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Political wrap: Luxon and Hipkins face off, Te Pāti Māori and NZ First butt heads, Mitchell releases expectations for Coster

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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Opposition leader Chris Hipkins were back in the parliamentary ring and firing shots at each other yesterday, as the 54th Parliament got under way.

Hipkins kicked things off, delivering the first speech in which he described the new Government as “pathetic” and a “disgrace”.

He said he could not find even a “shred of vision” in the new Government’s agenda, which leaned heavily on plans to “repeal, replace, reverse, and disestablish” the former Government’s agenda.

“A plan to go backwards not a plan to take New Zealand forward,” Hipkins said.

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He said the new Government was beholden to NZ First leader Winston Peters, describing the spectacle of seeing Luxon race to Auckland to negotiate with Peters, rather than make Peters come to Wellington as “pathetic”.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Labour leader Chris Hipkins lead MPs into the debating chamber during the State Opening of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Labour leader Chris Hipkins lead MPs into the debating chamber during the State Opening of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He said that Labour accepted New Zealanders had “voted for change” but that he did not think the new Government was the change they had voted for.

He added National’s decision to roll back Labour’s smokefree policy was a “stain on New Zealand’s international reputation”.

Speaking after Hipkins, Luxon shot back, saying Labour had “squandered” its historic 2020 majority.

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“They started the last term with everything they needed to set up a political dynasty for the next decade but they squandered it,” Luxon said, describing Hipkins as “bitter, and twisted, and negative”.

Luxon hinted that Hipkins might not survive as leader, a classic Government tactic to sow seeds of doubt and instability in the opposition.

“Why is he still here when so little was achieved?” Luxon said.

Meanwhile, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson promised to not allow the Government to get away with “political violence”, claiming the coalition would whip up fear and disinformation.

She considered the Government’s priorities to be a “random, visionless and harmful grab-bag” of policies that didn’t focus on real issues.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters during the State Opening of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters during the State Opening of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“This Government and its programme of performative cruelty does not represent our future. That is up to us.”

At one stage during her speech, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called out: “Talk about “cis white men” – a reference to Davidson’s comments earlier this year that violence was created by cis white men.

‘Kohanga reo generation is here’

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi directed his initial comments to Peters.

“You’re going to see this moko and this hat for a long, long time, Winston, so you better get used to it.

“The kohanga reo generation is here.”

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He claimed the Government’s agenda was a flashback to the 19th century and its policy priorities resembled a “manifesto of white supremacy and cultural genocide”.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi at the swearing-in of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi at the swearing-in of Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the coalition had motivated Māori across the country.

“Your hatred has encouraged us to unite.”

Looking at Peters and his deputy Shane Jones, Ngarewa-Packer said the two Māori men didn’t automatically have a mandate to speak on behalf of Māori.

She expressed her sadness that Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, who she described as a “decent bloke”, was surrounded by such people and hoped he would engage with iwi leaders.

In Peters’ speech, he took aim at Te Pāti Māori, the media and those who counted his party out from returning.

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He took several shots at Te Pāti Māori and the Green Party, attempting to shame them for not having a minister in Cabinet in 54 years.

“Blah, blah, blah,” was Waititi’s response.

Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters adjusting their jackets at the conclusion of the State Opening of Parliament, Photo / Mark Mitchell
Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters adjusting their jackets at the conclusion of the State Opening of Parliament, Photo / Mark Mitchell

“I’ve been around a long time, I know a bunch of losers when I see them,” Peters directed at the Greens.

Peters’ repeated criticism, aimed at Te Pāti Māori, was that the party was not the sole authority of what Māori wanted.

“What’s your authority? You haven’t got one.”

Meanwhile, Hipkins was a main target of David Seymour’s – the Act leader claimed the former Education Minister had the “most wonderful form of selective amnesia” given the state of the education system.

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It was reported yesterday New Zealand 15-year-olds were performing their worst in an international assessment of literacy, science and math skills.

“The damage that has been done over the past two decades will take another generation to fully turn around.”

Mark Mitchell sets and releases expectations for Andrew Coster

Police Minister Mark Mitchell took the unusual step of releasing a letter of expectations for Police Commissioner Andrew Coster yesterday.

Mitchell released the letter last night, saying he had met Coster that day to agree to the expectations and to release the letter publicly.

The letter of expectations sets out National’s key policies, including those in its first 100 days plan, including gang patch bans, and law changes to give police more search powers and stop gang members associating with each other.

It also includes Mitchell’s wish for the police to use the powers that they are given, to target youth crime, to focus on “core policing” in communities.

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It said Coster must report to him on progress on the expectations, as well as brief him on issues of significance and high public interest – a standard procedure.

In return, Mitchell promises to provide the tools and resources needed. However, he has not exempted police from cost-savings measures National is requiring of government departments.



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