National leader Simon Bridges focuses on education, crime and beneficiaries in annual conference speech

National leader Simon Bridges focuses on education, crime and beneficiaries in annual conference speech
National Leader Simon Bridges: Illustration by Jacky Carpenter.

National Party leader Simon Bridges has committed to bolstering the number of primary school teachers and to pay them more, but any detailed policy in this area is still two years away. 

Speaking to party faithful at National's annual conference in Auckland on Sunday, Bridges highlighted putting more teachers in Kiwi classrooms as a top priority.

He says more attention from "world class teachers" will help more kids reach their potential.

"National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for children."

Bridges is also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are respected professionals in Kiwi communities.

"Part of that is pay, and it's also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids," he says.

But don't expect any detailed party policy for a while.

Bridges says National will spend the next two years working through the details of the policy, to have it ready by the 2020 election.

Sunday's annual conference was National's first in opposition in nine years. 

Bridges' key note speech, perhaps unsurprisingly, took aim at the Government in a number of areas including business confidence and the economy.

After thanking the audience, his MPs and his family Bridges reaffirmed his Party's personal responsibility values.

"If you commit a crime,  you do the time. It's for our safety and the victims deserve justice."

He also came down hard on the Government's attitude towards beneficiaries.

"If you're on a benefit and can work, you should actively be looking for a job. 

"But this Government sees things very differently. They want to remove all benefit sanctions so there's no consequence if you fail a drug test or skip a job interview."

He promised if National were elected in 2020, this won't happen "under a Government I lead."

He ended his speech, and the two day conference, by promising to "undo the damage this Government is doing now."

He says come election year, National will have detailed, thought out and costed ideas to achieve this goal.

"The country can do better... I'm backing New Zealanders and I'm starting with our children."

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IMO the lack of teachers isn't the problem,the problem is the lack of quality teachers and the behaviour of students.
Quality teachers can teach a hall room of kids no problem,those that want to learn will do so.
The problems with students start at home,shoved off to pre schools,kindies etc at an early age only seeing their parents fleetingly and usually in a hurry.

Money can't solve these problems and infact may have contributed to some of them.

"Quality teachers can teach a hall room of kids no problem" not before high school, I would say. You could not do that for primary and probably not intermediate age kids either. They need to be able to work independently before kids can take advantage of that sort of teaching.
Too many people now HAVE to farm their kids out, due to the extreme cost of that most important of things, a roof over your head, so I sure hope you are not blaming the parents for that.

Are you suggesting the bulk of the problem children come from families who are working hard to put a roof over their head? Rather than the kids that are born for profit courtesy of the taxpayer?

No, not intentionally. I mostly feel sorry that they are having to do it that way.

Insinuating children are raised for profit? Just. Wow.

Poverty tends to correlate with poor educational outcomes. So do birth rates for that matter. So if you want to see less people 'raising children for profit' or whatever that euphemism for eugenics is, then you should be campaigning for more, better education.

If you're rote-learning, sure you can teach a hall of kids. If you're teaching them how to think, that's a whole other ball game. "Quality teaching" rests on how much time is allowed to plan "quality" lessons. I liken it to an iceberg. Teaching is 4/5 planning & admin, and 1/5 classroom (which is why so many people think teachers have nice hours and long holidays (yeah, right) ;-) Right now the work-load is so heavy, it's difficult to do that. Not impossible, but if you're prepared to stay up till 11pm every night as I did, then yeah. But it's not sustainable. You are right about money however, or lack of it and the impact on student learning at both extremes of the socio-economic scale. It's like every other walk of life in NZ at the moment - a top heavy 'compliance' bureaucracy is the culprit and we need a reset.

Bravo, good policy. More specifics like this are good.

Although pretty funny that they didn’t have any details to back it up. If you are going to attack the government on their lack of details you should probably bring your details least you turn your own attackin yourself which seems to be what Bridges has done.

There are some teachers who are inspirational and worthy of great respect and reward. There are a few others who are worse than totally hopeless. We have experienced a few, even at non state schools. The problem is that the education system makes no distinction between the two and if you are stuck with a dud there is nothing you can do. Believe me we have tried. We and all the other parents did not even get replies to our letters of concern in the last case. These teachers sit there, untouchable and completely without any accountability for their lousy performance, shielded and protected by the headmaster. While I have huge respect for some individual teachers modest respect for the average teachers, it is impossible to hold any respect for the profession as a whole while they steadfastly refuse to be held to account for their professional practice. I cant help comparing them to nurses who are paid significantly less, but are held very accountable for their practice, work unsociable hours and enjoy far less holidays than teachers. In my books nurses should be paid far more than teachers.

Chris your view is not a not an uncommon one. There are lots of nurses in my family and they looked at the hours I put in and shook their heads. See my post above ;-) They didn't have to bring their work home.

There are avenues for recourse if you get a bad teacher - worked with a few myself - but they get abused by parents with an axe to grind, which results in a 'hunkering down' approach to parents. It's not good I agree and unhealthy for all parties. A brilliant teacher I know packed it in because a parent took umbrage when her daughter was asked to redo an assignment that was plagiarised from wiki answers, word for word (she wasn't the only one - but none of the other students had a problem and complied without further issue). This girl's mother went BALLISTIC when it was suggested that failing is part of the learning experience and that by Y11 it'd be water off a duck's back. The word 'resilience' came up. The whole thing escalated to the point the girl was pulled out of class, accusations of "bullying" were thrown around and counsellors got involved. The teacher ended up a wreck because the people who should've had her back were too focused on damage control to the school's brand image. The mother was an HR mover and shaker for high-flying CEOs evidently. Knew exactly what she was about.

it's an about-face from this:

But somehow I suspect that if if they got in circumstances might suddenly change......

Its amazing how losing an election can force a change of heart.

Question is whether it's credible, based on their track record with the above. (And with similar talk-talk-talk on the housing crisis the last time they were in opposition...which morphed into nine years of denying the existence of said crisis).

And this is Simon of the No Bridges.

I’ll vote National in 2020 if this is what they’re going for. As long as they don’t shutdown Kiwibuild (whatever that beast manifests itself into) and they don’t repeal the foreign buyer ban.

They need to sort out our welfare gravy train. I read on Facebook some lady got herself a job, and is now taking home $100 a week less than when she was on the benefit. She was taking home $630 per week on the benefit. Why is someone who doesn’t work making the equivalent of $19 an hour 40 hours a week take home pay?

I suspect that she still entitled to some of the handouts she was getting to top up her benefit and just hasn't cottoned on yet.. Chances are shes not received the In Work Tax Credit yet for some reason.

$640/ week is sole parent benefit + accommodation supplement with three groinfruit in Auckland or other high rent area.

I would suggest that that has more to do with the sorry state of affairs of many employers paying less than a living wage.

Only looking at income, and ignoring costings and expenses is not just failure to analyse, it's political rhetoric you're parroting.

Can we start looking at the costing and expenses of my life choices so i can get some handouts then? I'd like a racecar, but they're expensive to run (but essential to my mental wellbeing ;) ) . So If a get a racecar do I get a handout too? Or a yacht?

So far Labour are just National-lite plus a bunch of social justice crxp. Clare Curren was recently saying multiculturalism is wonderful and she wants to flood the country with these people. We all know what that means - more crime, more segregation, more violence, less social trust, less happiness overall.

Benefits, including stealth benefits like working for families should be conditional on long term birth control after the 2nd child. These policies just encourage them to breed like rabbits. Any why wouldn't they? Reliable money, no office politics, no $$ commute, no $$ student loan. EZ munny!

So after 9 months this is all he announced, white the right wing folks think the COL should perform miracles in 9 months

The next election is possibly years away so why give the COL advance warning of all your ideas this early?

For bridges to remain in power, he would need to start announcing policies to keep his party base engaged.. else he carries the risk..

Because if it's a good idea/initiative and you are in Parliament to improve governance, then the Government of the day will take up those ideas and you can take credit.

Helen Clark did just that where the Waterview tunnel was concerned; Greens did just that with the subsidised insulation programme, etc. Lots of examples of ideas that opposition parties put forward.

I have less faith in the voters ability to attribute credit for ideas. If we don’t have a recession before the next election I think we are screwed as it will be the size of the bribes that will determine the outcome. Glad I’m no longer paying more than my share of the largesse.

National would have fixed all those problems... they just needed another 9 years, right?


God, if only they’d had the chance to do something like this - like being in power for almost the last decade...

Shameless snivelling muppets

Up tick there...... being economic...with the why.... decades are never enuff...

Here is a clue....

A white Knight to the rescue.......... Just needed a few more years.....and could have .....used his Powers of Persuasion.......he had to jump ship......was of Titanic Proportions;....he was just the driver.

..(But do not blame Pollies have to do your Bidding.......Kiwis...)

I hope Herald does not Blow his trumpet....anymore..........

If ya understand irony read this......MVGSMF...........................barp. Barp....Barf,

Spin City, is so unusually app...t. as a venue.

Guess there will be lotsa money to pay the teachers from the savings of not building those ten bridges in Northland......or are they still on the books?


Taipa is progressing well, Kaeo isnt started, rest for others to comment.
Two lanes at Taipa will reduce the bunching of traffic which improves safety in the Doubtless Bay area...i think...

They have only just started, it will be a looooong time before they are replaced, and there are ten bridges in total, and like every bit of planning in NZ they will only be two lanes , why not build them for the future and make them four now

There are 10 single lane bridges on the Northland State highway network. Many of the bridges are located on the Twin Coast Discovery Route which connects visitors with Northland’s tourist destinations. The bridges also carry freight to key markets and ensure communities are connected across the region. Following the Ministerial announcement on 9 March 2015 to replace one way bridges on the State highway network in Northland, the NZ Transport Agency has undertaken initial investigations into these bridges. The first four bridges of the programme currently progressing through the planning and investment phase are: • SH12 Matakohe (Hardies and Anderson) Bridges • SH10 Taipa Bridge • SH10 Kaeo Bridge

Four lane Bridges in Northland/far north? Are you bonkers? The Bridges will probably need replacement before there is the traffic volume to justify four lanes. Build a two lane bridge, then in another 40+ years you build another 2 lane bridge next to it and separate north/south flows

have you been up north, have you seen the traffic, some of these even two lanes will be full as soon as built

Yes, I travel north a reasonable amount, friends have a place at Taupo Bay, thats a lovely wee spot. Drove back to Auck from Whangerei last night as it happens.

Your dreaming if you think any of the places that currently have a single lane bridge will need a 4 four lane bridge within 30 years. Maybe a couple of the two lane bridges near Whangerei will need to go to four lane eventually, but even that won't be for while.

There is a taste of time sweetened honey
Down the Seven Bridges Road


"The country can do better... I'm backing New Zealanders and I'm starting with our children."

It's a totally weird place to focus on given the Government's recent (and fairly comprehensive) Families Package;

I'd have thought the opposition would instead be focusing attention on an area or two that the current coalition has failed to properly reform/address - i.e., the big issues they are slow off the mark on, such as immigration policy.

Exactly, am perplexed

Teaching is not as much of an attractive profession anymore. It is less about teaching, problem solving, creating, providing experiences, modelling values and the such and is more focussed on the outcome, e.g an assessment result. This is what teachers are ranked on and compared to others on irrespective of social background and cohort. If he wanted to make a start on changing education, he may want to look more at leadership in schools as a starting point and promoting a curriculum based more around citizenship and communal prosperity as opposed to individual excellence.


"I have nothing to offer you, but blood,toil, tears and sweat".
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself'.
“We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.”
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

When we get a politician with that kind of honesty, maybe we'll be getting somewhere. Our previous PM's have had spin-doctors to coach them - remember Key switching on 'Nanny State' then switching it off? Stood out like dog's balls. If this fellow can climb above that, he will be due genuine respect.

But I suspect being in that position in that echelon, it would be like swimming in treacle.

Don't waste your words, when it comes to Bridges an eye-roll will do.

Had a couple of mates that attended the conference, took selfies with mr. Key, but at the end they felt they came out none the wiser..

One of them rated the selfie more than bridges speech

What do you think of this one?

""The best thing about being in Opposition is we have got a couple of things we can use - and they are called ears."

He hasn't exactly nailed his colours to the mast, has he? Maybe that's why he seems a bit shifty, like he will only say what he thinks people want to hear. He must be a competent bloke or he wouldn't have got the job, but it isn't clear to me what his strengths are or what he believes in. Is he more of an appeaser than a reformer? First rate staff officer but mediocre commander?

Was Labour's reinvention due to the change from Little's strength as a competent administrator to Ardern's reforming instincts? Have National followed Labour's path, like they did with house prices and immigration? Have they chosen the unexciting but competent over the bold but polarising? If so, do they not deserve to fail?
Is their reaction to defeat to over emphasise defence?

Who have they got instead? Strangely, I find myself thinking that Judith Collins might have it in her, she is definitely strong minded and polarising enough. Her combative nature makes her seem less bright than she really is (she is actually really bright) and her lack of understanding of finance makes me cringe, but, her and Amy Adams would make a strong team.

"He must be a competent bloke or he wouldn't have got the job"...

you mean he was the best of that lot to get the job.......!!!

I'm just musing out loud. They are confused after a surprise attack that exposed their weakness. So far they haven't worked out how it happened and are denying that they deserved to be booted out for falling asleep at the wheel.

Much as I don't like Judith Collins due to her lead role in Dirty Politics, I do keep reminding myself that she was playing that role based on their leader encouraging such poor moral behaviour. Now that Key is off the scene, I get the feeling she has reconsidered those gutter politics/tactics and might just be the one to play it straight up in the future.

I'd like to see her given a chance at leadership. She's got a good opportunity to prove herself given she's got resource management reform assigned to her - it could be a real winner for her (and NZ) if she gets the right advice;

Collins promised to produce a draft bill by next year to reform planning and resource management. Challenged from the floor to scrap the Resource Management Act entirely and start again, she quipped: "We'll see if I'm brave enough, shall we?"

The RMA to mind mind has done its dash - and the coalition government don't seem keen to tackle that big one.

Scapping the RMA with no plan to replace the aspects of it that actually provide for food and water security, is stupidly dangerous.

Actually, it's been pretty useless in terms of providing for food and water security, Just a couple of reasons why repeal and reform is needed.

I was enjoying toying with the idea that we like a prime minister who knew what they wanted to change, rather than one who was a competent administrator. It would be hard to find a more competent prime minister than Bill English, but he clearly just didn't excite people like Jacinda did. So what we like is a reformer, whether it's a reforming conservative or a reforming socialist or a reforming nationalist or a reforming greenie. Just don't give us an administrator, however competent. We want a bit of fire in the belly, a bit of passion and excitement. Maybe it's because times are pretty good, whereas a safe pair of hands appeals when times are tough.

Good points.

I would disagree with you here totally.
a) Given the mess Labour inherited no way would I consider BE or National competent.
b) Jacinda's first Govn isnt really reforming much, its been put in place to fix the issues from National's time and not much else (but given no way to do it really)
c) Personally the only reform, fire and passion I saw last election was from TOP and they got 2.5% of the vote.

I cant see Bridges being leader at the next election

He just looks like a possum in the headlights right now, I cant see anyone rallying in behind him.

What do you Nat supporters think? Do you think he has the goods?

Frankly if this is the best that Bridges and National can do, then they are in a really sorry state of affairs. No real recognition of the state of the economy, or it's impact on people. No recognition of the international economy and it's impact on NZ and what to do about it. Not a credible Government, and even worse as an opposition!

Simon Bridges promises to "undo the damage which the present government is doing".

What about the damage by National during the nine years/3 terms they were in power?Is the present government's efforts to address some of those issues going to be undone by Simon Bridges?????

One of those reversals he talked about was the restoration of Charter Schools.

I cannot understand this emphasis. They were an ACT Party initiative in the first place - and what the coalition government have done is converted them to Special Character - so it's not as if they don't exist.

The problem I always had with Charter/Partnership Schools was that they received taxpayer funding but were exempted from the Official Information Act.

Such exemptions in a government-funded social market serving children, is always a very bad idea.

My issue with charter schools, is that they were a vehicle for religious indoctrination. Let's be clear on the origin and intent of them. Brian Tamaki approached Key to create legislation allowing them, as outlined in Dirty Politics. State schools are less open to the idea of brainwashing children.

Yeah right. My son says his teacher has a Labour sticker and a picture of Taxinda in their classroom. I've asked his to take an image on his phone so I can make an official complaint.

He seems hell bent on loosing the next election, good. With a bit of luck Judith Collins will roll him in 2020's aftermath and that will be the end of National, leaving Labour wiggle room to actually fix things.

When you pay short term (non)thinkers money for kids of course you're going to get more dysfunctional children born into dysfunctional families.

When you tax young, productive, financially responsible couples at 33% plus stealth taxes on fuel then then they decide to put off kids until their least fertile years. Some even flee to more prosperous nations.

When you make housing so expensive young people need to jobs to pay the mortgage of course the parents have no time to see their kids = more dysfunctional kids.

In spite of the number of migrants arriving into NZ in recent years, the number of schools in existence under the stewardship of Nationals decreased - given the increased demand by migrants, that can only result in increased class sizes

Seriously? They had 9 years, the first half of which National spent arguing class sizes had to go up and the next half they did nothing as nobody was buying the argument?