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Jenny Shipley Address To National Party Conference


Rt Hon Jenny Shipley
Leader of the Opposition

National – the party of choice


Address to New Zealand National Party
Conference 2000

Saturday 19 August 2000
11.15am


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The year 2000 began as a time of hope. A time when new things felt possible.

A time when New Zealand growth was steaming ahead at 4.4 percent. Our choices seemed unlimited. National had created a positive attitude. We’re proud of that.

But I’m very angry with this Government. In eight short months they have destroyed New Zealand’s confidence and outlook.

They’re squandering what should have been a great period of success and progress for our country. While the world is moving ahead – we are now slipping behind.

I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Prime Minister and her minority Government.

In there lies our challenge.

Welcome to the conference that opens Campaign 2002.

Welcome to the party that speaks for all New Zealanders.

Welcome to the party that offers choice, not control.

That offers economic liberty, not dependency.

That offers opportunity and the chance to get ahead.

That offers freedom to think outside the square, not the confines of a narrow view of the world.

The National Party in 2002 will offer all New Zealanders choices so they have a stake in the future.

Choice expands opportunity. Choice adds diversity and richness.

It gives us the courage to take risks and reap the rewards.

It gives us the confidence to be full of hope for our children.

National is the party of choice. It will be so again in 2002 as we see off this one-term Government.

As we begin the new century we must offer New Zealanders real choices.

We must provide a clear, convincing picture of the sort of people and sort of nation we can become by 2010.

If we do that in 2002, we’ll again be the preferred choice of most New Zealanders.

I’m excited by this challenge.

I want you to know that for the first time since I’ve been Leader of the National Party, I feel that we have the opportunity to think ahead, to make a new future – for the party and for New Zealand.

This weekend let’s consider how we can drive this wonderful party, how we can restate our values in a modern way to capture the imagination of New Zealanders.

Let’s consider how we can draw out the best ideas in our talented caucus, our party and our country.

Let’s ensure that the leadership that we offer is the leadership of a team of able people – not just a one-girl band.

We’ve got to be in touch with the spirit and hopes of the country in a way that brings people together.

When people look at National, they must see a future for themselves and hope for their children.

They must see strong and clear points of difference between us and our opponents.

Thankfully, Labour’s made the job a lot easier for us. It’s shown its true colours.

That has been demonstrated starkly in the past two weeks by the Employment Relations Act.

This legislation, for Labour, has been about payback.

This legislation, for New Zealand, has been a step back in time.

Labour’s iron-fisted determination to bring in the Employment Relations Act has been a sledge-hammer crushing business confidence.

It’s turned off international investor interest in an unprecedented way.

It’s turned off job growth. Already the number of workers and taxpayers in New Zealand has fallen by 10,000 since December.

Instead of the promised land of a better future for workers, we are already seeing damage.

The Employment Relations Act will put New Zealand’s industrial relations environment behind Australia for the first time in over a decade.

We are already less competitive, less attractive, less sustainable.

There will be more strikes and they will spill over from one workplace to another.

Labour has allowed New Zealand’s comparative advantage to be stripped away.

Helen Clark’s Government has built a bridge to Australia – and appallingly it’s a one way bridge.

This is no way to secure New Zealand’s future.

Eight months of nightmare.

 ACC, ERB,

 tax rates,

 interest rates,

 exchange rates,

 fuel prices,

 tariffs freeze,

An endless list of short-sighted and ill-considered measures that has New Zealand going in one direction while the world, including Social Democrat Governments, goes in the other.

This need not be happening.

Growth’s been strong. We’re at the top of the international commodity cycle. We should be attracting migrants and expat New Zealanders back to our shores.

Yet Kiwis are leaving. Because they see no hope. Because they want more choices for themselves and their children.

In Opposition it’s our job to fight the Government and fight for New Zealanders who don’t like what they see.

I want you to know, ladies and gentlemen, how proud I am of the team who fought the ERB in Parliament over the last fortnight.

Max Bradford, Lockwood Smith and Gerry Brownlee did a fabulous job. They led an extraordinarily strong team of debaters in the House.

Roger Sowry and John Carter also exercised excellent tactical skills in Parliament and performed superbly.

I can assure you – Labour knew National was there.

We fought for things that mattered. Many New Zealanders have commented on our strong performance.

The ERA is a stark point of difference. Fighting it has helped us come of age as an Opposition.

But the fight on the role of good employment law and its contribution to a growing economy has just begun.

Today I repeat National’s commitment to make a difference in 2002 by rebuilding the New Zealand economy and restoring New Zealand’s reputation.

We will do this with a suite of economic measures including new employment legislation.

Because that helps make more jobs for New Zealanders.

I give New Zealand a guarantee – our new legislation will be fair to employers and to workers.

It will help lift New Zealanders’ incomes, lift their hopes and lift investment and growth in the New Zealand economy again.

But there are other important choices this party must make.

We must confront the many issues that matter to Kiwis. Some stand out!

New Zealand seniors deserve our attention and care. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the superannuation debate.

All New Zealanders want the major political parties to put their history behind them and come up with a durable multi-party political solution.

Labour let seniors down in the ‘80s by acting unilaterally.

National let seniors down in the ‘90s by doing the same.

In effect we all lost the confidence of this group. It must be restored.

National is keen to make its position clear so we can make progress towards the aim that New Zealanders want – which is for parties to sit down and talk, and agree, on the future of superannuation.

Our starting position is this: the superannuation arrangements that apply to this generation of older New Zealanders must remain in place.

We accept that those who are already retired are not in a position to change their circumstances. They deserve security.

From our point of view talks could begin on the basis that there will be no change either in the floor, the age of retirement or CPI indexation for those who are currently retired.

Having come to this position, National has removed one of the obstacles in the way of multi-party talks.

I give a commitment that National will continue to work hard with other political parties to try and reach a multi-party position so that future retirees, also, can have security.

I have written to the Prime Minister twice this year saying National will come without any preconceived ideas and a genuine willingness to talk.

Bill English has recently released a series of tests by which we will judge any new scheme. We believe that these are a useful set of guidelines to open up discussion.

New Zealanders are calling out for certainty for both current and future retirees. We must respond to that call.

National stands ready to work to find common ground.

I call on the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to show leadership in this area. We are willing to come with an open mind if others do also, to consider how we can resolve the superannuation debate for those close to retirement and for the Baby Boomers.

A second incredibly exciting area of work is education.

National is considering the choices that we must be able to offer young New Zealanders.

This matters. This matters to us all. A vibrant and successful education sector means a strong and successful economy.

We must raise our sights in this area and ensure that we have an international tertiary sector in every sense.

We must equip our young people to be successful at home and abroad.

Bright, skilled people mean rewards for us all.

We predict very rapid change in the coming decade in terms of how young New Zealanders will want to access their tertiary study.

Yesterday’s solutions won’t work tomorrow.

National has decided to put all the issues to do with tertiary education, loans and allowances back on the table.

We will spend the next twelve months working hard to find new ways to look at these issues from an educational and student perspective.

Education will be centre stage in our re-election strategy in 2002.

Our programmes will work for children, for students and for parents.

We will set real standards.

We will offer real choice.

We will foster the skills, abilities and the attitudes for young New Zealanders.

We are a small country. But we are in a world where success is measured on speed and smartness.

We intend to look at how we can expand the innovative Bright Futures strategy that brought investors, business and research together to make new growth and jobs happen.

There’s a whole lot of mileage in this approach which we will fully develop for the 2002 election.

In promoting choice, National broadens the horizons for New Zealanders.

Infuriatingly, Labour, in eight months in office, has narrowed down the choices that are available to New Zealanders.

We are told how to think and how to act in many areas.

 It seems that the advice of others is rejected more often than not.

 “Wellington rules”– self-management is out.

 Mediocrity is in, excellence is out.

 Choice has gone from ACC – and businesses accident insurance premiums are already rising.

 The choice of New Zealand workers to be covered by a collective agreement unless they are prepared to join the union has just been removed.

Margaret Wilson has even dared to remove the choice of describing ourselves as husbands or wives. We are now required to be swallow the amoral and gender-neutral, politically correct line and call our husbands ‘partners’. Marriages are now just relationships.

Well, Burton’s my husband. I’m his wife. And that’s the way we like it.

This Government has no mandate to impose its own narrow values, which seriously offend so many New Zealanders.

Thankfully, New Zealanders are waking up to the reality of what’s going on.

Many New Zealanders told us in 1999 that there wasn’t much difference between the parties.

Labour has fixed that for us. I don’t get though an airport or a function without that point being made.

New Zealanders know that a shared future matters.

New Zealand in 2000 is a multi-cultural society in which all of us have a place.

Yet Labour is about to divide New Zealand. They are fostering the emergence of two classes of New Zealander. Two classes of citizenship.

The new health legislation, introduced into Parliament this week, steps into untested territory.

Let me be clear - National believes in closing the gaps.

Our first report in 1998, called ‘Closing the Gaps’, measured our performance and reported on our progress. We’re proud of our record in the 1990s.

Yes, Maori did need and get special attention and we made very significant progress.

We improved their health status with targetted programmes.

We made big strides in educational participation.

We found far more Maori a place in the workforce so they enjoyed independence and success.

We supported Maori providers of services when they could do it better.

We’re the first to acknowledge there’s still ground to be covered, but need, not race, was what drove our commitment.

A shared future is our goal, and we won’t be diverted.

Race, not need, is Labour’s focus.

We strongly believe it’s the wrong road for New Zealand to go down.

Where need exists, closing the gaps for everyone is National’s goal.

The Treaty has two signatories, not one.

National strongly believes that in areas like health, education, employment and welfare every New Zealander is entitled to our attention and care. We are determined to take every child with us. We must include every family.

Our challenge is to do the rebuilding. This is vital work.

While Labour is helping us by turning New Zealanders off, we must strive to win people’s hearts and minds, not just wait for Labour to self-destruct.

The ideas we’re working on have to be strong and robust – to serve us not just in the 2002 election but for the decade beyond.

To be re-elected in 2002, and to deliver a better standard of living and quality of life for New Zealanders, there are certain basics we must cover.

Everything we do must offer the genuine hope that if we work together we can get ahead and make better lives.

We must articulate loudly and clearly that our policies will be for people. We will be here for mainstream New Zealand – for the many, not just the few.

We must foster a New Zealand in which businesses and families can thrive.

That means business-friendly policies and strong, coherent social policies which are fair and durable and in touch with the realities of this millennium.

To speak to mainstream New Zealand we have to abandon the old political language of Left and Right.

We must speak with the heart-felt determination and care that I know is at the centre of most National peoples’ political commitment.

We will be adventurous. We will talk the language of risks and rewards. Getting ahead, generating wealth, requires risk-takers.

We are the party that understands that. Most Kiwis understand that too.

To lift New Zealand to a new wave of growth, everybody must feel they are contributing and included. Everybody must have a share in the gains.

Now is the time to begin sharing our intention with New Zealand. Where we can be by 2002 and the steps to get us there.

Politically we are driving this with our five team leaders:

 Bill English on the economy;
 Wyatt Creech driving our social policy;
 Nick Smith steering our sustainable development policy;
 Simon Upton guiding New Zealand's place in the world;
 Tony Ryall designing a fairer justice system.

I’m pleased to say these policy teams are on fire in the most positive way.

We are driven by the values that drew us to this party and our determination to be the main political force in New Zealand.

We have made it clear we intend to take the next 12 months to do our work, and then share it with New Zealanders.

We must share our intentions with Kiwis – laying out the approach we will take, the values we will promote.

We are the party that understands New Zealand’s potential – and knows how we can get there.

We are the party that understands what drives people – the basics of taking a risk, making a commitment and gaining the rewards.

We will be guided by three principles. Openness, knowledge and good government.

I want us to embrace openness. If we are to lift the performance of this country we need to demonstrate an open mind.

This conference has a brilliant group of speakers who will challenge us to respond.

I want us champion knowledge. Footing it with the best in the world means being innovative and sharp and on the front foot.

We must deliver good government – government is a big part of the economy. We’ve got to get our own house in order if we’re to ask things of others.

We are the party that understands excellence, standards, risking and succeeding. That’s the Kiwi way of getting ahead. We’re the party most able to help New Zealanders do just that.

While I’m proud of the 90s I don’t intend us to offer New Zealand the past again. We are capable as a party of much more.

Believe in yourselves, confidently reflect the values that make us strong.

National will create a richer, more diverse New Zealand.

A richer, fuller society. A richer family life. A richer set of values that we can all champion and share.

Labour can never deliver this. They’re a one-term government. 2002 will be ours.


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