'Demand the debate': New National campaign targets Labour policies

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 11 Jul 2021, 10:29AM
National leader Judith Collins. (Photo / NZ Herald)
National leader Judith Collins. (Photo / NZ Herald)

'Demand the debate': New National campaign targets Labour policies

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 11 Jul 2021, 10:29AM

National wants the Government to spend more time discussing its policies with the electorate, and leader Judith Collins has launched a campaign today urging Kiwis to "demand the debate" on new policies.

In the campaign, National will pick Labour ideas it feels haven't been properly discussed with voters at the election, and urge voters to demand a debate on them.

"The Labour Government continues to make policy announcements that were never campaigned on and will have a significant impact on New Zealanders," Collins said today, as she unveiled the first in a series of billboards for the campaign.

"From the car tax, cancelling promised infrastructure projects, the $785 million Auckland cycle bridge, rushed law changes to deliver Māori wards, to the hastily announced oil and gas exploration ban, New Zealanders are starting to feel left out," Collins said.

Her first billboard will target the He Puapua report, which discusses policy options for giving effect to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which New Zealand signed up to under the previous National Government.

He Puapua is not formally Government policy, and the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out implementing some of its most bold recommendations, including a separate Māori Parliament.

But Collins wants a wider discussion on the issue.

"Kiwis were never told about it at the time and it was never campaigned on by Labour," Collins said.

"The He Puapua report contains recommendations for fundamental changes to our legal, constitutional, and democratic governance arrangements. Changes like separate health and justice systems, separate RMA rules, and separate electoral arrangements. These proposals must be taken to an election so all Kiwis can have their say.

"While they claim publicly it's not their policy, the Labour Government has already started to implement large parts of He Puapua like Māori Wards and a Māori Health Authority, without the wide-ranging public debate that these changes deserve," Collins said.

While Labour did not campaign on the report itself, because it was not then and is not now Labour policy, it did campaign on a different role for Māori in resource management, under the law that will replace the RMA. Those changes were proposed last term by a working group on the RMA, which Labour took to the election.

Labour also campaigned on a separate Māori health authority, which was also proposed a working group, and was later adopted as party policy.

However, Collins is on stronger ground when it comes to issues like the Clean Car Standard, which National has labelled a car tax, the Waitematā walking and cycling bridge, and the cancelled roads - none of which were campaigned on by Labour at the election.
In the case of the cancelled roads, Labour had at least some idea at the election that the roading projects it had promised might prove unaffordable and need to be cancelled.

"The Government's parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list. New Zealanders deserve a say on their country's future and together we must demand the debate," Collins said.