NZ First leader Winston Peters outlined his party’s plan at its campaign launch this afternoon, warning superannuants his party needed to be back in Parliament to stand up for their rights post-Covid-19.
Addressing the party membership in Auckland, Mr Peters outlined NZ First’s achievements while in Government.
He praised his ministers, saying Shane Jones had “made the biggest green statement of all” with the billion trees programme and the Provincial Growth Fund.
"We have opposed woke pixie dust," he said of his party holding its Coalition partners to account.
"Whilst the rest have been politically correct, we've set out to correct politics.”
He said his party could be the hand brake of bad ideas and the accelerator of good ones, pointing to the Greens’ tax policy which proposed new rates for those earning over $100,000 and $150,000 as being “out of touch”.
He said ideas like Capital Gains Tax and Labour’s Auckland light rail plans were “bad, uncosted ideas” and took credit for stopping the policies.
Mr Peters said NZ First still had a place in Parliament to act as a “necessary insurance” against bad policy and “extremism” on the left and right.
He warned superannuants that NZ First was the only one actively promoting their rights as “every other political party” targeted them.
“Meanwhile the other ‘cling-on’ political parties always allowed these attacks. Never raised a finger.”
He told superannuants: “Be warned, they will come for you because they always have and use economic decline or trouble to start with you first.”
Mr Peters also outlined a number of policy approaches.
‘We will not support irresponsible tax policy’
“The only ideas these people ever have is how to spend someone else’s money and no idea how to grow a nation’s economy,” Mr Peters said of other parties.
He said NZ First didn’t look to punish those who wanted to aim for higher incomes, and said the party would announce its tax policy during the campaign.
“Tax policy needs to be smart, targeted towards our exporters, growth in the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Law and order
“New Zealanders need to feel safe, especially during a time of so much doubt, insecurity and fear,” Mr Peters said.
“So today New Zealand First pledges that the next Coalition Government will set a new recruitment target: 1000 new front line sworn officers over the next three years.”
He said the party continued to believe in “the power of rehabilitation and redemption”, which was supported by schemes like “driver’s licence in prisons”.
“Just last month 325 prisoners gained their driver’s licence … a driver’s licence is a freedom visa, giving access to jobs and opportunity,” Mr Peters said.
‘Immigration policy needs a fundamental reset.’
Mr Peters blamed New Zealand’s growing population on the “unrestrained immigration of past Governments”.
“It was already apparent in 2017 that the scale of immigration posed huge economic distortions and costs,” he said.
He said the scale of immigration could cut Kiwis out of jobs and undercut pay rates.
“With unemployment soaring, sustaining employment in the downturn is our priority,” Mr Peters said.
“Immigration is about fairness and kindness to New Zealanders.
“Covid has changed our world. And we need to look after our own people first. It means that immigration should be about the people we want in New Zealand, not the people who want to come to New Zealand."
He said housing and infrastructure was also under pressure, and blamed immigration for contributing to it.
Predictions about the campaign
Speaking of predictions about the upcoming campaign, Mr Peters said “there will be forces trying to divert New Zealand First”.
These included “political activists masquerading as journalists or political commentators” and “the clickbait media” who were “not independent, not neutral”.
He also predicted “dirty politics practitioners” both inside and outside Parliament.
“We expect it, we are ready for it, but we won’t be diverted from our goal of again making history.”