21 Dec 2011

Economy central to Government's agenda

7:52 pm on 21 December 2011

The Government has placed strengthening the economy at the heart of its agenda for the next three years.

The 50th Parliament was formally opened on Wednesday during which the Governor-General, Lieutenant-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, gave a speech outlining the Government's programme for the coming term.

The Speech from the Throne contained no new announcements, but referred to National Party election policies, as well as those agreed to in its deals with the ACT, United Future and Maori parties.

Sir Jerry said the Government's driving goal is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy, with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.

He said the National Party's confidence and supply deals will enable the Government to be effective, stable and inclusive.

Major moves outlined included partial asset sales, welfare reform and limiting the growth in government spending.

Shearer gives first speech as leader

In the following debate in the House, David Shearer faced his first test as the Labour Party's new leader, giving his first speech.

Mr Shearer attacked the Government, saying it has run out of ideas - which is why it is partially selling off state assets.

He told Parliament that New Zealanders expect MPs to apply themselves to make the country a better place to work, live and raise a family.

"Under my leadership, I can promise you this: that Labour will work tirelessly to play its part because the Labour Party is turning a page. The Labour Party will put growing the pie for all New Zealanders at the front of its agenda."

But Prime Minister John Key told the House he is hearing nothing new from Labour.

Mr Key said David Shearer had talked about change when he took over, but then delivered a speech that former leader Phil Goff could have written.

Parliament will adjourn on Wednesday evening for the summer recess.