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Alliance Leader's Adjournment Debate speech

Hon Sandra Lee
13 June 2002

Alliance Leader's Adjournment Debate speech-13 June 2002
Mr Speaker.
On behalf of the Alliance I too would like to acknowledge all of those people who are departing this Parliament today, and acknowledge the work and contribution that each and every one of them has made as Parliamentarians.

This House is a funny place at times like this, by virtue of the fact that it's a time that we reveal as MPs that we did actually have a respect for people on the other side: people in different political parties, and indeed people with different political points of view.

I admire people like Doug Kidd.
I think that he has made an important contribution as a parliamentarian.

I adore, actually, Geoff Braybrooke.
Maybe it's because he's a Londoner, but he's a good, kind and wise politician.
The loss of elders like that from this House represents a loss of significant institutional knowledge and should be recognised as such.

My colleague Kevin Campbell from the Alliance has been a tireless worker on select committees.
All sides of this House have acknowledged that work over time.

I want to thank two women in particular that deserve acknowledgement as well.

One is the Rt Hon Jenny Shipley, whose politics and position on almost everything I never ever agreed with.
However having said that, she was a person who came into politics (actually on a county council) at the same time as me, when female county councillors were even more rare and endangered than the kakapo that I am now responsible for.
That represented no mean feat at that time, and the slog and the battle in that era to get from those kind of places that we both come from, to a House like this, was very, very hard.

I think it's too easy nowadays Mrs Shipley, for people to forget the battles and the rivers that have been run, that are required to get to a place like this.
To your colleagues in the National Party who have paid tribute to you, I have to say that I think that you will be sorely the poorer for having taken the decisions that you have taken.

I'd like to also acknowledge my colleague the Honorable Phillida Bunkle, my former Associate Minister of Conservation, a true feminist, a fighter, a staunch advocate.
I admire her courage, I admire her tenacity, and I admire her dedication.
I mourn the loss of her presence from this House, because I think that she
has represented a great deal that all New Zealand women in society aspire to.
I regret her leaving enormously.

This is the second MMP Parliament for our nation, and again, and tragically, some of the most serious criticisms levelled against MMP at the time that the Royal Commission in 1985 considered it, and later as a proposition was put forward through the political arena, the most serious criticisms seem to be coming to pass.

I think that that is a matter that will have to focus the minds of all Parliamentarians in this House over time, if in fact a Mixed Member Proportional system is to prevail as I believe it should.
I say that of course because of the tragedy that has occurred to the political movement that I came into this House under, the Alliance.

I hope that over time some of the issues that seem to lead to the fragmenting, or marginalisation of small parties can be addressed.
But nonetheless, I believe that this Government and the contribution of the party that I represent has been excellent.

When I went on the election campaign trail in 1999, in every region of New Zealand I can tell you that there was a tangible sense of grief, fear and uncertainty on the part of New Zealand citizens.
They had been utterly underwhelmed by two decades of what was euphemistically described as reform, but what was in fact, in reality, the demise, the division and the destruction of New Zealand society, and the New Zealand way that we organised ourselves structurally, from public health models, to education models, to trade union models.

That fear and uncertainty had seen an emptying out in the regions of young New Zealanders, with their elders left at home knowing that there was little or no hope of seeing a next generation return to the provinces and the places that they had built as New Zealanders.

The very best thing that this Government led by Helen Clark and Jim Anderton has done for this country is that they have removed that fear for New Zealanders, and provided the young people, and our elders, with a hope that there can be a
genuine and real future as New Zealanders for our country.

That is one of the reasons why I hold to the view that Helen Clark, when she gives her valedictory one day in this Parliament, will go down as one of New Zealand's greatest Prime Ministers.

Can I say in terms of my own political leader Jim Anderton, that he is a true political warrior, who has against the odds soldiered on and worked well, in cooperation with a Labour Government, despite the history and the political debates that might have occurred in the past, and restored that certainty to New Zealanders that they so long craved for.

And I want to give a message to the Opposition.
The rhetoric won't wash anymore.

If you ever want a hope of returning to this side of the House, you'd better understand that New Zealanders are much wiser now, and far less seduced by first level rhetoric.

One of the reasons that they became cynical about the proposition of politicians and even Parliamentary democracy, was because fundamentally, members of the National Party when they were in Government were utterly and totally unresponsive to the wishes of the people of New Zealand.
Utterly and totally unresponsive.

But the rhetoric will not wash a second time, because New Zealanders have had the opportunity to put the distance between you and them, and to examine very carefully the entrails of the catastrophe that was created by the new right reforms and dogma that you have not resiled from, no matter what you say, about health, about education, about housing.

They will not believe you.

I want to say further as a Maori woman politician in this house that if you think, in
the Opposition, that you can go on the campaign trail playing the divisive card against Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders, you'd better think again about that one too, because New Zealanders have had a gutsful of being divided, and they'll never vote back in a Government that plays New Zealand citizens off against one another, and again that is something that this Government hasn't done.

I remember the last 10 years, Mr English, as well.
I remember the way your Government played the sick off against the well, I remember the way your Government played the unemployed off against those who have jobs.
I remember the way your Government played Maori off against Pakeha, and Mr
Speaker, New Zealanders will not accept it a second time.

I invite the Members of the Opposition to consider as they go on the campaign trail waving the Treaty bogey yet again.
What the face of our nation would look like if we didn't have a Treaty, and we didn't have a Tribunal, and we didn't have enough grace to embrace each other as New Zealanders in this tiny nation of ours.

So my challenge to the Opposition is to lift your game, because this country will not accept the lack of leadership that you have represented in Government for the
last ten years.
To my colleagues in Government I wish every one of you well, and I know very well that New Zealanders look to you, to restore the nature of New Zealand society and the way that we organise ourselves in order that we can achieve a
better country and a genuinely new hope for a new millennium,
that is more than political talk speak.
Thank you Mr Speaker.

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