Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer
started have started the parliamentary year by trading blows.
Mr Key started by saying the year had started badly for
Labour, while Mr Shearer said the Prime Minister's statement
was a joke that lacked a punchline.
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei and New Zealand First leader
Winston Peters joined in, saying Mr Key's statement lacked
aspiration, ambition or real solutions for New Zealanders.
Mr Key opened the first sitting day Parliament this year with
his statement focused on the economy.
He announced more prisons will be turned into working prisons
- all prisoners will be placed in a 40-hour a week programme
of work and rehabilitation.
This was one of the main announcements made in his statement
today that recapped on theme such as apprenticeships and
housing affordability covered in his speech last Friday in
Mr Shearer said Mr Key did not have a plan for New Zealand
and his economic rhetoric had become tired.
"The relaxed, easy-going John Key is long gone. He's been
replaced by Mr Angry, Mr Defensive," said Mr Shearer.
He said that under Mr Key's leadership, 180,000 New
Zealanders left for Australia and unemployment reached 7.3
"There are 85,000 young people not in work or education," he
"It has been the worst growth of any government in 50 years,"
said Mr Shearer.
Mr Peters called Mr Key's speech 'boring' and 'useless'.
"The best part of the Prime Minister's speech was when he sat
down - that was the very best part of that speech."
"It's no use flapping your arms around like a penguin, Mr
Mr Peters said young people were being forced overseas and
being paid low wages.
"Unemployment is reaching crisis levels and little is being
Ms Turei said Mr Key's speech did not reflect who New
Zealanders were and said there was nothing in his speech
offering tangible solutions to the big issues facing everyday
"Instead of making us richer in the things that matter, they
make us poorer."
"Their hands-off economic conservatism benefits their wealthy
backers and runs counter to out country's proud history of
economic egalitarianism and fairness."
Mrs Turei said the Government had also failed to protect the
"Their short-sighted view of our beautiful environment, our
rivers and beaches, forests and national parks as nothing
more than irritating impediments to their exploitative
economic agenda, is like stabbing a knife into the heart of
our national identity.
"New Zealanders are finally waking up to what Americans
learnt four years ago - if you want to destroy an economy,
hand it over to an investment banker to run it".
She said IMF data showed the New Zealand economy had
performed worse than the majority of countries in the OECD
"The data shows New Zealand scored 18th out of the 34 OECD
countries for GDP growth, 22nd for unemployment, 30th for the
current account deficit, 28th for national savings growth,
and 23rd for government debt."
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