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Peters Speech: The Real Gaps Are In Understanding

28 March 2002

Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters to Ashburton Grey Power, Senior Citizens Centre, Cameron Street, Ashburton. 2pm

The Real Gaps Are In Understanding The Problem

According to a much publicised recent essay on "Psycho-Babble", anyone who is Maori, is seriously traumatised and stressed by the transgenerational effects of colonisation.

Part of their psyche has been damaged and they are suffering from group symptoms and disorders, including mental distress, loss of culture and other negative effects of the colonial holocaust.

Fortunately these symptoms only hurt Maori when the other part of them laughs!

It's not easy being of mixed Maori and Scots descent. The Scots part is refusing to pay any compensation for colonising Northland.

It is therefore time to ask ourselves what 133 years of separate political representation has achieved for Maori and whether this system is working for the common good or actually proving divisive.

Of course the usual bunch of political tyre-kickers attack any suggestion that we question some of our race based policies.

These critics, usually, have three things in common.
They have usually never met a Maori.
They are fully qualified to comment after a week's training on a marae.
They have spent their adult lives sucking hard at the State's teat from which they refuse to be weaned.

The separatists demand that we must all understand the Treaty of Waitangi, and ascribe to this vague, three clause document, a social and economic prototype for New Zealand's future development.

It's an "emperor without clothes" argument and never in our history have so many rushed to join this nudist colony bereft of intellectual apparel.

The truth is that serious moves to close the gaps in this country were made after our troops came home from the Second World War.

In the late forties, the fifties and sixties the social structure of Maori underwent radical change caused by the drift to the cities of rural Maori seeking work.

It was a time of booming commodity prices for New Zealand, a time for rapid development and there was a great demand for unskilled and semi-skilled labour.

Maori provided much of this labour - on the wharves, in the freezing works, on the roads and in the factories.

There was good money to be made, and little obvious need for advanced education or trade training.

Both Labour and National Governments of the forties, fifties and sixties had policies of public housing, education and free health care.

Concerned about the health of children they created health camps and put free milk and castor oil tablets in schools. (You took it whether you were allergic to it or not!).

Those post war governments tried to close the gaps - the gaps between the haves and the have nots.

Their policies focused on basic human needs and were more successful than any other country.

Post war governments did this without the Treaty of Waitangi and unlike today’s government they had some success. New Zealand doesn't need the Treaty of Waitangi, and all its discordant arguments, to "close the gaps".

This Treaty based agenda is a fiction being perpetrated on the people of New Zealand now being fed a daily dose of political correctness.

It is the dogma of separate development.

What was abhorrent in South Africa in the 20th century is officially acceptable in New Zealand in the 21st.

Ironically, many of those who are supporting this dogma in New Zealand were protesters against apartheid in South Africa.

In short, if it is black it is beautiful, no matter what its evil. It's interesting how these people protest against the IMF but don't say a word about African despots and genocide!

The fact is Maori and European share more in common than brown radicals and their guilt tripped white fellow travellers realise.

The Labour Alliance Government and the Treaty of Waitangi industry mistakenly claim that the "GAPS" in this country exist between Maori and Non Maori when it is not a racial divide but a social and economic one.

These "GAPS' actually exist between the haves and have nots and are not confined to race.

These gaps are a socio-economic phenomenon and it really hit us in the eighties with the advent of Rogernomics, Ruthenasia and the huge changes in technology.

The biggest mistake the advocates of the "closing the gaps" programme make is believing that there is a large disadvantaged population in New Zealand clearly and distinctly defined as "Maori".

That is an ethnic myth. It's about as silly and offensive as those who think that all Asians are the same.

There are actually a vast variety of so-called "Maori" people from different socio-economic, geographic and political backgrounds as diverse as those of us with a European heritage.

A single Maori ethnic identity is largely the creation of the ignorant and the bigoted.

Any suggestion that there is a separate, ethnic, class which abuses their children and sits around cashing social welfare payments while awaiting Treaty handouts is a gross insult to a significant proportion of this country's population.

There is no such class of people, only an unfortunate perception of such a class.

There ARE problems which affect many Maori particularly in rural areas with low education and literacy achievement, unemployment and poor standards of health and housing.

That goes for many Europeans as well.

Governments should respond to these problems by improving living standards, housing, health, education, and employment opportunities but for that to happen many Maori and Europeans in this country need to wake up to their own responsibilities.

That said, lack of decent paid work is the biggest single issue affecting these people and to suggest that only the Treaty is a basis for solutions is a dangerous myth.

Settlements achieved through the Treaty of Waitangi industry and targeted programmes are not reaching the bottom of the social and industrial scrapheap.

The people responsible for this are not just stupid and misguided politicians but include commentators who give a cacophony of consent to such mindless policies.

To suggest that cheap access to the radio spectrum and other Treaty settlements will solve these problems is absolute nonsense.

The benefits of these claims are being captured by those from the top of the heap claiming to act for Maori at the bottom of it.

Recently it was announced that some Maori groups are "outraged" by a restaurant in Amsterdam has named itself 'moko' and has advertised itself with a picture of a blond with a fake tattoo.
Is this precious or what?

Is this all these people have to worry about? Maori are in poverty, in crime, in jail, in gangs and in poor health and poor housing. Is the name of a restaurant in Amsterdam the biggest problem facing these people?

Rather than be offended, imitation is the highest form of flattery. This is a sign that we have managed to export our culture overseas and that there is a high degree of good will towards New Zealand in Europe. I note that the restaurant features New Zealand and Australian inspired food, no doubt they also buy and promote our products as well.

This further highlights the ridiculous idea of trying to copyright an entire culture, as advocated by the present politically correct government. It is physically impossible and silly to try.

It's time for people who are so outraged by this to get real. You don't see the Italians being outraged when we eat pizza, or the British outraged when we play cricket, or the Austrians outraged when someone plays a Mozart CD, so why do these people have to be so precious about this humbug?

There is no doubt we have prejudice in New Zealand. Like many other countries we have been prone to all manner of prejudice and discrimination.

For many years, until after World War Two, many Maori were second class citizens - treated differently to Europeans in areas such as education, housing, health and social welfare and the continual problem of land alienation.

But, with effort post war Governments made major improvements.

Recent governments have been full of meaningless phrases like "closing the gaps". Another is "capacity building" whatever that means.

Why then in the name of many of these people - Maori in appearance only - are all these social and economic policies being concocted?

They are not working. They will not work. And if persisted with we will become a bitter and divided nation with separate systems for Maori and non-Maori.

The gaps that have to be closed in this country are not the gaps between races. They are the gaps between social and economic classes and yet class was something this country's founders fought against.

We are mistaking an economic problem for a racial one.

People who define themselves as Maori will not progress by getting caught up in the Treaty industry and looking backwards into the future.

New Zealand will not progress until we eliminate the ethnic nonsense and separate development that successive recent National and Labour Governments have become obsessed with.

There is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To continue along our present path of separate development is to go to hell - with the best of intentions.

We have to create wealth by increasing our exports, by creating a sound savings base for investment and by investing in research and development.

We need more trade skills and more scientists. We need to process more of our produce, and we need to invest more in technology.

Such a plan can restore New Zealand to its rightful place as a prosperous nation and as a world leader in social development.

That is one way we can truly close the gaps.

Superannuation

New Zealand First got the surtax removed from 1 April 1998. In the 13 years prior to that, under both National and Labour, in excess of $3.5 billion was ripped out of the pockets of the elderly of New Zealand

We did not join the Superannuation Accord in September 1993, which we saw as nothing more than a talk shop - dedicated more towards making politicians feels as if they were doing something constructive, rather than actually doing it.

New Zealand First had a much simpler policy - remove the surtax and give every pensioner in this country the chance to live in dignity.

And that is what we did.

No other political party in this country can claim as much:

Before the election, the likes of Mrs Shipley (your MP) and other politicians went around this country saying that the current scheme - the one she has just kneecapped - was sustainable.

She said that the Todd Taskforce drew the same conclusion.

Those statements were and are an exercise in deception.

If she was correct then, and the current scheme is sustainable, then why the need for the series of cuts her government ‘had to make’ to superannuation payments?

Why - because the current scheme is NOT sustainable.

New Zealand for some time now has been unable to finance what was once the legitimate expectations of its people in health, education, retirement and personal as well as national security. Lack of national savings has dramatically contributed to New Zealand's current economic and social predicament.

Savings are the source of both retirement funds, and of the capital necessary for economic and social advancement. Last year New Zealand adults averaged savings of $270 each or $800 million in total-less than 1% of GDP. Even worse was the fact that much of that was not long-term savings.

Every year savings are dwarfed by the growth of debt and credit-both internally and overseas. That is unsustainable for individual New Zealanders, and it is unsustainable for New Zealand's macro-economy over the long run. It is the same for an economy as it is for a household-if you put everything on the plastic, sooner or later you have to pay it back.

There is no doubt that if New Zealanders increased their level of domestic savings, then the current account deficit would be dramatically reduced. One of the reasons we have a current account deficit is the amount of profits going offshore to foreign owned companies operating in New Zealand.

The lack of any long-term savings strategy makes it critical that this issue be treated with extreme urgency by all political parties, and not simply as a triennial political football.

MMP means the public expect politicians and political parties to put their own agendas to one side and, reach common ground on issues of national importance. The fund created should be established and administered by an independent statutory authority and it should be free from political tampering.

The authority will make decisions about the investment of pension funds, and gradually build up the strong savings base that New Zealand desperately needs to reduce its dependence on foreign money.

Until our capital requirements are met, and our dependence on overseas investment is dramatically reduced, these pension funds should be invested in this country to create more exports, more growth and more jobs. And the only certain way to keep the hands of future governments off this money is to create the fund in individuals' names. Individuals would then have incentives to save for their own retirement.

Immigration

When it comes to immigration, what is progressive about introducing a policy that sees more immigrants attracted to New Zealand without so much as a thought as to how our infrastructure will cope in terms of housing, education, health, social services, jobs.

This is not an issue of race - although some will attempt to paint it as that - it is an issue about New Zealanders looking after our own people first - both those born here and more recent arrivals who have committed themselves to this country for the long haul.

At present we are struggling to do that and for that reason it is just not on to open the floodgates when in Northland for instance, we can't even house those we have got, and in Auckland, the infrastructure is struggling to cope already with the growing population.

Tell me what is progressive about letting a bunch of fly-by-night entrepreneurs into New Zealand so they can dump a few dollars into a bank account, maybe buy a house and leave the family here, and then head back off overseas to continue to work, safe in the knowledge that they have a bolt hole if things go wrong elsewhere.

When in Government as Treasurer, I introduced free medicines and doctors visits for under sixes.

We didn't do it for the vote because most of these children won't be able to vote for 12 years or so.

We did it because it was right that we look after the young.

We did the same for the mentally ill. We gave $45 million more for mental health and we kept Templeton hospital open.

Most of those folk don't vote either.

We did it because it was right.

And we maintained superannuation levels, abolished the surtax, and introduced a bill to get rid of income and asset testing for the elderly, not for the votes, but because it was right.

There will be an election soon, and it can't come quick enough. Indeed the campaign has already started for us.

But in the ensuing weeks, or even months, there is a lot for you all to consider.

All I ask when you are weighing up who to vote for - remember not what we all said we would do when we did not have the power, but rather what we all did do when we had the power.

After all, there is truth in that old adage - "By their deeds you shall know them".

ENDS

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