Opening remarks, Government Priorities Launch

Auckland University of Technology

Sunday 16 September

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Good afternoon.

Eleven months ago we in New Zealand First faced a choice between perpetuating a modified status quo or in joining with other parties to effect positive change. The Labour-New Zealand First Coalition was formed out of that choice, with confidence and supply provided by the Green Party. We represent between us a solid majority of New Zealanders and I’m pleased to say that after nearly a year in office we continue to maintain the same level of support.

The reason we retain the confidence of New Zealanders is because they see what the media filter seemingly cannot: we are a unified government determined to lead change to lift all New Zealanders’ prospects. Speaking on behalf of New Zealand First, we remain as committed as ever to making this coalition and government work. We also know what the political media does not. Every day we work collaboratively with our government partners to advance our change programme. Today’s announcements of the government’s priorities for the next year is the latest chapter in this story, building on the platform created by the Coalition Agreement, the Speech from the Throne, the 100 Day Plan, and Budget ‘18.

Because we are a unique government, the first true MMP Government since 1996, there are issues we regularly confront that requires consultation and negotiation. These can be robust discussions but that is not a sign of division or weakness. It is rather a manifestation of our shared commitment to create enduring solutions that reflect a coming together of the different values and beliefs that each party brings to each and every issue. There is strength in our diversity because it reflects the majority will of the country.

 

In eleven months the coalition government has made strong progress on delivering on its promises. From New Zealand First’s perspective we are well down the path to achievement.

The planting of one billion trees is gaining momentum and the Provincial Growth Fund has been embraced by regional New Zealand who for the first time in a decade can see that their government is supporting them.

The announcement of the ‘Pacific Reset’ last year has shown foreign policy leadership in forging a more adaptive and inclusive path with our Pacific neighbours. Likewise, major defence procurement announcements have strengthened New Zealand’s contributions to maintaining peace and security here and overseas and show us leading, unlike our predecessors who put off hard but necessary choices.  

Across our portfolios New Zealand First has also been able to work collaboratively with our coalition partner to get the resources necessary to restore lost capacity after nine years of laissez-faire neglect. We will hear further evidence of this today with the development of an enhanced SuperGold Card identified as a key priority over the next twelve months to help share more fairly New Zealand’s prosperity.

The 12 priority outcomes to be announced today show that the coalition and its support partner are building upon the strong foundation already laid during our first eleven months in office. They will underpin our ‘Wellness’ budget and New Zealand First fully supports them.

With that, let us all welcome Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the stage. Thank you.

ENDS  

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