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Richard Worth Maiden Speech - National

It is a privilege to be a member of the forty-sixth parliament and the Member of Parliament for Epsom. I have only gained that privilege to represent Epsom through the sustained contribution of others. It is always invidious to identify individuals but in particular I acknowledge the Epsom electorate team of the national party and in particular, the work of John Fauvel, the electorate chairman and Scott Simpson who led the campaign.

I am very grateful to my parents and my dear wife Lynne for their ongoing support in this adventure on which I have embarked.

Epsom is a great electorate. It combines the districts of Epsom, Mt. Eden, Newmarket, Parnell and Remuera. So it faces the challenges of the Auckland region – unrestrained growth, chaotic traffic, overworked infrastructure, access to education and the quality of that education.

It is time that the phase of consultation to resolve those issues closed and the time for remedial action commenced. I look forward to participating in that work.

Last year in his annual report the state services commissioner said:

"in New Zealand we may have slipped into what could be termed a "restructuring culture" - a culture in which we reach for the restructuring option instinctively regardless of the nature of the problem we are trying to solve."

Those words are an echo of words uttered nearly 2000 years ago by Petronius Arbiter when he said:

"we trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralisation."

We are constantly assailed with the statement that change is an inevitable part of our society and that the rate of change is increasingly quickening. In 1927 Harry M Warner of Warner Bros asked "who the hell wants to hear actors talk on film?" Just think if the cinema had remained a silent medium.

As New Zealander many of us are very reluctant to face change and its impacts. For many years it was not important. New Zealand was effectively an island fortress but that is certainly not so today with a borderless society and the unrestrained flow of capital across countries.

Some of the changes are exciting -

 The iridium phones which Peter Hillary and his team used in the antarctic as they retraced the steps of Robert Falcon Scott in his 1911 tragic attempt to reach the South Pole.
 The internet where our dear daughter Virginia spends much time following the website devoted to buffy, the vampire slayer
 Smart labels for fruit being developed by one of New Zealand's crown research institutes. The labels respond to chemicals released naturally by fruit as they ripen. When these chemicals reach a particular level the label changes colour indicating the fruit is ready to eat.

These technology driven changes are occurring in a society when our social fabric is also very much under pressure. Many of us look back at the so called good old days with nostalgia. Unfortunately those good old days will never return. We must focus on the good new days because life is very different.

For those who stand on the wrong side of the digital divide it will become even more bewildering.

The media now dominate much of our lives. In April 1980 Iranian terrorists demanding a homeland for their region in Iran seized the Iranian embassy in London. The SAS finally ended events. The British police commander was later to say he had two problems to deal with:

 Dealing with the terrorists
 Dealing with the media.

He was reported as saying that given the option he would prefer dealing with the terrorists.

Edmund Burke referring to the press gallery in the house of commons is reputed to have said: “yonder sits the fourth estate, more important than them all.” So I look forward to a strong relationship with the media in the years ahead and fearless debate on the questions which confront us all.

I would like to talk briefly about three issues, which I believe reflect the present needs of New Zealand society in transition. Those needs are:

 Our relationship with Australia
 The quest for sustainable prosperity
 The need to strengthen our sense of community.

Our relationship with Australia is our most critical foreign relationship. We have to remain competitive in economic terms with Australia. Our 3.8 million people; their 18 million people, represent a strategic possibility second to none.

In the context of that competitiveness:

 We need to have a clear edge over Australia in our tax rates
 Research and development funding needs to be made available to the manufacturing and technology sector
 Tax deductibility for research and development needs to be made clearer
 The work which is being done on reduction of compliance costs needs to continue apace.

CER came into force on 1 January 1983. It is now a relationship which calls for development and improvement. Australia sells more to New Zealand than we sell there - the reverse of the mid 1990s as New Zealand manufacturers move to Australia and New Zealand retailing shifts from local to Australian produced processed food, clothing and other products.

In the 12 months to 31 December 1998 New Zealand exported $4.7 million of product to Australia and imported $5.1 million from Australia. At the Australian Government level there are massive subsidies of exports and the offering of tax breaks and other incentives for New Zealand based companies to move to Australia. Australian manufacturers get A$1.4 billion annually in tax breaks and direct Government subsidies. These incentives are contrary to the spirit and letter of cer.

[so what about
 Investment rules to allow easier trans tasman investment
 Closer harmonisation of the separate business regimes
 Closer customs co-operation to make trade easier.]

For its part the Australian Government must honour the cer agreement at the state and federal level. There should be a disputes mechanism similar to the wto and in a case of proven breach an outcome where exemplary damages can be imposed for breaches of the agreement.

Why should we do this? Because we need to grow the wealth pool of all New Zealander. If we are not careful we will simply re-distribute the present existing wealth according to notions of what the Government of the day thinks is fair. Fairness is a notoriously difficult concept. As the lawyers say when they speak of the concept of equity, it is an uncertain measure dependent upon the length of the particular chancellor’s foot.

The challenge is accordingly to grow the wealth pool not simply to redistribute it.

The second issue I would like to talk about touches aspects of the sustainable prosperity of this country. It is about brand New Zealand. At the heart of this issue is a restatement of our national identity. Most of us have never thought that the natural environment and our culture are the keys to our economic success. The opportunity for New Zealand exists at the premium end to make and sell our products and services against a remarkable background of the environment.

Global customers are happy to pay a psychic premium for a nationality component of specialness from many countries. Swiss watches, French cheeses, Italian shoes, New Zealand yachts. There is a seamlessness between business and the creative world which makes these premiums possible. As the world gets bigger and dirtier there is more of a premium on naturally grown produce.

The Government must refocus at the highest strategic level on protection of our national heritage and identity. Alongside economic and social responsibilities building a bold ethos of what New Zealand stands for is critical to our global success.

We should welcome discussion on the so-called greening of some parts of the tax base. All taxes distort incentives and thereby alter patterns of production and consumption. In New Zealand, the bulk of taxes are levied on income and consumption.

Income tax, at the margin, makes work less worthwhile. GST makes consumption more costly. It is a fair question to ask whether the current mix of taxes on income and consumption generates the best possible incentives. The case for greening the tax base rests on the proposition that if we have to raise taxes, we should do so in a way that minimises harmful side effects of economic activity (bads) rather than positive attitudes to work and productivity (goods).

The so called left must now recognise that they do not dominate the environmental debate. Within the national party there are passionate environmentalists who will bring green and balanced ideas to the issues of bio-diversity, the management of our resources and genetic engineering.

The third issue which I believe is important is to strengthen our sense of community. There are a number of aspects of what is implicit in our sense of community. Those elements include:

 Security, law and order
 The celebration of success
 The recognition of the contribution of diversity in our population.

The chief determinant of economic success is the quality of a nation's people. We need to be very wary of the ideologues of both the left and the right. As Hugh Fletcher said speaking about unfettered competition in the free market:

"the free market is a mean, unlovable son of a bitch. Like a wave it will break uncertainly and unpredictably along its line dumping many of its riders."

When the chief architect of Singapore's economic miracle was asked to explain why Singapore had done so well he spoke about concentrating on traditional virtues such as hard work, thrift and perseverance. [such attributes suffused throughout the entire population were crucial to Singapore's economic development strategy.]

We should be talking about responsibility and contribution, not entitlement and empowerment.

Whilst I accept that the treaty settlement process must continue we will never salve the issues of the 1860s with the dollars of the second millennium entrenching of a grievance industry. We must commit to new initiatives of inclusion and the obligations of contribution by all to our society.

Those who choose to rest on the sideline are not the most deserving.

I have had a long standing involvement with Korea which includes my responsibilities with the Korea New Zealand Business Council.

Korea faced major economic challenges which culminated in intervention by the international monetary fund. The Korean Government in January 1998 made a call for Koreans to bring in their gold jewellery. In the result the Korean treasury collected 220 tonnes of gold with a value of US$2.08 billion. How many New Zealander would have responded to that call? How much gold would have been collected? We saw in that country a shining illustration of a sense of community; a sense of commitment. We have the ability to evince those same qualities.

In Norway the national day is May 17. It is a day when its people outdo themselves in flying the Norwegian flag [with the red, blue and white standard on virtually every pole, on city transport vehicles and in the homes of the crowds that gather to watch the parades in every city and town. ]

We should be proud of our flag and proud of our heritage including our historic and continuing links with the British crown. As an Asian MP in her maiden speech said: we are about the business of: “one nation, many peoples, shared values.”

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