Maiden Speech - Anne Tolley - National
NATIONAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
15TH FEBRUARY 2000
I feel enormously privileged to stand here and take my place in the great legacy of democracy. In this House we determine the quality of life for the people of New Zealand, and, Sir, it is a task I approach with much enthusiasm, high ideals, considerable humility, and an enormous sense of responsibility.
I have always been proud to be a woman, and I am more so to be a woman MP. Over the short course of New Zealand’s political history, relatively few women have stood in this house. Those that have, have left their mark. I pay tribute to such women as Mary Grigg, the National Party’s first woman MP, Mabel Howard, Marilyn Waring, Ruth Richardson, Sonya Davies, and more recently Jenny Shipley, New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister. These remarkable women have all been catalysts for change. They were strong and focused, and opened many doors for New Zealand women, sometimes at much personal cost. But Dame Cath Tizard, New Zealand’s first and only woman Governor-General, once said, “It is no good opening new doors if they are not jammed wide behind you.” Looking around this Parliament I see that these doors are wide open. Women are well represented in numbers, right across the political spectrum, and from widely differing communities. It is our task then to ensure any doors we open, and there will be some I assure you all, will be firmly jammed open behind us.
I am here as a list MP for the National Party because of the efforts and confidence of a large number of people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all, especially those who have travelled here today to share this important occasion.
I have been raised by two
strong-minded people, who taught me always to strive to do
‘just enough’ was never good enough!
I thank my parents for the example they have set me in life, to take it by the throat and shake every last drop from every day, every experience and every opportunity. My mother, with three daughters, instilled in us that ‘girls can do anything’ long before it became a catch cry for equal opportunity, and having been denied higher education because of her sex, was determined that no prejudice would stand in the way of her girls achieving their dreams. I salute and thank you both.
I believe that the family unit is the building block of our communities. My family is my strength. To my husband Allan, my son Heath, my daughters Andrea and Imogen, and my wee grand daughter Madeleine, all here today to give me courage, I can only say a humble thank you for all your help, patience, encouragement, and perseverance during the long road to Parliament.
The Napier National Party Electorate selected me as their candidate, and proceeded to support me wholeheartedly for over 12 months with sheer hard work. A busload of them are here today, to celebrate the culmination of that work. I thank you all.
The National Party itself showed great confidence in me, in particular the President and my Divisional Chair. I thank them for their help and advice, and promise to work to exceed their expectations.
Napier has not seen a National MP in residence for almost my entire lifetime. Sir Peter Tait last represented Napier in this house from 1951 – 1954. I was 1 when he stood down. I am delighted to bring at last, another political view to my hometown.
I was fortunate to serve the Napier community as a City Councillor and Deputy Mayor. The day after I was elected to the Council, Whakatu, one of New Zealand’s largest Freezing Works, closed. That was a body blow that took Hawkes Bay, and Hastings, in particular, many years to recover from. During the late 1980’s unemployment rates towered over us at 17% – 18%, business, already reeling from the sharemarket shocks, shed staff and costs like tired and saggy old skins. The very necessary restructuring of our economy impacted harshly on provinces like mine and our people fled to the big cities, or Australia, in search of work.
I remember receiving the census figures, which showed Napier’s population was declining well below the National average, and the most optimistic projections for the next 5 years showed little change. As the National Government came into power in 1990, we in Napier were adopting aggressive economic development strategies to arrest that decline, and to attract business with all its attendant investment, employment and growth opportunities.
What attracted me to the National Party was the philosophy that Government has the responsibility to create an environment to allow and encourage growth and development, as much for people as for business. I understand that philosophy, it is effective, it is efficient, and most importantly, I have seen it work! It is as much true for Local Government, as it is for Central Government.
Much has been heard in this House, Sir, of the
pain felt in the provincial areas of New Zealand. My area
too, Sir, has felt much pain.
4 out of every 10 people over 15 years of age in Napier draw some form of benefit. When benefit rates were cut, my city suffered.
Our second freezing works closed, as the meat industry restructured.
Nature has been unkind with severe droughts, and 3 years running rogue hailstorms decimated crops in a selective and cruel manner.
Falling commodity prices have affected all facets of the Hawkes Bay economy at some time or rather, from pastoral to horticultural, to forestry. With 40% of Hawkes Bay’s GDP and employment accounted for by primary production and related processing and manufacturing industries, we are particularly vulnerable.
We have suffered it all.
And yet, when you look at Hawkes Bay today, at the end of the National Government’s 9-year reign, what has really happened?
Our tertiary institution, once a Community College, now the Eastern Institute of Technology, through bulk funding and self determination, has tripled in size. Napier and Hastings ratepayers uniquely helped with funding, $500,000, over 5 years, to develop extra courses to attract extra students and in particular develop degree courses, to keep many of our young people at home in the Bay. Today that Institute offers 8 full degree courses.
It was allowed to develop. The Government rules encouraged and rewarded extra ordinary effort, and it worked. No more running to Wellington begging to be allowed to build a new classroom block, or offer a new course. Standards and budgets were set, and if you met their guidelines, you went forward.
Wine has been on a
continuous upward curve in terms of production, investment
and awareness, with some more recent investments
breathtaking in their scope, audacity, and vision.
A competitive tax structure, focussed marketing in the world economy, and low interest rates have given these investors confidence, in themselves, their products, and their investment environment.
One of the catalysts for
the lifestyle in contemporary Hawkes Bay was allowing the
sale of wine on Sundays.
Anyone who visits Hawkes Bay today knows that the combination of wine and food in our vineyards is the Bay experience.
Employment Laws that allow flexible working hours and conditions on Saturday and Sunday, to be negotiated directly between an employee and their employer, have enabled this important business to develop.
Tourism has experienced steady growth with determined and focused marketing. Who doesn’t know that Napier has fabulous Art Deco architecture? The products, and their promotion, have all been developed in partnership with Local Government and local investors, and, of course, nature.
Our low dollar makes us attractive to Europeans and Americans, and they have come in their thousands.
Heinz-Wattie is Hawkes Bay’s major success story of the 90’s. It has grown and developed, serving a market much greater than old James Wattie could ever have imagined. The continued development of this major industry and major employer depends entirely on its competitiveness, mainly with Australia, and most recently with Japan, but also with the USA.
A flexible, well-trained workforce, competitive tax rates, low interest rates, an economic environment that encourages and supports business, and builds confidence in the Government, is what will keep Heinz-Wattie in Hawkes Bay, and in New Zealand.
When Government steps in and picks winners, it risks other people’s money. Governments are not good business operators, because risks are always easier to justify with your hand in another’s pocket.
Take for instance Te Papa, Our Place. This is our National Museum. It is right that we have a National Museum. It is right that it be in the capital city.
But if Wellington City benefits by an estimated $218 million a year from Te Papa, through visitors and other activities, is it right then, that the taxpayer in Hawkes Bay have to support Te Papa on the same basis as a taxpayer in Wellington?
We in Hawkes Bay have our own fine museum. Napier and Hastings ratepayers contribute almost 2% of their rates towards this museum and art gallery complex. Plus, when we visit, we pay an entrance fee. We never get funding from the Regional Museums fund, that is reserved for only Auckland and Christchurch. The Lottery Grants we attract are in the tens of thousands; Te Papa’s annual grants are in the hundreds of thousands.
In addition to these inequities, by picking this winner, Government has tipped the playing field, and brought into play my husband’s favourite law: The Law of Unintended Consequences! As a Tourism operator I have seen our guests opting now to spend a night in Wellington, mainly to visit Te Papa. Great for the Wellington tourism industry, but that night in Wellington has been gained at the expense of another night in provincial areas like mine, or Taranaki, or Taupo.
I believe the National Party has it right when it says Governments don’t create jobs, businesses create jobs. The role of Government is to create an environment that encourages our businesses to expand, create career opportunities for our young people, and reward them well for their efforts..
I come from a province
rich in resources, from the land and from the people.
I come from a province where there are two great cities that vie with one another for dominance, and sometimes work well together for their people.
I come from a province torn in two at times by the demands of change, but always insisting that changes deliver greater benefits and opportunities.
I come from a province that now has an economic growth rate higher than the national rate, but knows how fragile that growth is, and how quickly Central Government actions can interrupt it.
I come from a province that is one of the powerhouses of the national economy.
I intend to ensure the gains my province has made over the last 9 years are not frittered away by Big City people with their hands in our provincial pockets.
come from Napier City.
Take note, my voice is a voice from provincial New Zealand that knows well the pains, but also knows well the gains.