Nats to keep 'economy front and centre' - Bill English

  • 25/06/2017
Lloyd Burr/Newshub.
Bill English. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/Newshub.

In his most important speech since becoming Prime Minister, Bill English has presented what a fourth term under a National Government will look like.

He had to convince more than 600 delegates at the party's annual conference that the National Party has what it takes to win again, and that he's the man to help them do it.

His vision for New Zealand in 2020 is a country with increased incomes and lower taxes, dynamic and diverse, with high environmental standards and ambitious infrastructure programmes.

"I tell you, it's a good time to have shares in an orange cone company," he said.

The biggest takeaway is perhaps a promise to "further reduce taxes" if economic growth continues. 

"National wants to do more to put more money in people’s pockets and reduce the pressure on those families most in need.

"We believe that taxpayers make better use of their own money than politicians. A strong economy on its own lifts incomes."

The Prime Minister started out firing up delegates with praise for their contributions to the party's success, honouring the "incomparable Sir John Key" and the united Cabinet.

Bill English.
Bill English. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/Newshub.

He was also full of praise for the success of Kiwis around the world: "This week we will beat the Lions again, win back the America's Cup and Lorde's new album will be number one in the charts."

And it wouldn't be a political event without some bashing of the other side. Labour, Mr English said, was "too negative to welcome opportunity".

Mr English's New Zealand in 2020 is a country that is open to trade and investment and that welcomes Kiwis who stay home for jobs, wages and greater opportunities, he said.

"Already this year we've announced significant steps in our plan to ensure all New Zealanders share the benefits of growth."

There was no new policy announced in the speech - instead Mr English packaged together his promises from the first half of this year, wrapping them together in his plan for National's fourth term.

"We will deliver the economy, the environment, the infrastructure, the incomes and the public services to take New Zealand in to the 2020s," he said.

"Before we do anything else, National will keep the economy front and centre of everything we do."

Bill English
Bill English. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/Newshub.

It's been apparent throughout the conference, in Wellington, that the party knows it has a fight on its hands in September.

Party president Peter Goodfellow has already admitted it's going to be the toughest campaign the party has ever fought.

"The stakes are so much higher, the Opposition is hugely energised, albeit chaotic, and more desperate than they've ever been," he said

Mr English ended his offering to delegates by presenting them with a choice between National or an "unruly alliance" of Labour, the Green Party and New Zealand First - in perhaps a sign National won't look to Winston Peters for support.

"Only one party wants to lead a successful, proud and confident country into the 2020s - it's National," he said.

National currently governs with the support of three minor parties - United Future, ACT and the Māori Party.

NZN / Newshub.