the local councils, “Give us your shovel-ready list and we’ll get you the funding. We’ll be there with you. We’ll help you.” What’s happened to that shovel-ready list? Not much at all. Seventy-five percent of them haven’t been announced and dear old Shane Jones has gone and announced to us all the reason they’re not announced is it doesn’t quite work with either his schedule or the Prime Minister’s schedule. Well, that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it?

How about getting people back into work? Not only do we have 212,000 people on the unemployment benefit at the moment we’ve got 200,000 highly skilled people, most in the construction area, who are underemployed. That means there’s not actually enough work for them. Why wouldn’t we have those people in work? They should not be reliant on a ministerial visit to tell them they’ve got a job. That is not good enough. That is absolutely washing your hands of the situation, Mr Jones.

And what are we going to do? Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stick up taxes, not like that party will. Why didn’t the Prime Minister talk to us about her secret tax list: the asset tax, the wealth tax, or, dare I say it, the death tax. I mean, having to pay a tax just because you die, that’s a terrible thing.

Now, let’s have a look at this little track record that she’s talked about: KiwiBuild. Wasn’t that good—KiwiBuild. She went to the last election promising 100,000 houses in 10 years, 16,000 the first term. How many have they got—380, oh, 385, apparently. How about roads? What happened there? They stopped. Electric cars—remember, they were going to electrify the fleet, the Government fleet. I understand they’ve got 45. They’ve got 45. And then we had light rail. Remember where that is—somewhere stuck on the ghost train up Mount Roskill.

And talk about New Zealand First—I know the Rt Hon Winston Peters wants to talk. He’ll tell you he’s a handbrake on them. No, he’s not. He’s the enabler. There’s only one reason the Greens are in Government, and that’s because Mr Peters went their way.

So let’s just say this. The Prime Minister may wish to give us all a “sweetness and light” talk, but actually it’s time for reality. The New Zealand people need to know they have a Government that needs to know what to do. And this Government on this side does. And my message, my final message, to the people of New Zealand is this: there’s one way to take charge of life—two ticks blue.

Adjournment Debate – Jacinda Ardern

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I move, That the House do now adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday,18 August 2020.

Kia orana and kia ora koutou katoa. It is a privilege to be able to speak in this adjournment debate and to mark and acknowledge the fact that we are now two years and 10 months into the conclusion of a parliamentary term that has been extraordinary in so many ways.

Two years and 10 months is a very short period of time, and yet a remarkable amount can happen. We started as three parties campaigning in the 2017 election, often on very separate issues but often on areas for which we could all agree, and from the moment that we emerged from negotiations with our confidence and supply agreement and our coalition agreement, it was clear to New Zealand where those issues were, where the consensus was, for this Government. We believed in regional economic development.

We believed in addressing the housing crisis. We believed in swimmable rivers and turning them around within a generation. We believed in tackling child poverty, decades worth of issues that compound inequality, and we believed that we could be world leaders on the issue of climate change.

This Government was formed because we believed that New Zealand could be and should be better and kinder, and two years and 10 months later, here we are having passed, I understand, close to 190 pieces of legislation. If there’s proof of considerable consensus in a Government, it’s the fact that we’ve passed more legislation than comparable Governments over the last four terms, as I understand, and, along the way, prompting a lot of interest from the Opposition given they asked us 111,600 questions—and I understand about 100,000 of them went to Shane Jones alone.

Despite being one of the purest forms of MMP Government that New Zealand has seen for some time, we have made landmark decisions. We passed the zero carbon Act and set up a framework for the future, carbon budgets that I know will make a difference for generations to come.

Early on, we made a decision to look forward, to set a path around fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand that said there would be no further offshore oil and gas exploration. We invested in Taranaki and their transition plan, opening a new energy research centre and investing in a hydrogen roadmap for the future of New Zealand.

We came to a landmark agreement with primary producers over dealing with some of the biggest contributors to our emissions profile in New Zealand. No one else in the world has been able to do what New Zealand has done.

We passed child poverty legislation, and much more than that: of the nine child poverty indicators in New Zealand, seven out of them are now improving under this Government. We know material deprivation is one of the hardest to turn around, which is why we’re investing in things like food in schools to make a direct difference to those families.

We passed essential freshwater reforms, and I acknowledge the efforts of David Parker, because that has been an intensive, generation-changing piece of work that will make a significant difference for those many, many years to come.

We are building more houses than any Government since the 1970s, and not only were we on track and are on track to meet our goal of 6,400 public housing places; we’ve now extended ourselves and said with the COVID recovery and rebuild, we want to build another 8,000 houses to house our families.

We are investing in regional infrastructure up and down the country. You will find projects that are making a difference to communities. Whether it’s the pool in Naenae, the surf club in Tai Rāwhiti, or the rugby club for Poverty Bay, these are projects that create jobs and contribute to community wellbeing.

We have made the most significant changes to mental health this country has ever seen. We not only have invested over a billion dollars in mental health; we’ve started the rollout of new front-line services and training those individuals who will make a difference to make sure that people, when they need that help, can get it at their iwi provider, at their GP, wherever and whenever they need.

We’ve increased paid parental leave. We brought in the winter energy payment. We have indexed benefits to wage increases. The Children’s Commissioner said some of these changes would make the biggest difference to child poverty that we have seen in decades.

Even alongside that, we’ve seen in this House abortion law reform, changes to make sure that every single child in New Zealand will learn New Zealand history—the things that make a difference to people’s lives. We have done all of that whilst also, pre-COVID, getting our debt down to under 20 percent relative to GDP, getting our unemployment levels down to some of the lowest levels in a decade, and some of the highest private sector wage growth we had seen in a decade. All of that had prepared us for what was to come.

In many, many ways, this term will be remembered for what was unplanned as much as what was planned, and in acknowledging that, I actually want to acknowledge, first and foremost, the community of Christchurch and, of course, our Muslim community across Aotearoa New Zealand; I want to acknowledge the community of Whakatāne, because those tragedies, 15 March and Whakaari / White Island, first and foremost, were tragedies that happened in those places to those communities, and we will never forget that.

Through all of this, though, has been our coalition partner and our confidence and supply partners. We would not be here without you. Of course, during this campaign, there will be lots of sprinkling of dust and glitter and whatever else we may choose to call it. There’ll be lots of shovelling of other figurative things.

None of that, for me personally, will ever diminish what this Government and these three parties and these leaders have achieved, and so I say to the Deputy Prime Minister, I say to Marama and to James, thank you. Thank you to New Zealand First, and thank you to the Greens. I’m immensely proud of what we have collectively done for Aotearoa New Zealand.

I also want to pay special tribute to those members of those parties who have not been Ministers but MPs. I know sometimes your positions have been amongst the hardest, and I want to acknowledge that your contribution has been as important in this Parliament as any of ours.

I now wish to finish with words of thanks. I start with my own team. They are exceptionally hard-working, they are grounded, they are here because of their community, and they are strong. I acknowledge all of you, my Labour team. To the people who work in this place—to the Speaker; to the Clerk’s Office; to those who work in our parliamentary offices, from Hansard to libraries to Bellamy’s; we’ll have a chance to come back and say thank you, but for all of this term and keeping this place powered and your democracy working, you have our thanks.

Finally, this election is not what we had planned. It is fair to say this campaign that we’re about to embark on is not the campaign that we planned and prepared for six months ago, nor will our manifesto be the same as it would’ve been had we released it in January of this year, but that is the reality of politics and the reality of this world that we’re living in right now.

But I can tell you this: the values that we campaigned on in 2017, the aspirations that we had coming into this place, remain unchanged. Our plans to keep creating high-wage jobs are as important now as they ever were. On supporting our job creators; on ridding this country of child poverty; on making a transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral economy; we’ve started that journey, and now we want to finish it. Let’s keep moving.

James Shaw ends with an eloquent challenge

James Shaw is rated as one of the best prospects in a new intake into Parliament this year. He happens to be a Green MP but it’s important to look at his capabilities and potential to contribute in a wider context.

The Greens themselves rate Shaw enough to have given him their party spot in the Adjournment Debate today.

JamesShawAdjournmentDebate

His speech is worth listening too right through. He is eloquent, humorous, pertinent and at times biting, in an honourable sort of way. The video and full speech is below, but first an excerpt that I think is one of the most important things to be looking for and pushing for in Parliament next year.

I said in my maiden speech only 7 weeks ago that we must transcend and transform our petty politics and our partisanship. I said that to get unstuck we will all need to let go of some things and to be more committed to finding the answers than to being right or to others being wrong.

The intervening weeks have not disillusioned me of that belief; they have reinforced it. To a new observer it may seem that we are stuck in a never-ending downward spiral of attack and defend that serves only to revolt the public at large and to turn them off participating in the political process or even bothering to vote.

One of the four principles of the Green Party charter is that of non-violence.

This is not simply an absence of physical violence; it is the method of social change given to us by Mahatma Gandhi , who preached ahimsa , the lack of desire to harm or to kill, and by Martin Luther King , who drew from the Christian tradition. It is through these principles and practices that we can transcend and transform the stuck situation we seem to find ourselves in.

Let us take the summer recess to consider ways we might work together to fix this, to bring integrity and functionality to our political process, and to restore New Zealanders’ faith in who we are and the work we do here.

I’ll back him and any other MP he wants to work positively on that as much as I can. Our Parliament badly needs a new way to represent and lead.

Full draft transcript fromn Draft transcript – Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Speech – JAMES SHAW (Green)

It is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of the Green Party in this adjournment debate—[Interruption] Calm down, fellas—calm down. I thank my colleagues for the privilege. I became a MP only 12 weeks ago, a period of time that seems both very fleeting and very long. I would like to talk about some of the things I have learnt about Parliament and politics during those weeks.

The first thing that I have learnt is that although many of the things that we have provenance over are deeply mundane, such as Parts 1 through to 4 of the accounting infrastructure legislation, some are indeed matters of great national and international import.

One such legislation is the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill , which was passed in this House yesterday after several minutes of careful consideration and thoughtful debate!

This bill is designed to stop New Zealanders from going to fight for the Islamic State, which is fighting the Iraqi Government, which we support. And we will shortly be sending the military over to help Iraq fight the Islamic State, which definitely will not have any New Zealanders fighting with them because we said so—yesterday.

We also support Saudi Arabia, which also supports the Islamic State, which is fighting the Government of Iraq, which we also support. The Middle East is a very supportive environment right now.

Our military will feel well-supported when they get over there. I will tell this House whom we do not support, and that is President al-Assad in Syria. We do support some of the freedom fighters who are fighting against President al-Assad, who are primarily led by the Islamic State, but we do not support the Islamic State.

We also do not support Iran, which also does not support the Islamic State, and which does support the Government of Iraq, which we do support.

This mess was largely created by a coalition of the willing, which we were unwilling to support. It invaded Iraq for two reasons: to look for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist and to drive out terrorists who were not there until the coalition went in to drive them out. Into this hornet’s nest, the Beehive proposes to send a contingent of the New Zealand Defence Force , perhaps under the Anzac banner, which may be appropriate because, as far as military adventures go, this one looks like a real winner.

It may be just as well that we are passing legislation that is designed to keep us safe from ourselves. I have also learnt that journalists do actually ask questions like: “Have you ever smoked cannabis?”. My answer to that was “No. Absolutely not. Never.”

Of course, I was answering generally rather than specifically, but it is true; I have never inhaled in my capacity as a list MP. My office may have taken drugs in the past—I do not know; I am not accountable for it—but, at the end of the day, what I can say is that I am extremely relaxed.

The people here have been very friendly. To the people at Parliamentary Service , who put on an excellent induction programme and who set up our offices, our IT , our finances, our travel, and our accommodation; the staff at the restaurants who feed us when we are in a hurry; the ushers who look after us in the House; and the cleaners who tidy up after us at the end of a long day—on behalf of all of us who entered Parliament for the first time this September, and on behalf of my Green colleagues, thank you.

The National Party MPs have been especially warm. Almost every time they mention me in the media they talk about me as a leadership contender for the Green Party.

It is very gracious of them to do that without any trace of malice or ulterior motive, especially since Metiria and Russel have led the Green Party and doubled the size since 2008 and I can barely make it into this House with a tie on.

I would particularly like to thank the Hon Chris Finlayson for his praise, and I return the favour by asking the National Party to consider that member as its next leader, after the current one steps down early next year.

The Hon Chris Finlayson has great integrity, a respect for parliamentary process, precision, a sharp mind, and a clear memory—characteristics that we are looking for in a Prime Minister. Minister Finlayson has other qualities too that many people do not see: a great tolerance for chit-chat, humility, empathy, and a connection with real New Zealanders.

He can speak to and for the Kiwi battlers of Huntly.

As the Attorney-General himself might say: “Fecisti patriam diversis de gentibus unam.”

The House is about to rise for the summer recess, which revolves around the tradition of Christmas. I imagine that after this speech, I for one will be begging for forgiveness, and it is on that theme I would like to conclude.

I said in my maiden speech only 7 weeks ago that we must transcend and transform our petty politics and our partisanship. I said that to get unstuck we will all need to let go of some things and to be more committed to finding the answers than to being right or to others being wrong.

The intervening weeks have not disillusioned me of that belief; they have reinforced it. To a new observer it may seem that we are stuck in a never-ending downward spiral of attack and defend that serves only to revolt the public at large and to turn them off participating in the political process or even bothering to vote.

One of the four principles of the Green Party charter is that of non-violence.

This is not simply an absence of physical violence; it is the method of social change given to us by Mahatma Gandhi , who preached ahimsa , the lack of desire to harm or to kill, and by Martin Luther King , who drew from the Christian tradition. It is through these principles and practices that we can transcend and transform the stuck situation we seem to find ourselves in.

Let us take the summer recess to consider ways we might work together to fix this, to bring integrity and functionality to our political process, and to restore New Zealanders’ faith in who we are and the work we do here.

As this most sordid of political years draws to a close and the House rises for the Christmas break, I offer this. In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus is reported in the Gospel of Luke to have said

“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year .

Grinch Robertson’s Christmas jeer

Grant Robertson has posted on Labour’s final parliamentary speeches of the year at Red Alert.

The final Parliamentary debate of the year is an opportunity to sum up the political year and enjoy a few laughs. Labour had four speakers yesterday, and I will post them up in order today.

Adjournment Debate – David Shearer

 First up was David Shearer who delivered a funny but also very pointed summing up of National’s Year to Forget. The consensus at the Press Gallery Party last night was that his was the best speech on the day.

I’d prefer to hear the Press Gallery’s judgement from them.

Adjournment Debate – David Parker

Second up for Labour in the Adjournment Debate was David Parker. He went through National’s shameful economic performance (to quote David Clark, ” the worst economic record in 50 years!) and outlined some of Labour’s alternative policies. David has had a really good year shifting the debate on monetary policy and pushing the need for a more active government role to stimulate our economy.

More negative attacking to the fore but at least some Labour PR following that.

Adjournment Debate- Jacinda Ardern

Third speaker for Labour in the adjournment debate was Jacinda Ardern. This was an excellent speech, challenging the government’s abysmal social record that sees inequality at its worst ever levels and hundreds of thousands of children in poverty. Jacinda laid down some specific policy challenges for National to get in behind Labour’s policies.

More emphasis on National negatives.

Adjournment Debate – Grant Robertson

The fourth and final speaker for Labour in the adjournment debate was, well, me. Its a pity I can’t sing, but I did my best to end the year with a bit of levity through National’s 12 Days of Christmas aka the National’s 12 Fiascos. I hope you enjoy!

And Grinch closes with his own mish-mash of mockery. Maybe the few Labour supporters who risk venturing onto Labour’s flagship blog will enjoy the Christmas jeer.

Maybe Grant will have a happy transforming Christmas and make a New Year resolution to take a more positive approach to politics.