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Address to the National Party Campaign Launch

Address to the National Party Campaign Launch

Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau

Kia ora, and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

Thank you for your welcome.

It’s great to be with you today in Manukau.

Haven’t we seen some tremendous entertainment this afternoon?

It’s fantastic to see young people so full of life.

Doesn’t it feel great to be launching National’s election campaign here in the heartland of South Auckland?

We’re the party that’s working for New Zealand.

We’re the government that’s delivering results.

The economy’s growing.

Wages are rising.

Benefit numbers are dropping.

Crime rates are falling.

More elective surgery is being done in public hospitals.

And this year, after all we’ve been through as a country, I’m proud to say that the Government’s books will be back in the black.

On top of all that, my sense is that New Zealand has become a much more assured and more optimistic country.

A multicultural and more vibrant country – one that’s increasingly comfortable in its own skin.

I think back to 2008, when every month a net 3,000 people were leaving New Zealand for Australia.

Do you know what that figure was last month?

It was 80.

Rather than a stadium full of people leaving for Australia, it’s now more like a busload.

Because people know in their hearts and in their heads that New Zealand is moving in the right direction.

So the choice in this election is clear.

It’s between strong and stable leadership that’s delivering the benefits of a growing economy.

Or a group of parties that can’t agree with each other.

It’s between policies that are getting real results for New Zealand families.

Or a reversal of everything that’s working.

A choice between a government careful with your money.

Or parties whose election promises already add up to $28 billion and who want to tax you more to pay for them.

I know what I choose.

But I have to tell you that under MMP anything is possible.

Despite being low in the polls, it’s still possible for Labour to cobble together a government with the Greens, Dotcom and others, because that’s how the maths might work.

So everyone who wants National to lead the next government has to get out there on September 20 and party vote National.

They should have total confidence in doing that.

I lead a government that knows what it’s doing, and knows where it’s going.

I’m unashamedly positive for New Zealand.

I back New Zealanders to get ahead.

In the next 27 days I’m going to keep doing what I’ve done for the last six years – be relentlessly focused on what’s best for New Zealand.

I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us but we can take nothing for granted.

In 27 days from now, New Zealanders have the chance to lock in our plan for another three years.

In doing so, they’ll be voting for higher wages, more jobs and more growth.

Today is the official start of our campaign.

We’ve already announced some of our election policies.

These reinforce the approach we’ve always taken – supporting the most vulnerable, helping families, and staying tough on people who don’t follow the rules.

We’re cracking down on gangs that do so much harm.

We’ve set a target to reduce the crime rate even further.

We’ve released a policy I feel very strongly about, because it affects so many families at a difficult time.

We know the anguish people go through when their loved ones are in their final days and weeks – and we want to do our best to support them.

So we’ve made a commitment to increase funding for hospices by $20 million a year.

And let’s not forget – we’re the Party that funded the breast cancer drug Herceptin and, as a result, 1,100 women have got this treatment.

We’re also committing more to education.

We’re putting aside $350 million to build nine new schools in Auckland, with three earmarked for here in South Auckland.

Education is a huge focus for this government, and for me personally.

It’s the real opportunity we have to achieve generational change in the fortunes of New Zealand children and families.

We’re already seeing clear progress.

More kids are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2, and I’m pleased to say the biggest lift in achievement has come from Pasifika students.

But we’re doing a lot more.

Earlier this year I announced a $359 million package of policies to do two things – to keep the best teachers in the classroom, and to get principals and teachers working together to raise student achievement across the board.

Because that’s what makes the biggest difference for our young people.

That, and getting them into work.

Under this government, the number of teenagers who are not working and not in education is heading towards a record low.

We’re working hard to expand the training opportunities available for young people, including Trades Academies and more apprenticeships.

Teen parents and other young beneficiaries now have a responsible adult alongside them.

That person makes sure they are in education or getting a job, have the support they’re often lacking from a parent, and are paying their bills.

And I can tell you that since 2009, the number of teen parents on a benefit has dropped by 40 per cent.

We’re going to announce more policies this election.

And you know from National that everything will be carefully considered and fiscally prudent.

Taken together, our policies won’t come anywhere near the big spending that Labour and the Greens have committed to.

I think New Zealanders can see that for what it is.

The country has yet to post a surplus but already our opponents are promising the earth to get elected.

They haven’t learnt from the past.

In its last five years, the previous Labour government increased its spending by 50 per cent.

The pressure this put on the economy helped drive mortgage rates up to almost 11 per cent.

That was tough for home owners.

But that’s not all.

Under the previous Labour government, house prices rose faster in New Zealand than in any other developed country.

In fact house prices doubled over Labour’s nine years.

No wonder home ownership is now more difficult for young Kiwis.

National values home ownership.

That’s because it provides stability for families, strength for communities and security in retirement.

So it’s important for young people to get their foot on the ladder, and into their first home.

We’ve been tackling this issue head on.

For a start, can I tell you that one of the best ways the Government can support more New Zealanders into home ownership is by helping to keep interest rates lower for longer.

We're doing that by carefully controlling our spending and sticking with sensible monetary policy.

We are also working to increase the amount of land available for new houses, and to get those houses built.

We’re setting up housing accords with local councils to free up more land.

We’ve already signed accords with Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga.

And the latest figures show building activity up 16 per cent over just one quarter.

There are also other things the Government is doing to help people get into their own home.

So this is my announcement today – if we have the privilege of being re-elected, we will double government support for first home buyers, and over the next five years we’ll help 90,000 New Zealanders into their first home.

What’s more, we’ve carefully designed our policy to get more new homes built in an affordable price range – just like they used to be.

There are three sets of changes we’re going to make.

First, the existing KiwiSaver first home deposit subsidy will get overhauled and renamed HomeStart.

At the moment, first home buyers who’ve been in KiwiSaver for at least three years can get $1,000 towards their deposit for every year they’ve been a member, up to a maximum of $5,000.

That’s if their annual income is under a certain level, and they are buying a house under a certain price.

Under the new KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant a lot more people are going to become eligible for this help.

That’s because we’re going to raise the house price limits right across the country.

The existing limits simply don’t reflect the prices that first home buyers face when they’re trying to get into the market.

In Auckland, for example, the house price limit will be raised from $485,000 to $550,000.

Other areas with relatively high house prices – like Hamilton, Tauranga, the Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch and Queenstown – will have a new threshold of $450,000.

And the threshold for the rest of the country will rise to $350,000.

Our changes mean an estimated 90,000 people will get a HomeStart Grant over the next five years – that’s 40,000 more than currently forecast.

For people buying an existing home, the maximum HomeStart Grant will continue to be $5,000 – or a total of $10,000 for a couple who are buying their first home together.

But we’re going to double that amount for those who are buying or building a brand new home.

People who are buying a new home will be eligible for a HomeStart Grant of up to $10,000 – or a total of $20,000 for a couple.

That’s for a very good reason.

We want housing companies to be building new houses and apartments that are more affordable.

It’s simple economics.

If housing companies know there are first home buyers with the ability and desire to purchase a new home, they’ll meet that demand.

So the number of new, affordable houses will increase – and that can only be a good thing.

The second change we’re going to make is to the KiwiSaver first home withdrawal scheme.

Currently, anyone who’s been in KiwiSaver for at least three years can withdraw money from their account to use as a deposit on a first home.

We’re going to let them take more out of their account, if they want to, so they can raise a bigger deposit.

First home buyers will now be allowed to withdraw the Government’s annual contribution to their account – up to $521 a year – as well as their own contributions.

That will make quite a difference, because every bit helps when you’re building a deposit.

The final change we’re introducing is to the Welcome Home Loans scheme, which allows many first home buyers to get a government-guaranteed loan with a ten per cent deposit.

Again, their income has to be under a certain level, and they have to be buying a house under a certain price.

We’re going to make those criteria the same as for the HomeStart Grant.

That means a lot more first home buyers will be able to get a loan from the bank – backed by the government – to buy their first home with a ten per cent deposit.

Let me put this all together for you with an example.

Let’s imagine a couple are both earning $40,000 a year – they might, for example, be living here in South Auckland.

They’ve been in KiwiSaver for five years, and are looking to buy a first home that’s under the price limit.

Under our changes, they could together withdraw up to $29,000 from their KiwiSaver accounts, and get either a $10,000 or $20,000 HomeStart Grant, depending on whether they’re buying an existing or a new home.

In total, that means a deposit after five years of almost $40,000 – or almost $50,000 if they are buying new.

That would be enough on its own to get a Welcome Home Loan for a house costing up to $400,000 or up to $500,000 if new – depending, of course, on their ability to service the mortgage.

Our changes will give a lot more people the confidence that if they join KiwiSaver, and keep saving, they can put together a deposit on their first house.

It’s important to note that most of that deposit will be their own savings.

We want to help people into their first home, but they have to help themselves first.

All these changes I’m announcing today will take effect from 1 April next year, if we are re-elected.

Not too long after that, the first people to benefit from these changes will be unlocking the front door of their own home for the first time.

The new policy will cost $218 million over the next five years.

That means we’re doubling the current programme, to help thousands more people every year to own their own homes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

New Zealanders have a clear choice this election.

They can stay with the party that’s working hard and providing strong, stable government with a clear and positive direction for New Zealand.

Or they can choose one of the opposition parties, knowing that if they pick one, they’ll get two or three more thrown in.

I think New Zealanders are aspirational for their future.

I think they value the opportunities, growth, stability and fairness that a National government brings.

So every day for the next 27 days – alongside National’s excellent MPs and candidates – I will be out there working hard to let New Zealanders know about our plan.

That plan is working for New Zealand.

It’s working for more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, healthier kids, higher achievement, and more investment under our stable, proven leadership.

Ladies and Gentlemen, join me in talking to New Zealanders about National’s plan.

Let’s get out there and make our voice heard.

Let’s campaign hard.

Let’s party vote National.

ends

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