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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 2—Prime Minister

2. DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s statements and policies?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Prime Minister): Yes, particularly the further $567 million we announced yesterday for immediate works on State highways in regions that are affected by the North Island weather events. That includes State highways in Tairāwhiti, Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay, Coromandel, and Northland. The funding for these roads is coming from the $6 billion National Resilience Plan that the Government allocated funding for in this year’s Budget. It’ll go to replacing or strengthening and rebuilding damaged bridges and improving road surfaces on major stretches of roads. This, of course, comes on top of the $525 million already provided for roading infrastructure to get those regions back on their feet after Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland floods.

David Seymour: Is the Prime Minister aware that Cyclone Gabrielle hit Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti in February, and how is it possibly his go-to boast policy that he has managed, after six months, to announce they’re going to fund rebuilding the roads that were damaged?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I note the member clearly didn’t listen to the entirety of the answer. We’ve already given them $525 million for the road rebuilding; that was done within weeks of the events happening. We’re now adding another $567 million, because we don’t think they should have to put up with Bailey bridges indefinitely.

David Seymour: Does he stand by his statement that “we don’t have a … money tree in the backyard that means we can continue to indefinitely increase government spending”, and if that’s the case, how does he explain the last six Budgets, where his Government has increased expenditure by 70 percent for no measurable outcome improvements?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Well, yes, I do stand by my comments, in the first part of that question, and I utterly reject the second.

David Seymour: Can he, then, explain to New Zealanders in tangible, relatable terms, what actual outcomes have improved—not examples of where the Government spent more, but where the outcomes achieved have got better; 70 percent better?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: In fact, I could go on and on about it, but I’ll give the member a few just to get him started. How about 77,000 fewer children living in poverty under this Government? How about an economy that’s grown 6.7 percent under this Government? How about the 12,000 additional public homes that have been put in place under this Government, after the number of public homes went down under the last National-ACT Government? We could talk about the share of renewable electricity being the highest in a very long time—in fact, possibly for ever. We could talk about the fact that we’ve increased paid parental leave entitlements—that is thousands more Kiwi families enjoying extra paid parental leave. And if the member thinks that that’s not leading to better outcomes for those babies, then perhaps he needs to think again about how he measures the value of things.

David Seymour: Does the Prime Minister understand that he just explained the economy grew at a smidgen over 1 percent a year and he built 2,000 houses a year for six years in return for a 70 percent increase in public expenditure—is that what this Government calls success, and is that what they’re taking into the election?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Of course, the population has grown and incomes have grown during that time as well.

David Seymour: Is the Prime Minister now claiming that the population has grown because Government expenditure’s increased, or is he really saying that he’d like to hide from the fact that after inflation and after population growth, the amount spent in real terms per capita is up 28 percent and he’s got nothing tangible to show for it?


David Seymour: Does he stand by his various statements praising police, and will they receive a 14.5 percent increase in pay this year?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: In answer the first part of the question, I believe the police do an exceptional job on behalf of New Zealanders. In answer to the second part of the question, I don’t intend to get into bargaining in question time—no Prime Minister or Minister would ever do that.

David Seymour: What does it say for this Government’s economic management that they have borrowed an additional $121 billion over the last six Budgets and are now struggling to meet the arbitration recommended offer to pay teachers more?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: With regard to arbitration, of course, the teachers would not be asking for such big pay increases had they had pay increases during the time of the nine years that the National Party was in Government, when their salaries actually went backwards in real terms. But in terms of the Government’s overall level of borrowing, I would note that one of the big contributors to that was supporting New Zealanders through a once-in-a-generation economic shock caused by a global pandemic, and during that time the members opposite, including the member himself, were arguing we should’ve been spending more.

David Seymour: Does the Prime Minister also want to take the credit for spending $100,000 a day to store $531 million—that’s over half a billion bucks—of expired rapid antigen tests (RATs) after the Government, for months and months, in fact over a year, banned anyone else from importing them?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Well, the member can’t seem to get his story straight. He keeps complaining that we didn’t have enough RAT tests; now he’s complaining we’ve got too many of them.