Immigration Or You?
Notes for a speech
Rt Hon Winston Peters
Otiria Rd, Moerewa
Bay of Islands
12.30pm 30 June 2002
Northland was the birthplace of politics in this country - it was where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and the first place of governance under European influence.
In some ways, it was like a marriage ceremony. From the outset both parties in this slightly dysfunctional relationship have had enormous influence on the other.
They have influenced the other’s customs, their language, their values and also their hopes and dreams.
If we look around the world we can see this relationship is unique. We try to make it work despite all the reported differences
There is a lot of good will on both sides.
There were times when there were injustices that led to serious grievances but thankfully we are not like some other countries where there is an explosive ethnic or religious mix.
In New Zealand we have to be careful to preserve our unique society.
Its biggest threat is the political stupidity of importing the problems that tear other countries apart.
We place our country at risk by bringing in thousands of people whose views are formed by alien cultures and rigid religious practices.
Experience has shown that such immigration can imperil our way of life.
If immigrants are allowed to settle here, regardless of their ability or willingness to live in harmony with us, we will create a breeding ground for conflict.
We have to avoid the disharmony caused by careless and indiscriminate immigration policies.
We have to be very careful about whom we bring into New Zealand and how many we bring in from alien cultures.
We also have to ask ourselves how our society will look in the future as a result of these policies and most of all, Maori – the first settlers of this country –have to ask themselves the hard question about where they will fit into the picture.
It is time for a wake up call for Maori because one of the big issues of this election is about the citizenship of New Zealand and who has the right to be here.
The Government is playing a confidence trick on this issue.
To your face they talk about honouring the Treaty, whatever that means, while behind your backs they are bringing in thousands of immigrants.
This invasion of our country is taking place at the rate of 53,000 a year. Did anyone ever consult you about this?
There are 55,000 children born each year in New Zealand. The Government is bringing in about that many immigrants. One New Zealander in five now comes from overseas. In Auckland it is one in three.
The count of people of Asian ethnicity more than doubled in the ten years between 1991 and 2001.
The only time this slowed down was when New Zealand First put the brakes on immigration back in 1996.
When you voted at the last election, did you know that the floodgates would be opened?
Did you vote for millions of dollars to be spent on services for new migrants?
Did you vote for new interpretation services for migrants? In May this year it was reported that five years ago the Auckland District Health Board had 10 interpreters on an on- call basis - now it has 285!
There is an enormous social cost to unchecked immigration and these costs are imposed upon every other member of society.
The influx of immigrants to Auckland is pushing up house prices, creating inflation.
The Reserve Bank increases interests rates because of this.
Taxes are raised to pay for the grid locked motorway system that sprawls across Auckland to meet the demand of unrestrained population growth.
The Government pours money into it because that is where the votes are and it takes your votes up here for granted.
Our immigration system is a mess.
During the week we had the most idiotic situation imaginable when the High Court ruled that asylum seekers could not be kept in detention while their credentials were checked out.
There is talk that some of these uninvited people are going to seek damages.
This High Court ruling opens the doors for millions of dollars worth of compensation claims.
How do we explain to struggling families that their taxes are going to pay these gate-crashers while they struggle to pay for the health and education of their families?
The Mangere detention centre is like a palace compared to some of the houses in the North.
The food is good, there is healthcare and everything else is on tap for these gate-crashing asylum seekers.
What immigration laws that do exist are not policed properly.
We have 20,000 overstayers! Why are they still here?
We don’t even check immigrants for AIDS and other infectious diseases.
You know that New Zealand First is always criticised when we raise such issues.
The political establishment has decided that immigration is not a fit topic for your ears but we are not going to take any notice of political do-gooders who have forgotten that charity begins at home.
Nobody else in this election campaign has noticed that immigration has become the single most important electoral issue in Western Europe and Australia.
All developed countries except New Zealand are toughening up their rules in the face of huge immigration pressures and the evil trade of people smuggling.
Yet whoever raises the issue in this country is immediately branded a racist, bigot and scaremonger.
This holier than thou attitude has led to the stupidity which Helen Clark suddenly decide to take 140 refugees off the Tampa last year. They are settled in New Zealand now at a cost of millions of dollars.
We now know from Australia’s experience just how few are genuine refugees.
A few months after they arrived it was revealed that nearly all the boat people picked up by the Norwegian container ship Tampa off Australia last year and taken to Nauru were imposters.
It was reported that only seven of the Afghan asylum seekers were found to be genuine refugees – this according to the judgement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) in its ruling of their status.
A large number may be sent back to where they came from.
Do we know the background to the 140 welcomed by the Prime Minister? No, and neither did she. But we will all be paying for them in the years to come.
If there was ever a reason for an apology, this was it.
We are not picking on immigrants who are here and we are not against any of the ethnic groups that have made New Zealand their home and have made their contribution.
Our criticism is of open door immigration
We believe that all New Zealand citizens must share equal rights and responsibilities and that we do not need to import problems when we have more than enough of our own.
New Zealand First’s immigration policy is the same as most countries in the developed world.
Immigration has nothing to do with race. It’s all about numbers. We have to stop bringing in more than fifty thousand a year.
We must abandon these open door policies before the numbers swell to a 100,000 a year – or even more.
It is hard to understand why the Maori MPs are so quiet while all these immigrants are arriving.
Why are they not speaking out? How is this silence helping Maori?
It is a sad fact of life that while we import social problems from the rest of the world, New Zealand’s first settlers - the Maori - are getting pushed down to the bottom of the heap.
Three years after announcing closing the gaps programmes, capacity building or whatever name Labour could dream up, the social statistics of Maori are still appalling.
Maori unemployment in Northland is running at a rate of nearly 22 percent.
One Maori in three leaves school without any qualifications.
The median annual wages for Maori over the age of fifteen in the North is $12,500 a year.
That’s $240.38 a week. Two hundred and forty dollars and thirty-eight cents a week and the highly paid bureaucrats in Wellington wonder why people up here turn to crime to make ends meet.
The people making these decisions should be forced to try to live on $240 a week. Instead Wellington Central and Ohariu-Belmont are two of the wealthiest electorates in the country.
We in New Zealand First have always said the greatest need for Maori is work. Because when people have jobs there is hope.
This region has been promised growth and prosperity but where is it?
When will it reach the people who need it?
The only growth industry for Maori in Northland is crime and punishment.
The Government is spending $100 million on a new prison. The estimated annual running costs are $11 million.
The prison will hold 350 prisoners. That means the taxpayer is paying $285,714 for a home for each prisoner and a further $31,428 a year to keep each prisoner inside.
Of course there will be modern conveniences, colour TV, room service, kaimoana trips and a better menu than many families can afford.
How many Maori here would love a $285 thousand home and how many would like an income over thirty thousand dollars?
Compare that to a wage of 240 dollars a week.
At least you’ll have the first specially designed Maori prison in the world. There is going to be $1.8 million for Tikanga Maori programmes – it’s going to have a Maori focus unit and specialist youth unit and a secure fence!
Just imagine what the benefits would be if the Government outlaid $100 million on new enterprises for the North – and spent $11 million a year on them.
The best idea would be to forget about the prison and spend some of the money bringing back military or community training for our troubled young men BEFORE they get into trouble.
Give them some purpose and direction in their lives. Instill some pride and self-discipline in them.
Maori have always served with pride and distinction in the armed forces. We should tap into that tradition for answers to some of today’s questions.
New Zealand First has strongly promoted the idea of bringing back training for our young. Once again the political establishment rubbishes the idea – but comes up with no fresh ideas of its own.
Another thing that would help Maori in Tai Tokerau is having a decent transport infrastructure. With that will come investment, with the investment will come jobs, with jobs will come wealth and with that wealth will come health and well-being.
Northland has had an integrated transport plan developed. Under the present system it will never get funded. You put us into a position where they have to come and talk to us and we’ll make sure it’s funded.
The Government seems to have more concern for immigrants who have been in the country five minutes than for the people who have been here a thousand years.
And rather than improve our infrastructure they are putting it under greater pressures than ever before.
Where are the education and health initiatives and where is the new housing that is desperately needed?
This morning on National Radio Ms Clark said that she has a question for Winston.
How are we going to pay for the super of the ‘baby boomers’ if we don’t have high immigration?
In other words, she is suggesting that we deal with an ageing population by having an alien population.
She is saying we should import people, we are saying we should export goods and services.
We are saying that we can meet our social needs if we grow our economy and if we cut out wasteful spending.
If we didn’t pay millions to incarcerate our people but rather had them in productive jobs, if we didn’t pay millions in benefits to immigrants who are not engaged in our economy, if we didn’t lose billions in lost opportunities and time through traffic grid lock and higher interest rates and inflation, then we could have a secure future.
Helen has got her sums wrong and my real challenge to her is: why don’t we double our super by doubling our immigration? Why stop there? Why are we denying ourselves these opportunities?
It is time to take a hard look at what is going on – and it is time for Maori to ask whether there is any future for them in the present political system.
Once we all thought the idea of separate representation for Maori was sacred.
We believed that having Maori electorates truly gave a democratic voice but the truth is that having a separate electoral system actually sidelines Maori.
We’ve had had the two electoral systems in New Zealand for more than 130 years and what benefits has it brought to Maori?
When representative Government began here in 1852 the right to vote was subject to a property qualification. Only males aged 21 years of age and over, who leased or owned land over a specific value were entitled to vote.
An overwhelming number of Maori at the time held their land in common, not on an individual basis, and therefore most did not qualify.
The Maori Representation Act of 1867 provided a practical solution to this problem by creating a separate arrangement for Maori.
So, the reason for setting up separate Maori seats in the first place was the lack of a property qualification as defined by the English system - it had nothing to do with the Treaty of Waitangi.
And anyway those Maori with the property qualification were entitled to vote in both the Maori and European constituencies. Some of them actually had two votes!
In the past the separate system brought forward some great Maori leaders but in today’s world it is not really working.
What did the current crop of Maori MPs do when Helen Clark shafted Dover Samuels – the worst personal attack in my time in politics – and where not a single allegation was proven?
Were they staunch? No, their silence was deafening!
Dover was entitled to a fair hearing. He never got one and was never rehabilitated. It was OK for some other cabinet ministers to get sidelined and then come back to their old jobs, but not Dover.
Two elections ago, New Zealand First won all five Maori seats on a policy of "One Country - Different Cultures."
That is why we called the party New Zealand First - because it was for all New Zealanders.
I made that speech hundreds of times but when most of our Maori MPs arrived in Parliament they immediately set out on a path of separate development.
They forgot the platform they had been elected on, and they did much damage.
We are not going down that path again.
Neither do I have any desire, for example, to be fighting with Dover Samuels in the next four weeks when, in fact, after that time we will be required to work with him irrespective of how the election turns out.
We won’t contest your right to vote for whoever you will on your electorate vote but you have two votes.
And we believe that you need to give me, and New Zealand First, the second one.
That will give you some real insurance that your country will not be sold out to overseas interests or over run by foreigners, and that we will keep the Government honest.
Tomorrow afternoon we will announce the names of the candidates we have standing for this election. If you look at that list you will see that we have more candidates on a percentage basis who understand your issues and needs than any other political party.
But there is one difference, and it is the important one:
Every one of these candidates understands what EQUALITY means, and the need to compete on the same footing with the same rules as every other New Zealander.
None of them need special rules for them, or a token system of representation.
Like the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns they are there because they are good enough to be there, and with the attitude that they can compete successfully in any environment.
That is an attitude change that Maoridom desperately needs in this country, and in politics in particular.
The MMP electoral system introduced in 1996 delivered more for Maori representation than any separate franchise ever could.
The Royal Commission recommended that the Maori seats should be abolished but it was clear that the old parties had no political will to mainstream Maori into the electoral system.
You see by keeping Maori MPs separate they can be kept under control and thrown a few politically correct crumbs now and then.
Look at the delay in Treaty settlements – the scandal of the fisheries allocation.
During the last week the Government and the Waitangi Fisheries Commission went to the High Court to try to get fisheries assets allocated to Maori.
This issue has been bogged down for more than ten years. All of a sudden, with the election looming, Parekura Horomia, says the Government believes the time has come to settle the ten-year debate over the Maori fisheries allocation.
Where has he been for the past two and a half years?
Eight hundred million dollars worth of assets sitting there while people in the North struggle to live on $12,500 a year. The lawyers are getting that much a week!
This could drag on for another ten years – and I recall warning the National Party at the time that this settlement was not going to work.
I was in the National Cabinet and Caucus and can recall the disputes I had with them and their leader on this very issue, and in fact I was expelled in October 1992 because of it.
This mindless fisheries policy, started by National and continued by Labour has created the biggest, most expensive, and longest running dispute between Maori.
Almost ten years after the Sealords deal of October 1992, and numerous court cases all the way to the Privy Council costing millions of dollars, no progress has been made at all.
The settlement has been divisive and completely lacking in coherent policy.
No one thought through what would happen after the deal was signed and now the present Government, which has also failed to find a solution, is belatedly going back to court.
Many people are now starting to believe that the Treaty is something of an expensive joke because of the ridiculous way it is being interpreted.
One Tree Hill in Auckland is None Tree Hill because of some politically correct mumbo jumbo about an outstanding Treaty claim - we can’t plant a tree because of this and yet there was one there at the time the claim was lodged.
The local councils have spent tens of thousands of dollars on a hearing for a resource consent to cut down the damaged tree and now they have to go to the Waitangi Tribunal to plant a replacement.
How on earth is this helping Maori?
All New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori are sick to death of the hurdles being put in front of us by this Treaty madness.
We should acknowledge genuine grievances, deal with the matters promptly, sort out the compensation and see that it gets to the right people and, frankly, get on with our lives.
Today I am asking you to take out some political insurance for the future by giving New Zealand First your second vote – your party vote.
Labour cannot be trusted to govern alone. They proved that between 1984 and 1990.
And National was no better.
New Zealand First will hold back the hordes of immigrants coming here.
We will protect your interests by keeping an experienced guiding hand on the Government to give Maori a hand up – not a hand out.
It is an important choice for you to make. We can only ask that you make it wisely.