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I trust you’ve been keeping well and have found adequate means of keeping cool in this hot weather!

The media have recently been covering the story of Tamaki constituent Nataliya Shchetkova and her family’s immigration issues. I'm very familiar with this case and have been working quietly in the background to assist Nataliya. I know the family and am happy to have written to the minister in support of them and to encourage the re-consideration process.

A number of you have asked me what you can do to help. The best thing you can do is write a letter to the minister expressing support for the family. A physical letter is often better than an email, so I'd encourage you to write into the minister rather than email. Letters to Parliament are Freepost, so all you have to do is pop your letter into the postbox—no stamp required.

You can contact the minister by addressing mail to:

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
Minister of Immigration
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

The House sits again for the first time this year next week on 12 February and I’m looking forward to welcoming Agnes Loheni to the National Party caucus. She'll be a fantastic addition to our team and to Parliament.

In 2019 we're as committed as ever to holding this Government to account and to taking back the reins in next year’s election. Then we can begin to ‘undo’ the damage Labour is doing to our country.

If you missed National Party Leader Simon Bridges giving his State of the Nation speech in Christchurch last week, it’s well worth watching and/or reading. In it, he laid out our vision for New Zealand heading into the 2020s. There are some really important themes and points I want to draw out for you.

A wasteful government

When Labour and NZ First took power they inherited a booming economy with growing surpluses, strong wage growth, shrinking inequalities, and more kids succeeding in education than ever before. Yet we’ve just ended the first full year of this Government with weaker GDP, wages struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, and New Zealand families finding it hard to get ahead.

This Government is terribly wasteful and are bad financial stewards of our country. They’re wasting $2.8 billion on fees-free tertiary education for students already going to university, another $3 billion on a slush fund that NZ First is shamelessly using to buy votes.

They’ve set up more than 200 working groups and have spent $300 million on them, all the while talking a lot about kindness and wellbeing. Unfortunately, beneath the working groups and political spin is a Government with no real substance or plan for how to improve the lives of New Zealanders.

Their bad decisions are driving up the cost of necessities like petrol, rents, and electricity, and they can’t help themselves from adding new taxes. New petrol taxes are costing households $250 a year and more costs on landlords have already driven up rents by $30 a week. At the same time, they cancelled tax relief which would've given the typical working Kiwi an extra $1,000 a year. And worse is coming. The Government will likely soon confirm a Capital Gains Tax on small businesses, farms, lifestyle blocks, family baches, rental properties, and KiwiSaver accounts.

And what are the results of these taxes? They claimed the answer to our housing shortage was to build 100,000 homes. So far they’ve built 47. They’re now admitting they’ll fail to meet their own targets. In education, they plan to take power away from parents in favour of bureaucrats. It intends on making it harder for parents to measure their children’s achievements.

What we want to do

Perhaps, at times, it may seem we're a bit negative. But we’re not negative for the sake of it. We're against much of what this Government is doing because we know there's a better way.

New Zealanders who work hard and contribute to society shouldn’t be taxed more than an effective and efficient government actually needs. By 2022, Kiwis on the average wage are expected to move into the top tax bracket. That’s not fair. It’s not right. You shouldn't pay more tax every year, even when your income isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living. So, in our first term, we'll ensure you keep more of what you earn to stay on top of rising costs such as higher prices for necessities like petrol, rent, and electricity.

As well as cancelling the new taxes this Government has piled on and repealing a Capital Gains Tax, we won’t allow future Governments to use inflation as an annual tax increase by stealth. We'll amend the Income Tax Act to make sure income taxes are adjusted every three years in line with the cost of living.

This policy is just the first of many that we'll be announcing between now and the next election. I can’t wait to see what other excellent ideas will be brought forward. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the summer and I'll see you around the electorate.

Warmest regards,

Simon O'Connor

Member of Parliament for Tamaki
Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee

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