Sunday, May 19, 2024

Luxon puts Bridges at 3, names him finance spokesperson

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Simon Bridges, the former opposition leader, will take on the finance and infrastructure portfolios.

Simon Bridges is the National Party’s new Finance and Infrastructure spokesperson, National Leader Christopher Luxon announced today.

The announcement was to be made together in Tauranga where Bridges is MP, but Bridges was unable to attend as he was called to the hospital for a family matter, media have reported.

The Herald reported Luxon is to announce the rest of his reshuffle on Monday and opted for this early announcement due to its importance.

It is Luxon’s first major announcement since become the new National leader on Tuesday. Bridges pulled out of that leadership race shortly before the afternoon caucus meeting on the day.

Luxon said in a media statement today that Bridges had “prodigious skills, incredible talent and the intellectual heft needed to excel as National’s Finance spokesperson”.

Bridges, he said, is ideally suited to “prosecute the wasteful spending decisions, spiralling debt and rising costs of living occurring under the Labour Government”.

“New Zealand needs a strong economy so we can invest in better core services like healthcare, education and police,” Luxon said.

“Growing our economy and raising productivity are the biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.”

He said the economy had suffered from a productivity disease for the last 30 years.

“Lifting productivity means raising people’s incomes, which in turn gives New Zealanders more choices and better lifestyles,” Luxon said.

“It’s important that our economy is sustainable, and that means ensuring that we spend effectively and with discipline.

“Investing in hospitals and roads is important – blowing cash on nice-to-haves is quite another thing.”

As an example, said Luxon, this Labour Government borrowed $57 billion for the Covid-19 Response fund, yet had managed to end up with fewer ICU beds 18 months into the pandemic than at the start.

“High inflation is like a thief in your pocket, making it harder to live. That’s why public spending must be brought under control – otherwise we will keep seeing costs rising faster than wages,” Luxon said.

“It’s also critical that we reset New Zealand’s approach to infrastructure and take a genuine long-term, intergenerational view. We need an overarching vision for New Zealand’s infrastructure and new funding and financing mechanisms that can drive us into the coming decades.

“Simon will play a central and critical role in our leadership team and he and I will work closely together.

“Simon will be an exceptional Finance and Infrastructure Minister in the next National Government come 2023.”

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