ACT leader David Seymour has taken a number of jabs at National and Christopher Luxon during a major speech in Auckland, including saying that voting for National into power doesn’t guarantee a reversal of Labour’s policies.
“This election, we don’t just need to evict Labour from the Beehive, we need to evict its ideas as well,” Seymour said. “Getting rid of Labour’s bad ideas is really just clearing the decks for the job we have to do, though.”
“Under either Chris, there’s still the same problem. Where do the new ideas come from? Just stopping Labour lunacy doesn’t solve the long term problems left by successive governments.”
Seymour delivered the speech – titled, The Road to Real Change – to a large crowd of supporters at Auckland’s Princes Wharf on Tuesday afternoon.
In it, the ACT Party leader set out why the “Government needs to change”, ripping into Labour policies like the clean car discount and associated ‘ute tax’, KiwiBuild, and changes to the Oranga Tamariki Act.
“Labour’s list of failures would be quite funny if only they happened to another country, especially Australia,” Seymour said.
It fell to ACT to “reverse – not refine – this lunacy”, he said before taking a swing at Luxon.
“Every time I hear Chris Luxon say that the Labour ‘doesn’t get things done’, it makes me a little nervous… Could he seriously want them to do more?”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has promised a new focus on “bread and butter” under his Government and that ministers are reprioritising their programmes so that the cost of living is front of mind.
His first major policy announcement as Prime Minister was an extension to cuts to fuel excise duty, public transport fares and road user charges. When Jacinda Ardern was in charge, those subsidies were planned to end over the coming months.
But Seymour doesn’t expect Labour to just “dump their own policy agenda”.
“It’s not as though Hipkins has been quietly seething in the background of the Ardern Government, opposing everything it does. In fact, he’s been a founding member of Ardern’s kitchen cabinet all along, right up to the orchestrated handover of power last month.”
He said it’s “more likely… another Prime Minister Chris” has the opportunity to get rid of Labour’s policies after the election.
“But even then, let’s be absolutely clear: A reversal of Labour policies under a National Government is far from guaranteed. If you doubt that, let history be your guide,” Seymour said.
“Five times National has vigorously opposed Labour’s policies from opposition and five times they have followed Labour into government and bedded in all of policies they said they would remove.
“That’s part of the reason we’re in this mess – National governments don’t actually oppose Labour policies. They just want to manage them, and they always find big Government feels better from the back of a Ministerial limo.”
Seymour said that is why ACT is necessary.
“We need more than a choice between ‘getting things done,’ or ‘bread and butter’ how did politics get so inane. New Zealand needs more than a new slogan, it needs a real change of policy taking the country in a better direction.”
The rest of Seymour’s speech focused on ACT’s values and main policies, including its promise of a referendum on co-governance, sharing GST with councils to accelerate building, and dumping the Zero Carbon Act.
“If you don’t want to see more of the same. If you’re not convinced that National and Labour are really different after the last 90 years of political duopoly. If you believe in the power of policy, underpinned by good values to make this country a better place. If some or all of this sounds like you, then I am asking you not just to agree… but to act.”
The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll last week showed Labour had returned to the fore under Hipkins, up 5.7 points to 38 percent, while National fell 4.1 points to 36.6 percent.
ACT, meanwhile, nudged up 0.7 to 10.7 percent. If that result was replicated at the election, its caucus would grow by four members to 14. That’s 13 more than it had this time three years ago.
The poll results showed the left and the right each with 60 seats, meaning a hung Parliament.
National’s policy has mainly focused so far on its plan to address the cost of living, including adjusting tax thresholds to inflation and repealing a series of new taxes imposed by the Labour Government over the past nearly six years. However, its also released policy in other areas, like its proposal for boot camps for serious youth offenders.
“We’ve got to deal with the cost of living, we are going to raise incomes, we are going to restore law and order, and we are going to make sure we deliver better health and education,” Luxon said last week.
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