John Key. Photo by Mark Mitchell
The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition have
kicked off the Parliamentary year, trading insults and jokes in
the opening debate of Parliament.
Prime Minister John Key tabled his Statement to Parliament,
setting out his Government's agenda for the year before
launching into a speech that was a mix of braggadocio and
slights against the Opposition.
He said its recent policy announcement showed that Labour
intended to implement a programme of high spending if it
regained the Government benches, pointing out that the
policies Labour said it had cancelled to create the money to
pay for its new baby payments had never existed.
He said the Green Party had previously called to print more
"David Cunliffe is taking that to a whole new level. He's
gone right past the printing press, right past Bitcoin and
has moved into make-believe money. It's fantastic stuff. You
don't have to borrow it, you don't have to print it, you
don't have to earn it. According to David Cunliffe, all you
have to do is spend it."
Mr Key said that would result in more borrowing and rises in
He also took aim at Labour's potential coalition with the
Green Party, including the Greens' desire to put the
decriminalisation of cannabis into coalition talks.
"They are Labour and the Greens. They are a high-spending,
high-taxing government, if they ever get there. Which is
good, because that is the only high Labour and the Greens
look like they can agree on at the moment."
Mr Key said Green Party co-leader Russel Norman had spent the
summer trying to angle another invitation to Kim Dotcom's
He had a poke at Hone Harawira's attendance record at
Parliament: "Hone Harawira took a public tour of Parliament
to see what it was actually like."
Labour, apparently under instruction not to respond to Mr Key
with the usual heckling, remained largely silent until Mr
Cunliffe stood up to speak.
In reply, Mr Cunliffe asked what Mr Key's legacy would be.
"It might be for his half-finished, user-pays cycleway, it
might be for the holiday home in Hawaii, aka Planet Key, a
place with lots of golf courses and no toilets.
"I think John Key is actually going to go down in history as
what the international press calls him: 'unidentified guest'.
His photo ops are about as flaky as his commitment to
Mr Cunliffe returned to the theme of the gap between rich and
poor that he also hit in his State of the Nation speech
yesterday, saying Mr Key was "the last gasp of an old and
tired, failed way of doing things".
He said Mr Key's government was out of touch, arrogant "and
patently just in it for their mates". He said the economic
recovery had been propped up by two factors the Government
could not take any credit for: the Christchurch earthquake
and the price of milk.
"Putting that aside, what are they doing with what there is?
They are making sure it goes to the top few. That is the kind
of recovery we are seeing. The recovery in luxury car sales,
sales of million-dollar homes, profits of big corporations
and the record highs on the Rich List."
He said the trickle-down theory did not work and levels of
child poverty in New Zealand were proof of that.
Dr Norman said the election would give New Zealanders a stark
choice of governments.
"While on the one hand we have the choice of a genuinely
progressive government, the alternative if the current
Government is given a third term will be a very different
government to the one elected in 2008. It will be a
hard-right government - economically, environmentally and
socially, beholden to the damaged and discredited ACT, United
Future, and Conservative parties. John Key's claim to be a
moderate has evaporated over the course of the last couple of
NZ First leader Winston Peters criticised Mr Key for
politicising his speech, saying it was supposed to be an
outline of National's measures and the issues facing the
country. He also gave a prediction: "I suspect a leadership
change in the National Party is not far away."
He also said he did not believe the recent claim that New
Zealand was a "rockstar economy".
"Treasury has never won a Grammy for the accuracy of its
He said National should not be proud of its plan for the
country, saying house prices were spiking so fast that no
young couple had a chance of keeping up with their savings.
He also hit out at power prices and employment laws, saying
jobs should stay with New Zealanders instead of going to
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