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Problems Or Opportunities - Winston Peters Speech

Rt Hon Winston Peters

Notes for an address to the Pacific Economic Symposium

Waipuna Lodge

Mt Wellington

9.00am Thursday 18 July 2002

Problems Or Opportunities

Talofa lava, Taloha ni, Kia orana, Halo olaketa, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula, Kia ora

The derivations of languages has always fascinated me. As have different theories about our origins.

For 30 odd months since the last election New Zealand First has found it very difficult to get media coverage, or to have the opportunity to get our message across.

Over the last few weeks some of that has changed. As support for our party has grown the media has not been able to ignore us.

But they are still not well disposed to accurate reporting of our message.

On Sunday I addressed a meeting of Chinese communities and spoke about immigration. In talking to these New Zealanders I commented on a theory that the Austronesian-speaking ancestors of Polynesian and other Pacific peoples moved from Taiwan and South China into the islands.

As a tongue-in-cheek aside I suggested that we who have Maori blood have a Chinese background.

For many of the journalists who have difficulty in knowing who their fathers are that became the story.

Not the fact that I faced up to the Chinese community and challenged them to show me one Asian leader who didn’t have an immigration policy twenty times stricter than new Zealand First’s.

Not the serious questions about the number of immigrants we were admitting, or about our policy on refugees, or our concerns about the operations of our Immigration Service.

No, the story got to be about whether our origins were in China!

What this suggests to me is that there are some real issues that New Zealanders - or our media representatives - do not wish to confront.

So it is a thrill for me to join you as you confront some of your real issues.

You will be aware that New Zealand First is delivering a simple message in this election campaign - a message about the rights of ordinary Kiwis of all backgrounds to:

- Walk our streets in safety,

- Stand together as equals, and

- Decide on who should live with us in New Zealand.

We have affirmed the rights and responsibilities of all New Zealand citizens, regardless of whether they were born here or have been a New Zealand citizen for three weeks or three decades.

We have questioned the ability of our small country to provide jobs, education, and health services for large numbers of immigrants.

We have noted that many Pacific people who have settled here have faced an uphill struggle for themselves and their children.

We have asked about policies that encourage people to come here and then ignore them once they are here.

We have wondered whether you have been consulted about either the number or the origins of the flood of new immigrants that has changed the nature of Auckland.

These are questions that need to be asked as we develop our national identity.

They are not questions that are race based or anti immigrant.

The largest migrations of Pacific peoples entered the New Zealand workforce at a low skill level. During the years of economic reform many of those jobs disappeared and many of our people suffered an economic and social decline.

A lot of people ended up on the scrap heap.

There seemed to be a hierarchy of opportunity. A culture of dependence developed.

My message today is two fold:

- There have been some policy failures and we need to fix them; and,

- We need to make the most of the opportunities before us.

The growth of the Pacific population in New Zealand has been one of our defining features. It is a youthful population with its own challenges.

So what are the opportunities?

Education is the key to upward mobility. Our children are more aware of the opportunities arising from a tertiary education than we were. Our challenge is to ensure equality of access and equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders.

A skilled and educated community can create its own opportunities.

And that is, essentially, what we are considering today. Creating our own opportunities.

Why do our airlines have so few Maori or Pacific pilots when Rarotongan Airlines has 11 pilots of whom 10 are Cook Islanders?

Rarotongan Airlines is proud of it - and so they should be!

The Pacific Business Trust is a facilitator of opportunity that I have experienced first hand.

The business loans scheme is a positive example of the “hand up’ approach that enables people to take charge of their own destinies.

My involvement came about through assisting an individual whose business plan should probably have been scrutinised before assistance was granted.

That problem probably contributed to some amended procedures but does not detract from the potential of such start up assistance.

The opportunities provided by venture funding, business incubation, and small business support are excellent examples of how a community can create its own growth.

It is an example that can be followed by central government.

New Zealand First has advocated a policy mix that includes:

- A focus on our trading performance, supported by an expansion of development banking facilities and venture capital opportunities, and aimed at trebling our exports well before 2020;

- Ensuring that we have an export credit guarantee scheme that does work, unlike the bureaucratic maze it is now;

- Ensuring that New Zealand’s Trade Development Board maintains and expands our present markets whilst developing emerging markets;

- The promotion of indigenous industries;

- Ensuring innovation through tax incentives for research and development comparative to other first world nations;

- Facilitating technology transfer;

- Reducing red tape and compliance costs; and,

- Reducing the tax rate (to 20%) on new increased export net profit.

There needs to be a cultural change.

Why is New Zealand First the only Party that will provide its foreign aid to the Pacific region when the others parties want to spend it all over the world?

There also needs to be an attitudinal change. New Zealanders need to see operating a business as a “cool’ thing to do.

Improved access to Private Training Establishments that in turn have developed business networks provides an alternative pathway for many who are returning to the workforce or requiring retraining.

The recognition of achievement through scholarships and arts and business awards is another means of bringing about the necessary attitudinal change.

We need to see the world as providing us with opportunities rather than presenting us with problems.

There might be a lot that is wrong with our government or economy, with our health and education systems, but we must resolve to make this decade the best time to be a New Zealander! The opportunities for New Zealanders of Pacific origin are exciting. There are still some gaps but these can be closed by education and by improved employment and business opportunities.

And that is New Zealand First’s goal. Not to stifle our differences but to encourage the participation of all New Zealanders by ensuring equality of access and opportunity.

I would like to give you the opportunity to participate now by asking me about New Zealand First , our vision of one country, and New Zealand’s role in the Pacific.

ENDS


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