7 Feb 2017

English makes first PM speech to Parliament

5:57 pm on 7 February 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has outlined a business-as-usual agenda for the coming year in his first speech to Parliament.

Caucas run. Prime Minister Bill English.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr English launched a stinging attack on the opposition for endlessly moaning about New Zealanders, giving a long list of policies it had not supported.

"It's not as if we hadn't tried to cheer them up. You would think that the first benefit increase in 40 years would have made them happy. No. No, it didn't."

"You would have thought 130,000 new jobs last year would make them happy. No."

Mr English said the agenda for this year, which included changes to the resource management act, wouldn't make Labour anymore happy.

"This is one part of a comprehensive programme to improve the supply of housing."

Labour leader Andrew Little said the National-led government had sat on its hands for nearly nine years, ignoring the cries of New Zealanders who could not buy a home.

"I make no apology for being passionate about the future of young New Zealanders and wanting to do best for them, because they are sick and tired."

"A complacent, smug, out-of-touch government that just will do nothing on the most important issue in New Zealand today," Mr Little said.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw criticised the Prime Minister for introducing half-measures to fix housing, poverty and climate change.

"He did say that he'll encourage more oil exploration, but hasn't he noticed that all of the big oil companies are actually abandoning exploration here in New Zealand? It's like he's a salesman of fax machines. No one's buying them anymore."

The New Zealand First leader Winston Peters likened the Prime Minister's statement to a rugby player trying to kick a penalty 80m to win the game.

"And all his supporters and colleagues are all sitting there breathless expecting that he might just get it over. Except they know in their minds eye he hasn't got a hope."

Mr Peters lashed out at the Māori Party for standing by the government.

"Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. That's their policy."

Māori party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell hit back at Mr Peters.

"I find it hugely contradictory that some people can come into this house and talk up their Māori-ness and talk up what it means to be Māori and yet violate tikanga on a regular basis."

"That is where the country's got to wake to the agenda, by at least one party that is almost Trump-like, because what they do is they roll out, and it's starting to happen already, is the anti-Māori flavour."

Speeches in reply to the Prime Minister's statement continue this evening. The first question time will be tomorrow.