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Dissecting The PM's Speech

The Scoop takes a look at the Prime Minister's keynote speech to the National Party conference.

Rhetoric

The rhetoric is about values, winners and leadership,

- "My Values, National's Values, New Zealand's Values… …Here's to winners… … National is a winner. We stand for something, not against everything… … It's about leadership in what we value. It's about leadership in what we've achieved in nine successful years in government."

The implication is pretty clear, Jenny Shipley and National represent New Zealanders values, the 'others' don't. Back a winner etc.

The rhetoric is not low risk, New Zealanders are famous for the 'tall poppy' syndrome, setting her and her party as a winner allows room for a backlash. The former Prime Minister Jim Bolger's, oft misquoted 'Worship The Rich' speech in the last election comes to mind.

However Mrs Shipley has clearly decided that Nationals' best strategy is to position itself as standing for something and then having a team capable of delivering it. However much of the speech also attacks Labour policy and attempts to paint is as backward looking.

The values Mrs Shipley mentions numerous times are listed as:

"respect, commitment and responsibility. And, in a party that has regenerated itself, we cherish fresh ideas and innovation. These are the core of our values."

Then comes "diversity in our people… … freedom and personal responsibility… … delivering important key services… … We respect the law… passionate about our unique environment and are determined to manage it well… families… …These are the values of many New Zealand families, including my own."

Then the speech praises National's achievements with the repetitive refrain of "we have" and "leadership"

Beneath the rhetoric and the recap of current policy the following indications of future direction are made:

Education

National will "fight to retain" the changes made to the education system.

Welfare

"Social services to foster independence, not dependency, to create survivors, not victims."

"By year's end a new Ministry of Social Policy to do policy work for government. Work and Income Service and the Child and Family Service will deliver services for the New Zealand people."

Jobs

"While improved business conditions, lower interest rates and inflation have made a difference, the Employment Contracts Act has fundamentally changed the culture of the New Zealand workplace. More full-time and part-time jobs have been created because of its flexibility… …I warn New Zealanders that Labour and the Alliance promise to repeal the ECA and return us to a unionised workforce. They would lead New Zealand to more strikes, lost jobs, increased costs of doing business and less international competitiveness."

Tax, Spending, Debt Repayment

Dept repayment to continue, "increase our spending on things that are important to New Zealanders like health, education, policing and research and science… … We'll share the growth dividend by providing tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders… … We'll do these things as surplus income allows. As we consider tax reductions they will always be balanced by an equal or greater commitment to spending increases in priority areas."

Crime

"Over the next five years, we've some important plans to keep crime coming down. We'll target the areas that are bucking the trend."

Foreign Affairs

"As Don McKinnon will show you tomorrow, we've been enormously active as peacekeepers in the last nine years in many parts of the world. We are also courageous enough to be peacemakers when that's necessary. National people are not the appeasers of this world. We are prepared to stand up and say when a Milosevic emerges that it's unacceptable and must be stopped. Not just for the sake of it, but for the sake of the things we believe in. Tiny as we may be in world affairs, we believe New Zealand has a voice to be heard. That's why we're backing Don McKinnon so strongly in his bid to become Secretary-General of the Commonwealth."

"Trade liberalisation does bring change but it's change for the better and will improve the lives of people in New Zealand and abroad. We'll continue to fight for progress because free trade brings jobs and growth and prosperity.

National's Future

"We've got a new generation of experienced Ministers who have programmes and plans under way that will take New Zealand forward over the next five years."

Growth Target, Fiscal Policy

"We want to lift our sights to five percent growth a year… … Our careful fiscal policy will be maintained."

Future Directions

Agriculture

"John Luxton, Bill Birch and David Carter are working with agricultural businesses as they forge strategic plans for the future. We all want to get off the treadmill of agricultural commodity trading into high returns from unique consumer products."

Foreign Affairs

"Lockwood Smith and Don McKinnon will work to lift the effectiveness of New Zealand's efforts in the world. In trade and in world affairs, we will demand to be heard. Tourism, trade, foreign affairs, education services, immigration and our wider strategic interests are on the agenda for development in a new and exciting way as we present New Zealand Incorporated in the world."

RMA And Crown Entity Reform

"Simon Upton will show our progress on the review of the Resource Management Act. Urban and rural businesses are worried about fairness and costs in this area. You'll see progress this week when the RMA amendment is introduced. Very soon, Simon Upton will also lay down new rules for Crown entities to make rules clear to bring an end to surprises about pay and pay outs."

Transport

"Maurice Williamson will work until we have agreement on how to fund and manage New Zealand's transport system… … A National incoming government will implement change once final agreements are reached."

ACC

"Murray McCully will complete the complex ACC reforms and turn his attention to the issues surrounding the motor vehicle account."

Treaty of Waitangi

"Sir Douglas Graham and Georgina te Heuheu will make more progress on Treaty settlement issues so that the majority of this work can be completed in our next term."

Education

"Nick Smith intends to give even more freedom to communities to manage their education systems, and he's working to get the best information technology into every New Zealand school by year's end."

Industrial Relations

"And expect further action in the labour market. We are still not satisfied we have removed all the barriers to increasing employment. An incoming National government will change the personal grievance provision, so there's less risk for employers when they create new jobs and give new workers a chance. We'll also review the Employment Court to see that we're not inhibiting the labour market, while still protecting workers' rights.

Electoral Reform

"As an incoming government we'll give New Zealanders a vote on whether we stick with MMP, change it or return to FPP. We need to settle this issue in the country's interests."

Contrasting

Mrs Shipley spends much of the speech trying to underline differences between National and Labour. These are the main areas she mentions:

"New Zealand can go forward to greater freedom and more choice. Or go back to big government, State control and Wellington knows best.

We can commit ourselves to a smarter, higher performing economy that will give every New Zealander the chance to be better off. Or settle for mediocre, low-growth second best.

We can let New Zealanders reap the benefits of recovery by lowering their taxes. Or allow them to take far more of New Zealanders' hard-earned income and spend it for them.

We can reap the benefits of flexibility and job growth that the Employment Contracts Act has created. Or return to union control and a stagnant job market.

We can cut businesses' costs through lower ACC charges that are already coming through. Or let the others nationalise workplace insurance, crowd out health insurance and increase costs for everyone.

We can respect the security of New Zealanders with a strong police force, effective laws and support for families in trouble. Or watch the others wring their hands and say criminals must be understood.

We can demand excellence in education and give every child the chance to make it. Or let the system sink to the lowest common denominator.

We can continue the momentum for freer, fairer trade. Or erect barriers that will deny New Zealanders their right to prosperity.

New Zealand can have its say on world issues, and stand up for what is right and wrong. Or retreat to isolationism and the cold shoulder treatment from international powers.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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