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Maiden Speech Phil Heatley, MP For Whangarei



I am honoured to be addressing the House for the first time. And I am doing so only because of the support of many tireless workers in the electorate that I represent. The Whangarei electorate. From Peter Jensen, who started it. To Warren Moyes, who held it together. To Graeme Kerr who saw it through. I give thanks.

Never forget the backbone helpers. The grafters. We all have them. I cannot mention them all. You know who you are. Thank you.

Mr Speaker –
I follow in the footsteps and share this platform with many Northland MP’s born and raised in the region they represent. All National Party MP’s in the North. Members proud of the city and rural, beaches and farmland, fishing and sun.

The Honourable Sir Don McKay, Dr the Honourable Lockwood Smith and John Carter to name a few. I follow most closely John Banks. A straight shooting man who made Whangarei his home and I acknowledge him.

Constituents still say to me of John Banks “Young man, you have big shoes to fill”.

John’s shoes are big. They also have worn soles. 18 years he worked for the people of Whangarei. Starting as a young man, just like me. Hard and long he worked, achieving many good things for our town. But, sadly, some people forget that.

I do have my own shoes – I’m a different young man from different roots and with a different approach. But just like John, I am here to make a difference.

Mr Speaker –
Family is important to me. It is also important to New Zealand. We need to treasure our children and honour our elderly.

I am very proud to be a National Party person who believes in equal opportunity for all, and reward for effort. I have always put emphasis on my personal work ethic.

However, work achievements should not be at the expense of parental responsibilities. In good families I have seen this. That the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. I acknowledge my wife Jenny and my small family. I acknowledge the good parents we have.

Legislation must encourage the maintenance of good families, not undermine them. Society needs to support healthy families in their constructive efforts. I am concerned that within the law incentives are drifting.

Legislation that forces up interest on home mortgages does not help our families.
Legislation that tempts our sons to cultivate marijuana in the vegie garden does not help our families.

Legislation that allows our children to buy gin with their petrol does not help our families.

Mr Speaker -
Sincere parents need all the help they can get. After all, it is not the dysfunctional that strengthen New Zealand. It is committed families.

They are taxed. Not only financially, but also in time. It is the parents from committed families that support school boards, sports clubs and volunteer organisations.

I am not saying that government should not work alongside struggling families. We all suffer from time to time doing our best in difficult situations.

But if we believe that parents need to take care of their elderly and their children, legislation should encourage them to succeed.

Mr Speaker –
I am also concerned about our New Zealand family.

I attended Waitangi Day at Waitangi this year. I have often attended. From my youth I recall the sun rising at dawn, melting the coolness, as New Zealanders from all walks of life celebrated our day, in silence, together.

Why is it that the forces of nature can come together with complete peace and yet our common citizens cannot?

Of the ceremonies I recall our Lord honoured with actions as well as with prayers.

Of the speeches I recall the only frustration being that you could not understand the quips. Those were days when Northland families used to take their children to the ceremonies because they were proud of their history. School buses would wind down the dusty roads of Northland so that young New Zealanders would have something for “show and tell” the following Monday.

But this year, like many in recent years, there was disappointment.

Mr Speaker, Waitangi Day is a day for all New Zealanders and should be a day of unity and of celebration.

The Northlander, Dr the Honourable Lockwood Smith, said in his maiden speech, “Our nation was built more than most others through its people, working together – taking pride in our unique blend of cultural heritage, but moving forward as one.”

Some years later, the Northlander John Carter expressed the same sentiment in his maiden speech.

“We need to restore pride in our nation,” he said, “and in the flag as a symbol of unity. Our aim should be to find the common ground on which problems can be solved. The common ground is citizenship”.

As another Northlander following on, I know “Waitangi” means pain for many. Undoubtedly some injustices have been done – and no New Zealander would deny justice being upheld. But in my tenure I wish to see treaty issues resolved. Because New Zealand has work to do.

Mr Speaker –
I would like to welcome all the Members in this Parliament to the electorate that I represent. I encourage them to drive.

As they climb up over the Brynderwyns - the hills that mark the gates of Northland – it is here they will see the Whangarei electorate spread out in front of them.

From that vantage point you can clearly see the industries that have been so much of Whangarei’s past prosperity and will remain part of our future prosperity.

You can view Waipu, Maungatapere and Hikurangi farm land - so critical to our local economy.

Take the dairy industry as an example. I do not believe Northland farmers are as appreciated as they should be.

I remember as an even younger man 20 years ago standing on the corner of Cameron and Bank Streets hearing my father discussing the price of milk fat with other business people .

Townies did this because they acknowledged the impact that farming had on our local economy.

People do not do this now. But the dairy industry, in my view, is still a pillar.

On top of the Brynderwyns you can view the forestry, both new trees and mature plantings alike.

Logs are rolling off our local port and with the new Carter Holt Harvey laminating plant and other proposals, we will add value to those logs.

I am delighted to be the Opposition Spokesperson for Forestry. I believe in this role I can make a positive difference for the electorate that I represent.

Mr Speaker –
In the centre of the electorate we have the Whangarei harbour and many port businesses. Small businesses. Our deep water port bought us Marsden Point, the overseas yachting fraternity, Tenix frigate contracts and even the building of the Bounty replica.

Our port with its small business community will continue to bring us prosperity with its future development.

As someone who has spoken at length with those small business people, I know of their frustration with compliance costs. I say to this new Government, keen on bureaucracy, “leave small business alone”. Small business people are the unrelenting workers. They are the inundated form fillers and the unpaid tax collectors.

Mr Speaker -
Hidden by the Whangarei Heads is the beautiful Tutukaka Coast with its world renown Tui and Poor Knights diving sites. From there, casting your eye down the Bream Bay coast, you realise why Aucklanders in their droves are retiring there, first to our coastal havens and now into our city. To our inner city mall. To our inner city waterfront.

I welcome all Aucklanders sitting here to our town for day or weekend trips. The more people in Wellington talking intelligently about Whangarei, the better.

Whangarei has come of age. It has a growing population base and is fast becoming the shopping basket of the North.

Whangarei need no longer suffer the ebbs and flows of major industry. We have earned the right to grow. We have a solid economic foundation and a versatility in our industries. Now we have the opportunity to build on it.

Mr Speaker –
The Whangarei Electorate does not need Marsden Point-type industrial relations in our future.

I am concerned about changes to the Employment Contracts Act.
The problems we had when Marsden Point was being built - the strikes and so forth – were an embarrassment to us.

The dismantling of the ECA is a philosophical decision, not a practical one. Ideology will see the new government axing the successful Employment Contracts Act .

For the sake of ideology, the new government will also dismantle the successful ACC reforms.

Of late, governance is too easily straying from a practical to an ideological approach. My hope is that all new politicians, regardless of their political leanings, will get the message. Do not govern by ideology; rather govern for the times.

Mr Speaker –
I wish to be involved in practical governance. Governance that recognises the struggles and challenges to ordinary New Zealand families. Timely governance. Ethical governance. Practical governance.

- ENDS -

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