Jim Anderton speech to public meeting in Levin
15 July 2002
Jim Anderton MP
Leader of the Progressive Coalition
A future not based on fear
Monday, 15 July 2002
SPEECH to public meeting in Levin
Levin Memorial Hall
This has been an election campaign unlike any other I can remember.
It is probably the most negative campaign I have ever seen. It is certainly a campaign based on fear and threats.
The Greens have tried to hold the country to ransom on the basis of their agenda and how right they are compared to everyone else. They have attempted to scare New Zealand families with stories of GE that don’t bare scientific scrutiny.
They are committed to bringing the next Government down if they can, unless it agrees with them.
A Green society would have kids on drugs, a rejection of science and an Italian style parliament with an election every year as they pull down Government after Government.
ACT, National and New Zealand First have tried to hinge their campaigns on scaring people about crime. Of course rather than solving crime their policies will make crime worse and train people with a bad start in life to be harder more committed criminals.
We would have high fences, private security guards, and armed police. That’s not a safer New Zealand by any stretch of the imagination.
At the same time ACT won’t let new prisons be built and are opposing the building of a new facility in Northland.
New Zealand First, while harping on about how dangerous New Zealand is has also attempted to scare New Zealanders into thinking that perhaps one of our major problems is Asian immigrants.
I think one of the mistakes we have made in past years is to get sidetracked into trying to let things look after themselves. We didn’t look ahead. We wanted the market or someone else to solve our problems.
Now the opposition parties only offer us blame and threats.
The future of New Zealand in the next few years can’t be about threats and fear. It has to be about building.
We need to build the sort of country we want. In a positive way.
There is much to be done.
As our standard of living declined in comparative terms over the last 30 years, we ended up arguing over a declining share of resources.
Regions were in decline, businesses closed. We had high levels of unemployment and we have spent more than we earn as a country for the last 30 years.
Some New Zealanders became understandably worried about not being treated fairly.
People who looked different to them were seen as a threat as some New Zealanders felt they were missing out.
Although these fears still linger they will decline as we build a stronger economic base.
Over the last three years there has been a change in attitude.
This government has provided economic security and some certainty while the economy has steadily improved.
The outlook in the 2002 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update shows a robust economy with growth averaging around three per cent over the next four years, unemployment remaining low, employment increasing steadily and wages growing ahead of inflation.
The government has re-engaged in the economy as a partner.
Regions are now working together to develop their strengths.
Our regions are booming, all of them are in positive growth mode and many are growing at over four per cent per year.
We have created a new job every 12 and a half minutes over the last two years.
There are 104,000 more jobs in New Zealand now than there were three years ago.
Industries are working with the Coalition Government to remove barriers to growth.
There are 12 major industry strategies underway.
We know that the future of New Zealand is in our hands.
We need to develop what we have and build on what we are good at.
We share a beautiful country with amazing natural resources.
We have an infrastructure which needs development but we still have a reliable national network of roads and telecommunications.
We have an excellent education system.
However our greatest strength is our people.
During the last two and a half years I have been visiting businesses and regions.
I have traveled up and down New Zealand.
Wherever I go I find innovation and creativity in businesses and incredible things happening.
If we are going to succeed on the world stage we need to be more confident.
We are talking about creating the New Zealand we want to have in the years to come.
The New Zealand I see us building accepts and involves all our cultures as we work together to create stronger businesses and jobs.
I see a New Zealand community which is more comfortable and more secure in who and what we are.
I see a New Zealand that welcomes and accepts New Zealander regardless of where their ancestors came from - mine came from Ireland.
I mentioned three weeks ago in a speech to museum directors that the song Pokarekare Ana should have some status as a national song alongside our national anthem. Perhaps for less formal occasions when we wouldn’t currently use the national anthem.
For many New Zealanders overseas it is spine tingling to hear it playing. It helps us to remember who we are and what is important about where we live.
What was interesting was how much debate this suggestion generated. It seemed to hit a chord.
New Zealanders are receptive to a discussion about where we are headed.
The Progressive Coalition is making a number of commitments toward having a growing economy, better health and education and a stable coalition government with Labour.
We want a society where all New Zealanders can participate.
This week we start circulating 700,000 leaflets that contain Progressive Coalition priorities for the Coalition Government with Labour after the election.
They are our policy priorities, that means the more MPs we get the more likely we are to get what we want.
But we are not going to pull the Government down just because we don’t get our own way on any particular issue.
The priorities are:
- Everyone under 20 in jobs, education or training by 2005, as a step towards full employment
- We will keep student fees and interest rates frozen and progressively remove fees for first year students, as a step towards free education.
- Free GP visits for school children, then the elderly will be introduced as a step towards free health care.
- We will put in place early intervention programmes designed to turn young people away from a life of crime and to reduce re-offending, as a step towards safer and stronger communities.
- We will implement an anti-drugs strategy, with special penalties for supplying drugs to children, strengthened rehabilitation and “drug-free’ campaigns.
- We will inflation adjust family support, as the most immediate step we can take to reduce child poverty.
- We will hold a Commission of Inquiry into balancing the demands of work and family, as a step towards strengthening families.
- We will introduce a winter energy rebate of $15 a month for superannuitants, beneficiaries and low income earners.
These policies can be achieved in a coalition, in the same way that paid parental leave, the Ministry of Economic, Regional and Industry Development and the Kiwibank were achieved in our first term.
These are policies that should be taken seriously, because I believe we will be in a coalition with Labour.
The Progressive Coalition is committed to being a voice for full employment, innovation and strong local communities in partnership with industry.
We want to lift incomes so we can make social services stronger.
I’m committed to continuing to implement progressive policies that all New Zealanders can be proud of.
This Government has proven that a fresh direction that takes people into account can be achieved without compromising the economic development of our nation.
That is the challenge that I give you my commitment to meet.