18 November 2011
National to lower the public service cap
“National will continue to modernise the way public services are delivered and find back-office savings to put into better frontline services,” says Mr Key.
“We are committed to getting back to surplus in 2014/15 and that significant challenge will require ongoing spending restraint across the public sector and a focus on innovation and results.”
In contrast, over Labour's last five years total public service numbers grew almost 30 per cent, and overall government spending grew 50 per cent.
National's State Services spokesman, Tony Ryall says, "As an incoming Government we put a cap on staff numbers in core government administration. The level we inherited was unsustainable and unaffordable.
"The cap has been effective in stopping the growth in staff numbers, and FTEs have in fact reduced by six per cent since 2008. Today we are announcing that National will maintain a cap on staff numbers, but will lower the cap to the current level of FTEs.
"We first set the cap at 38,859 FTEs and with the current number of people working in core government administration now 36,475 we are lowering the cap to this number.
"During our first term, a Fairfax Media-Research poll found that more people believe the quality of core government services has improved under the National government, and we will continue to build on that public confidence," Mr Ryall says.
As well as lowering the cap, National will:
- continue to find savings from the public sector, including $980 million of expected savings over three years,
- continue to merge departments and other government agencies, where the benefits of those changes exceed the costs,
- focus on modernising public services, exploring new approaches to service delivery, and ensuring that the system delivers results.
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18 November 2011
Building the value of international visitors
National is committed to tourism playing a strong role in the growth of
the New Zealand economy, Prime Minister and National Party Leader John
"Tourism is our second largest export earner and National will work hard to ensure it continues to add to the growth of the New Zealand economy," Mr Key says.
"Our focus will be on attracting more high-quality international visitors and encouraging them to spend more money while in our country. We will also continue to promote New Zealand as a film production destination.
"National will continue to work with key partners and stakeholders to develop new major facilities such as the Cruise Terminal and SkyCity International Convention Centre in Auckland to bring jobs and high-value business travellers to New Zealand.
"We will also rebuild Christchurch as a tourist destination and gateway to the South Island," Mr Key says.
"Over the past three years, National has increased the investment in marketing New Zealand as a destination offshore by injecting an extra $67.5 million. We've also given Tourism New Zealand its first baseline increase since 2005," Mr Key says.
"We've also launched the highly-successful SmartGate automated passenger processing facilities at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch International Airports.
"This system has been a phenomenal success. It has now processed nearly two million passengers, and more than halved the average processing time for passengers, making it a quicker and more convenient process.
"Despite the difficult conditions over the recent times with the Canterbury earthquakes, the volcanic ash cloud, and the global economic crisis, international tourism increased by 1.5 per cent and domestic tourism by 2.5 per cent in the year to March 2011.
"We will continue to grow our emerging markets in Asia and look for opportunities out of South America and open up more air routes to and from New Zealand. For example, this month China Southern started daily flights from Guangzhou to Auckland, which will be worth an estimated $150 million to our economy," Mr Key says.
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16 November 2011
National to step up tempo of trade missions
Releasing the National Party’s trade policy today, Mr Key said enhancing and growing New Zealand’s international trade links was a key part of our plan to build a stronger economy and create more jobs with higher incomes.
“National has made substantial progress in improving New Zealand’s access to other countries’ markets, and we aim to build on that progress with this policy,” says Mr Key.
“On Sunday there was news of further progress, with the announcement at the Apec summit of the broad outlines for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. This was an important step towards gaining greater access for New Zealand exporters.
“However, there is still a lot of work that can be done in improving the competitiveness of New Zealand exports in key markets, and encouraging companies to take advantage of the opportunities they have.
“To do this we need better coordination of New Zealand’s core strengths – which is the key idea behind the Government’s ‘NZ Inc’ country strategies,” says Mr Key.
The trade policy focuses on three areas:
- Pursuing further high-quality trade agreements by continuing to focus on completing successful free trade agreements out of our on-going negotiations, and concluding a quality TPP agreement while ensuring New Zealand’s best interests are served.
- Rolling out the NZ Inc Strategy programme, including the release of more NZ Inc strategies.
- Boosting trade missions by developing a comprehensive programme of Government-led trade delegations to China, India and Asean, and targeting at least 28 high-quality trade missions led by ministers over the next three years.
“While the Government can put in place the architecture to allow freer, trade, we must also take a role in ensuring New Zealand can make the most of those agreements. That is what these trade missions are about.”
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15 November 2011
National to tackle welfare fraud
“Our welfare system is one of the best in the world and, under National, that safety net will always be there to help New Zealanders in need. For most people, this is a temporary support while they get back on their feet,” says Mr Key.
“National has already committed to helping the majority of people within the welfare system to become work-ready. However, there is a small number who see welfare as a free ride on the taxpayer, and there are those who are facing a future of life-time welfare dependency.
“National will be more hands-on with the welfare system. We’ll put more resources and support into helping those at risk of long-term dependency find work and improve their lives.”
Under National, there will also be a stronger, more proactive stance against those who abuse and defraud the welfare system. Jobseekers whose recreational drug use affects their ability to apply for or secure a job will also be sanctioned, and through the investment approach those with drug addictions will be supported to overcome their illness. In addition, benefit recipients on the run from the Police will have their benefit cancelled.
“Welfare fraud of any kind is unacceptable,” says Mr Key. “National will make it easier to match information in benefit applications with information held by other agencies to catch fraudsters sooner, and we will make it possible for authorities to actively seek to recover money by selling such fraudsters’ assets.
“This year alone, Work and Income’s data matching found around six to 12 per cent of people were receiving benefit payments they weren’t entitled to. This shows we have to do better by the taxpayer to safeguard their money and protect the integrity of the welfare system.”
“We will beef up authorities’ investigative power, funding a new team of fraud specialists to hone in on reducing abuse across the welfare system.
“National will also review the Social Security Act, with a focus on making it easier for authorities to prosecute people who abuse the welfare system. In particular, we will review the rules around relationship fraud, and make clearer the rules around when benefit recipients need to let Work and Income know about any relationships they are in.”
Jobseekers who don’t apply for a job because they are asked to take a drug test, or who fail a pre-employment drug test, face having their benefit cancelled.
“Too many young people, especially, are not applying for a job if a potential employer asks them to take a drug test. If left alone, these young people are at risk of long-term welfare dependency,” says Mr Key. “We will ensure they get the right support to deal with their drug use or addiction.”
Those beneficiaries evading a Police warrant will also have their benefit cancelled.
“Taxpayers should not be paying criminals to evade the law,” says Mr Key. “We believe in a welfare system which is fair for to those who use it, but is also fair on taxpayers who fund it.
“The past three years have been tough on New Zealanders, with the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes forcing a number of people to turn to the State for help. People with these genuine needs must be helped – but those who are taking advantage of the taxpayer-funded welfare system must learn it’s not a free ride or a lifestyle choice.”
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