Year of Delivery? Political party leaders judge the Government's progress

From KiwiBuild failures, to welfare increases, to simply not having enough time to get things done, political party leaders have weighed in on the Government's progress. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

The Prime Minister labelled 2019 the 'Year of Delivery' back in January at her Labour Party caucus retreat, where she signalled a "significant change in direction for New Zealand".

She talked up child wellbeing strategies, changing the tax system, climate change, and mental health policies as among the "long list of areas" where the Government was in "delivery mode".

Reflecting on the time since the Coalition Government's formation in 2017, Ardern told Newshub this week she was most proud of "things that will create systemic and transformative change".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

She pointed to her Child Poverty Reduction Bill which passed its third reading in Parliament in December, "and all of the obligations that have led to, for instance, between 50-74,000 children being lifted out of poverty".

Ardern said she was proud of work around climate change, and the almost $14 billion of planned investments in public transport over three years ($1.1bn to walking and cycle projects, $4.8bn for rapid transit and $8bn to public transport). 

She also highlighted the Government's boost to agricultural research funding, and the more than $200 million Sustainable Land Use Package to help farmers use land more sustainably. 

"The biggest disappointment is just ultimately, things take more time than you'd like, and three years is a short amount of time to make the kind of changes we need."

When asked to rate the Government's performance, Ardern said: "I make a habit of never giving myself a rating - it's a slippery slope - and ultimately, it actually doesn't matter my view, it's what the public think." 

National leader Simon Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges.
National leader Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Getty

National leader Simon Bridges took credit for some of the Government's achievements, pointing to bipartisanship work on the Child Poverty Bill, the Zero Carbon Bill, and changes to gun laws after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Bridges told Newshub those Bills "have been improved by our input" and that in the "so-called Year of Delivery, Labour is failing to deliver on its promises".

The Opposition leader cited Ministry of Social Development figures from March that show the number of working-age New Zealanders on welfare at the end of March 2019 was 4.8 percent higher than the end of March 2018.

The same document shows requests for food grants have gone up almost 70,000 compared to last year, and hardship assistance has gone up by $48 million.

"There were an extra 70,000 requests for assistance for food in the last year alone, there is more strike action than we've seen in decades and the economy is weakening," Bridges said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo credit: Getty

Winston Peters, leader of Labour's coalition partner New Zealand First, said he was most proud of the "success" delivered under the party's Coalition Agreement.

"Think Provincial Growth Fund, more police officers, investing in the Defence Force, the Super Goldcard, investing in rail, and the One Billion Trees planting programme," he told Newshub.  

He said the biggest disappointment so far has been "the ineffective Opposition and its unwillingness to ask questions during Parliament's question time".

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson. Photo credit: Newshub

The Government's increased social spending has been welcomed by Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party, which has a Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

"This year's Budget was a good step toward placing the wellbeing of people and the environment at the centre of our economy," she told Newshub.

She praised legislation around family and sexual violence, climate change, another $180 million extra for conservation, and a $1.9 billion boost to mental health services.

But Davidson said more public housing is needed, despite the boost to Housing First. She said the Greens will "focus on ensuring a progressive home ownership scheme that was agreed with Labour as part of our Confidence and Supply Agreement".

Davidson said she would have also liked to have seen "more recommendations from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report supported in this Budget, particularly in raising core incomes for people on benefits".

"We saw over $530 million toward indexing main benefits, removing sanctions on solo mothers, and raising abatement thresholds. These are all positive steps but fall short of the overhaul the Greens committed the Government to."

ACT leader David Seymour

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Getty

ACT leader David Seymour said the Government's biggest achievement this year has been to reject a comprehensive capital gains tax (CGT), but said it's a shame "so much uncertainty" was created around it.

"By punishing people who try to get ahead through saving and investing, a CGT would have sent the wrong message about the kind of society we want," he told Newshub.

Seymour said the Government's biggest disappointment has been its "failure to address the underlying cause of the housing crisis", pointing to the flagship KiwiBuild programme that failed to meet its initial targets.

"Rather than focus on creating new sections by freeing up land for development and building new infrastructure, KiwiBuild attempts to build more houses on scarce land," Seymour said.

"This won't bring house prices down."

Newshub.

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