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English on the attack as parliament opens

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/02/2017
Bill English © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Bill English

Parliament has opened with an attack by Prime Minister Bill English on Labour and the Greens for "endlessly moaning about New Zealand".

He used the traditional prime minister's statement on the first day of parliament's year to accuse the opposition parties of having nothing good to say about the country.

"It's not as if we haven't tried to cheer them up," he said.

"You would have thought the first benefit increase in 40 years would have made them happy, but it didn't.

"You would have thought 130,000 new jobs last year would make them happy, but it didn't.

"You would have thought that 50,000 fewer children in benefit-dependent households would make them happy, but no, it didn't."

Mr English set out the government's legislative agenda and said National was committed to economic growth, creating opportunities and political stability.

"Amid an uncertain world, National is the only party that can ensure stability in New Zealand," he said.

Labour leader Andrew Little said Mr English was failing New Zealanders.

"Our nation faces great challenges - 15,000 more unemployed today than this time last year, 90,000 young people not in work, education or training, households running up debt because wages aren't good enough, and 40,000 people still homeless," he said.

"Health funding has been cut and funding for schools has been frozen, class sizes are getting bigger."

Confidently predicting victory in the September 23 election, Mr Little vowed a Labour-led government would govern for all New Zealanders.

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