Your Place, Our Place, Whose Place Is It?
8 February 2002
Speech by Rt on Winston Peters to Sounds Symposium, Marlborough Sounds February 8th 2002.
Your Place, Our Place, Whose Place Is It?
It is easy to become bogged down in the minutiae in politics. With the election coming up it is important to look at where this country is heading.
Politics seems to limp from one scandal to the next at the expense of the big picture and the macro policies that should shape this country over the next decade.
The biggest single challenge facing our nation over the next 10 years is how do we maintain the good things that make New Zealand great; and discard those things that are a hindrance to our development. Four things will dominate New Zealand in the next ten years.
The mix of state versus private provision of services.
Social development and security
New Zealand is still a country in search of identity and security. We New Zealanders demand certainty of knowledge. We are tired of reform for reform’s sake, and fearful that this country may be heading in the wrong long-term direction.
These four issues reflect this search. New Zealanders want security in the knowledge that the race relations industry will end and that race relations will reach a final, fair and equitable conclusion.
Each year we have an annual tension. For about 6 weeks before February 6th every year we wonder: what fun-and-games will we witness this year? What outrageous camera grabbing grandstanding will we see? Who will be sworn at? who will be spat at and lectured to? What national embarrassment will there be on Waitangi day?
New Zealand must be the only country in the world where most of its inhabitants dread their national day. That is sad, and it‘s a sign of an immature country that still has much to learn and is still in search of its own identity.
New Zealanders want to know that New Zealand’s economy is able to adapt and to take its place in the world.
We want to know that the public sector will someday stop being the play thing for reformers and endless tinkerers, and that it will be able to do its job, unfettered by political interference; the way that it was for decades before the reformers hijacked the process.
New Zealanders want to know that the economy and society will be able to deliver the greater standard of living that was promised to us and they want to know that they will not be attacked in their homes, that their children will be able to breathe clean air, and that their rights as New Zealanders will be safe.
New Zealand does not have, as former US President George Bush Senior once said: “That vision thing”.
It seems in New Zealand position and posturing are all important. We see this most vividly in the Matrimonial Properties Act and the Maori development policy.
For months National opposed the matrimonial reform.
They grandstanded in the House on it. They claimed it would bring down the government. But when it was all said and done they said that the only thing they would change was the requirement that relationships exist for 5 years instead of 3. That’s it—just a play with the small print.
On Maori development we are again seeing the tri-annual bidding war. Each of the two old parties simply takes the other party’s figures and tries to add a bit and one-up it.
Maori face major problems—having National and
Labour falling over themselves to promise what they can
never deliver is the biggest of them all.
Mr English and the National Party have tough decisions to make, yet seem too weak and anaemic to make them. In their attempt to seem inoffensive they have become ineffective instead.
It is almost painful to see a once great party, a party of such immense personalities, become a shadow of itself. National's other great problem is the fact that it has lost its soul. Or rather that it is ashamed of its soul—it is more concerned with package than substance.
There is no secret why the National Party dominated New Zealand politics for the 40 years following the end of the Second World War. They represented the values of New Zealanders and were not ashamed to put New Zealanders first.
The party of Holland, Holyoake, Marshall, and Muldoon, is now a shadow of its former self. A façade of the benevolent force that once ruled New Zealand in the greatest time of social and economic growth. It is now a party rife with sectional prejudices and special interests.
If Mr English wants to rejuvenate the National Party then he should read some of the manifestos of the National Party of the past-they are in the Parliamentary Library.
The answers to this country's problems do not lie with the bright young things in Treasury, with PR consultants and spin-doctors, they lie in the traditional values that National once held. Those values are the values many New Zealanders still hold; they are classic and they are universal.
Here is an excerpt from the 1949 National Manifesto, underlying the principles of the party:
"The National Party is a nation-wide political organisation offering the only alternative to Socialism and Communism…The National Party believes that human progress, spiritually, morally and economically, is best assured when the private individual is free from state dictatorship…The National Party has common bonds with all who cherish the principle of freedom…The National Party seeks to build a country in which everyone can enjoy a life of happiness, good health, security and freedom…"
It goes on to say that the National Party stood for "the benefit of the people as a whole and not just for sectional interests…" There are now more sectional interests in the National party than any other party in Parliament.
This country may be small but it has huge problems.
Those problems cannot and never will be solved by the namby-pamby politically correct policies espoused by the Labour Party, or the new-age policies of the Greens. I believe that more and more New Zealanders are searching for a change and they are looking for pragmatic traditional answers to their problems.
What is odd is the fact that the media are painting the National party as the only other party, apart from Labour which is capable of forming a government.
It is almost as if MMP never happened and that Labour and National will continue their tag-team rule of this country ad-infinitum . As if National coming back into power is inevitable.
This is simply not true. The political pendulum will no longer swing from left to right—from Labour to National—that type of thinking is history, and is in fact an undermining of democracy.
There is no guarantee that National will ever lead a government ever again. It may, within a few electoral cycles in fact cease to be in Parliament.
I believe that ACT have an uphill battle to get back into Parliament, which is inclining greater every day. Strategically they appear to be more and more isolated from any philosophical base whatsoever. They have forgotten what principles they were founded upon by Roger Douglas and have gone for cheap stunts.
They are in serious trouble for three reasons: firstly their reliance on spin, scandal and stunts over policy and workable vision is fine in any year outside election year. Voters look more and more closely at where a party will take the country as a whole as they approach the election.
We don’t quite know what ACT stands for, other than that Rodney Hide wants Rodney Hide to be leader, but the rest of his caucus doesn’t.
They are the candy-floss of political parties—it looks filling but instead it is nothing but spun sugar, devoid of real meaning.
Without a coherent policy platform, and no chance of winning a constituency they are in big trouble.
Thirdly they are in trouble because their biggest backers have forsaken them and are simply not supplying the party coffers. Without the big budget and a long term strategy they are playing chess without a queen.
The Greens are another party which has made the two critical errors of believing that polling outside an election year matters, and that all publicity is good publicity.
The Greens subscribe to the Marilyn Munroe rule of the media – there’s no such thing as bad publicity. That is a fatal error because the publicity they are currently receiving does nothing to establish their long-term plan for this country.
The media seemed to have a love affair with the Greens which is beginning to turn sour as their policies and their conduct face serious scrutiny for the first time.
The ability of the Greens to make outlandish claims and get away with it is staggering.
Just this week Green MP Sue Kedgley made the statement in the New Zealand Infotech that all New Zealanders should receive hi-speed internet access for free and paid for by either Telecom or the taxpayer. Nothing about how this will be paid for. Imagine what would happen if any other party made that claim. They would be rightly pilloried.
Privately the Labour and Alliance MPs loath the Greens – the despicable and childish conduct of the Greens in Waitangi this year will do nothing to help that dysfunctional relationship.
Presently the Government needs the 7 votes of the Greens – the closer we get to the election the less and less that the coalition will need the Greens, and the more and more the gloves will come off.
New Zealand First
New Zealand First will focus on four things, as I stated in the beginning:
The mix: state versus private provision of services
Social development and security
The world is changing. We must accept that because the world will not be waiting for us. The biggest problem we face as a nation is how do we develop, but still improve our standard and manner of living.
The example of Ireland is often used. They have embraced the new economy, but have maintained their identity. They have seen that they must develop and innovate and they have done just that, but they have not sacrificed their uniqueness.
Sadly I think that many in this country do not want to see us develop, and in fact would like a return to tribalism.
Previously political correctness in all its guises was restricted to academia and it was rightly derided as a source of amusement. It is now in our bureaucracy and parliament and is influencing government policy.
At one time the Wellington bureaucracy was a provider of services to those who needed them. It was apolitical, efficient and treated all citizens equally. It was accountable to the people, it had clearly defined goals, it operated honourably and without favour to one sector of society over another.
Today all that has changed. New Zealand First believes that the Wellington establishment is in dire need of a reality check.
In politics, as in economics, resources are scarce. When those resources chase feel-good pipe dreams then there is eventually a very real and clear cost to others.
The new so-called ‘Maori-made’ logo is a case in point. Here we see the government spending $1.3million already, and another $1million over the next 3 years on what amounts to an appeasement of a few of the government’s friends in the arts community.
What’s more, the Government has used this apparently benign logo as a Trojan horse in an attempt to copyright all fauna and flora in New Zealand to Maori, and to effectively copyright an entire culture. It is a gross undermining of common law and the traditions of property rights.
This would not be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that you and I paid for it in our taxes, and that some other goal of the government has to go without for the sake of the logo. Moreover this sends all the wrong messages to New Zealanders.
It is so much like too much of other government policy in that it says that Maori are so inept that they need the power of the state in order to produce art, and that the content of one’s character and the value of one’s work is now less important than skin colour.
It is the politics of racial patronisation.
This mode of thinking is dangerous, and it does not do anything to advance New Zealand’s real development in the new economy.
Make no bones about it. This type of tribalism is no longer an act of mirth, it is a deadweight to development and it is hurting the very people it is proclaiming to be helping.
This will not help a single unemployed Maori in Northland, the Bay of Plenty, the East Coast or in Auckland. It has made a few crafty Maori in Wellington very wealthy and has thrown another wedge in race relations.
Tribalism is a spanner in the works of the new-economy. It has produced a gap between those who produce, those who squander and those who go without. Instead of a tyranny of distance, we are developing a tyranny of dogma.
New Zealand culture is marketable, unique and special. New Zealanders are smart. We have nothing to fear from the new economy for it is in many ways tailored to ourselves. We either take the opportunity presented to us or we will ultimately only be hurting ourselves. What’s more our product is desirable in the world market. The new economy makes economies of scale more easily attainable – good news for a small country.
Government must also allow the environment for development – that is the provision of intellectual property rights and the correct taxation and trade policies. Property rights and policies must be concise and enforceable, unlike the warm-fuzzies coming out of Wellington. When government gets these things right then the economy will follow.
The Maori made logo is a small example of a much greater problem facing our nation. Former US President Lyndon Johnson once said that if a constitution ‘doesn’t apply to every race, to every religion, then it applies to no-one at all’.
I fear that social justice in this country is no longer being applied by need but by racial prejudice.
The government has been captured by the train of thought that the Treaty of Waitangi is a magic bullet capable of solving all this country’s race problems. The theory goes that if only we do every mundane act in Government ‘in accordance with the Treaty’ that suddenly our very real and very deep problems will be solved. It is alluring because it is a soft option.
This line of thinking is foolish, and makes for lazy and misguided policy making. Currently there are hundreds of policy analysts, consultants and clever things in Wellington who make a living peddling this treaty nonsense.
The Treaty has acquired all the elements of a full blown cult. Its adherents chant a Waitangi mantra with taxpayers’ money, and those who would leave this cult are derided as racists who must certainly be consigned to hell.
The results of this chanting have been disastrous for the long-term interests of this country. It has created a division between the races that never existed before. One side seems to have its expectations raised by successive governments who promise the Earth.
The other side feels alienated from the process being carried out in their name, and resentful that one side seems to be getting all the goodies, while they do all the paying.
The Treaty has become a source of false aspirations and appropriation without representation. This is simply unsustainable in the long-term.
I said at the beginning that New Zealanders are in a search for security. The Treaty will never deliver this security.
It is time for government and the Wellington establishment to return to what they were supposed to do – to provide services to all citizens of this country.
We need to see an end to the politics of muddling through and the policies of verbosity.
This is not radical thinking – it is what good government was built upon, right back to the days of Vogel. That is the message New Zealand First will be taking to the electorate this year.