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Anderton Waitangi Day Speech - The year ahead

Hon Jim Anderton
10.30 am
6 February 2001 Speech Notes
Speech notes for Waitangi Day

The year ahead

Orongomai Marae
1 Railway Avenue
Upper Hutt

I'm very pleased to be back at the Orongomai Marae for Waitangi Day, and I would like to thank you for the invitation to return.

I've watched with interest over recent weeks as several of my colleagues worked out where they would spend Waitangi Day.

For me, there was never any doubt.

Last year when I came here, Carole and I had just moved into Vogel House. We wanted to spend Waitangi Day locally.

We came here and enjoyed a wonderful day.

The open day you have at this Marae is an inspiration.

First, because so many in the community come here and participate. So many feel welcome and are made to feel welcome. They feel the marae is part of their community.

Above all, people come along to enjoy themselves. We certainly did.

The way you choose to commemorate Waitangi Day embodies the idea of partnership. It's everything that makes New Zealand unique. Partnership is the idea that we can accomplish so much together. That we should be open to each other.

I believe that the Maori branch of that partnership is deeply part of our identity. If you want proof, take any New Zealander abroad, and you will find them identifying themselves in Maori songs, hakas, and in being from the Pacific.

Partnership doesn't have to be empty good intentions. It should mean a vibrant and enjoyable community. Today's open day is also simple the proof of that.

It's Waitangi day, and so there will be many references around the country to the partnership approach to Treaty issues. But partnership is an approach that I believe should apply to much more that we do as a community.

We are doing it in Government, for a start. People said that coalitions meant instability. After the last government, who could blame that cynicism? But we are trying a different approach, and we are hourly, monthly, trying to make it work.

We should take that same partnership approach to the economy, to making a future for our children, to making New Zealand more secure, and to maximising opportunities for our people.

This country has its share of problems. I know that.

But the starting point for me is that this is still the best little country in the world. We still have a lifestyle, a physical environment and a set of values that make our country unique.

New Zealanders expect governments to protect and enhance them all.

It's something we try to do every day.

Of course there are challenges:

The challenge of building communities that work together. Where everyone feels secure. Where everyone has an opportunity.

Challenges like promoting and protecting the unique cultural identity of New Zealand. That's the New Zealand that is here today. It's the New Zealand that takes the field with the All Blacks. That performs on screen, and in dance halls. It's the New Zealand that spends its summers at the beach.

Governments can help with some of these things.

But they can never solve everything alone.

Communities, together and in partnership, do that. Working together because we share a common sense of values and direction.

One way or another, everything we do in Government has to measure up against the values of the wider community.

That's one of the reasons we run the Government the way we do. We don't have a long shopping list of policies that have been hammered out in hard ball negotiations. Policies that neither party in Government really wants.

We simply agree to work in good faith. We argue things out, but respectfully. Asking questions. Presenting facts.

Of course, we also need to concentrate on our priorities.

Over last year, the Alliance in government was strongly identified with three main projects.

The first of these has been the Jobs Machine. We set up new government agencies designed to create jobs and rising incomes for working people - especially in regional areas.

It's working already. On Sunday I went to Hobsonville Air Force Base in West Auckland and announced a new super yacht development there. It will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in export earnings for New Zealand. Hundreds of highly skilled new jobs.

We need dozens and dozens of new developments like that, dotted all over New Zealand.

Another one of the issues we've worked hard on over the last year has been setting up a kiwi bank. We want to return the concept of service to our communities. Open branches instead of close them. Keep profits in New Zealand, for New Zealanders.

I hope the Coalition Government can make a favourable decision on the kiwi bank in the next week or two.

We're working to help young parents to balance the demands of work with the priority of family by setting up a parental leave scheme. One that ensures small employers, large and small, can give their staff time off to have kids, without facing an impossible bill.

Those are some of the issues that we have been strongly identified with over the last year. We will continue working on them.

In this coming year, we have to keep working on our vision. But let me add three or four new issues which are high on my list.

You have made the theme of today's open day at the marae 'children.' It's appropriate for me to speak about some of my party's priorities for this year. All of them are aimed at making a better future for our young people.

Employment must surely be our highest priority. I want to work towards ensuring that we have no one under twenty on the dole. There are no magic wands. But if the whole country adopted that goal, we would find a way to ensure young people would be guaranteed a place in education, training or in paid work.

If we didn't consign our young to the dole, what responsibility would we be prepared to take as a community?

There will always be a welfare safety net. But we have created a net that can trap people in poverty - partly because we don't provide enough high quality jobs for everyone who wants to work.

We also need to make it easier for people to move off benefits and into paid employment. We can lower the rate at which social welfare benefits are reduced as a person earns money from other work. So we don't penalise beneficiaries who try to get work.

I know the Government is not going to halve abatement rates immediately. So we might think about a trial in a region. We could ask regions to nominate themselves. We could say to regions, 'what are you prepared to do if the Government's contribution is to make it easier for beneficiaries to move back into the workforce?' We could trial something like this in a geographical region and then examine the results.

I'm a pragmatist. We should be prepared to try things. If they work, we should do more. If it doesn't work, throw it out and try something else.

We want to give our young people security and opportunity. A major influence on their future life is the opportunity they have for a high quality education.

I would make education free. Get rid of fees. Pay young people an allowance to study. But I also have to acknowledge that our society has repeatedly refused to vote for free education.

But I think New Zealanders do want to see some improvement.

At the very least we need to ensure adequate support or employment is available for students over summer. More importantly, we need to explore new policies.

I would like to see a scheme where students could pay off their student debt by agreeing to work in New Zealand for a period after they graduate.

I want to work with industry to look at the advantages of making access to some courses free.

If we want lots more high-income jobs for New Zealanders, we need to start producing a lot more scientists and engineers. So we could look at wiping student debt for science and engineering students, or for graduate students, if they agree to stay in New Zealand for a certain number of years after graduation.

Jobs and education. These are the keys to security and opportunity for our young people. The pathways to success for New Zealand.

None of it will happen simply because politicians make speeches. Earnest words are not enough. I am committed to making it happen by a partnership between the government, local communities and business.

I started off by talking about the way today's open day at this marae is an inspirational example: Partnership in action.

It's an example that I want to apply in so much more that our country does.

I hope I've given you some idea of a few of the ways we could make it work in practice.

It only remains for me to congratulate you again on the success of today's Open Day and to wish you every best wish for the future of all of you here today, for your community and for our magnificent country.

ENDS

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