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Christopher Luxon faces questions on Treaty Principle Bill

Adam Pearse,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Feb 2024, 2:09pm

Christopher Luxon faces questions on Treaty Principle Bill

Adam Pearse,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Feb 2024, 2:09pm

Labour leader Chris Hipkins used today’s Question Time to attempt to highlight a what he believes is a rift between the Prime Minister and Act leader David Seymour in light of Seymour’s recent statement that Christopher Luxon’s nerves got the better of him regarding the Treaty Principles Bill.

Luxon hit back, however, arguing it was Hipkins who should be nervous and claimed that once MP Kieran McAnulty shaved his beard, he would replace Hipkins as party leader.

Luxon last week offered his strongest indication yet that National will not support Act’s bill aimed at redefining the Treaty’s principles, saying his party’s current commitment to support the bill to select committee would be the extent of its support.

When Hipkins put Seymour’s recent comment to Luxon, the PM said he didn’t accept Hipkins assertion and instead endorsed Seymour in his capacity as Associate Education Minister.

Hipkins then quoted NZ First leader Winston Peters who reportedly said prior to the election it was disgraceful Seymour was displaying “petty, childish, schoolboy, behaviour”.

What followed was a raft of point of orders, which is essentially MPs arguing in favour or against the nature of a question.

Peters led it, claiming the PM was not responsible for statements made prior to becoming PM.

“Get a life and learn how this process works,” Peters shot at Hipkins.

Several others spoke and Seymour also tried to add his thoughts. Speaker of the House Gerry Brownlee sighed when he saw Seymour had stood up and then said he didn’t need the minister’s assistance on the matter.

“Your loss, Mr Speaker,” Seymour said in response.

Luxon, finally being made to answer the question, stated the Government was made up of three parties who had constructive discussions.

He had also said to Hipkins that he should be nervous, saying he should be “ready to go” once McAnulty - the former Wairarapa MP - had shaved his beard.

National had often teased Hipkins that he would be replaced by McAnulty.

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown, meanwhile, claims his Government’s plan to fix New Zealand’s aging water infrastructure will be cheaper for ratepayers in comparison to Labour’s proposed Three Waters, which the Government seeks to repeal by February 23.

Under questioning from McAnulty (Labour’s local government spokesman), Brown defended his proposal to allow councils to retain control over water assets and fund improvements through council controlled organisations (CCOs).

He said his proposal wouldn’t include the waste of $1.2 billion of taxpayers’ funding - the same amount spent under Three Waters which was going no further.

McAnulty cited advice from the Department of Internal Affairs which reportedly said the Government’s proposal would lead to higher rates.

Brown repeated earlier statements that councils would be ultimately responsible for progressing infrastructure upgrades and said his plan would allow councils the “long-term funding tools” required.

Luxon, alongside Brown, yesterday announced the Three Waters reforms of the previous government would be repealed by February 23 and replaced with two pieces of legislation outlining how councils would retain the responsibility of improving water quality and assets, potentially through a new type of financially independent council-controlled organisation (CCO).

He did not guarantee ratepayers would not face a higher cost under this plan, something Labour’s Kieran McAnulty is alleging.

“The Government’s confirmation ... it will repeal the affordable water reforms will see higher rates for every ratepayer – up to 90 per cent in some individual councils – in 30 years,” McAnulty said.

“Instead of helping councils deal with water infrastructure, they’re kicking it back on residents and homeowners and washing their hands of a problem that needs a long-term solution.

“I’m thinking of councils like South Wairarapa, which has already increased rates 20 per cent each year for the last two years. They’re going to have to continue doing that sort of stuff.”

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.

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