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Three more years - Matt Robson Speech

25 February 2002 Hon Matt Robson Speech Notes

Three more years

Whaiora Marae, Otara

25 February 2002

Alliance selection meeting for Manukau East electorate.

Greetings

I’ve been to many selection meetings in the last twenty years.

But this one is different.

It’s the first time I’ve been able to start off with these words:

“The Alliance is proud to be part of the most popular centre left government since Micky Savage in 1935.’

“We want to continue our work for another term in government, because its worth it. And that’s why I ask you tonight to support me as yourAlliance candidate for Manukau East.’

Everyday in government there are Alliance ministers arguing for Alliance policy.

Who would have thought that possible, ten years ago when the Alliance was first formed?

The Alliance in persective

It’s important to take a moment and look at where we started.

I have a photo here taken over ten years ago, of myself, Jim Anderton and my campaign manager, Faga O’Brien.

Jim, I have to say, has hardly changed at all. I appear to have bigger glasses, bushier hair and a bad shirt!

The point is this picture was taken at the time that Jim Anderton was pushed out of the Labour government for refusing to sell the BNZ and we supported him.

Many of you present here tonight took that long walk with us. Some critics predicted it would be a walk into the wilderness.

It was not.

I pay tribute to those of you who had the vision to take that walk

The reason we did not walk into the wilderness was because of the support from people like you who believed that government should and could play a role in:

- creating jobs

- making life in New Zealand affordable and fair for all people

What did we set out to do when we left the Labour Party?

We set our hearts and minds on reversing fifteen years of Rogernomics, so that we could re-build as a country:

- Fifteen years of job losses

- Fifteen years of unfettered foreign ownership of New Zealand

- Fifteen years of higher and higher costs in health, education

- Fifteen years of rampant privitasation at the expense of ordinary people.

We set out to be a party that would walk the path that ordinary New Zealanders walk.

We set our sights on being part of a progressive left government.

It seemed along way then.

Well I’m telling you tonight - we have realised that dream.

Which isn’t to say that we have achieved all our goals. Far from it.

I want this government to be around for many more years so that we can continue the work.

But I put it to you tonight:

If we had said in 1999 that in the first term of government we wanted to do the following:

- introduce a New Zealand owned bank: the Kiwi bank

- create jobs in the regions, and a whole new department dedicated to do just that

- introduce paid parental leave

- get rid of market rents for state housing

- repeal the ECA

- increase superannuation’

- create a new agency to deal to poverty in the Pacific

I have no doubt we would have said “yes a thousand times yes, to being in government.’

Because for each of those gains alone - its been worth it.

Opposition

You will all be aware of the problems that are bubbling away in the Alliance at the moment.

Each of you will have an idea of your own as to why those problems are occuring.

But when you strip away the detail, I believe we are all left with a choice:

Do you want to be in government and suceed where you can? Or do you want to be in opposition?

I believe there are people best suited to opposition. Being in opposition is not a bad place to be. Democracy needs to hear voices who oppose the status quo, lest any of us get complacent.

Being in government is the real test.

If we win a policy victory in government - for example to increase the minimum wage to $22 - then we affect the lives of many people.

If we win a policy round amongst ourselves in opposition, we affect only ourselves.

The next election is just around the corner. We cannot waste time.

We must have people who are 100% heart and soul behind the strategy to get the Alliance back into government, in coalition with Labour.

A National Act government

The alternative to our stable progressive left government would see the reversal of all that we have acheived so far.

A National Act government has promised to:

- sell Air New Zealand to foreign owners

- sell Kiwibank

- reduce superannuation like they did last time

- slash income related rents and re-introduce market rents

- re-introduce the ECA

- re-privitise ACC

- destroy regional development, and therefore jobs.

Don’t forget, National and Act have voted against not only every piece of legislation promoting regional development, but every clause of every piece of legislation!

The next three years

Not having a Labour Alliance government this time next year will have a profound effect on the everyday lives of New Zealanders.

Most New Zealanders will be worse off.

A government without the daily presence of Alliance ministers and Alliance policy will not be a government of full employment and public service.

I want us to be in the next government.

I want Alliance policy to be discussed around the cabinet table for another three years.

We have so much more work to do.

Thanks to Jim Anderton and the Alliance we now have a new government department - The Ministry of Economic Development - dedicated to job creation.

The Alliance is well under way to making this a government of full employment.

And we will continue that work over the next three years.

Getting people into jobs creates more people who can pay taxes, which means more money for health, education superannuation, and more money to invest.

I want your support also to continue the work that I have started as Minister of Corrections, Courts, disarmament and overseas aid.

Let’s not have another generation of our young people in prison.

Let’s continue the work that we have begun to prevent crime.

In the last two years we have:

- stopped the privatisation of New Zealand’s prison system

- worked with schools and teachers to prevent kids becoming criminals

- introduced restorative justice

- tightened up safety and security for offenders on parole

- opened more Maori focus units in our prisons, and more youth units

We are building new state of the art prisons and closing old prisons like Mt Eden

We have:

- created a new department to deal with poverty and development in the Pacific in particular

- we have increased our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and committed to help re-build that country

- we have sent prison officers and police to East Timor to help them re-build

And more.

Just like the Kiwibank, this is the beginning. I ask you tonight for your support to continue this work on your behalf, and to see Alliance policy once again, around the cabinet table of the government of New Zealand.

Ends


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