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Shipley to National Party 65th Annual Conference

Rt Hon Jenny Shipley "Lifting incomes and lifting New Zealand"

Speech to National Party 65th Annual Conference

Auckland Town Hall 21 July 2001, 11.45am

I want you join with me today in summoning a vision of the New Zealand we can be in ten years' time!

Picture a New Zealand with world-class healthcare, one with a completely transformed education system in which students are passionate about learning, and enthusiastic, innovative and entrepreneurial in their pursuit of excellence.

I want you to envisage a country committed to full employment, with targets for employment growth and unemployment reduction. A country which supports people towards taking opportunities to work - and to train or retrain where that can help them.

A country celebrating the completion of our Treaty grievances, and looking ahead to a shared future together.

See, in your mind's eye, a country where the real take-home pay of each family has risen considerably, so families can feel empowered to make the best decisions for themselves.

A country which is fired-up, and filled with a fresh sense of confidence and a new spirit of opportunity.

The greatest small country in the world to raise a child, to live, to work and to retire. New Zealand a decade from now.

That is our vision. I want this party to commit to going for it.

We can, and will, make that vision a reality - by being ambitious and unambiguous in our policies driven by a passion to win because of our compassion for, and commitment to, our people and our country.

But unless National leads the next Government, New Zealand will stand still. 2% growth will be as good as it ever gets!

Economies which used to be behind us are moving ahead. The people in those countries, who used to have less than us, are now getting considerably more.

Despite a worldwide boom in commodity-prices and a low dollar, Labour has the New Zealand economy struggling along at a pathetic 2.5% growth. Remember, National left New Zealand growing at around 4%, even after the Asian crisis.

Labour have demonstrated they can't fix that problem. Talk won't do!

Labour came in promising economic and social transformation. Miss Clark, you are hurting the very people you claimed you would help. Families today have faced the highest food price increases in more than a decade, up 7.1% since the election. And what of the worker? Wages have fallen by $2.30 per week since Labour was elected. Labour do not care!

Since the election Labour has:

* Killed growth.

* Raised taxes - and if that's not enough, they are now looking at new health taxes, house taxes and taxes on charities.

* Harmed our country's international standing, by making us freeloaders.

* Cut health and education.

Tragically kiwis are leaving in droves!

Labour is taking New Zealand nowhere, and National is not going to let that continue. We will stop them, dead in their tracks!

National has a strategy which will revitalise New Zealand by doubling our growth rate. We are committed to a long-term high growth path for New Zealand.

6% growth isn't just an arbitrary target. We have chosen it because if we work together to achieve this, New Zealanders will have doubled their average take-home pay by 2020.

That's a massive change to New Zealanders' average take-home pay - which is currently on average $27,000. If we all back ourselves and double economic growth then the average New Zealander's take-home pay will grow to $54,000 by the year 2020. Now isn't that worth going for!

The policies in our revitalisation plan, and the effect they will have on the success of business, are the means by which we will achieve our goal. It's the single most important goal for a National Government to achieve because it will improve the standard of living of our people, and their families.

That allows them to make the best choices which will improve their quality of life, improve their businesses and create a sense of prosperity and security.

If we lift the standard of living for families then we lift New Zealand.

And where will that take us?

Doubling our growth rate will put New Zealand back in the top half of OECD countries by the year 2020. That's what we intend to achieve.

Delivering on this strategy demands leadership, quality policy and a commitment to doing the job. National is the party that can do it!

Over the balance of the year we will finalise the detail of our policy and our commitments.

To give you a clear sense of what our revitalisation strategy will look like, and the direction we will take, I want each you to focus on eight key pillars that can make this country very special and hold our vision together.

None of these eight special elements stands separate from the others. But together they provide balance, strength, momentum and direction. Ongoing commitment and leadership can make our vision - our story - New Zealand's story.

Growth

A commitment to becoming a high growth economy is the central pillar of our strategy.

National is the only party with the experience, the policy capability and the commitment to deliver the growth we need.

To be in the top half of the OECD within twenty years we will:

* Uphold the principles of the party by moving to a low tax economy, over time.

* Commit to improving our productivity by learning and working harder and smarter.

* Actively reject monopolies, while promoting competition.

* Go for ambitious new free trade agreements including exploring the opportunity of joining NAFTA.

* Remove the barriers to hiring and firing while retaining the balance of fairness in the workplace.

* Light a 'bonfire' of the regulations which hinder business development.

* Encourage public and private partnerships to build better infrastructure and essential services.

* Work hard for ratepayers, and with Local Government, to improve value and performance in governance.

* Reduce expenditure as a percentage of GDP, as the economy grows.

* Introduce a competitive market for accident insurance.

* Review investment rules to ensure the free formation of capital, which creates jobs.

* Fundamentally revise the Resource Management Act to ensure the highest environmental standards while improving pace and clarity.

None of these are silver bullets. Nor is the list exhaustive. But each will help achieve the vision, of real increases in take-home pay, to be realised.

A stand-out economic performance requires an educated base.

Learning

Learning is therefore our second pillar, and perhaps the most fundamental. It opens the door to opportunity, raises our capabilities and underpins growth.

We will be passionate about new learning. It will be the focus of our intellectual and political energy. Our education policy will be ground breaking.

In yesterday's world 'small' could not beat 'big'. In today's world it can, but only if 'small' is also 'smart' and 'fast'.

Learning to be first with new ideas will shape New Zealand's future. Making people more skilled and productive contributes directly to growth. New learning and new knowledge lead to new products and new services. New wealth flows, and new jobs are created. In this way, education creates choices for the future.

Our learning as a country will be greatly enhanced by:

* Comprehensively reviewing the sometimes outdated school curriculum.

* Ensuring independent assessment of school and teacher performance.

* Demanding clear external assessment of student performance for parents, students, teachers and employers.

* Matching what is taught with the skills we need, not with what is 'politically correct'.

Our target for education is that no child will be left behind.

Our approach will:

* Give parents the right to make the best decisions for their children - the best early childhood option for their child that works for them.

* Free up the system to allow schools to develop character.

* Give parents the right to choose the school which best suits their child. So - to Auckland's great relief - school zoning will go!

* We'll encourage students and parents who choose to seek an education outside their current socio-economic grouping or suburb, to do so through renewed access to the Targeted Individual Entitlement scheme.

* Allow students to choose their tertiary training provider, as long as it delivers the quality and standards required.

* Explore options for using innovative private sector finance to invest in learning centres, as the British Labour Government has done in the UK.

Innovation

Education is the cradle of ideas. Innovation and entrepreneurship turn those new ideas into wealth creating opportunities which contribute to growth. Kiwis have a fantastic "Number 8 Wire" attitude! It now needs to be taken to a new plane.

Innovation is therefore an essential pillar in our strategy.

We will nurture innovation by:

* Protecting intellectual property rights, thus encouraging people to invest time, effort and money into innovation and developing products.

* A talent-grabbing immigration policy - which imports people with new ideas, skills and knowledge.

* Attractive inward investment policies that will transfer skills to businesses in New Zealand.

* Quality investment in research and development, including high quality researchers to drive the ideas machine.

* A culture change which encourages business to value new knowledge.

New Zealand has tremendous natural assets and competitive advantages in the areas of biotechnology and life sciences. A new culture of innovation will bring us new prosperity in these traditional areas.

Freedom

To enable the new prosperity to be enjoyed by all, government has a role to remove barriers which deny people the freedom and opportunity to participate and succeed.

Freedom is the valuable pillar which inspires and offers hope.

Poverty is one of the biggest barriers to opportunity. By waging war on poverty we provide an opportunity to contribute and succeed.

We will be there for those who dream of being independent and we'll work for, and with, them. We'll also be there for those independent taxpayers who support the welfare state and their own families.

Our plan will work to ensure that every New Zealander gets a 'foot on the ladder' in the future. In return we need every New Zealander to contribute to increasing our productivity to deliver success and higher growth.

Many New Zealanders believe it is too easy to stay on a benefit. Many governments are grappling with this issue. Some, even center-left governments, have considered time-limited benefits - and so should we.

Whatever the answer, New Zealanders need to understand that life on a benefit is not a lifestyle choice.

We already agree that those on benefits must be required to take up opportunities to raise their skills either through training or by working for the benefit. Welfare-to-work is the right of every person who is able to contribute.

Which is why we must also look at the labour laws. I want to respond to the new migrants who asked to be given the chance to have a trial period with employers, so they can demonstrate they have the qualifications and work ethic required, without either party being disadvantaged.

As we promote freedom, remember National is not there only for those who have made it. We have most to offer those who want to get there, but have plans and dreams that are yet to be realised.

Freedom and responsibility will contribute to a new spirit of opportunity. We will shamelessly promote competition and encourage New Zealanders to embrace the reality of winning and losing. This Party believes in the pursuit of excellence. Let's go out and say so!

I also intend this party to be as passionate about personal liberty as it is about economic freedom. I want to live in a country where people believe that making the right personal choice is more important than being told what to do.

So, enthusiastically promote the concept of freedom and oppose Labour's dictatorial we-know-best-for-you approach.

No government has the right to tell you that you must go to the ballet, that you must watch only 'worthy' programmes on television, or that you must not go to a pub or restaurant if you, or one of your friends, is a smoker. That sort of attitude is repugnant, and National will not have a bar of it!

Instead people must feel empowered to make their own choices and become stronger and more confident in planning their own future.

Freedom thrives when diversity and tolerance are part of the Kiwi way of life.

Diversity

The pillar of diversity embraces the richness of our society and will determine our social success or failure. National will continue to be unambiguous about our intentions in seeking a shared future for all New Zealanders.

We will honour the Treaty of Waitangi and complete the Treaty settlement process. We are the only party with the experience, vision and commitment to achieve this result. In the past year and a half the Treaty settlement process has ground to a virtual halt.

All New Zealanders stand to gain by this process being completed. We are proud of our achievements to date and are committed to leading in this area.

We also welcome new New Zealanders who choose to bring their skills, their talents and their capital and to make New Zealand their home. We will do more to make them feel at home in order to make the most of their contribution.

We are capable of being a 'stand-out' nation, proud and respectful of our indigenous people with all cultures and races united by Kiwi values. National's commitment to this approach will make a massive contribution to New Zealand's future wellbeing.

Wellbeing

Advancing our wellbeing is the sixth cornerstone of our vision. Labour have damaged us all when our frail elderly wait for hours in hospital corridors with broken bones, when this year's cancer patients wait twice as long for treatment as last year's, and when hospitals in this city are turning patients away. Labour must be condemned for their cuts in health spending - which have created these disgraceful situations.

In health, National is committed to:

* Continuing to invest in the public system as we did so successfully in the 90s.

* Seeking public-private partnerships, just like the UK, a country we know and understand well, to ensure New Zealand's limited resources meet our health needs.

* Seeking opportunities for public, private, church and volunteer providers to contribute to improving the health status of New Zealanders.

But we will not Americanise the public health system.

Our rejection of the Cullen borrow-to-save Super scheme will give us more options to meet the increasing health needs of a growing elderly population.

In relation to Super, let us be clear. I repeat our last year's conference commitment - that the next National Government will not alter the Superannuation entitlements of current retirees. For the first time in many years National and Labour are agreed on this issue.

Those near to retirement can also be confident that current arrangements will be in place for them. We will continue to work with the party to settle our policy for saving and super arrangements for younger New Zealanders.

Perhaps the most important move we can make is to improve the wellbeing of our children at risk. National will commit to a zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse against New Zealand's children.

We will do this, not by passing judgement on others, but by acting on behalf of children like Lillybing and Craig Manukau.

We will put the appropriate legal framework and social work practices in place to see that zero tolerance is made a reality.

New Zealanders are calling for leadership and in response National is making this a 'bottom line' issue for our party and our people.

Land

And then there is our land, the seventh pillar.

All of us need a place to stand! As New Zealanders, we cannot contemplate the future without having a clear sense of the importance of the land and resources.

National remains absolutely committed to sustainable management. The perfect balance of production, protection and progress. It's a key to New Zealand's future success, if we are to achieve our goal of being back in the top half of OECD countries within 20 years.

New Zealand farmers and growers are world leading producers of high quality food and we remain committed to working with industry leaders in order to manage our resources sustainably while maximising returns.

We must get this right because safe food will command a premium for NZ in the future.

In that context, we will actively promote the case for free trade because every step forward brings greater prosperity.

We will uphold private property rights in town and country and we most certainly won't tax the family home.

We will continually upgrade the biosecurity capability at our borders and bring in tougher measures against those who threaten our prosperity.

We'll embrace new technologies, with the appropriate safeguards, based on sound scientific principles.

We will set high environmental standards while markedly improving the timeliness of the processes around the sustainable use of resources. Our environmental target should be to be green and growing.

We will protect precious areas for tourism and for future generations.

Ladies and gentlemen, whether our place to stand is our own quarter acre in New Zealand, or our collective memories of ANZAC cove, our land and resources remain a huge part in New Zealand's future.

Our World

But all this can only come to life it we recognise that we live in a borderless world. National knows how to do business with our friends and neighbours. Good relations and increased export-led growth will see us hit our targets - and current performance clearly shows only a National led Government can deliver that.

We are determined to pull our weight in defence, foreign affairs and trade arrangements, because good relations with our trading partners are essential for our growth targets to be achieved.

Let me be unambiguous about what our commitments are:

* We won't free-load on Australia.

* We'll take an active part of regional and collective security agreements.

* We'll retain a commitment to a balanced defence force, rebuilding it over time.

* We will work to form closer economic relations with other economies, particularly the US.

Setting the Agenda

Only a National led Government can lift New Zealanders and improve their prospects in every sense of the word.

The test of our success will be the increased earning of each New Zealander which will allow them the increased dignity and satisfaction of knowing that their productivity has lifted them and New Zealand.

We must inspire New Zealanders with our story.

Show them that our ambitious growth target and policy programme will see us lift all New Zealanders and improve their ways and prospects.

By the end of the year our plans must be completed. I urge you to focus on our vision for New Zealand as you fire up the policy debates. Be decisive in order that our vision can be realised.

Labour is taking New Zealand nowhere!

Our supporters and critics alike are asking do we have better plans?

The answer is emphatically yes.

We have done our time in the wilderness, and now we are back!

And we have plans for New Zealand's future.

We have made some big commitments and now we will fine-tune our plans into detailed policies and a coherent strategy to hit our targets and change New Zealand's prospects massively for the better.

Our story is about people. Their prosperity matters to us.

We can be the best small country in the world to be a child, to raise a family, to work and to retire with a standard of living that makes people feel genuinely rewarded.

That is the country we can be in 10 years time, with a National led Government.

The 2002 election is ours if we tell our story and share our vision well.

Come with me and let's go out and do it.

ENDS

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