Mon, Feb 27, 2023 5:00 AM
There’s always a lot of hype and speculation when a Prime Minister steps down.
I wish Jacinda Ardern well after more than five years’ leadership, but the legacy for most New Zealanders does not show her government in any great glory. The reality is a surge in the cost of living, spiralling crime rates, declining standards in education and healthcare, to say nothing of seemingly long-forgotten promises on child poverty and housing.
The new Prime Minister is faced with an impossible task in the next nine months: trying to dial down the huge Government spending machine and focussing his team on what projects to pursue and which ones to drop will be difficult.
But essentially, it’s the same old team doing the same old things, and let’s face it, the Prime Minister’s sudden departure has left a terrible mess, so it will certainly be the same old results.
Every New Zealander is reminded of the cost-of-living crisis when they fuel their cars or visit the supermarket. National has a plan to fight inflation that includes focussing the Reserve Bank on managing inflation. We will address staff shortages, reduce costs for businesses and rein in Government spending. We will give Kiwis more money in their back pockets through prudent tax reductions, because it’s all a matter of providing tax relief so that hard-working people can keep more of what they earn. Whilst Labour flounders on such rural issues as farming emissions, National will back farmers and build a genuine partnership with rural communities. We understand the sector’s frustration and will invest in new technology and ensure that carbon sequestered on-farm counts. The emissions obligations will be solved by technology, not by sending farmers bankrupt.
In the health space, we have a plan to lift morale and return the status of employment in this sector to being attractive, stable and well-rewarded. Health targets matter to all New Zealanders and National is committed to building a world-class health system.
Leaving Covid disruption aside, there is no doubt that education outcomes and teaching standards have dropped and this will have effect on the workforce in years to come. National will put more focus on the basic skills that matter, which will lift overall educational outcomes.
Christopher Luxon was very clear in his speech at Rātana that National does not support co-governance of the delivery of public services. We are one country, and what matters is that all New Zealanders get the services they need. Labour's lack of clarity around co-governance has seen it become one of the most divisive positions of this current Government. National also supports one person, only one vote.
The resignation of the Prime Minister and subsequent new leadership won’t change any of National’s plans. Our approach will remain, a focus on getting things done.