National’s desperate attacks

National have had problems with bad polls and with MP candidates promoting themselves and not the party, and running nutty attacks like Alfred Ngaro – see National MP Alfred Ngaro accused of spreading ‘gross piece of misinformation’ on Facebook.

Judith Collins did something about that – Collins intervenes after controversial abortion post:

Collins said Ngaro’s views weren’t shared by the party.

“You know, he’s someone who passionately believes exactly what he’s put up there and I don’t and and neither does the party.”

Collins said MPs get help with their social media, and in this case it was his own views and shouldn’t have had National Party branding on it.

It sounds like a concession that Ngaro is running his own campaign. That suggests National have poor control over their campaign and their candidates.

On campaigning yesterday: Good day/bad day: The leader walking on sunshine

In the same town, National leader Judith Collins is being undermined by her own candidates. Former leaders Todd Muller and Simon Bridges have been going merrily off-message with full page newspaper ads and billboards showing their photos – but no mention of Collins. Strategy: two ticks for the local candidates

But Collins has taken to attacks in her campaigning as well. Perhaps she sees it as a last ditch effort to save her leadership, as National seems beyond saving this election.

Collins was even more off-message herself, with some provocative rhetoric in which she blamed the personal “weakness” of overweight people for the country’s obesity problems. And the day got worse: she compared exploratory gas drilling to a pregnancy ultrasound scan. That’s a metaphor too uncomfortable to contemplate.

RNZ: Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

When told that some had called her comments heartless, Collins said: “Do you know what is heartless? Is actually thinking someone else can cure these issues. We can all take personal responsibility and we all have to own up to our little weaknesses on these matters.

“Do not blame systems for personal choices.”

To an extent Collins is right here, but this won’t win over many votes, and is more likely to lose some.

RNZ: Judith Collins says Jacinda Ardern ‘lied’ about Covid border testing

Collins began her morning campaigning with a transport policy combined with an attack on the Greens’ wealth tax in Grenada, but later turned her attention squarely on Ardern and Covid-19.

She told a public meeting at Waikanae Bowling Club that Ardern and her government had “let Covid in” and Ardern had “lied” about the testing of border staff.

“When she says she went hard and fast she went slow and pathetic, and actually the other thing she did was she lied to us about what was happening and I’m happy to say that on the record – she lied.

“Gee I hope she sues me for it. Happy to prove it.”

Support for Ardern and for Labour surged due too their handling of Covid so it’s hard to see what Collins is trying to achieve here.

RNZ: Judith Collins’ final week attacks ‘bizarre’, ‘desperate’ – pundits

“Her incentives to do that are, she’s looking at bleeding a fair few votes to other parties on the centre right, in particular ACT, and … it’s an attempt to inject some relevance and appear as if the contest is a one-on-one battle between the National leader and the Labour leader.”

“I think that when you start accusing a party leader we know has very high favourability ratings, very high trust levels, calling them a liar, that you’re not going for median voters, you’re not going for those centre voters there.

“You’re really trying to appeal to that base.”

The language being employed by Collins doesn’t “come from a position of strength”, he says.

The problem for Collins is the National base seems to have shrunk substantially. The essential swing voters are unlikely to be impressed by her attacks.

And trying to sound strong when you’re obviously in a weak position is unlikely to fool anyone.

Former United Future leader Peter Dunne thinks Collins’ comments were “a little bizarre”.

“I think they reflect the fact that National’s now not looking to win over uncommitted voters, so much as hold its own base in line, and I think this is what these comments were directed at.”

“I think National now is in a hold-the-line mode, rather than a win mode.”

“This election is very unusual in the way it’s panned out. I think National has gone from earlier in the year, pre-Covid, looking more than likely to win the election, to now looking most unlikely to do so. And I think they’ve had some trouble adjusting to the change in public mood.

“That’s why some of the comments do sound pretty desperate.

The pressure of imminent and heavy defeat seems to be taking it’s toll.

University of Auckland politics lecturer Dr Lara Greaves says it’s been a long campaign and a “very” long year.

She says it’s hard to know if Collins’ negativity is a strategy or not.

“It’s kind of unclear exactly who she is trying to appeal to here. I mean at this point, around half of the voters have voted. It’s not clear whether this is something that a swing voter or fence-sitter would be that into.

“Potentially she is trying to look towards that National Party base, trying to take some voters from ACT, or some old New Zealand First voters from those segments that are a little more fiery and would view some of those comments she’s made today as a little more acceptable.”

She doesn’t necessarily think it will win over swing voters.

“I think realistically, she’s just trying to save the furniture, and it’s not really clear that this is a good strategy for that.”

National have had a poor term, a poor year and a poor campaign that seems to be a shambles. Those MPs who survive – they may lose up to a third of their MPs – will have a big job to do to repair the damage and rebuild next term.

National – incompetent economic policy, no ideology

National have justifiably been hammered over the mistakes made in their economic policy. This pretty much destroyed any remote hope they had of coming close to competing with Labour this election.

With their claimed economic management reputation in tatters what have they got? Not much.

What does National actually stand for, apart from trying to get power? They seem to have become an ideological vacuum.

Andrea Vance: Why Paul Goldsmith can’t read numbers or the public mood

Paul Goldsmith, you had one job.

When you are using numbers as a sales pitch, it pays to get them right.

$4 billion-dollar hole in an alternative Budget totalling tens of billions of dollars might appear insignificant.

But the mistake will dearly cost National.

In other circumstances, leader Judith Collins should demote her finance spokesman. The fiasco dominated the launch of her campaign.

She can’t sack him. Felling your number two in an election campaign would be unthinkable and an admission that the oversight was more than the ‘irritating’ slip that the party attempted to downplay.

But his blunders are unforgivable, and not just because it’s careless and demonstrates a lack of competencies.

Goldsmith has fatally wounded not just Collins’ campaign, but the last semblances of the narrative that National are the superior economic managers.

Image

With Judith Collins unable to come close to competing with Jacinda Ardern on popularity, what have National got? Does anyone know?

Damien Grant: The National Party’s problem is a lack of ideology

National Party leader Judith Collins has waited two decades for this moment. You’d think she’d be better prepared.

If National wanted to understand how to tackle a popular yet ineffective leader, they only needed to have looked to the seat of Epsom and the determined and ideologically-driven David Seymour.

The ACT Party is surging in the polls partly as a result of the dysfunction in National but more importantly because Seymour has spent nearly a decade articulating policies. When you are selling your own ideas, it does not really matter what the other candidate is doing.

Voters will either like what you have to offer or they will not. Because the opposition doesn’t appear to believe in anything, they are reduced to railing against the real or imagined failings of the incumbents. It isn’t working.

In fact, the milquetoast offerings of National are a window into their soul – and it is disappointing viewing.

The problem is ideology. Collins and Goldsmith either do not understand, do not believe in, or lack the courage to fight for the supply-side neo-liberalism that was at the heart of the Reagan-Thatcher-Douglas economic revolution. Instead, they have by ignorance, intention, or cowardice, fallen into the progressive Keynesian dogma that the only way to stimulate an economy is by boosting demand.

After reading Goldsmith’s excellent book on the history of tax in New Zealand, We Won, You Lost, Eat That!, I expected better. I’ve heard he’s been muzzled and is chafing at the constraints, but maybe the whiff of leather from a Crown limo has him distracted.

And to give him credit, he has also outlined an accelerated depreciation tax strategy. Firms will be able to expense capital expenditure up to $150,000 and there will be faster depreciation rates for certain larger investments. This will have a very real and dramatic effect on our economy and some economists credit a similar change with helping Australia avoid a recession after the global financial crisis.

Beyond this audacious but unpromoted policy and the extending of the 90-day law to all employers, National has little to offer.

Collins’ tragedy is she has waited two decades to lead her party, but has spent none of that time thinking or reading about what she would do once she had the crown.

Had she done so, she could have used her excellent communication skills to articulate to the electorate a real alternative to the status quo, not merely the unappealing promise of maintaining the ancient regime with a new titular ruler at the helm.

That may sound harsh to some, but it’s hard to argue with it.

National are in real trouble for this election, but their problems won’t stop if the come a distant second to Labour. They’re a hodge podge of politicians who seem to think they deserve power because, ah, because what?

National’s tax cut policy

Just when it looked like Labour were comfortably PR managing their way to a comfortable election victory, playing ultra-safe with a minimal policy approach, and National looked to be going through the motions heading for a big defeat, the campaign has been shaken up a bit with a promise of tax cuts for everyone.

National were obviously waiting for the PREFU release (Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – economy “better than predicted”) on Thursday, announcing their Economic & Fiscal Plan yesterday, with most attention given to short term tax cuts aimed at stimulating the economy.

This seemed to rattle Labour, with both Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson reacting.

Ardern said tax cuts were “irresponsible”:

“What they have announced today is unaffordable and is raiding from a fund that has to be available to make sure that we as a nation can keep responding to the challenges of Covid, not deliver unaffordable tax cuts.

This is a bit rich. Labour have already spent something like $50 billion propping up the economy, and have a $14b fund set aside to dish out as they see fit.

“Now is just not the time for tax cuts and I genuinely believe New Zealanders will look at the environment right now and agree with that.

“What we need now is really careful economic management, we need certainty and we need a plan and that’s what we’ll deliver.”

There’s nothing certain about our short and medium term economic future.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson:

“It beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic the National Party is planning to gut the money set aside to protect New Zealanders in case of another major outbreak of Covid-19,” he said in a statement after the announcement.

“We carefully put aside $14 billion to look after New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing and now National wants to put that at risk. This policy reeks of desperation as National races to borrow money to pay for a $4000 temporary tax cut for Judith Collins.”

The responses from Ardern and Robertson reek of rattledness.

National’s announcement.


National will cut taxes for middle New Zealand

National’s massive tax stimulus package will put more than $3000 extra into the pockets of hard-working Kiwis on middle incomes, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

Ms Collins has announced the next National Government will let Kiwis keep more of what they earn by lifting the bottom tax threshold from $14,000 to $20,000, the middle threshold from $48,000 to $64,000 and the top threshold from $70,000 to $90,000.

These changes will be in place from December 1, 2020 until March 31, 2022. The total cost of this over the 16-month period is estimated to be $4.7 billion.

“Today we are facing the biggest economic downturn the world has seen since in living memory. But with the right leadership and economic plan we can grow our economy and keep Kiwis in jobs,” Ms Collins says.

“To keep our economy ticking, New Zealanders need money to spend. National will deliver temporary tax relief that puts more than $3000 – or nearly $50 a week – into the back pockets of average earners over the next 16 months.

“This will give Kiwis the confidence to go out and spend, which will be crucial for our retail, tourism and hospitality businesses to survive this economic crisis.

“New Zealand is facing a much longer and more painful economic shock than earlier forecast. We need a serious plan for economic growth to get us back on track.”

National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith pointed to higher taxes as Labour’s only plan to get New Zealand out of this economic hole.

“No country has ever taxed its way out of a recession – and this is a big one we’re in now.”

As well as tax relief for households, National will double the depreciation rate for businesses that invest in new Plant, Equipment and Machinery over the next twelve months. This will bring forward the amount a business can claim in depreciation for new investments, which will stimulate investment by increasing the return on capital.

Doubling the depreciation rate is expected to cost $430 million a year for five years, while increasing tax revenues in out years.

“Our stimulus package has been fully-funded and costed, and is included in our independently reviewed Economic and Fiscal Plan released today,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“National’s plan carefully balances the need to drive economic stimulus, increase investment in core public services and restore government debt back to prudent levels.

“Labour, on the other hand, has announced it will increase taxes during a recession. The contrasting approaches to the economy at this election could not be clearer.

“Judith Collins and her strong National team will bring the leadership, experience and vision needed to get our country back on track.”

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

You can view a copy of National’s Personal Tax Relief Policy here.

You can view a copy of National’s Double Depreciation Rate Policy here.


See RNZ: National promises $4.7bn in tax cuts in economic and tax policy

Obviously this policy would benefit me, by a few thousand dollars. I’m not sure it’s the best approach over the next year or two, but at least it’s reasonably even, it means all tax payers would pay less tax for 16 months (that makes for a messy part taxyear), and every one of us could decide what to do with the extra take home pay.

It does seems a better approach to Labour ‘picking winners’ and ‘corporate welfare’ of dishing out millions of dollars to selected businesses, which puts competing businesses at a disadvantage. I guess they plan to continue to do that with their $14 fund they don’t want given to workers.

Funny to see Labour favouring some corporates while National taking less from workers, that shows how muddled politics is these days.

This announcement is unlikely to swing the election (I’m still very undecided), but going by Labour’s responses it has them a bit worried. At least it livens up a lacklustre campaign.

Collins says she will “get to the bottom of” misleading advertising

Judith Collins says she will find out who is responsible for advertising that was said to be authorised by her and has been found to be misleading by the Speaker, Trevor Mallard.

Social media campaigns that look linked to the National Party have been controversial, especially those promoted by Collins’ husband – see Collins ‘can’t control husband’ but he’s very unhelpful.

In Parliament yesterday:

PRIVILEGE

Misrepresentation—Reply to a Written Question

SPEAKER: Members, I have received a letter from the Hon Chris Hipkins raising with me a matter of privilege: the alteration and misrepresentation of a reply to a written question posted by the National Party on social media.

The content—altered reply purporting to be from the Minister of Health and is on the face of it misleading. In normal circumstances I would be inclined to find that a question of privilege is involved and refer the matter to the Privileges Committee.

The post purports to be authorised by the Leader of the Opposition, although she has assured me that she did not see it before publication.

The general manager of the New Zealand National Party has taken responsibility for it.

So this has been directly linked to the National Party.

The post involved the manufacture of fake ministerial letterhead to lend authenticity to the misrepresentation. However, the Leader of the Opposition has apologised, I have been assured that the material has been removed from social media, and in light of the impending dissolution of Parliament I do not intend to take any further action.

Newshub: Judith Collins vows to find out who created ‘misleading’ National ad with her name on it

The image, which was posted on party social media platforms, shows Hipkins replying to a written question from National Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti about testing numbers in managed isolation facilities. However, the text is on a manufactured ministerial letterhead and contains just part of Hipkins’ answer.

Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday morning that she wasn’t behind the faked letterhead – but she would find out who was. 

“Well, not me. I am going to find out today. I am going to get to the bottom of it. It’s possibly someone trying to be clever. I am particularly annoyed that it has happened. It’s not like its $11.7 million for the Green School. But it’s still not acceptable and I will sort it out today”.

The leader reiterated that she did not sign the post off, despite it saying she had done so. 

“No, I did not and I didn’t even see it. That will also be dealt with today. So, you can just imagine, it’s going to be an interesting morning”.

“We will sort it out today. I would say it is possibly an error from someone who is overly enthusiastic, but whatever, it’s not acceptable, and certainly not putting my name on things when it’s not true. I will be sorting it today. It will be sorted.”

It could have been someone in the party’s digital team, she said.

“Well, we will find out. I don’t know so I will find out. I would say it is possibly someone in the digital team. But whatever it is, we will find out. But let’s get it in perspective here. Someone has made an error and I have apologised on behalf of the National Party. I certainly didn’t know about it.” 

Collins doesn’t appear to have committed to doing anything if she finds out who is responsible.

She said yesterday she couldn’t control her husband, but she could stop him spreading around social media attacks if she stops her party creating the attack posts in the first place.

National’s party list

National have announced their party list for the 2020 election in September. There is nothing remarkable about it. The top 20 are fairly similar to their current rankings.

National’s 2020 Party List:

1Judith CollinsPapakura
2Gerry BrownleeIlam
3Paul GoldsmithEpsom
4Simon BridgesTauranga
5Dr Shane RetiWhangarei
6Todd McClayRotorua
7Chris BishopHutt South
8Todd MullerBay of Plenty
9Louise UpstonTaupo
10Scott SimpsonCoromandel
11David BennettHamilton East
12Michael WoodhouseDunedin
13Nicola WillisWellington Central
14Jacqui DeanWaitaki
15Mark MitchellWhangaparaoa
16Melissa LeeMt Albert
17Andrew BaylyPort Waikato
18Dr Nick SmithNelson
19Maureen PughWest Coast-Tasman
20Barbara KurigerTaranaki-King Country
21Harete HipangoWhanganui
22Jonathan YoungNew Plymouth
23Tim MacindoeHamilton West
24Kanwaljit Singh BakshiPanmure-Otahuhu
25Paulo GarciaList
26Nancy LuList
27Dr Parmjeet ParmarMt Roskill
28Agnes LoheniMangere
29Dale StephensChristchurch Central
30Alfred NgaroTe Atatu
31Matt DooceyWaimakariri
32Stuart SmithKaikoura
33Lawrence YuleTukituki
34Denise LeeMaungakiekie
35Simon O’ConnorTamaki
36Brett HudsonOhariu
37Simeon BrownPakuranga
38Ian McKelvieRangitikei
39Erica StanfordEast Coast Bays
40Matt KingNorthland
41Chris PenkKaipara ki Mahurangi
42Tim van de MolenWaikato
43Dan BidoisNorthcote
44Jo HayesMana
45Katie NimonNapier
46Catherine ChuBanks Peninsula
47Hamish CampbellWigram
48David PattersonRongotai
49Lisa WhyteNew Lynn
50Rima NakhleTakanini
51Liam KernaghanTaieri
52Bala BeeramKelston
53Lincoln PlattChristchurch East
54William WoodPalmerston North
55Nuwi SamarakoneManurewa
56Mark CrofskeyRemutaka
57Jake BezzantUpper Harbour
58Mike ButterickWairarapa
59Tim CostleyOtaki
60Nicola GriggSelwyn
61Christopher LuxonBotany
62Joseph MooneySouthland
63Penny SimmondsInvercargill
64Tania TapsellEast Coast
65Simon WattsNorth Shore
66TBCAuckland Central
67TBCRangitata
68Adrienne PierceList
69Senthuran ArulananthamList
70Sang ChoList
71Rachel Afeaki-TaumoepeauList
72Trish CollettList
73Ava NealList
74Katrina BungardList
75Shelley PilkingtonList

Most list candidates and quite a few electorate candidates will be struggling to get in unless National’s support improves support markedly. An on polling National will do well to get half of that list into Parliament.

This term they got 56 MPs elected with 44.45% of the vote, but recent public polling ranged from 25-32%.

On current polling a number of candidates have no show of getting in unless they win their electorates.

Interesting to see Chris Luxon at 61. He is sometimes toured as a leaderr of the future, but after the Muller experience future caucuses should be cautious about parachuting in someone with little political or political media experience.

RNZ Leader interviews: Judith Collins – ‘I’m always very confident, particularly when I know I’m right’

Collins is still shy of a month into the job but in her media blitz she and her arched eyebrows are everywhere, along with the party slogan “Strong team, More Jobs, Better Economy”.

Is the tagline “strong team” verging on the comedic though, when you look back at the past few horror months for National: a rolling maul of resignations, sackings and leadership changes?

“Look at our front bench. Look at it,” Collins says in defence.

Stuff: National Party announces list of MPs and candidates for upcoming election

On National’s current polling, many of the party’s existing MPs could lose their seat in Parliament. MPs Alfred Ngaro and Jo Hayes appear to be at particular risk after being ranked down the list.

Two candidates – Nancy Lu and Dale Stephens – have entered the list above existing MPs. Lu, a high-flying accountant who was born in China, has been parachuted into 26 on the list.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said that Lu had been placed so high on the list because she had the capabilities the party was looking for.

Collins said many of the promising new candidates in safe seats, such as Luxon, had been grouped together down the list.

Ngaro, who is running against Labour minister Phil Twyford in Te Atatū, has dropped from number 19 in the caucus list, to 30 on the list – the only MP to drop from the top 20.

“Alfred has a seat to win, and it is important that we also have renewal,” Collins said.

That’s hardly a vote of confidence in Ngaro. He was 3,180 votes behind Twyford last election. Twyford has been poor as a minister but should benefit from Labour riding high.

Most people will know little to nothing about most candidates on the list. Elections are won and lost on leadership and the top handful of known MPs and candidates.

National’s infrastructure announcement

New leader Judith Collins announced the first chunk of National’s infrastructure policy yesterday – $30 billion to be spent over 10 years on roads, rail, buses and tunnels, with about half in the top of the North Island, particularly addressing congestion in Auckland, and including a full four lane highway from Whangerei to Auckland and to Hamilton and Tauranga.

They also plan on scrapping the currently dysfunctional RMA and replacing it with something that doesn’t restrict anmd slow down development so much.

National had been criticised for not having much policy, but after this announcement the pressure is now very much on Labour to respond.

While I have my doubts about some of what is in the policy I think there’s a lot of worth\while projects to consider.

Opponents were quick to criticise the emphasis on roads and car congestion, including Green Minister Julie Anne Genter, but the simple fact is that road congestion is a major problem in the north and cars won’t suddenly disappear.

A big problem with the Green led push to walk and bike is that it is happening slowly and is limited. In Dunedin most commuter cycle lanes are barely used. Recreational walking and biking is becoming more popular, but weekday congestion is still a huge problem and won’t be fixed by disrupting traffic flows with more cycleways and footpaths, especially when noot separated from cars and trucks.

A big point of difference with Labour is that instead of putting light rail lines down a busy road in Auckland they will branch the existing railway line to the airport. Seems a sensible option.

The National announcement won’t make me suddenly be a supporter of them this election, but it is a welcome bit of beef that should force Labour and other parties to front up with substantive policy of their own that we can then decide on.

The announcement (edited):  Delivering Infrastructure – Upper North Island

Today’s infrastructure announcement is one part of National’s Plan to Get New Zealand Working that we released last week. Today I intend to focus on transport infrastructure.

In the coming weeks, you will hear more about our plans for schools, for hospitals, for water storage, and broadband. But today is all about transport.

There is a congestion and infrastructure crisis in Auckland. It is a crisis caused by decades of short-term thinking and expedience. And that same congestion and infrastructure crisis extends to much of the rest of country.

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.

Today, though, being in Auckland, my focus is on transport – including within Auckland City, and across the whole upper North Island.

This city is broken by congestion. Every Aucklander and every visitor to Auckland knows it. Congestion costs Aucklanders over $1 billion per year. That’s the strict economic loss. It represents lost production, lost productivity, lost opportunity.

But congestion is far worse than that. Congestion means unreliable journey times. It means frustration at sitting idle on the motorway. It means goods being delivered late to our ports. It means Mum being late to pick up the kids from rugby practice. It means a tradie only doing two, rather than four, cross-town trips per day. That’s fewer jobs for him; less income, and less economic activity.

Upper North Island Transport Package

First, National will build a four-lane expressway network from Whangarei in the north to Tauranga, connecting 50 per cent of the country with high-quality and safe expressways.

Second, we will complete the Auckland Rapid Transit network, including massive new investments in busways and our rail network.

Third, we will build a second crossing across the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

These things can’t all happen at once. But we will also begin immediately, by pumping $300 million into digger-ready projects in Auckland and throughout the country in 2021 – like fixing potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners.

Together, our plan, which you can find in detail on our website, is a 20-year vision for transport infrastructure in Auckland and the upper north. Our total funding for new transport projects across New Zealand will be $31 billion over the next decade. Around half of that – $17 billion – will go to today’s Upper North Island Transport Package for the half of the nation’s population who live here. To fund our overall $31 billion package, we have allocated $7 billion from the Government’s $20 billion Covid Fund.

In addition, National will change the way major transport projects are funded, from “pay-as-we-go” to an intergenerational approach. NZTA will be allowed to borrow significantly more on its own balance sheet, using the $4 billion it collects each year from fuel taxes and road user charges to service the debt. Initially, we will allow it to borrow up to $1 billion a year more.

Some of what I am announcing today will also be joint ventures with Auckland Council. The renegotiation of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) will begin with Phil Goff in our first two weeks in office. The first thing you’ll see, as previously announced, is that the Auckland regional fuel tax will be abolished.

Looking further ahead, if we and Auckland Council ever look at congestion charges in the future, my Government will insist they are only ever revenue neutral, with other fuel taxes reduced to compensate.

Upper North Island Expressway Network

The first project I am announcing today is to connect Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways. This will also include Marsden Point. We will also build the Hamilton Southern Links project to connect the southern part of Hamilton to the Waikato Expressway. And we will build a four-lane expressway from Tauranga to Katikati. Desktop work to get the four-lane expressways underway will begin immediately upon us forming a Government.

National will seek also to improve the rail networks between Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga. National will extend commuter rail to Pokeno, beginning in 2024. That will then allow the possibility of proper commuter rail to Hamilton to be considered.

Auckland Rapid Transit

The second project I am announcing today as part of National’s Delivering Infrastructure Plan is Auckland Rapid Transit. We will measure our progress against those goals, of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city.

We don’t support light rail. National believes light rail will be to the 2020s what monorails were to the 1980s. We do support completing Auckland’s existing train and bus system.

I am announcing, therefore, that there will be rail to the airport from Puhinui, starting in 2026, and then up to Onehunga, to create a rail loop. This was the plan for Auckland for decades, as Mike Lee will tell you.

Rather than just doing a third main rail line Quay Park to Wiri, we will do the third and fourth at the same time. This will allow the separation of commuter and freight traffic, and for express commuter services and regional rail.

Additional Harbour Crossing

I am announcing today that National’s Plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels. Our Plan is that it should be for both road, rail and new public transport technologies that come on line. And, yes, the new tunnel will be tolled – but the existing bridge never will be.

In terms of a timeline, I am announcing National’s Plan is to fast-track the consenting so that work can begin in 2028.

In terms of cyclist and pedestrian access across the harbour, National is sceptical of the $360 million Labour plans to spend on Skypath 2. Unlike the Dominion Road Ghost Train, I am not announcing today that Skypath 2 will certainly be cancelled. But, the likelihood is that we will want to work with the experts on a more cost-effective way for cyclists and pedestrians to get across the harbour.

Resource Management Act Repeal

Aucklanders, and all New Zealanders, are sick of:

  • The diabolical processes and never-ending but insincere consultation.
  • The endless cost and delays the RMA gifts to seemingly every development.
  • Good projects falling-over in Court.

It has to stop.

…I am making a very firm commitment that the National Government I lead will repeal the RMA altogether. It won’t be “reformed” – it will go.

We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency. We will begin this work in our first 100 days. We will introduce new legislation by the end of next year.

That process, though, is too slow for the projects I have announced today – and those we will announce in the next few weeks. The RMA fast-track legislation passed in response to Covid-19 provides a useful interim framework.

National will make far more extensive use of the fast-track Act. New Zealand is facing an extraordinary jobs and economic crisis; and it demands a proportional response. We simply cannot let the RMA stand in the way of urgently needed infrastructure development. In Auckland and right around the country, we will work with local government to try to make existing RMA procedures more efficient.

But I want to tell you all right now, we will legislate for our projects if necessary. We will be respectful of local government and local stakeholders, most particularly mana whenua, and the likes of NZTA and the Infrastructure Commission.

More detail:

You can view National’s Auckland Transport Plan here

You can view National’s Transport Funding Summary here

You can view National’s Upper North Island Infrastructure Package Q & A here

Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams to quit politics

NZ Herald:  National Party MP Nikki Kaye quits politics

The National Party is set to be rocked by another high-profile resignation today with former deputy leader and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye expected to announce her departure from politics.

She stood down as deputy when the caucus held an emergency meeting to elect Judith Collins to replace Todd Muller as leader.

A National Party spokesperson said this morning: “Judith Collins won’t be commenting until the reshuffle announcement at 10.30am.”

“Nikki will make her own announcements when she is ready,” said Brownlee, the man who replaced Kaye as deputy leader.

It is understood several people have tried to dissuade Kaye from quitting or at least to put more distance between the decision and the events of the past 10 days but she is adamant.

It is understood she is disappointed by the Todd Muller sudden resignation.

She has come in for some criticism over the handling of the Covid patient privacy breach scandal, which led to the imminent resignation of first-term MP Hamish Walker from politics at the election and which appeared to place intolerable strain on Muller.

Presuming this is correct this is another significant blow for National. It’s not unusual for MPs to reassess their political careers after leadership changes, especially ex leaders. But this will not help National’s re-election chances, and is an immediate challenge to Judith Collins’ leadership.

At least quitting now means that Collins should only have to reshuffle her lineup once, unless there are more shock withdrawals later.

Kaye has held the Auckland Central electorate since becoming an MP in 2008, twice defeating Jacinda Ardern. But if she doesn’t stand there the attempt by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick to take the electorate becomes more interesting.

Losing another experienced MP will be a blow to National, but they will still go onto the election with a lot more MPs with Cabinet experience than Labour had last election. However the perception of a disintegrating party will be difficult to combat.

But wait, there’s more.

Adams had already announced she would quit, changed her mind when Muller took over but seems to have changed her mind again. With that level of commitment to the cause the party is better off without her.

Kay and Adams will be big losses, they have been two of National’s more capable performers in the past.

Judith Collins launches herself as leader

National ended up settling their leadership very quickly, announcing that Judith Collins will take over from Todd Muller after Muller stepped down yesterday morning. Gerry Brownlee takes over from Nkiki Kay as deputy.

“I can’t wait to take the fight to the government. Our goal is to put in place a far better government focused on the people of this country and what they are going to need, particularly from an economic point of view.”

“Experience, toughness, the ability to make decisions. Jacinda Ardern is not someone we should ever underestimate. She is an adversary that I would absolutely respect, but I tell you what, our team is better than their team and we are going to take it back.”

According to Richard Harman – Why National finally called on Collins – Mark Mitchell also stood for the leadership, and Paul Goldsmith also stood for the deputy position.

This morning Collins is doing the media rounds, and she has started that showing her experience.

After her media interviews she will work out her shadow cabinet – she says she will only make a few changes, she said it is too close to the election to make major changes. Mostly the changes are those required by the change in responsibilities for her and Brownlee. Kaye will keep a significant role, and Muller is also likely to be included.

Then they will review their policies and no doubt review their approach to the election campaign, but as Brownlee was managing their campaign that shouldn’t be difficult.

Collins has also said she will retain most of the Muller appointed staff in the leader’s office. At this stage before the election that’s another sensible decision.

“I respect the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and I believe she is a very good communicator. She has communicated very well during the Covid crisis.”

“Jacinda Ardern, I think she is a spot on excellent communicator…Communication’s one thing execution’s another and I haven’t seen that much coming out of the Government”

There’s a stream of opponents busy on social media dredging up whatever they can find about Collins’ past – her connection to Dirty Politics and to Cameron Slater is a common thread with even Nicky Hager having a go (Press advisory on Judith Collins and the book Dirty Politics), despite that coming to a head six years ago. There is no sign other than Collins keeping a big political distance from Slater since then.

Running dirty attacks in social media is how politics works (unfortunately), but it will be far more critical how Collins handles the media and political journalists, and she is generally very adept at this.

Time will tell how Collins and National do from here. They have a big challenge repair substantial damage so it won’t be easy, but for the good of a health democracy I hope they at least survive in a reasonable state. Their chances of succeeding this election are slim, but they need to become a sensible, strong opposition at least until the election and probably after it as well.

Collins should manage the initial media onslaught ok.

The first big test will be her ranking of her front bench and spokesperson roles. Collins has indicated that Paul Goldsmith will retain the Finance role. She is not committing on Michael Woodhouse until she ‘gets the facts’ today.

Some will demand ‘balance’, especially gender and ethnic. The latter could be tricky but she could promote Simon Bridges and in particular Shane Reti.

However every party doesn’t have to represent everyone, that’s a nonsense that keeps getting promoted. ACT doesn’t represent everyone, Greens don’t represent everyone, neither NZ First or the Maori Party or Labour.

Parties should represent their own constituencies and their own target demographics. But it’s far more important that they represent some semblance of competence and integrity than ticking every box insisted on by others.

Collins: “I’m the right person at this time for the caucus”.

She is going to target economic issues and is still trying to promote the ‘strong team’ theme.

“I know that this is a tough job but we can get it done”.

Collins leader, Brownlee deputy

Judith Collins is the new leader of the National Party.

I really think this was inevitable. She will have heaps of crap thrown at her by partisan opponents, such is the dirty game of politics. And she will be tested by media, as it should be.

And time will tell how this pans out, at this stage we can only guess but that would be pointless.

And they have gone to experience and stability with Gerry Brownlee at deputy. His biggest challenge is within the caucus, it will be his job to demand loyalty and teamwork, Failing that National’s outlook is dire.

For the good of the country this has to work, it is imperative we have a strong Opposition Party to hold the Government to account, and to be a next government in waiting, in 3 or 6 or 9 years or however long it takes.

 

Time for Judith Collins?

There is only one person I can see who would be capable of stepping up and taking over the National Party leadership – Judith Collins.

National is in real trouble with the struggles and now resignation of Todd Muller they quickly need to get someone else in charge.

Collins is very good handling media, and she has a lot of support in the party.

She just lacks major support in the National caucus. A lot of their recent problems have been factional – the aggrieved Bridges faction versus the new Muller faction.

Having a leader independent of both of these factions would be a plus for someone able to command respect and demand loyalty.

National MPs either have too accept and support someone like Collins as leader, or continue to self destruct.

There is some talk of the reappointment of Simon Bridges, but I think that would be a bad move. National support was sliding under his flawed leadership, and he lost the confidence of a majority of his caucus. Putting him back in charge would be nuts.

So I don’t see any option but Judith – if she is willing to give it a go.