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Barry Coates' speech in the General Debate

 Tēnā koe e Te Māngai o Te Whare. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. That speech from the Hon Paula Bennett is a classic example of the Government's bombast on the economy. We repeatedly hear the Government saying what a wonderful economic manager it is, but we should remind the Government that we have just had a second quarter of negative, real terms, per capita growth—that is two terms of decline in per capita GDP.

It is not only population that is pumping up the figures for the Government in a desperate attempt to make it look like it is a good economic manager; it is polluters. They are getting away without paying for the cost of their pollution—60 percent of our rivers you cannot swim in. It is mining on conservation land, subsidised by taxpayers who are picking up the bill for cleaning up after oil production and mining. It is a 19 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions that are uncosted, and we have heard that the Government is about to pay $1.4 billion in the future in terms of foreign carbon credits.

By contrast, the Greens will bring in a sustainable economy. We will make polluters pay and we will clean up our rivers. We will defend our conservation land and we will save the 80 percent of native bird species that are threatened. We will invest in a green infrastructure fund to reduce our emissions and create exciting opportunities for businesses in the rapidly expanding clean economy.

The second way that the Government is pumping up the economy is by dirty money and speculation. Tax-dodgers and criminals have, according to the Financial Times, used New Zealand as a soft touch. We have seen speculation driving up house prices in New Zealand, and especially in Auckland, making it the most unaffordable city in the world. The Greens, by contrast, will ensure that we have a productive economy. We will put in a capital gains tax to divert money from housing into the productive economy. We will crack down on multinationals and tax-dodgers. We will restrict house purchases to New Zealand residents only. We will support our small to medium sized enterprises and ensure that they are not, as they are at the moment, disadvantaged by unfair competition from foreign multinationals. We will support innovation and add value to our agricultural commodities. At the moment, our unprocessed commodities are a higher proportion of our exports than they were when this Government got into office.

The Government has managed the economy for the benefit of the few, not the many. Twenty percent of kids live in cold, damp homes and they suffer from respiratory diseases as a result. We have the highest number of people on low incomes living under housing stress. We have the highest rate of homelessness in the world. The Greens will fix our ripped social safety net. We will boost benefits and provide incentives for work, and make the welfare system supportive, not punitive. Our economy should serve people, not the other way round.

The Greens will build an economy for all New Zealanders, not for the few. We will add value to our commodities by supporting innovation, supporting high skills, and making our society fairer and more equal. These are the ways that we will drive our economy towards sustainability, towards productivity, and towards fairness. These would be profound changes in the economy in New Zealand. We would be a low-emissions economy that has a reputation around the world—deservedly so—as one of the leaders in being truly a clean, green, and sustainable economy that provides benefits for all New Zealanders. Thank you.