Winston Peters Address To Vets, Northland
An address by New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters to Federation of Veterinary Practices Conference at Kaitaia Motor Lodge.
Sunday 11 June 2000
"Branch Office New Zealand - Who is running this place?"
History has a funny habit of repeating itself.
Three years ago, as Treasurer in the first coalition government elected under MMP, I was ready to present my first Budget amidst sustained hostility from the Big Business community.
Now, Michael Cullen faces the same situation on the eve of the first Budget prepared by a coalition of Labour and the Alliance.
For the past few weeks there has been a deliberate campaign to force the Government to return to the policies that have bedevilled New Zealand since the early eighties.
Remember the MMP referendum and the campaigns that were running at the time?
Big Business campaigned for First Past the Post.
Peter Shirtcliffe, headed their campaign.
At the time he was chairman of Telecom - an overseas controlled company. (It has fleeced New Zealanders since the break up of the old Post office).
Big Business does not want MMP.
It finds it far easier to control
minority Governments elected under the First past the Post electoral system.
The Labour Governments of 1984 and National of 1990 are classic cases of how politicians can be captured to the extent that they turn against their roots, and the people who elected them.
We all recall how Big Business found willing acolytes in Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and Ruth Richardson who sold valuable taxpayer assets at bargain basement prices to mainly overseas buyers.
Billions of dollars in assets went off shore and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.
We are now being crippled economically by the amount of money being sent off shore to the foreign owners of these assets which were once owned by US New Zealanders.
Our current account deficit is running at eight per cent of GDP .
It is more than $8.2 billion and a large part of it is made up of money going overseas in dividends as a result of foreign ownership of New Zealand companies.
The overseas-owned trading banks sent well over one billion dollars in profits to their foreign masters last year.
Last month one of the senior economists in the Bank of New Zealand, owned by the National Bank of Australia, had the cheek to describe the Treasurer, Michael Cullen, as a failure.
Pardon? Here is an employee of an overseas-owned bank publicly describing the Treasurer of a democratically elected New Zealand Government as a failure.
And come to think of it – who the hell is he? We’ve just been told that when banks make mistakes, 85 per cent of these mistakes favour the banks.
They are obviously NOT mistakes but deliberate.
Let me remind this economist from an Australian owned bank that Ned Kelly had the decency to rob only Australians!
Now the Australian owned banks are robbing us!
These profits that are siphoned off overseas could have been re-invested here or spent on goods and services, creating more business opportunities and more jobs.
Instead, it is divied up in foreign boardrooms.
And here is the great hypocrisy of Big
Business and their political
puppets in National and ACT.
These people advocate the sale of ALL our assets overseas.
Then, when the money flows off shore, reducing New Zealanders to penury, they blame the problem on everyone and anything except their own stupidity in selling the Nation’s “family silver”.
The real problem is that we have lost control of our resources.
Remember how the Big Business heroes like Fay and Richwhite and Gibbs et al applauded the free market economy, deregulation and state asset sales?
After helping deregulate New Zealand, and selling our assets, these people have now shifted their own assets offshore into a more regulated environment.
Two words summarise that - cant and hypocrisy.
The other day the international credit rating agency Standard and Poors started questioning New Zealand's credit rating.
They were concerned about the balance of payments and debt levels in proportion to GDP.
A few years ago Standard and Poors were cheerleaders of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson and their form of economic management, or more correctly, lack of it.
Two years ago Standard and Poors told me their only real concern was the balance of payments crisis.
I asked them how they could possibly have concern about the inevitable economic effect of policies that they applauded at the time.
All I got in response was acute embarrassment.
I believe there is a concerted campaign
aimed at this coalition
government just as there was an attack on us three years ago.
Equally, I am convinced that the same people are behind it.
In 1996 New Zealand First took the precaution of negotiating a coalition agreement that spelled out a clear programme of policies and action for three years.
Our much needed social policies did not suit Big Business, which had become used to getting its own way, and that is why Jenny Shipley and a group of political nerds took over National and torpedoed the coalition.
Remember, they led the campaign for a new direction that would ensure National would win the 1999 election.
The result – National’s worst result since it was formed in 1936.
The Alliance now finds its policies are being squeezed out because the same benighted Knights of the Round Table are panicking Labour.
This is all so very
familiar to New Zealand First - except we had a
signed agreement because we didn't trust National. (And just as well I might add.)
Big business has some strange ideas
about democracy. (Like it's
inefficient and not market friendly.)
These tycoons are like old style trade unionists who held the country to ransom in the bad old days of prolonged industrial disputes.
However, in this case they are organising the ransom!
Labour said before the election it would place accident compensation back with the Accident Compensation Commission - and also repeal the Employment Contracts Act. These are two policies I did not agree with.
But, now, because the Government is actually doing this, Big Business is claiming that it is creating a crisis in confidence.
For Heaven's sake - who is running this place?
We are facing an attempt by Big Business interests based offshore to dictate the politics of New Zealand.
Whilst I don't agree with everything this coalition Government is doing I do accept its right to enact the policies it was elected on.
That is what democracy is
all about, and this is why MMP is so
allows for all political points of view to have
influence, even if it means some obvious disagreement at times.
For too long politicians have kept their differences behind closed doors.
Everyone appeared united on the surface but there were bitter fights in the caucus rooms of both the main political parties.
perfectly natural for people to disagree and there is no
why these differences can't be sorted out in the open.
That is what Parliament is for. The world is not going to end with a dose of political openess.
Nobody will overthrow the Government because we discuss an issue like rational human beings.
One of the problems is that the overseas owned media - with one or two notable exceptions - don't understand or want MMP.
They create the impression that everything is about political parties
infighting instead of examining policies and what effect they might have.
So, according to the media the Government is facing a crisis over a lack of confidence in the business community.
Really, all that is happening
is that a very powerful lobby group is
flexing its muscles and sending tremors through the Beehive.
And some sections of the foreign owned media cannot wait to preach the business gospel…… “the Treasurer is a failure…we’ve lost confidence”.
This survey that showed this loss of confidence was carried out by an overseas owned bank. Surprise, surprise!
In the midst of all this, the shop soiled allies of Big Business, National and ACT, are using their usual grimy tactics in an attempt to undermine confidence. In fact they resort to straight out lies.
Three weeks ago Mr Prebble told Parliament that the Alliance had just pulled out of a TV programme in which they were going to announce merger talks with Labour.
That statement was false. Every media person knew that it was false but Mr Prebble lives to deceive another day.
National are even worse in Opposition than they were in Government and they are actually talking down the economy.
However, things are not ALL bad. The lower dollar is bringing much needed relief for exporters - even though our biggest exports at the moment are, unfortunately, yacht crews.
My advice to the Government and Michael Cullen is DON’T BLINK.
Keep your nerve and get on with the job you were elected to do.
Remember, New Zealand First was rubbished for extra spending while in the coalition, but these same critics later conceded that it cushioned the effect of the Asian crisis downturn.
The National Party tried to claim these policies as their own going into the election last year.
Michael Cullen’s message in a pre-budget announcement last week was "prepare to be underwhelmed" and he said that there would be no surprises in a “fiscally conservative” budget.
With all due respect,
I do not think that New Zealanders want to
It is time to be bold enough to address the basic problems of our economy.
The Budget needs to stimulate export and employment growth because only by doing this will the Government will be able to pay for its social objectives.
We need a plan to treble our exports in the next twenty years and we need to create a substantial savings base.
So, first of all the Budget
should provide some REAL incentives for
exporters and innovators to take advantage of the lower value of the dollar.
Exporters should be given new enterprise start up tax breaks and they should have a source of guaranteed export finance through the creation of a development banking scheme.
There should be readily available funds for venture capital and Research and Development in the form of tax write-offs with clearly defined entitlements.
But, the Government appears to have been spooked out of this by Big Business Brother.
The Budget should also provide a basis for future growth and stability by creating a dedicated superannuation fund – a stand alone State superannuation scheme to provide a savings base for domestic development and security for people in their autumn years.
Why not buy our country back through investing monies from the superannuation fund in enterprising New Zealand companies and in public projects that create jobs and wealth?
Singapore did this and look at Singapore now.
Their national airline, developed with pension funds, is one of the most successful carriers in the world.
It now controls Air New Zealand, our national carrier, so what does this tell you?
These are some of the considerations that would form the sort of positive Budget that most New Zealanders want.
They want the money designated for health actually spent on the delivery of health services and not on more restructuring, more closures and more consultants' fees.
They want the strain eased on families struggling
with the cost of
health and education.
They want small businesses to be given a better chance of survival in the difficult business climate by reducing red tape and compliance costs.
They want fewer demands from both central and local government.
And ALL want an end to the huge payouts to people with their feet in the public trough!
The Budget should also signal an end to the lassez
approach of state owned organisations and the non-accountability of Government Departments and Ministries.
It is not time for an "underwhelming" or a
"boring" budget and the
Treasurer should not be intimidated by the perceived hostility of some of the Big Business groups.
Labour cannot afford to present the same sort of budget that National would deliver. To do so would represent failure and prove to us that these old parties are still tweedle dum and tweedle dumber.
Sure, it must be responsible, but it cannot be overly cautious.
If we look back in history, the great Governments were those that boldly confronted the problems the country was facing.
They did not pussyfoot around lobby groups.
They fixed things and took the country with them on the repair job.
No, if the Government can keep its nerve it means that big business no longer holds all the power and influence in this country.
It would mean for the first time in many years that the people are back in charge.
New Zealand First stands for this and that is what we will go on working for.