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Key Notes No.39 - 02 October 08

Key Notes No.39 - 02 October 08

02 October 2008

Parliament rises

Parliament wound up last Friday, putting an end to three years of distractions, scandals and self-serving behaviour from the Labour Government.

You can watch my speech in the adjournment debate by clicking the image. Over the coming weeks, I will continue to put the case for change to the New Zealand public and lay out National's vision for a brighter future.

Recession underlines need for economic plan

The release of the June quarter GDP figures last week confirmed that the economy is shrinking. There's also a developing view that there will now be a third quarter of negative growth.

For many people it is becoming very tough. Labour's tax cuts are years too late and there needs to be more to the economic plan.

Regardless of who makes up the next government, the fiscal context will be quite different over the next five years than it has been over the past five.

When things were good, Helen Clark was happy to take the credit. Now there's an economic headwind, Labour is looking for others to shoulder the blame. They remain silent on any plan for growth.

At times like these, people look to the government for a sense of direction. People can get through a recession if they see the path ahead to better incomes.

The reality is that fiscal initiatives at this point must be targeted at strengthening the economy for the future. Only a strong economy can provide continued improvements in public services and security for older people, the sick, and the vulnerable.

National will implement an economic package that will set the course for a return to growth and strengthen our economy.

  • We will put the right incentives in place to encourage people to work and save and get ahead under their own steam.

  • We will bring discipline to government spending and devote more resources to frontline services like doctors, nurses, teachers, and police.

  • We will stop the massive rise in bureaucracy and red tape. We will cap the number of bureaucrats in the core public service, and we will reform the Resource Management Act and the Building Act.

  • We will have an unwavering focus on lifting education standards. We will improve literacy and numeracy, boost trades in schools, and encourage teenagers to get the skills they need.

  • And we will invest in the infrastructure we so desperately need to help get this country growing again.

Now is not the time to shut up shop and blame the world economy. Now is the time to think smart, act rationally, and start building a dynamic economy that is resilient in the face of future uncertainty. National will do just that.

Ongoing policy programme

Over the past week we have released our Forestry, Research, Science & Technology, and Maori Affairs, Treaty and Electoral Law policies. They can all be viewed at http://www.national.org.nz/policies/policies.aspx

Research, Science and Technology

National will establish an international centre of research dedicated to the reduction of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. This centre will be a 'virtual centre' - a multi-institutional research network with scientists and researchers from Crown and private sector agencies working together on a commonly agreed work programme.

National will also reduce the size of the recently introduced R&D tax credit and use the resulting savings to boost funding for research and science by $315 million in the next three years.

National will wind up the Fast Forward Fund, so minimising the need for extra bureaucracy. Where R&D initiatives have already been established through Fast Forward, consideration will be given to continuing them. We will continue with the same quantum of new funding but will spend it in a way that ensures better research outcomes.

Maori Affairs, Treaty, and Electoral reform

Highlights of our Maori Affairs policy are:

  • Putting a big focus on investment in education, including national standards, trades in schools, our Youth Guarantee, promoting greater participation in early childhood education through Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa, and expanding Te Kotahitanga.

  • Improving health and housing outcomes for Maori, including working with Maori health providers and Maori collectives on housing.

  • Working to increase investment in Maori assets and enterprises, including working with iwi enterprises and their leaders to help overcome barriers to economic development.

  • Acknowledging the importance of Maori language and culture, including committing to Maori broadcasting and the promotion of Maori language, arts, and culture.
  • Working with Te Puni Kokiri to strengthen and expand successful and proven Maori-led programmes to advance outcomes for Maori.

The settlement of historic Treaty grievances is very important to the National Party. National's record in the Treaty area in government in the 1990s is a proud one.

National intends to devote fresh energy and leadership to advancing Treaty settlements, and aims to achieve just and durable settlements of all historic Treaty claims by 2014.

Linked to the settlement of historic Treaty claims is our policy on the Maori seats. At the conclusion of the settlement of historic Treaty claims, National will begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats. National wishes to see all New Zealanders on the same electoral roll.

Highlights of National's Treaty Negotiations policy are:

  • Appointing independent settlement facilitators to chair negotiations, keep the process moving forward, and ensure both parties act in good faith.

  • More effective post-settlement liaison to ensure durable settlements and an end to Treaty litigation.

  • Refine the claim negotiation process.

  • Review the impact of increases in prices and, in particular, land prices on Treaty settlements.

  • Give the Waitangi Tribunal enough support to sit full-time including reviewing remuneration and support offered to members, review the tribunal's operations, and review the Crown's conduct in litigation.

  • Speed up the time taken to pass settlement legislation.

National will also honour agreements negotiated in good faith by the Crown under the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The Electoral Law policy:

  • Confirms National's intention to wind up the Maori seats at the conclusion of the settlement of historic Treaty claims.

  • Hold a binding referendum on MMP no later than 2011.

  • Repeal the Electoral Finance Act.

In remembrance

Sadly, former New Zealand First MP Brian Donnelly passed away at the end of last week. Brian's death will be mourned by many, many, people including his former parliamentary colleagues from across the political spectrum.

Our thoughts are with his family.

John Key
Leader of the NZ National Party



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