They haven’t learned a thing

August 30, 2014

Labour and the Green Party are trying to pretend they would be good economic managers.

The cost of their policies puts the lie to that:

David Cunliffe and Labour have actually increased their new spending promises for the next four years to $18.4 billion, despite putting some of their proposals such as New Zealand Power on the never-never, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“David Cunliffe and David Parker have again been caught out under-costing their expensive promises,” Mr English says. “This is irresponsible and deceptive and confirms that under David Cunliffe, Labour is reverting to its failed spend and tax recipe of the past.

“We saw what happened the last time around – under Labour in 2008, floating mortgage rates reached almost 11 per cent, inflation exceeded 5 per cent and the economy went into recession well before the global financial crisis.”

Labour’s latest costings attempt, which it released on Monday, confirm its untried New Zealand Power proposal, which would give politicians control of the electricity industry and push up power prices, would be postponed until 1 January 2018.

And in another example of it attempting to dress up its numbers, Labour has also pushed back free GP visits for over 65s and other groups to 1 January 2017.

“So while David Cunliffe is going around New Zealand making expensive promises, he is quietly pushing some of them back beyond two elections because he knows they are unaffordable,” Mr English says.

“But he has again failed to hide Labour’s real spending agenda because he has not added in promises made over the last two weeks.

“Even using Labour’s own numbers, the cost of its promises over the next four years is now $17.3 billion – up from its claimed $16.4 billion when it first attempted to cost its policies.

“But when the real costs of its proposed R&D tax credit, compulsory KiwiSaver and New Zealand Power are included, the tally jumps to $18.4 billion – up from around $18 billion the last time around.

“As Labour’s numbers come under scrutiny, they keep changing them,” Mr English says. “David Cunliffe has tried to say he would spend less, but when you add it all up he is actually spending more.”

Labour Party Election 2014 Spending Announcements – as at 27 August 2014
Four year costings as per Labour documents unless noted

$m
27-Jan-14 Best Start Policy 614
27-Jan-14 Extended Paid Parental Leave 245
27-Jan-14 Maternity Policies 50
27-Jan-14 Early Childhood Education Announcements 352
19-Mar-14 Forestry Policy 28
14-Apr-14 Bowel Screening Programme 56
23-Apr-14 Veterans Pension Extension 37
23-Jun-14 Canterbury Policies 116
25-Jun-14 R & D Tax Credit* 1,079
25-Jun-14 Accelerated Depreciation 210
25-Jun-14 Universal KiwiSaver** 845
25-Jun-14 NZ Power*** 566
25-Jun-14 KiwiBuild 1,527
25-Jun-14 KiwiBuild Finance Costs 176
2-Jul-14 School Donation Policy 175
3-Jul-14 Family & Sexual Violence Policies 60
5-Jul-14 Digital Devices in Schools 120
5-Jul-14 Reading Recovery 140
5-Jul-14 Food in Schools 70
11-Jul-14 ICT policies 17
22-Jul-14 Regional Investment Fund 200
24-Jul-14 Digital and Connectivity Policy 21
30-Jul-14 Living wage for Public Sector 94
31-Jul-14 Centres of Vocational Excellence 40
4-Aug-14 Youth Employment Package 182
6-Aug-14 Primary Healthcare 150
8-Aug-14 ACC 40
10-Aug-14 Free Doctors’ Visits 540
18-Aug-14 Tertiary Education (incl ACE) 130
20-Aug-14 Aged Care 222
22-Aug-14 Welfare Policy 78
24-Aug-14 Immediate Funding of City Rail Link**** 800
25-Aug-14 Other Education Initiatives 45
25-Aug-14 Other Smaller Initiatives 80
25-Aug-14 Maintain Real Value of Spending in Public Services 9,000
25-Aug-14 Policy Soon to be Announced 289
Total Announced Spending Pledges 18,394

*Adjusted to reflect Treasury’s forecast costs of the previous R & D Tax credit
**Adjusted to include the average Kiwisaver tax credit paid to new Kiwisaver members
***Adjusted to remove the claimed fiscal offset for wider benefits in one part of the economy that ignores wider costs elsewhere
****Labour says it would reprioritise existing transport spend but most of first 4 yrs committed/contracted

Note: some costs differ from the original Labour releases as a result of fiscal tables released 25 August.

This is only the cost of its spending.

It doesn’t take into account the cost of poor economic management, higher and extra taxes, higher interest rates, a greater burden of government and all the other hand brakes a Labour/Green?New Zealand First.Internet Mana government would impose on the country.

Higher spending and higher taxes didn’t work for New Zealand under the last Labour-led government and it won’t work if voters are conned into trusting another one.

Hopefully voters have learned what works for New Zealand and New Zealanders because Labour and its mismatched mates haven’t.

 

In their last five years in government, Labour’s spending increased by 50%, pushing mortgage rates to 11%, causing inflation to exceed 5%, and putting the economy into recession well before the global financial crisis. Now they want to make the same mistakes all over again.


Labour negative on labour

August 27, 2014

Labour’s campaign on positivity took several hits at the ASB finance spokespeople’s debate in Queenstown last night.

The worst was from its finance spokesman David Parker in response to a question on immigration when he said:

“I don’t think that in a world that needs less labour the answer is more labour.”

He then went on to talk about low value immigrants, was pulled up by the chair Duncan Garner and tried to turn it into immigrants doing low value jobs.

Then he repeated what he’d already said that in a world with a decreasing need for labour because of technology the answer wasn’t more labour.

That is an extraordinarily ignorant statement which shows no understanding of how an economy and the job market works.

It also demonstrates a depressingly negative attitude from a party which obviously doesn’t understand wealth creation.

Businesses go and others come, jobs go and others come and in a growing economy more come than go.

They might be different jobs and will need differing levels of skill and receive differing levels of pay, but they will be jobs.

Finance Minister Bill English made that point by saying that we will need 150,000 people to fill the jobs that will be created.

Parker presumably meant labour with a small l but look at his sentence with a big L:

I don’t think that in a world that needs less Labour the answer is more Labour.

Now that’s positive.


Peters scared of Craig

August 27, 2014

The Queenstown ASB debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties attracted a sell-out crowd last night.

debate

The photo shows, chair Duncan Garner, Finance Minister Bill English for National, Conservative leader Colin Craig, Labour’s David Parker, Act’s Jamie Whyte and Green Russel Norman.

Duncan Garner said that the Maori Party declined the invitation, Mana didn’t reply and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters refused to come if Craig was there.

The chair gave each speaker three minutes to give a pitch then gave them a few questions before taking questions from the floor.

Labour’s trying to campaign on being positive but its finance spokesman started by being negative about the economy and the outlook.

Jamie Whyte started by quoting Adam Smith:

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

He also asked who’s going to make better decisions – someone putting their own money at risk in search of profit of someone using other people’s money in search of votes?

Duncan Garner asked him to name one Green policy he agreed with and he said he couldn’t think of one.

The question Duncan Garner put to Russel Norman at the end of his three minutes was whether he could say something good about the Finance Minister and he said he’d been very responsible.

Colin Craig rattled through his policy which includes tax cuts at the lower end.

The chair asked him to say whether he’d go with National or Labour if he had the choice after the election. He said National because the party would have the most votes.

Clutha Southland MP Bill English got the biggest welcome from his home crowd.

He started by giving people the credit for their resilience, responsible and work and how important that was because the economy doesn’t just exist in an office in Wellington, it’s what people do.

That, in partnership with National-led government’s careful management of public finances, had put New Zealand back on the right track.

He said we now have a platform built on our resilience the positive encouragement from government and the most positive Prime Minister New Zealand has had that will allow us to have sustainable growth.

“You have set that direction and we can keep it,” he said.

There’s a video of the debate here.


Labour spending scares itself

August 27, 2014

Labour’s propensity for over taxing and over spending is scaring voters, it’s scaring the Green Party and it’s scaring itself:

David Cunliffe and Labour are still committed to irresponsibly spending all of the next four Budgets before the election, despite yesterday attempting – and failing – to recast their ropey fiscal forecasts, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“New Zealanders can now see that under David Cunliffe economic history would repeat itself,” he says.

“Having been part of a Labour government that left New Zealand in recession with high interest rates, forecasts of never-ending deficits and ever-rising debt, David Cunliffe has again confirmed he has learnt nothing from the fiscal and economic mess Labour left for New Zealanders.

“Two election campaigns on, he has reverted to form with new spending promises still totalling nearly $18 billion over four years. Having been criticised for being fiscally irresponsible, he belatedly realised he had over-stretched and has attempted to back down. But it hasn’t worked.

“David Cunliffe has scared New Zealanders with his spending plans and he’s scared his partners the Greens. He’s now even scared himself. No wonder the Greens are calling for a full audit of Labour’s numbers.

“The trouble for Labour is that its claims of trimming extra spending just don’t stack up because proper costings of Labour’s tweaked promises still add up to around $18 billion over four years. And that’s before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an extra $10 billion over the same period – and who knows how many billions more by the Dotcom party.

“By contrast, National has committed only a small fraction of future Budgets. This will provide us with flexibility to deal with future shocks, speed up debt repayment or provide future tax reductions should there be room to do so.”

Labour’s spending is predicated on more tax income on the back of higher tax rates and new taxes, including a Capital Gains Tax.

It ignores the fact that increasing the tax rate and adding new taxes doesn’t bring in a corresponding increase in the tax take and can reduce it.

On top of that its less flexible employment law and other costs to and constraints on business will act as a handbrake on economic growth, wage rises and job prospects.

And that’s without taking into accounts the expensive price it will have to pay to cobble together a coalition with the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties.


Labour too late to look responsible

August 26, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce sums up Labour’s announcement it’s dropping some yet unannounced policies:

Finance Minister Bill English isn’t convinced either:

It’s too late for Labour to try to look responsible with taxpayers’ money when it has publicly committed to four years of new spending with almost a month to run before the election, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“Labour is desperately trying to make its big spending commitments look smaller, and has decided to not even put costings on its big spending tertiary and transport commitments.

“Neither David Cunliffe nor David Parker could this morning actually list which of their expensive spending promises would be delayed in what was a failed attempt to appear fiscally prudent.

“Labour would return to their high spending ways, with at least an $18 billion list of new spending commitments,” Mr English says.

“That’s before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an additional $10 billion over the next four years. Then then there’s the wish list of support partner the Dotcom party, which wants to spend billions more on free tertiary education and community make-work schemes.

“Whatever Labour presents now would be up for negotiation in coalition talks where the Greens would have considerable sway – not to mention concessions demanded by Dotcom.

“On top of that, the Greens and Labour are arguing over their numbers. The Greens say they want Labour’s numbers independently audited – and for good reason.  And as we saw from the weekend, they can’t even agree fairly basic stuff like where the two of them think the top personal tax rate should be.

“The last time we saw this sort of approach, New Zealand taxpayers and families were the losers, with high deficits, a stalling economy and mortgage interest rates at nearly 11 per cent. New Zealand simply can’t afford the Labour/Greens/Dotcom coalition,” Mr English says.

High tax, high spending policies under the last Labour-led government put the country into recession before the rest of the world and left us with a forecast for a decade of deficits.

If they couldn’t manage the books responsibly in good times, they’ll have no show of exercising the restraint needed to ensure we keep on the road to recovery from bad times.

 


Campaign opening the right way

August 25, 2014

The National Party campaign opening attracted around 2,500 members.

John Key asked us to thank all of you who came along to help make our 2014 campaign launch a stunning success today. Over 2500 of you joined us in the heartland of South Auckland to keep #TeamKey working for New Zealand. Thank you.

When I arrived the crowd was enjoying the music of Lapi Mariner and his band and teenage MC Lavana Seuala had us hanging on his every word.

He welcomed Social development Minister Paula Bennett who went through the accomplishments of the last six years which clearly drew the dots between head and heart.

National has taken tough decisions because it cares about improving the lives of the most vulnerable and knows that helping people move from welfare to work is best for them, their families and the country.

Lavana then welcomed Deputy leader and Finance Minister Bill English who reminded us of the importance of careful financial management and paid tribute to Prime Minister John Key.

Then it was the PM’s turn.

Such was the rapturous reception he got, it took him about five minutes to get to the stage and twice that to get back out.

He began his speech by saying how good it was to be in South Auckland.

 Doesn’t it feel great to be launching National’s election campaign here in the heartland of South Auckland?

We’re the party that’s working for New Zealand.

We’re the government that’s delivering results.

The economy’s growing.

Wages are rising.

Benefit numbers are dropping.

Crime rates are falling.

More elective surgery is being done in public hospitals.

And this year, after all we’ve been through as a country, I’m proud to say that the Government’s books will be back in the black.

On top of all that, my sense is that New Zealand has become a much more assured and more optimistic country.

A multicultural and more vibrant country – one that’s increasingly comfortable in its own skin.

I think back to 2008, when every month a net 3,000 people were leaving New Zealand for Australia.

Do you know what that figure was last month?

It was 80.

Rather than a stadium full of people leaving for Australia, it’s now more like a busload.

Because people know in their hearts and in their heads that New Zealand is moving in the right direction.

So the choice in this election is clear.

It’s between strong and stable leadership that’s delivering the benefits of a growing economy.

Or a group of parties that can’t agree with each other.

It’s between policies that are getting real results for New Zealand families.

Or a reversal of everything that’s working.

A choice between a government careful with your money.

Or parties whose election promises already add up to $28 billion and who want to tax you more to pay for them.

I know what I choose.

But I have to tell you that under MMP anything is possible.

Despite being low in the polls, it’s still possible for Labour to cobble together a government with the Greens, Dotcom and others, because that’s how the maths might work.

So everyone who wants National to lead the next government has to get out there on September 20 and party vote National.

They should have total confidence in doing that.

I lead a government that knows what it’s doing, and knows where it’s going.

I’m unashamedly positive for New Zealand.

I back New Zealanders to get ahead.

In the next 27 days I’m going to keep doing what I’ve done for the last six years – be relentlessly focused on what’s best for New Zealand.

I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us but we can take nothing for granted.

In 27 days from now, New Zealanders have the chance to lock in our plan for another three years.

In doing so, they’ll be voting for higher wages, more jobs and more growth.

Today is the official start of our campaign.

We’ve already announced some of our election policies.

These reinforce the approach we’ve always taken – supporting the most vulnerable, helping families, and staying tough on people who don’t follow the rules.

We’re cracking down on gangs that do so much harm.

We’ve set a target to reduce the crime rate even further.

We’ve released a policy I feel very strongly about, because it affects so many families at a difficult time.

We know the anguish people go through when their loved ones are in their final days and weeks – and we want to do our best to support them.

So we’ve made a commitment to increase funding for hospices by $20 million a year.

And let’s not forget – we’re the Party that funded the breast cancer drug Herceptin and, as a result, 1,100 women have got this treatment.

We’re also committing more to education.

We’re putting aside $350 million to build nine new schools in Auckland, with three earmarked for here in South Auckland.

Education is a huge focus for this government, and for me personally.

It’s the real opportunity we have to achieve generational change in the fortunes of New Zealand children and families.

We’re already seeing clear progress.

More kids are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2, and I’m pleased to say the biggest lift in achievement has come from Pasifika students.

But we’re doing a lot more.

Earlier this year I announced a $359 million package of policies to do two things – to keep the best teachers in the classroom, and to get principals and teachers working together to raise student achievement across the board.

Because that’s what makes the biggest difference for our young people.

That, and getting them into work.

Under this government, the number of teenagers who are not working and not in education is heading towards a record low.

We’re working hard to expand the training opportunities available for young people, including Trades Academies and more apprenticeships.

Teen parents and other young beneficiaries now have a responsible adult alongside them.

That person makes sure they are in education or getting a job, have the support they’re often lacking from a parent, and are paying their bills.

And I can tell you that since 2009, the number of teen parents on a benefit has dropped by 40 per cent.

We’re going to announce more policies this election.

And you know from National that everything will be carefully considered and fiscally prudent.

Taken together, our policies won’t come anywhere near the big spending that Labour and the Greens have committed to.

I think New Zealanders can see that for what it is.

The country has yet to post a surplus but already our opponents are promising the earth to get elected.

They haven’t learnt from the past.

In its last five years, the previous Labour government increased its spending by 50 per cent.

The pressure this put on the economy helped drive mortgage rates up to almost 11 per cent.

That was tough for home owners.

But that’s not all.

Under the previous Labour government, house prices rose faster in New Zealand than in any other developed country.

In fact house prices doubled over Labour’s nine years.

No wonder home ownership is now more difficult for young Kiwis.

National values home ownership.

That’s because it provides stability for families, strength for communities and security in retirement.

So it’s important for young people to get their foot on the ladder, and into their first home.

We’ve been tackling this issue head on.

For a start, can I tell you that one of the best ways the Government can support more New Zealanders into home ownership is by helping to keep interest rates lower for longer.

We’re doing that by carefully controlling our spending and sticking with sensible monetary policy.

We are also working to increase the amount of land available for new houses, and to get those houses built.

We’re setting up housing accords with local councils to free up more land.

We’ve already signed accords with Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga.

And the latest figures show building activity up 16 per cent over just one quarter.

There are also other things the Government is doing to help people get into their own home. . .

The PM then went on to announce policy to help more first-home buyers onto the property ladder.

Home ownership provides stability for families, strength for communities and security in retirement, that’s why I’ve just announced that we’re going to help 90,000 first home buyers into a house of their own over the next five years. ntnl.org.nz/1BQ94dK #Working4NZ

Details of the policy are here.

We’re doubling the support for first home buyers with KiwiSaver HomeStart Grants of up to $10,000 – or a total of $20,000 for a couple – for those purchasing a newly-built home. ntnl.org.nz/1BQ94dK #Working4NZ

When the alarm went off at 5am yesterday I wondered why I was going all the way to Auckland for such a short time.

On the 3 1/2 hour drive to Christchurch I wondered again.

But once there, any doubts I had were dispelled.

It was amazing to be part of such a positive and buoyed up crowd of people who are in the party for the right reasons and are working with the MPs and candidates to help return National for three more years so it can keep working for New Zealand.

It was good to be reminded of what matters and that National has such a strong caucus and line-up of candidates who are focussing on that.
Campaign launch

And it’s not only members who recognise the party’s strengths.

The taxi driver who took me from the airport was a Pacific Islander.

He said his people had traditionally voted Labour but that was changing as they recognised that National’s values and policies were better for them.


Better Public Services better sooner

August 21, 2014

Two of the Better Public Services targets National set have been met ahead of schedule:

Better-than-expected progress in reducing crime and having more young people attain higher qualifications means these two Better Public Service targets will be made more challenging if National is returned to government after the election.

The two targets are among 10 this Government has set to ensure the money invested in public services actually delivers demonstrable gains for New Zealanders, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English and State Services Spokesman Jonathan Coleman say.

“For too long, governments have considered that spending more money equates to fixing problems, even when the evidence shows that simply isn’t the case,” Mr English says.

“That’s why our Government considers results rather than more spending as the best measure of the effectiveness of public services.

“In 2012, we set measurable targets in 10 challenging areas to improve the lives of New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable, and it’s pleasing that our six-monthly updates show good progress.

“In two targets, the results have been so much better than anticipated that we’re lifting the bar so we aim for even more improvement.”

The new targets are:

• Raising the proportion of 25 – 34-year-olds who will have advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees by 2017 to 60 per cent – up from 55 per cent in the current target.

• Reducing the total crime rate by 20 per cent from June 2011 to June 2017 – up from the current target reduction of 15 per cent.

 “We’re lifting our sights because there has already been significant progress on each of these targets and we want to keep them challenging,” Dr Coleman says.

Other targets in the BPS programme include reducing the number of people who have been on a working age benefit for longer than 12 months, reducing the number of assaults on children, reducing the incidence of rheumatic fever and increasing the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification.

“Our focus on results, and being accountable for achieving them, is changing the way the public service is thinking and operating,” Dr Coleman says.

“We’re open to new ideas and new ways of people working together so we get more children immunised and ensure fewer children are assaulted.

“Our primary objective is to make a difference that improves the lives of New Zealanders and we expect that over time this will also reduce cost pressures on the government.

“That’s our aim and a third term National government would continue to work for better returns from the billions of dollars that taxpayers spend to help and support their fellow New Zealanders.”

When you get a government with the courage to set targets and which understands it takes quality spending rather than quantity spending to make a positive difference you get progress.

These targets and the policies supporting them are working for New Zealand and we need another National-led government to ensure they keep working.


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