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Anderton - Reply To PM's Statement

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

Reply To Prime Minister's Statement To Parliament

Mr Speaker,

Mrs Shipley has had all summer to work on her attack on the government.

That was the best she could do.

A tired rehash of the same old arguments.

National wants to take New Zealand back to the failed policies of the last government of last century.

Last week National and Act held a joint caucus. They are co-operating now.

Can you hear the cries of relief all over New Zealand? Perhaps not.

I remember when Helen Clark came to address the Alliance conference.

The welcoming comments flooded in from all over New Zealand.

The parties surged in the polls.

New Zealanders wanted us.

But what happened last week when National and Act decided to get together?

What happened when Mrs Shipley made her public appearances with Mr Prebble?

You could almost hear the nation cringe.

Where were the celebrations?

Where is the public sense of relief?

The contrast is telling.

If the National Party wants to line itself up with Act, then good luck to them.

Act is the most extreme right-wing party this country has ever seen.

If National thinks that cuddling up to Act will help to make it electable, it's dreaming.

Act is unelectable.

If National and Act are going to co-operate, they should tell the public what they are going to do.

Which party's policies will prevail?

How many of Act's loopy far-right policies is the National Party going to adopt?

Last week Bill English got elected as deputy leader of the National Party.

I would like to congratulate him.

Last December he had the integrity to tell his colleagues that the Government is doing a good job of running the economy.

It is good to see his honesty rewarded by his colleagues

There is an old saying in politics: Be careful what you ask for, just in case you get it.

Just as soon as Bill English got elected, he started saying that the last National government would never get re-elected.

I agree with him.

He said National would have to find policies that have some appeal to middle New Zealand.

The words were hardly out of his mouth, when Mrs Shipley started under-cutting him again.

Yesterday she made Max Bradford the number four-ranked MP in her line-up.

That ought to appeal to middle New Zealand: Max 'power prices will come down' Bradford.

Imagine him sitting alongside Richard Prebble!

Perhaps Mr English will take a call later in this debate and explain to us how a Jenny Shipley, Max Bradford, Richard Prebble Government would appeal to middle New Zealand.

Perhaps he will answer a few questions for us. The questions that Mrs Shipley likes to duck.

Questions like: What exactly would a National-Act Government do?

Would they cut superannuation? Will any member of the opposition give a guarantee now that National and Act would not cut superannuation?

What do they mean when they say they won't cut superannuation for current retirees?

It sounds like they will cut superannuation for everyone else, at least.

What about people over 65 now, who are working now? Do they count as current retirees? Or is the National Party planning to bring back the surtax to punish them as well?

What about the partnership approach to transforming the economy?

Will National and Act go back to the failed policies of hands off?

Ten days ago the Prime Minister and I went to Hobsonville Air Base.

We announced a new super yacht development.

It's going to bring this country as much as $600 million in extra export earnings over the next five years. 350-400 new highly skilled jobs.

That project was made possible because of the Ministry of Economic Development.

So where do National and Act stand on that?

Do they support it, or do they oppose it?

I saw the local National MP Mr Neeson on television railing against it.

National and Act have done nothing but vote against and criticise the government's hands-on approach to economic development.

They denounced the Ministry of Economic Development.

So we can only assume that National and Act would abandon the approach that led to $600 million more in export earnings for New Zealand.

They are opposed to the approach that will deliver 350-400 new jobs in West Auckland.

Mr Luxton is the National Party's spokesperson on economic development.

He has been rewarded for his efforts by being removed from the front bench.

Mrs Shipley doesn't have confidence in him any more. She has demoted him.

So perhaps Mr English can tell us: Would National and Act close down the Jobs Machine?

Would they go back to the failed days when companies closed or left New Zealand?

Will they take us back to the days of selling everything? To slash and burn?

National and Act want to be an alternative government. Let them tell the House what they would do.

Rodney Hide told the Dominion newspaper that it is Act policy to abolish all income taxes.

Is that National Party policy? Would that be acceptable to National in a coalition?

What about Mr Prebble's statement on 8 April 1999 that, ‘The State should be confined to just three tasks – Defence, Justice and Governance.’

Is that National Party policy?

Under a National-Act Government, who will run the hospitals, schools, roads and social security?

They will sell the lot.

What about the minimum wage?

Act wants to abolish it.

National wants to cut it.

Whose policy will prevail?

Personally, I think the more that New Zealanders see of Mr Prebble and Mrs Shipley together, the better the Labour-Alliance Coalition Government will look.

Mrs Shipley described Mr Prebble as Parliament's most effective politician on the opposition side.

What does that say about her own team?

She has more confidence in the Act Party than in her own front bench.

That's not surprising when you look at them.

The National Party is so devoid of front bench talent that Mrs Shipley has put Gerry "W" Brownlee on the front bench.

How do the rest of the National caucus feel about being ranked behind Gerry W Brownlee?

How does Murray McCully feel?

All those years of service of his party, and this is his reward: he's ranked behind Gerry W Brownlee and someone called "Bob Simcock".

What about Maurice Williamson and David Carter?

They were Ministers in the last Government.

And now they've been knocked so far down the order that there won't be room in Cabinet for them once the Act Party has claimed its share.

Or perhaps there would be room for them – which wouldn't leave much room for the Act Party.

Act keeps asking me to say what policies are the bottom line for the Alliance.

Well, if Act thinks it's so important to strut around with bottom line demands: Let them state Act's bottom lines.

Mr Prebble wants to let nuclear ships back in to our harbours. Will that be one of his bottom lines?

What about the Act party pyramid scheme?

Would that be part of the economic policy of a National-Act Coalition?

I think the voters should know.

When I talk about the Act-party pyramid scheme, I mean the statement in the Act party document ‘Commonsense for a Change’, which says: ‘Under ACT, you can put in a dollar and get four dollars back…or more’.

What does National think of that?

That is the economic policy of their coalition partner.

National wants to go into coalition with a party that makes cuckoos look sensible.

A National-Act coalition would do for the economy what text messaging has done for the English language.

This Government is delivering on the economy.

Last week, the Household Labour Force survey was published.

It showed an unemployment rate of 5.6%.

That is the lowest since June 1988.

There hasn't been one word of congratulations from the Opposition.

National and Act are appalled that people who want to work can find jobs.

The Government is not going to take all the credit alone.

There are hard-working and innovative New Zealanders out there who create jobs.

But isn't it interesting that the National Party spent almost a decade in office and never managed to get quite so lucky.

Because there is a Labour-Alliance coalition government, there are as many as 18-thousand more people in work.

In the pre-election economic and fiscal update, National and Act promised that their policies would produce an unemployment rate of 6.1% in the year to March 2001.

That would have meant 11,000 more official unemployed, and 18,000 more jobless than under a Labour-Alliance coalition.

National and Act spent most of last year telling the country that the Employment Relations Act would destroy jobs.

That increasing the minimum wage would destroy jobs.

They told New Zealanders that the relatively low level of the dollar was a terrible thing.

But what do they have to say now to dairy farmers who are receiving an average pay out of $70,000 each?

National and Act think that's terrible!

I welcome the success of this year's dairy season.

But if there is one thing that it highlights, it is that this country is over-dependent on the commodities sector.

We sell products to the rest of world that are largely undifferentiated from the products of our competitors. Although we are good at it, the real price of those commodities is falling.

At the same time we buy complex manufactured goods that command prices set by sellers. New Zealand is the lowest exporter of high-tech products in the OECD. We import five times as much high-technology production as we export.

We have a small population and the luck to have significant natural resources.

So a significant proportion of our exports will probably always come from natural resources.

But that does not mean that we cannot produce highly innovative products or services for the world market.

The point is: We need to do much more than hope the sun shines, the rain falls and the grass or trees grow.

If we want a sustained rise in our real incomes, we need more than inherited advantages. We need to create advantages for New Zealand.

The Labour-Alliance Coalition is working to transform the economy.

To broaden and deepen the economic base.

I genuinely believe that there is enormous goodwill in the community towards doing that.

We saw it at the Government-to-Business Forum last week.

I can tell the Opposition that the days are over when the business community simply wanted hands-off.

Now they welcome the Government's willingness to work in partnership.

The business community recognises the need to transform the economy.

To create new job-rich, high-skill, high-value industries.

It's time that the Opposition woke up to the urgency of the challenges.

New Zealand is slipping behind other economies that we like to compare ourselves with.

Our average income has been slipping behind the average income of other developed countries for three decades.

Our overseas debt is monumental.

The last time we earned more overseas than we spent was 1973.

That is the legacy of hands-off.

And National and Act want to take us back to it.

There wasn't one constructive new policy from the Leader of the Opposition in her speech.

She didn't have one statement about how to transform the economy.

She couldn't understand the economy when she was Prime Minister.

And now she can't understand the need to take a new approach.

Her finance spokesperson doesn't have any new ideas – although at least he realises that this Government is doing a good job.

Mrs Shipley's economic development spokesperson is letting her down.

Even Mrs Shipley recognises that.

She demoted him.

Let me set out for the former Prime Minister the challenges New Zealand faces.

We need to do better -- at the local, regional and national level.

Four per cent of our companies are exporting: That’s only 8,500 out of 259,000 businesses in the whole of New Zealand.

127 companies account for 73% of our total merchandise exports. 30 companies earn half of our foreign exchange.

This adds up to a very narrow, and shallow, export base, highly dependent on a relatively small number of large exporters.

To move forward we have to create advantages for ourselves.

We already have some important competitive advantages in the world.

New Zealanders are quick to adapt to, and to use, new technology. We have significant natural resources and an exciting natural environment.

We have a competitive cost structure.

But if we want a sustained rise in our real incomes, we need more than inherited advantages.

We need to support good ideas and remove the obstacles that prevent them from flourishing.

We have to produce, retain and attract the people we need.

The challenge for New Zealand is to be a country that is attractive to skilled and talented individuals.

Attractive to invest their energy and resources and attractive to live in.

Incomes alone will never be enough.

Individuals need to feel personally secure.

We need a country that is confident in its own unique culture.

We need a country that offers world class education and health care.

One of the singular quality-of-life advantages New Zealand can offer is the physical beauty of our natural environment.

That means using resources sustainably and protecting our unique flora and fauna.

It means taking a balanced approach to development.

That is the vision I have for New Zealand.

A country that produces jobs for all New Zealanders who can work. A country that protects and enhances its valuable quality of life. A country that provides security and opportunity for all New Zealanders.

A country led by a progressive, innovative Labour-Alliance Coalition Government.


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