NZ Election 2020: Winston Peters attacks Labour, Greens during New Zealand First's campaign launch

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has launched his party's campaign by taking aim at its governing partners Labour and the Greens, saying the party is opposed to "woke pixie dust".

He used his speech on Saturday to highlight NZ First's achievements over the past three years in Government, saying "no other party has an 80 percent-plus achievement record" over the same length of time.

"We've used common-sense to hold Labour and the Greens to account. We've opposed woke pixie dust. We've defended socially conservative values, like the right to believe in God. We've focused on the wisdom of sound economics," he says.

"Whilst the rest have been politically correct, we've set out to correct politics."

He also attacked the capital gains tax and Auckland's light rail - both of which New Zealand First shut down.

"How futile does a capital gains tax look right now? And on Auckland light rail and many others, we have stopped bad, uncosted ideas and called them to account.

"If Aucklanders knew the cost and disruption of light rail, they'd be shocked with collective alarm. What we do know is that New Zealand First's heavy rail alternative will cost 15 percent of light rail - and we can start building it now."

He also attacked the Green Party's new tax policy, which proposed new tax rates for those earning over $100,000 and $150,000 per year.

"For many New Zealanders earning those incomes in our cities, or striving to - families laden with debt, high mortgages and job insecurity - New Zealand First says it's your future, you keep your hard-earned income," Peters says.

"We reject the envy merchants, who think the solution to every problem lies in your pocket, who say they want to get close to you."

He says NZ First's tax policy will be announced later in the campaign.

New law and order policy

Peters pledged 1000 new police officers will be sworn in over the next three years, saying the party can deliver that because it has "made that promise twice before and delivered twice."

"Through the coalition, New Zealand First was responsible for over 1800 new front-line police officers during our first term. We over-achieved, swearing in over 2200 new police officers. But we are still not satisfied. New Zealanders need to feel safe, especially during a time of so much doubt, insecurity and fear," he says.

But he says the party also believes in the power of rehabilitation and redemption for those in jail, so it would expand a driver's licence in prisons scheme. Last month, 325 prisoners gained their driver's licence, and over 3000 have received theirs over the course of the programme, he says.

"For these people, like the rest of us, a driver's licence is a freedom visa, giving access to jobs and opportunity. This has been one of the greatest untold stories in recent history. Dealing with the core failures of education in society, and turning the results around with positive investment," he says.

"The prisoners tell researchers that having a driving licence helps to get insurance, open a bank account and apply for loans. They feel better connected to their people, more like their neighbours, and they feel better about themselves."

New immigration policy

Peters says if New Zealand First is in government next term, it will "demand" the immigration portfolio because "for decades the old parties have failed us".

The country's immigration policy needs a "fundamental reset" due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy.

"We are still in 2020 trying to deal with the problems of one of the fastest growing populations in the developed world because of the unrestrained immigration of past Governments," he says.

This includes in the labour market, where he says Kiwis were cut out of jobs, in housing, where house price inflation was fuelled by immigration, in exploding "crippling infrastructure deficits" in cities and "tearing at the fabric of our social unity".

"Since 2017 immigration numbers have fallen and COVID means we now have the lowest immigration since 1959. With unemployment soaring, sustaining employment in the downturn is our priority," he says.

"COVID has changed our world, and we need to look after our own people first, helping hardworking New Zealanders get ahead. It means that immigration should be about the people we want in New Zealand, not the people who want to come to New Zealand."

Peters says immigration is about how many people schools, hospitals, home ownership and infrastructure can cope with, and New Zealand First's policy "puts New Zealanders first".

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