Todd Muller lashes out at Labour's 'record of failure', laments how long it's taking to open up economy

Labour has a "record of failure" in dealing with New Zealand's major issues - and turning to Willie Jackson to get the country through the imminent unemployment crisis will only prove it, the leader of the Opposition says.

Todd Muller's comments come just a day after he gave a speech in his hometown of Te Puna, outlining the National Party's top priorities in its first term should he lead them back into power in the 2020 election.

The speech, which spanned more than 30 minutes, focused on the looming economic challenges in the wake of COVID-19, and the ways in which National was better-equipped than Labour to tackle them.

Speaking about the speech in an interview with Magic Talk's Peter Williams on Monday morning, Muller said it was important to call the current Government's track record into question.

"[My speech] was also a pretty fierce critique of the Government's total inability to deliver across all its key portfolios and big announcements that it sold as its big vision in 2017 [ahead of its election victory]," he said.

"KiwiBuild, we were going to have 10,000 homes, well there's 390; across mental health; across transport; across corrections; across tourism now - they have a record of failure."

He then took an opportunity to ridicule the man responsible for curbing job losses and promoting the hiring of new personnel over the next few months.

"The idea that this Government - in the context of another 120,000 families without jobs by Christmas - is going to turn to Willie Jackson to be the driver of employment strategy in this country for the next three years, is laughable," he said of the current Employment Minister.

Jackson was criticised earlier this year after suggesting to the Epidemic Response Committee that extending the alert level 4 lockdown another week wasn't "the end of the world" and "won't hurt or destroy anyone".

When challenged on the remark by National MP Todd McClay, Jackson admitted he shouldn't have said it. He was later publicly reprimanded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who told media she disagreed with the comments.

Muller says National is equipped to clean up the financial damage wreaked by COVID-19, and said the Government's pace in reopening the economy is one of a myriad of things his party would do better.

"We've made it clear we want to make sure we open up the economy safely, but of course efficiently and with some urgency. This Government's taking so long," he said.

He named opening up the borders to international students, repealing the Resource Management Act and offering employment growth stimulus as other areas that National would immediately sort out - alongside "a huge raft of policies" still yet to be announced.

"As we move through June, July, August and into the final weeks of the campaign, the distinction between this country's failed approach and our vision for the country in terms of jobs and economic growth will be very clear."