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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 2—Prime Minister

2. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Fakalofa lahi atu and happy Niue Language Week. In answer the question, yes, and I will continue to stand by them for all five of the National Party’s Leader of the Opposition auditions today in this House.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why are more than three times the number of Kiwis leaving New Zealand under her Government’s policies than did in 2017?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member’s obviously referring to the net migration figures which came out yesterday, which actually show the numbers are fairly stable. They’ve come out at 53,810; a year ago, they were at 49,197. I note that that’s coming off a high-water mark under the last Government, in which, I have to say, there was not enough work done to ensure the infrastructure was able to maintain that kind of population growth.

Hon Simon Bridges: Given that “high-water mark”, when will net migration reach 20,000 people, as stated in the coalition agreement?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is referring to the immigration policy that the Labour Party campaigned on, which included removing the exploitation of students that that last Government did absolutely nothing about. It was scandalous what was happening to vulnerable, particularly young, people coming to study in New Zealand. I’m proud that our immigration Minister has focussed squarely on ridding exploitation in the immigration sector; something the last Government did not do.

Hon Simon Bridges: Given the 13,500 net who left New Zealand for good, does she agree with Helen Clark, who said the main reason people choose to move overseas is the state of the economy?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I remember the days when there were comparisons between Australia and New Zealand, and I’m happy for those comparisons to occur. We have lower unemployment. We have better growth rates. We of course have opportunities in New Zealand that, of course, mean that New Zealanders—yes, when they look to overseas opportunities—think about travel and the experiences that our young people seek, but, ultimately, our economy, relative to others, is doing very, very well.

SPEAKER: Order! Before the member goes, can I just ask the members, especially those immediately behind the Prime Minister, to turn down their responses, because we’re getting their interjections through her mike and my mike.

Hon Simon Bridges: What does it say about her Government that in just two years Kiwis feel like they have more opportunities overseas than when National was in power?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely reject that member’s question.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has any other export from New Zealand, other than our people, grown more than 3½ times in size since the end of 2017?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, I reject the premise of that member’s question, but the value of our exports is doing very, very well.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wonder if the Prime Minister, in response to those questions, could reflect upon the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook, which shows New Zealand ahead of Australia, the UK, Canada, United States, Japan, EU, Norway, Finland, Singapore, and all advanced economies by miles?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely can confirm that. The IMF demonstrates what we have been saying for some time: New Zealand is in good shape. Not only have we delivered a surplus; we also have wages up, unemployment at 3.9 percent, and our growth rates are solid. Ultimately, the only one talking down the economy is that member and his Opposition.

David Seymour: Does the Prime Minister stand by the Government’s policy of deciding how to implement the Tomorrow’s Schools independent task force review by the middle of this year?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I understand that the Minister of Education will have more to say on that very soon.

David Seymour: When will the Prime Minister be able to tell the public what the Government’s policy is on implementing the recommendations from the Tomorrow’s Schools independent task force review?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we always do: when Cabinet has made its final decisions. But I stand by the fact that we’ve engaged the education sector and those with the most at stake fully in this process.