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Luxon and McAnulty shape up

National Party leader Christopher Luxon visited Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome on Saturday. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

Luxon, McAnulty debate numbers

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On his first official visit to Wairarapa at the weekend, Leader of the Opposition Christopher Luxon set forth his plan to get the National Party back in the limelight for the right reasons.

Luxon addressed National’s loss of Wairarapa – along with 18 other electorate seats – in the 2020 election and said that the party would now focus on proposing new ideas rather than opposing for opposition’s sake.

“If we propose new ideas, we’ll look like an alternative government, and we’ll earn back trust and confidence with the New Zealand people,” Luxon said.

“Then we become the people they want in government.”

Luxon, who replaced Judith Collins as leader in November, said the Wairarapa electorate had a particular set of issues.

“Out here, it’s been very much a focus around Three Waters; there’s been a focus on beef and lamb conversion into forestry; and then the normal issues where the cost of living is coming into play big time.”

Luxon said that Labour had wasted money on inefficient projects that had served to drive the cost of living up.

“What we’re saying is, now is a good time, before it gets too much worse, to prune the finances, make sure they’re in good shape, make sure you don’t have a lot of wasteful spending.”

However, Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty disputed the basis of Luxon’s claim, saying that inflation was not a problem specific to New Zealand.

“It’s being experienced in pretty much every developed country in the world on more or less the same level that we’re experiencing.”

New Zealand had a 5.9 increase in the consumers price index from the December 2020 to the December 2021 quarter – the nation’s highest inflation in three decades. Meanwhile, the United States had a 7 per cent increase; the United Kingdom 5.4 per cent.

“It’s not something that can be promised away,” McAnulty said.

“I note that there have been a few people in the Opposition, including Mr Luxon, who are saying it’s down to government spending but aren’t able to highlight anything that they would cut to address inflation.”

Luxon said much of the government’s “wasteful spending” had roots in the covid-19 response and recovery fund [CRRF] established in 2020.

“Half of our covid fund of $50 billion hasn’t been spent on covid stuff,” Luxon said.

“It’s been spent on cameras on fishing boats and art therapy and a whole bunch of programmes that aren’t very effective.”

McAnulty said the Wairarapa electorate had benefited from many of the programmes included in the CRRF, such as the Jobs for Nature fund.

“That was about putting people who had lost their work due to covid into jobs that would benefit the environment and the region,” McAnulty said.

“I don’t think government-funded measures that provide employment for people are a waste of money whatsoever. The reason that Wairarapa’s economy is going so strongly is because people have money in their pockets, and they are spending money here locally. You can’t do that if you don’t have a job.”

He said that in any case, the items Luxon had highlighted equated to about 0.1 per cent of government expenditure and would not make any difference to petrol prices or the rising cost of food.

“Unfortunately, covid is affecting this more than anything, and the government is aware of this and is looking to ensure that supply lines are kept open as much as possible to try and limit the amount of inflation that’s impacting on people’s goods and services.”

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