Confidence votes are important for governments.
Without them they fall.
No confidence votes moved by the Opposition are largely for show – and what was shown yesterday was that New Zealand First is faltering in the absence of its leader.
Yesterday parliament was asked to vote on the vote of no confidence moved by labour leader David Cunliffe.
The Green’s default position is to be against everything and it voted against it.
NZ First was leaderless yesterday and without Winston Peters its MPs don’t know what they’re for or against and they too voted against the motion.
The Greens realised their mistake before it was counted and corrected it. NZ First’s MPs did not and Cunliffe’s vote was initially defeated 50-71.
Someone must have told the hapless MPs what they’d done and Barbara Stewart returned to the house to seek leave to correct the result.
Perhaps it was a Freudian slip which shows the MPs really prefer National to Labour, or maybe it was just a sign the NZ First in not just Winston First, it’s Winston only and when he’s not there his MPs haven’t a clue what they’re doing.
The voting starts around 10 minutes, but Bill English’s right of reply which precedes the vote is worth listening to, too.
Should you prefer to read it, here’s Hansard’s draft transcript:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): It is a privilege to be able to just wind up this Budget debate as the Government looks to a confidence vote with some confidence. I was very pleased to hear Minister Tolley’s speech, because she, along with other Ministers, has done an excellent job over the last 6 years now—almost 6 years—of providing better public services when we have had a tight budget, and we have done it again this year. At a time when the Government is spending less new money, by a large factor, than the previous Labour Government, we are seeing improvements in those kinds of issues that are at the core of the purpose of our public services. Because this is a Government that seeks to resolve problems and reduce misery, not fund a system that feeds off it.
That is where the Labour Party is. The Labour Party believes in State monopolies that fund services that feed off misery. Labour does not want problems solved, because if you have less misery, you have less Government. That is a key to this Budget. Under this Budget the Government will spend 30 percent of GDP—down from 35 percent just 4 years ago. We have been able to control expenditure not by slashing and burning but by understanding the core drivers of criminal behaviour, of educational failure, and social dysfunction, and starting to act on them. I say “starting” because it is pretty clear that the changes we are bringing about in public services are only just getting going and the benefits are only just starting to flow. There is so much more to be done. That is why we have a surplus. We have a surplus because what works in our communities works for the Government’s books: less crime, less spend—you get a surplus. More educational achievement, less remedial teaching—you get a surplus. That is what is working. That is in the context of a growing economy. We are having a confidence vote tonight. This is a confident Budget for a confident country—a Budget for a country that knows where it is going from a Government that knows what it is doing. That is why it is going to win the confidence vote in this Parliament. It is because it is in the context of an economy that is growing and New Zealanders beginning to understand that all New Zealanders can share in the benefits of that growth—this time around, it is New Zealand families with young children. That is the product not of any particular, big decision in this Budget or in the previous five from the John Key – led National Government; it is a product of considered and consistent change over time, always working towards sustained economic growth that can deliver dividends to New Zealand households year after year. New Zealanders do not really measure growth in terms of GDP. They measure it in terms of better job security—and it is a lot better now than it has been for a long time—and whether their incomes are likely to rise. If we achieve, if New Zealand achieves—
Andrew Little: You’ve got a pretty bad start so far—46 percent can’t get a pay rise.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is interesting that the member keeps quoting that, because that is about the average in most years, including when Labour was in Government. In any given year when Labour was in Government, 45 percent of the workforce did not get a pay rise. But I will tell you what they were doing. I will tell you what was happening. They were paying interest rates of 10 percent for first-home mortgages. The cost of living was going up. Inflation by 2007-08 was 5 percent, and today it is less than 2 percent. So they had no wage rises, interest rates were going through the roof to 10 percent, and the cost of living was going up by 5 percent.
Andrew Little: What are you doing to lift wages?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, let us discuss some of the member’s proposals that came up in this Budget debate. Here is one. Here is a question: what is the Labour Party’s immigration policy?
Hon Member: They don’t know.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: All I would say is: “Don’t ask them because they don’t know.”, because I think, as Phil Twyford said, they were going to cut immigration to a net 5,000. So I expect that this weekend at the ethnic functions in Auckland, Labour members will be getting up in front of the Indian community and saying “There’s far too many of you. We’re going to cut the number. We’re going to slash the number—no more Indians.” Then, because they are true to their word, they will be going off to the Chinese celebration and saying “Ahh, too many Asians in housing auctions around Auckland. They’re all Chinese. We’re going to slash the numbers.” And then they are going to go down to the Pasifika function. That is right, and they are going to say “No more family members from the Pacific Islands.” That is because Phil Twyford and David Cunliffe said on the radio: “We are going to slash immigration in order to control the housing market.”
Hon Hekia Parata: That’s what it means.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is not just what it means; it is what they said. It is what they said. Labour’s immigration policy is to slash migrant inflows. I think it is a bit weird. I think it is a bit weird from a party that has traditionally regarded itself as the representative of the migrant communities. But we will be there, Ms Collins will be there, Sam Lotu-Iiga will be there, Kanwal Bakshi will be there, and they will write down what Grant Robertson says to those people. But then it is not weird when you think about what they are saying to low-income New Zealanders.
Chris Auchinvole: What do they say?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I will tell you what they are saying to low-income New Zealanders. They are saying—I thought you might be interested—“We’ve got this really bright new idea, which is to increase KiwiSaver contributions so that the Chinese buyers don’t have to pay higher interest rates.” OK? Or so that the Indian buyers do not have to pay higher interest rates. So we have asked a simple question: by how much would you need to increase KiwiSaver contributions in a compulsory scheme to offset a 1 percent increase in interest rates?
Chris Auchinvole: And what do they say?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: They do not know, so we have done our own calculation and it is 15 percent—15 percent. In the weekend Labour members are going to be out in the Ōtara market, saying to women who have the second job in a household and are doing 25 hours’ cleaning in the middle of the night during the week in order to feed their family: “You have to join compulsory super, and we are going to take 9 percent of your gross income off you. That’s not enough, because when the Chinese drive the interest rates up, we’re going to put it up to 15 percent.”, and we will be listening.
What a stupid, dangerous, unfair policy. Apparently slashing immigration and forcing low-income people to save money they do not have is Labour’s response to the Budget. I used to think it was lazy, but I did not think it was that silly. I really did not. I am looking forward to campaigning in south Auckland with the growing interest from the Pasifika vote. We can stand up and say that jobs are growing, wages are rising, and they will stand up and say “We are going to slash your take-home pay and make sure your family cannot come to New Zealand.” But you know what they will do, they will say something completely different. As usual, we will have no idea what their policy is, because in here, in the office buildings, and on Radio New Zealand they say compulsory superannuation and slashed migration, but when they get out in the suburbs of Auckland, I do not know what they will say. They will sound like Martin Luther King. That is what they will do—
Hat tip: Keeping Stock