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Coalition seeks new mandate - Jim Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton MP
Deputy Prime Minister

11 June 2002

Helen Clark and I prepared for two years before we formed the Coalition Government in 1999.

In Government, we developed a close working relationship which has served the country well.

We both hope to continue that cooperation with a fresh mandate.

I want first to pay tribute to the MPs who have stood at their posts with me across difficult times: Sandra Lee, Matt Robson, John Wright, Grant Gillon and Phillida Bunkle.

It will not surprise you that on such an important decision as the Prime Minister calling an election a few months early, we have consulted closely.

The decision to seek a new mandate was not taken lightly. I believe it is essential to maintain the momentum of the progress being made by the current coalition Government.

That progress is in real danger of being stalled, particularly by incessant and pointless time-wasting in Parliament by the Opposition on matters which they are perfectly aware are nonsense under the Standing Orders and law.

I have always said that I would fulfil the mandate given to me in 1999 in this Parliament, before seeking a fresh mandate for a new Parliament. That remains the case.

When Parliament rises in a few days, I will make my final announcement on joining the Progressive Coalition - and I will seek a new mandate from the electorate to continue the work which we have been doing.

On 27 November 1999 New Zealanders voted for a change of government and a change of social and economic direction. I aim to continue that change.

The Clark / Anderton Government has been popular because we have done what we said we would and governed in the interests of all New Zealanders.

We can’t right the damage from nearly three decades, in three short years.

However significant progress has been made.

For the first time in my personal memory, every single region of New Zealand is growing – every single one - and many at over four per cent a year.

Only a few years ago, people were righting off regions like Northland and Southland, the West Coast and the East Coast, and suggesting that the last person out heading to the cities should turn out the lights.

Well, we have turned that around. Confidence in rural New Zealand is strong. We have not abandoned regional New Zealand to some crackpot economic theory as the National Party did.

We have rolled up our sleeves and got on with doing our practical, sensible best, for all of our people, all over New Zealand. The people of Alexandra will remember my promises before the last election for example - we delivered - and we will continue to do so for other regions.

The jobs machine - made up of the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry New Zealand – is making a difference, every day, all over New Zealand – in partnership with local government and business.

A locally owned Kiwibank has branches all over the country.

New Zealand parents can shortly expect a Paid Parental Leave entitlement.

We have fairer employment laws. Unemployment is the lowest it has been in 14 years.

Over 100,000 new jobs have been created in the term of this Government – on average, a new job is created every 12 and a half minutes.

New Zealand is starting to work again. But there is a lot more to do.

The Progressive Coalition has already announced that it is committed to being a sensible Coalition partner for Labour.

I have worked hard for the voters of Wigram and I believe I will retain their confidence.

I have personally worked hard with this Government and with a new mandate, that work will continue in Coalition with Labour. Every MP elected along with me will be part of the Government.

Every vote for the Progressives across the country, will contribute towards additional MPs to work in coalition with Labour.

When the time is right, I intend to offer a team of effective Cabinet Ministers and MPs and an exciting range of new faces from sensible people, ready to continue progressive government.

Coalition government is not only about working to achieve policy objectives for BOTH parties and for the whole of New Zealand.

Frankly, one virtue of coalitions is also about keeping each other on line, on track, accountable.

That is a quiet, but important, role of a minority coalition partner.

We have done our best in that regard, constructively and cooperatively. I believe anyone working in government will acknowledge my contribution in that regard.

Together we have made a formidable Government.

Unlike other potential coalition partners – and to the annoyance of some of my former colleagues - we have not, and will not, hold the country to ransom.

A full policy programme will be released during the campaign.

We need confidence to be maintained, to keep growing the economy, to keep developing skilled, creative, sustainable jobs.

We need young people to hold their heads high as valuable kiwis, building their futures and communities, stretching for skills and opportunities.

As our economy grows we can continue to improve our social services. Education and Health will remain key issues.

It was easy to slip down the ladder in the OECD over thirty years – gravity and bad theory helped. From near the top, we slipped down to near bottom.

Climbing back up has to be earned, step by step, and we have to hold each step as we work our way back up.

Taking control of our own destiny under dramatically new conditions of global economic and environmental change, is a real challenge.

We have taken hard but principled decisions in international and domestic affairs. We have proven we can work with Labour to begin to meet the challenges.

We will seek a mandate to continue.

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