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Live UpdatesAug 7 2022

Luxon scored ‘a 10’ on leadership by Key ahead of party conference speech

live-update-August-7-2022.jpg

Luxon scored ‘a 10’ on leadership by Key ahead of party conference speech

Aug 7 2022

Act ‘thrilled’ by National’s welfare policy; Greens lash out at ‘scapegoating’

Minor parties Act and the Greens have responded to the policies aimed at beneficiaries announced by Chris Luxon at the National party conference earlier today.

Under National, those aged under 25 and out of work for more than three months will be assigned a job coach and a plan for entering employment. If they fail to follow the plan or do not attend meetings they will face benefit sanctions.

“Forcing people into employment, no matter how unsuitable, isn’t the answer,” said Green Party spokesperson for social development, Ricardo Menéndez March.

“Increasing benefit sanctions will simply push people into hardship and criminalise families who need support. And National continues to wilfully ignore the reality that many people on jobseeker benefits have health conditions and already do critical work such as caregiving and in the community.

“The leadership may be different but this year’s conference shows a depressingly familiar side of the National Party. Much like his predecessors, Christopher Luxon is advocating for policies that will make it much harder for thousands of families to make ends meet, all while benefiting a wealthy few.

“This is exactly what we have come to expect from National: scapegoating the communities they claim to serve in the name of making the wealthy few even richer,” Menéndez March said.

Under National, unemployed young people will be assigned a job coach and a plan for entering employment – and face sanctions if they fail to adhere to it.(Photo: Getty Images)

Meanwhile Act leader David Seymour said he welcomed National’s proposals. “Requiring case management for long term and young beneficiaries is good policy,” he said.

“Act has long said welfare should inspire people to be the best that they can be. Welfare policy has to stop constantly telling people they can’t achieve and giving them an easy out from what could be an amazing life.

He noted that National’s policy aligns with Act’s own policy on long-term beneficiaries, the differences being that Act would “apply sanctions to beneficiaries of all ages if they’re capable of working, not only those who are under 25”, and it would use “electronic income management” for those out of work after 17 weeks – a payment card that would allow case managers to track beneficiaries’ spending.

“National’s announcement today shows how Act and National together can not only change the government but change the direction of the country,” Seymour said.

“We are thrilled to see our natural partner moving further towards our policy direction of mutual obligation in welfare. It shows that Act’s ideas can drive real change for all New Zealand.”

Covid-19 latest: 606 current hospitalisations, 3,302 new community cases

A total of 18 deaths have occurred among people with Covid in the last 24 hours, with the actual cause of death for all 18 still yet to be determined.

The Ministry of Health does not update the number of deaths officially attributable to Covid on Sundays.

Of those 18 people, one was in their 50s, two were in their 60s, two were in their 70s, nine were in their 80s and four were aged over 90. Eleven were women and seven were men.

A total of 1,638 deaths are now confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. In the past seven days there have been an average of 14 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19.

There have been 3,302 newly reported community cases and 606 current hospitalisations. Sixteen people are in ICU.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5,441. Last Saturday it was 7,183.

Luxon promises more support for jobseekers – and an end to the ‘free ride’

Young jobseekers will be given a dedicated job coach after three months on a benefit if National wins next year’s election, party leader Chris Luxon says. Funding for the community provider-led programme will come from cuts to the Ministry of Social Development budget.

“A National government will not keep funding failure by government departments. If government departments can’t deliver, we’ll find someone else who can,” he said.

Luxon was addressing his party’s annual conference, his first as party leader.

Under the policy, a callback to the social insurance approach promoted under National prime ministers John Key and Bill English, jobseekers aged under 25 will be assessed and given an individual plan to address their barriers to employment and find them a job.

“If we don’t do that, they’ll be on and off welfare for years,” Luxon said.

Chris Luxon addresses the 2022 National Party conference in Christchurch (Photo: Screengrab)

Currently jobseekers are not generally required to have a plan to obtain employment until they’ve spent 12 months on a benefit, Luxon said. “That is far too late.”

He also promised a $1000 bonus to those under 25 who stay in employment for a year after being on the  benefit for 12 months or more.

“In other words, they have successfully broken their welfare dependency.”

Those who do not follow their jobseeker plan, or do not show up to meetings with their job coach, will face sanctions, Luxon said.

Speaking directly to young people who do not want to work, Luxon said: “You might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends.”

Sylvia Wood elected as National Party president

Sylvia Wood has been unanimously elected as the new president of the National Party, replacing Peter Goodfellow who stepped down after 13 years in the role.

Wood’s election was announced by leader Chris Luxon at the party conference in Christchurch this morning.

An Auckland employment relations specialist, Wood had been widely expected to win the election. The role of National Party president is voted on by the board rather than the wider membership.

In her speech to the conference, Wood said National “must give New Zealanders every reason to party-vote National in 2023.

“That will take hard work, discipline and grit. And you know I like grit.”

Newly elected party president Sylvia Wood addresses the National conference in Christchurch (Photo: Craig McCulloch/RNZ)

Key gives Luxon ‘a 10’ for performance as National leader

Former prime minister Sir John Key has scored his successor Chris Luxon “a 10” for his leadership of the National Party, pointing to the rapid improvement in party polling since Luxon took over. “It’s a remarkable feat to have got to where he’s got to in such a short space of time,” Key said.

Key was speaking to Jack Tame on TVNZ’s Q and A ahead of Luxon’s speech to the party conference in Christchurch today.

Key added Luxon “has a clarity of thought about what he wants to achieve, certainly in economic policies [and] he’s pulling together a good team.”

While admitting there had been some “errors” in recent policy rollouts, that was an everyday part of politics, Key said. “Has he put National in a credible position to win the election next year? One hundred percent.

“And if that’s the test of a good leader, I’m giving him a 10.”

John Key on Q and A, Sunday August 7, 2022

Elsewhere in the interview, Key was asked whether he believed inflation had peaked. Key said it was “possibly” the case, noting that the drop in house prices is taking some “pressure off the system”.

“My guess is you’ll see the Reserve Bank raise rates a little more, possibly less than they’ve been anticipating.”

The bulk of the conversation was focused on New Zealand’s relationship with China. Key criticised the “hardening of attitudes” towards China on both the left and right of New Zealand politics, and said the government should instead approach China pragmatically by building a better relationship through trade, as he had done when he was prime minister.

While he supported New Zealand raising human rights issues if it wished to, it was better to do so from “within the tent”.

“We’re much more likely to have more influence, and a better relationship and actually achieve change if we have a respectful relationship.”

He had harsh words for US house speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip last week to the disputed territory of Taiwan, calling it “reckless”, “provocative” and “dangerous”.

It was, he said, “poking the bear”, referring to China. “And for what benefit?”