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15:04:24~Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Well, that was a bit of a woeful speech from David Cunliffe, was it not. The only half-decent line was one written by John Armstrong; it is a shame he did not write the rest of the speech, because it might have been vaguely interesting. As for the label that he put on the Budget, I hate to tell David Cunliffe the bad news, but that was actually the label that Rodney Hide put on the 2002 Budget, so if he had stolen a few of the decent ideas from the ACT Party, he might have been able to give a half-decent speech, but he could not. Let us be honest—it is David Cunliffe. He is doing about as well for the Labour Party as Benji Marshall did for the Blues . He is the man who has about as many supporters in his caucus as Brendan Horan has in his—one. That is it. And here is the winner, because he is shaking his head over there: Grant Robertson. Good news, Grant! Good news, son, you are 127 days, 3 hours, and 55 minutes away from being the leader of the Labour Party. Fantastic—fantastic! It is no doubt that Grant assisted David in the writing of that speech. You see, this is what is vaguely interesting at the moment. The Labour Party—and I kid you not; this is an absolutely true story—is out there polling. It is not polling on its policies; it does not have any, and you could see that from the speech. It is truthfully out there asking this question: is Shane Jones going to be missed from the Labour Party? Well, here is a tip: yes, actually! He is the only guy who believes in economic development, and to quote Shane, why would he want to “hang around” and be economic development Minister in a Government that does not believe in economic development? This was a very, very good Budget by Bill English—a very good Budget. It reflects 6 years of hard work by the Government but by businesses and New Zealanders from one end of the country to the other. It was a confident Budget for a confident nation. It is a nation where, overwhelmingly across New Zealand, the majority of New Zealanders believe this country is heading in the right direction. It is a Budget that sees the books back in surplus, growth at 4 percent, wages rising faster than inflation, and more money in this Budget for families, for businesses, and for the most vulnerable.
It is a Budget focused on growth, jobs, and prosperity. It is a Budget that looks to restore the core finances of New Zealand. It is a Budget, like this Government, focused on the issues that matter. It is a Budget that New Zealanders will recognise—that this is a great country, a great place to raise a family, and a Government that is committed to doing everything it can to make that situation even better. This was Bill English’s sixth Budget. As he pointed out yesterday, he has had as many Budgets as he has had children, which is living proof, I think—and I am sure you will agree with me, Mr Speaker—of why you should have a Catholic Minister of Finance . What should we contrast this Budget with? I know: let us contrast it with Labour’s alternative, because David Cunliffe read out Labour’s alternative on Monday. In fairness, it was not really a Budget; it was a wish list . It was mercifully brief, but it went a little bit like this—
Hon Annette King: Cameron Slater’s line, eh?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Nope. “Dear Santa, please, please, Santa, could you bring me 4 percent unemployment and whopping big future surpluses. I have been a good boy, Santa, even if I won’t tell Mummy and Daddy who the two secret donors to my trust were. Santa, I’ve tried really hard. Even if I did muck up the baby bonus and Shane Jones’ departure and a few other things, I’ve been a really, really good boy. Love, David. P.S. Don’t worry, I will let the reindeer sleighs go in the fast lane even though I’ve banned the trucks.” That was a summary of Labour’s alternative budget. Actually—let us be honest—that was actually slightly longer than Labour’s alternative budget, and more thoughtful. And I wrote it myself, unlike the Leader of the Opposition—always a positive. But, you see, this is the difference between a wish list and a Budget, because here are some interesting questions we might all like to answer. You see, did Labour support any of the savings that this Government has made to ensure that this country came back to surplus in any of the previous five Budgets? The answer to that is no, it did not. Did Labour support welfare reform that has seen so many New Zealanders get back to work? No, it did not. Did Labour support tax changes to reduce tax rates paid by every single New Zealander across the country? No, it did not. Did Labour support a 90-day probationary period so that small businesses could have the confidence to take on a worker? No, it did not. Did Labour support Resource Management Act reform so that people can build houses faster and support the growth of businesses? No, it did not. Did Labour support housing accords so that we could have special housing areas? No, it did not. Of course—my favourite—did Labour support the making of The Hobbit movies in New Zealand so that 5,000 jobs could be created here? No, it did not. Did Labour support saving 3,000 jobs in Southland when it came to Tīwai Point? No, it did not. Did Labour support, and does it support, irrigation for our farms so that we can see a significant increase in GDP? Does it support oil and gas exploration? Does it support foreign investment or skilled migrants? Will it even support a free-trade agreement with the largest economy in the world, the United States? No, it will not. Just before Labour members get a bit starry eyed about how it all was under Labour, let us just run through a bit of a checklist, because here are the facts of when it left office and what we inherited. In 2008 this country was in recession; now it is going to grow this year at 4 percent. In the last 5 years of the Labour Government there was a 50 percent increase in Government expenditure; we have got it under control. Mortgage rates for those homeowners that David Cunliffe was talking about—10.9 percent under Labour; under National, about 6 percent. Food prices—the thing that New Zealanders worry about—up 10.9 percent in the last year under Labour; 1.5 percent under this Government. House prices up 96 percent over the 9 years of Labour and up 28 percent under this Government. Electricity prices up 72 percent under Labour and 20 percent under this Government. The current account deficit was 7.9 percent; it is 3.4 percent under this Government. And maybe the most telling sign of all—under the Labour Government 3,000 New Zealanders a month got up and packed their bags for Australia. Under this Government it is 350—the lowest since records began in 1986. On Tuesday Australia delivered a Budget. If you ever want to see what an experiment of a Labour – Greens Government looks like, it is called Australia. It is called Australia, and Tony Abbott is having to pick up the pieces. Here is what the pieces look like. It means less support for families. It means billions and billions less for education and health. It means a pension age of 70. It means higher tuition fees, higher fuel costs, increased doctors’ charges, and thousands less employed in the State sector. Despite all of that, Australia over the next forecast period will rack up $100 billion of debt at the same time that this National Government will bank for New Zealanders $7.5 billion of surpluses. If we want to talk about the facts, I look forward to the debate about the facts, because this is a very, very good Budget. Its first focus is families—its $500 million, its free doctors visits for under-13s, and its free prescriptions for under-13s. We are talking about 400,000 New Zealand children and their families having complete confidence to take their young ones to the doctor any time for free. National delivered that for New Zealand families.
[Continuation line: There is $117 million]
There is $171 million dollars for paid parental leave—an affordable scheme extended from 14 weeks to 18 weeks, and far more flexible than the stuff Sue Moroney was talking about. For the many—and there are many—who miss out, there is an extension of the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, lasting 10 weeks, not 8 weeks. It is an affordable package, recognising that mothers want to stay home in those formative times with their youngsters, and they will be supported by this Government. There is $155 million extra for early childhood education, $33 million for vulnerable children, and eight new children’s teams around the country. The No. 1 issue that New Zealanders worry about is health. Well, in this Budget, on the back of the very fine work that Tony Ryall has done as Minister of Health—and will he not be missed as one of the great Ministers of Health of this country—there is $15.6 billion. There is $112 million for disability support services, and $110 million for elective surgery. The difference between National and Labour—and we heard it from David Cunliffe—is that Labour knows how to borrow, and it knows how to spend, but it does not know how to run things very well. Under this Government, there will be 40,000 extra elective surgical operations, $20 million for rheumatic fever, and $6.3 million for cochlear implants. Twenty thousand New Zealanders a year are diagnosed with cancer. Under Labour, they go to Australia, where the other 3,000 a month are leaving. Under National, they get the gold standard of 4 weeks or less. There is more money in this Budget for cancer care. Education—what is more important than education? There is $10 billion in this Budget and $359 million to improve the professional standards of our principals and teachers. This is a Government that is not afraid to measure, monitor, and report on the progress of a child. This is a Government that is not afraid to put $359 million into making sure that every teacher that stands in front of every student in a class is of excellence. That is something to be celebrated and proud of. In welfare reform, what a tremendous job Paula Bennett has done. What a tremendous job she has done. There are 1,500 people a week leaving from welfare to work in the last 12 months. There are 30,000 fewer children living in benefit-dependent homes. It was pretty predictable that David Cunliffe would get up and talk about income inequality. It suits his argument, but like the truth, it is not real. You see—
Hon Annette King: Doesn’t suit yours.
Hon David Parker: It is—it is.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, you do not like it. You liked Bryan Perry from the Ministry of Social Development, who runs the most comprehensive study, when you were in Government, but when you are in Opposition you do not like it. What Bryan Perry’s study shows is that income has not become more unequal in the last decade. In fact, what it also shows is that when we compare ourselves to our peers—Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Sates—all of those countries are more unequal. Let us also have a look at this situation. This Budget also continues to support the most vulnerable in New Zealand, with Working for Families, accommodation supplements, and income-related rents. But this is also what it shows—and this is an interesting point for New Zealanders. It shows this—that the top 2 percent of taxpayers in New Zealand pay 22 percent of all personal tax in this country. The top 12 percent of households in this country pay 76 percent of all net income tax before you even account for New Zealand superannuation. Well, here is a question for Labour: if that 12 percent of households paying 76 percent of tax is not enough, how much is enough? How much is enough? The Budget does more for Christchurch, more for science and innovation, more for apprenticeships, more for transport, and more for housing. It does a lot more in those very important areas. Let me make this final point: this is a Government—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Tell us about Judith Collins. Tell us about Judith.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is right—that is exactly what you would say. You are an Opposition that is worried about muckraking and trivia, and you have not got a decent thing to say about the economy. Well, guess what? I am proud to lead a Government that is focused on the issues that matter to New Zealanders—the economy, law and order, health, and education. That is what we do on this side of the House. We get the job done. On that side of the House, they are worried about all sorts of things, but they are not the things that New Zealanders at home are worried about, and how do we know that? Because the poll that was taken over the last 10 weeks saw Labour fall under 30 percent. Why? Because people are sick of hearing about trivia and muckraking, and you know what? David Cunliffe might have promoted Trevor Mallard back in the shop, and that will lead them all the way to where it took Phil Goff—to 27 percent or less, and he knows it. David Shearer knows it too. He knows that it is the wrong way to go. This Government is going to keep talking about the issues that matter. This Government is going to say to New Zealanders that there is a way forward that is progressive and positive. It is about a future where we back New Zealanders to succeed. We back this country to go well. We back this country to be able to sell more to the world than we buy from the world. We are not threatened by being a multicultural society. We welcome foreign investment. There was a time when Labour used to welcome migrants. Now they stand on a farm with a New Zealand flag. This is a Government that is focused on a New Zealand that is winning on the world stage. That is why we are becoming wealthier. That is why so many people want to come and live here. If David Cunliffe wants to keep talking, as the Opposition does, about trivia and muckraking, we will keep talking about the economy, law and order, health, and education. We are a very lucky Government to have Bill English delivering six magnificent Budgets. It does not say it all today. We are in surplus; Australia is $50 billion in debt. More people want to live here than ever want to go and live in Australia. This is a Government that is getting it right on behalf of New Zealanders.