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Gareth Hughes: Address In Reply Debate

Kia ora, Mr Speaker. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Kia ora. In this opening debate of this parliamentary term, I want to acknowledge the historical nature of this Government. Our country now has an inspiring, new, young Prime Minister, someone who represents generational political change, one of the youngest leaders on the world stage.

We have a new Government that truly reflects the MMP system we adopted all the way back in 1996: our most MMP Government we've ever seen. For the Greens, who are proudly the world's oldest national green party, which traces our routes back to 1972 with the Values Party, it's historical that we have three Green Ministers and an Under-Secretary in Government. For my caucus, it is inspiring and historical to have this country's youngest member of Parliament—the youngest in decades and decades—Chlöe Swarbrick and also the country's first refugee MP, Golriz Ghahraman. But, most importantly, for Kiwis it is historic because of the policy agenda of this Government. This is going to be the Government to tackle climate change and inequality to protect our environment. After nine years, it sure is time for a change.

What we saw as an economy, which had amongst the highest growth of inequality in the developed world; low wage growth; low productivity; research and development languishing in the bottom half of the OECD; a housing market that locked a whole generation out of ownership; and hundreds of thousands of cold, damp homes, literally, making thousands sick. We saw an economy that poisoned our rivers and that saw species threatened with extinction; and a Government that would throw tens of millions of dollars of tax payers' money at oil companies to drill, to mine, and to frack, and that's why it's so great to have a historic change of Government, a new progressive Government. I think I can quite safely say this is going to be the most climate-friendly Government in our country's history.

It's at the heart of the confidence and supply agreement we've negotiated with the Labour Party, and we've set a goal of being a net-zero economy by 2050. We're going to introduce a climate change zero-carbon Act. We're going to introduce and establish a climate change commission. We're going to set up a green infrastructure fund. We're going to start working with unions and workers for a just transition to the fossil fuel economy. We're going to start planning towards 100 percent clean, renewable electricity. We're going to see more electric cars on our roads, solar panels on our schools' roofs. We're going to drive the research and development into sustainable, low-carbon, environmentally friendly ways of running our economy, be it from farming to manufacturing. We're going to be increasing water quality across the country, significantly increasing funding for the Department of Conservation, giving our threatened species a true taonga. It's something that unites all of us in this country: our love for our environment, our love for our special taonga: our flora and fauna. We're going to see our cities give Kiwis more options for better public transport and safer walking and cycling. We're going to fix the mental health system. We're going to make sure that our school system gives every New Zealand child everything they need to succeed, no matter what their learning needs are. We're going to see women paid more, to close the gender pay gap. This is what we're delivering for Kiwis. This is the historic change.

There's lots of other things we can point to in this Chamber, but it's the policy agenda—putting New Zealanders, the environment, our climate, and our society at the heart of Government. It's going to be a pretty great three years, and I'm looking forward to rolling out these great positive changes for Kiwis. Kia ora koutou.