ZB

'I thought he was in Te Puke!': Luxon heckled in Parliament over Hawaii holiday

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jul 2022, 2:22pm

'I thought he was in Te Puke!': Luxon heckled in Parliament over Hawaii holiday

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jul 2022, 2:22pm

National leader Christopher Luxon was barely on his feet before Labour MPs tried to trip him up in his first Question Time after Parliament's three-week winter recess. 

Called to ask his question by Speaker Trevor Mallard, Luxon was met by interjections from the Labour side of the chamber; "I thought he was in Te Puke" said one, "Aloha" said another - both in reference to news Luxon had been holidaying in Hawaii while his social media had suggested he was in Te Puke. 

Walking into the House, Luxon told media he believed New Zealanders were more focused on the cost of living than his Hawaii trip, and this was the topic he was focused on, noting inflation was above the 1-3 per cent target range for 15 straight months. 

"When should Kiwis struggling with the cost of living expect inflation to be below 3 per cent," Luxon asked. 

Ardern, perhaps wary of pinning her political forecasts to uncertain economic forecasts, would not give a direct answer to that question. 

"This is all forecasting - it is incredibly difficult at this point in time to determine with any specificity where inflation will land," Ardern said. 

The hot topic in Parliament on Tuesday, apart from Luxon's Hawaii gaffe, was National's call for an inquiry into the Reserve Bank's monetary policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Bank's decision to digitally print $54 billion and send it into the economy in a bid to keep interest rates low has copped criticism from three former Reserve Bank Governors, a former chair of the bank and a former chief economist. 

On Tuesday Morning Luxon called for a public inquiry into the Bank's response. 

Ardern clapped back at what she said was "revisionist history" from the opposition, noting that at the time the Bank began its response to Covid-19 there were forecasts of double-digit unemployment and a large house price crash. 

An unemployment crisis was averted by the Government and the Bank's response, and house prices are only now beginning to crash, after increasing significantly thanks to the Bank's response. 

Trying to shut Luxon's line of attack down, Ardern noted that the Reserve Bank regularly appears before Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee. 

"Every decision is subject to scrutiny," Ardern said. 

That was all Green Party's finance spokeswoman Chlöe Swarbrick needed to get on her feet. 

She asked whether Ardern backed Swarbrick's call for a broader review by the Finance and Expenditure Committee - something the Greens, National and Act have been supporting for five months, but which Labour has blocked. 

Despite using the Finance and Expenditure Committee to deflect Luxon's questions, Ardern was less keen to use it to answer Swarbrick, saying the Covid response had been well reviewed already. 

"There has been ample inquiries, reviews, analysis across the Covid-19 response," Ardern said.