Simon Bridges lashes out at the Coalition
The Leader of the National Party and the Leader of the Opposition knows that even as he holds the government to account, the voting public would judge him and his Party for their policies and promises, and not for being critiques of the government of the day.
Having been a Minister and a running mate before being elected Leader of his Party, Mr Bridges is well aware of the responsibilities that come with the job.
As the Leader of the largest Party in Parliament with 56 members, he is aware of his strength; but he is equally aware that winning in an election is quite a different thing.
Government without direction
“I respect Jacinda Ardern as the Prime Minister and as a person,” he said, as he began his conversation with us at our office on Monday, September 24, 2018, and said that her government has no proper direction.
“Jacinda Ardern has been let down by her team. She is inexperienced and her government does not know where to go. There are more than 170 Working Groups and no one knows what is coming. There is uncertainty all around,” he said.
No ‘R’ word
Mr Bridges said that he does not mention the ‘R’ word, lest he is accused of scaremongering.
“I have never mentioned that we are going through Recession, but our economy has definitely slowed down. We are now estimating growth at 2.5%. Business confidence is down, consumer confidence is down and there is uncertainty over immigration,” he said.
Mr Bridges said that uncertainty is again seeing people move out, especially to Australia, where the level of business confidence is the highest in 40 years.
Incentives, not burdens
The National Party, he said, is on a different platform.
He accused the government of triggering the rapid increase in prices of essential goods as an aftermath of the rise in petrol prices and the overall cost of living.
“We will repeal every tax that the current government forces on people. We will repeal the Capital Gains Tax if the current Parliament passes such a law.
“I would argue that we want less government and not a government that is a burden on the people. What is important today is the economy, return of confidence, reduced cost of living and reduced taxes. We will focus on what is good for New Zealand,” he said.
Mr Bridges also accused the government of ignoring Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs).
“SMEs are the backbone of the New Zealand economy. And yet, the Prime Minister appoints a Business Advisory Council that is chaired by the Chief Executive of Air New Zealand. There is no representation for small businesses on this so-called Council. When we come back to govern, we will supercharge SMEs,” he said.
Since the formation of the current government about a year ago, the National Party has become allergic to New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Snipe at Peters
“Winston Peters is the real boss. He is like the President of the country; he has the power to veto. He wants to tax New Zealanders. This is unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Bridges has been highly critical of Mr Peters’ plans to expand the diplomatic missions with an estimated spending of $1 billion over the next three years or so.
Is expanding our diplomatic horizon a good thing? After all, we are a trading nation and an expanded network will help in trade negotiations.
“Even before me, the Treasury had said that spending such a large sum of money on our overseas missions would be wasteful. Neither Mr Peters nor this government has any plan. I support trade agreements and a strong pact with Commonwealth countries. We have the expertise. But I do not think $1 billion will help,” he said.
Doing the right thing
Mr Bridges said that a wise government will invest in health, education, infrastructure, research and development and innovation.
“We should think about the right thing to do.”
He said that New Zealand does not have an international debt crisis but that is no argument for increased government spending.
“There has to be a list of priorities, proper planning and implementation. There is a lot of wastage of public money now,” he said.
Mr Bridges said that he supports the Indian community in New Zealand.
“We share the same values of hard work, success in life. I am working hard because New Zealand is a great place,” he said.
You can watch Simon Bridges speaking to Indian Newslink on