National has launched - or re-launched - its hundred-point economic plan to fulfil its central campaign promise of getting New Zealand “back on track”.
The hundred points have only recently been published. All appear to be policies National has already announced on the campaign trail, repackaged as an economic plan.
The first, is to “reduce spending on consultants and contractors by $400 million per year”, the second is to “reduce spending on back-office functions in government departments by $594 million per year (less than 0.5 per cent of total government spending) to fund National’s Back Pocket Boost tax relief plan”.
It restates promises to axe Auckland Light Rail and the Lake Onslow Pumped Hydro scheme and reiterates National’s commitment to tax relief.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER THE LIVE BLOG
The final point was centred on this week’s announcement that National would revive international education.
”This election is about the economy, and which party has the plan to rebuild it so you can get ahead. Only National has the plan to get that job done,” said National leader Christopher Luxon.
National and Labour are still scrapping over the extent of New Zealand’s economic troubles. After yesterday’s news that Stats NZ’s revised figures show the economy was never in recession.
”Inflation is at 6 per cent, the Reserve Bank forecasts the economy is now in recession, the IMF says next year New Zealand’s economy will grow by just one per cent, our current account deficit is the largest in the developed world, and last year 40,000 New Zealanders left the country for good.
Despite having time to repackage their economic policies as an “economic plan”, National still has not found the time to release how they all add up.
With less than a week until overseas voting opens, National is yet to release its fiscal plan, showing how it plans to pay for its promises.
Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson slammed this decision on Thursday saying that when Labour was in opposition in 2017 it produced a costed fiscal plan prior to Treasury’s Prefu costings being published.
”I’ve said many times in 2017, we produced a fiscal plan which we then updated after Prefu, I believe that’s what National should have done,” Robertson said.
”They cannot afford the tax cuts that they are proposing on the basis that they’ve proposed them. In terms of what they should be putting in front of the electorate, yes, I do agree that voters deserve to see how they’re paying for it,” Robertson said.
National’s finance spokeswoman Nicola Willis shot back, noting that Labour had itself not released a fiscal plan for this election.
A fiery, chaotic and entertaining debate between leaders of four small parties has pushed David Seymour and Winston Peters to admit they could work together after the election if necessary.
The pair have been at loggerheads for months with Act leader Seymour earlier ruling out being around a Cabinet table with the New Zealand First leader.
However, in Thursday’s Newshub Powerbrokers debate, Seymour accepted he might have to work with Peters if the voters decided as much, while Peters heckled at him: “Of course, he will!”
Polling this week suggested National and Act could only just form a government but, if their support slipped, could need NZ First which polled above the 5 per cent threshold to enter Parliament.
Despite Seymour’s concession, he didn’t hold back when targeting Peters.
“It’s like an arsonist dressed up as a fireman showing up at a fire saying he’s going to fix it all, it’s just not credible,” Seymour said of Peters.
Peters claimed a “lack of inexperience” in Seymour’s comments, saying doing so would “paralyse the government”.
“You’ve got to get adults in the room and leave the trousers on,” Peters said of the need to work together in government, while also taking a shot at Act and the Greens for not having had ministers in Cabinet.
“I’m beginning to pity Christopher Luxon,” debate host Rebecca Wright said.
Act leader David Seymour, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson and Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer during the Newshub Powerbrokers debate. Photo / Newshub Nation, Warner Bros. Discovery
In stark contrast, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson and Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer echoed each other’s messages on multiple occasions, twice high-fiving.
“Do people actually trust that Luxon is going to be able to manage these two, like for real,” Davidson said while pointing at Seymour and Peters.
Wright did well to manage such a passionate debate, keeping most answers brief and to the question.
“We have a bare cupboard,” Seymour said of the Government’s alleged excessive spending.
“We know how to fill that cupboard,” Davidson piped up, a reference to her party’s wealth tax.
“Rebecca, start doing your job,” Winston said before saying to Seymour: “That’s enough, there are adults in the room.”
”You’re not on the marae now, behave yourself,” Peters said in another exchange to Davidson and Ngarewa-Packer.
From right: NZ First leader Winston Peters, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and Act leader David Seymour. Photo / Newshub Nation, Warner Bros. Discovery
Davidson replied: “We would expect a lot more maturity than what you’re showing.”
”I’m not a cis white man,” Peters said to Davidson, alluding to the Greens co-leader’s historical comments against cis white men which she later admitted were not articulated in the best way.
Ngarewa-Packer revealed her party’s wealth tax policy was considered a bottom line, which could be a huge barrier to Labour’s re-election chances, given it was very unlikely Labour could form a government without Te Pāti Māori and Labour leader Chris Hipkins had already ruled out a wealth tax under his leadership.
Seymour and Peters also had to defend themselves from claims of “race-baiting” in the election.
Both Seymour and Peters are outspoken about co-governance and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and want to see an end to co-governing arrangements between Māori and the Crown.
Seymour defended his stand on race issues and call to scrap ministries such as the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Ministry for Women, saying the Government had to trim its spending and he did not believe separate ministries were needed for them.
NZ First leader Winston Peters went head-to-head with Act's David Seymour. Photo / Newshub Nation, Warner Bros. Discovery
However, both Davidson and Ngarewa-Packer were quick to bite back – Ngarewa-Packer saying “you’re not comfortable in your skin for your whakapapa,” at one point when Seymour tried to interrupt, and accused him of “race-baiting with an anti-Maori rhetoric”.
Davidson said that she too believed in equal treatment for all – but if that had actually happened then those ministries would not be needed.
Peters was also pressed on his approach to race issues, including opposition to Māori names for government departments such as Waka Kotahi, NZ Transport Agency. He replied by saying it was “a deceitful way to take the eye off what Māori actually wanted”, which was the cost of living, health and education.
“You have potholes everywhere, and the average Māori couldn’t give a rat’s derriere about its name, they want the road fixed.”
The leaders also spoke about their policies for the cost of living and the economy: from Act’s tax cuts to the Green Party’s wealth tax and Te Pāti Māori’s tax-free threshold.
Peters’ previous call for New Zealand to host the Commonwealth Games got short shrift from the other parties – Seymour pointing to the state of the government books and saying it was not a time to spend on such issues.
The debate between the leaders of the smaller parties followed several polls showing NZ First at the 5 per cent mark – and National and Act facing the prospect that its hoped-for two-party government could be gatecrashed by NZ First.
It followed Wednesday’s 1News Verian poll, which showed both Act and the Greens rallying up to 12 per cent each, while their larger partners dipped: National down two to 37 per cent and Labour down one to 27 per cent.
That poll result would have delivered a National–Act government – but by the smallest of margins.
National leader Christopher Luxon has left the door open to working with NZ First and leader Winston Peters if necessary, repeatedly refusing to rule out the option or answer questions about it, saying it was hypothetical.
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