EPMU speech - Jim Anderton
18 July 2002
Jim Anderton MP
Leader of the Progressive Coalition
Thursday, 18 July 2002
EPMU Biennial Conference
Centra, corner Froude and Tryon Sts,
I know there is only one topic on everyone's minds here today.
It has dominated the media and occupied our attention for the last few weeks.
I want you to know that I believe we have a strong team and that we are competitive against all-comers.
I want you to know that I believe that we can win - that we will win.
For those reasons, I'm backing Canterbury in the game against the All Blacks against South Africa tomorrow night.
Off lesser importance, until after tomorrow night, of course, is who will govern for the next 3 years with Labour?
Let me make this clear: the real choice for New Zealand, is between uncertainty and progress.
If Labour and the Progressive Coalition do not get a majority together, we face constitutional uncertainty in the lengthy transition to a new government, political uncertainty for 3 years, and economic/investor uncertainty.
It looks likely that Labour will get around 55 – 57 seats, maybe one or two more or less.
I believe that the Progressive Coalition can get 5 to 6 seats - but that needs you, and all New Zealanders, to make a simple choice.
A Party vote of 1.21% for the Progressive Coalition will achieve 2 MPs – 2.02 per cent equals 3 MPs, 2.83 equals 4 and 3.6 will deliver 5 seats and 4.31 per cent 6. That is the minimum I hope for, and the minimum we will need to really make a difference. Impossible? I don’t think so with nine days still to go.
Who will make up the balance to get beyond 60 seats? (And remember 61 votes are needed to govern as a majority Government).
Or will Labour and the Progressive Coalition have to govern as a minority, and with no permanent guarantee of confidence?
Ask yourself if you would trust Winston Peters in a coalition government?
Let me say that I will find it extremely difficult to believe that either Labour or myself will ever trust Winston Peters. He has run a racist campaign, and tried to beat up fear and intolerance in our communities.
And whatever his smiling exterior, the truth is that very few people who have been in the political arena or a senior level in Parliament or Government have forgotten or will forget his performance of holding the county to ransom over nine weeks of coalition negotiations in 1996 or the subsequent National/NZ First Coalition Government shambles.
(Remember NZ First was never going to go into coalition with National in the first place)
Ask yourself if you would trust the Greens? Really? As the dust settles from all this sweetcorn rubbish, the simple facts remain. A book making false allegations was published by a Green Party List candidate (Potton) in the middle of an election campaign.
Just for the record, let me repeat that there was no scientific evidence put to the government that there was one single seed in that consignment which was genetically modified. Not one.
To test for GE, scientists have to show the presence of two (2) marker genes. The early tests showed one marker gene, but that could have come from any number of other sources – Gisborne soil contamination seems to be the most likely explanation. Further examination could not find any evidence of two markers - in other words, there was no GE.
As for the Greens' claims that they were not fully briefed about the possibility that the crops had been planted, let me just ask you: what are these seeds for? Planting!
New Zealand is in grave danger of missing the message of progress and certainty from the Progressive Coalition.
I have the feeling that people take stability for granted, that they do not realise that it took two leaders to deliver political stability and economic progress over the last few years.
I do not want to take anything away from Helen Clark. She is the best Prime Minister this country has seen in decades.
But she was not there alone.
Yesterday I opened the largest factory start-up in years. 400 jobs in South Auckland making beef jerky for the American and Asian markets through a joint NZ /United States project. TVNZ had mentioned it the week before, so they didn't bother to turn up or to interview me. TV 3 did turn up yesterday, but they gave the credit to Michael Cullen and managed not to mention my role as Minister of Economic, Industry and Regional development at all.
I don’t mind sharing or even giving praise to Michael – we work well together as close cabinet colleagues, but with the best will in the world he had nothing whatever to do with this project.
That opening yesterday was the result of a great product and excellent entrepreneurs - and it took two years of advocacy from me, my ministry and our new economic development implementation agency Industry NZ.
Industry New Zealand provided grants and advice to ensure this venture proceeded. And WINZ, as well as Skill New Zealand, provided funding for skills training to ensure many of the new workforce were those who had been on the unemployment benefit for years and now have a chance to hold their head up and participate fully in their own community and nation.
The National Party attitude was that business would simply spontaneously develop. All Governments had to do was sit on their backside and pass laws.
Like they did with the Auckland power crisis - it was someone else's problem.
Of course, businesses do develop without Government involvement.
But it is simple common sense to know that they develop faster and better if Government is supporting them actively, helping research markets, providing expertise to get them going, boosting their confidence that they are not alone in the universe – in other words – be a partner in enterprise New Zealand.
There are many more business openings in the pipeline thanks to the work of my Ministries, and TV will not be able to ignore them all.
- Wood Processing in the
East Coast- Gisborne / Tairawhiti. (all logs going across
wharf currently processed into high quality wood products)
- Horticulture and high tech engineering in Canterbury
- Avocado oil and food processing in the Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay
- Wine growing and Manufacturing in Central Otago and Marlborough
Across the country, there is a different relationship between business and Government as everyone begins to realise how serious I am about economic growth.
But New Zealanders might not realise how important their vote is for a solid block of Progressive Coalition MPs, until it is too late.
Our website displays our comprehensive polices.
This audience will be interested to know that we are going to be strong advocates for 4 weeks paid annual leave - the last time the statutory minimum was raised was about nearly 30 years ago – most European countries have had 4-6 weeks annual leave for years – and they have also had paid parental leave, some for up to 12 months.
You will want to know that we stand for a comprehensive minimum code on key employment matters.
You will want to know that we have a core commitment to doubling the number of apprenticeships in New Zealand, to getting all young people under 20 into full time work, training or education by 2005.
You will want to know that we will progressively lower the cost of tertiary education until it is free, we will progressively wipe out the student loan scheme, we will progressively reduce the costs of health care, starting with school children and the elderly in this next term of Parliament.
You will also want to know that it will not happen if we are not there in substantial numbers.
In case you want to dream that the perfect world would be Labour in a majority on its own, let me say this.
There have been countless examples of the importance of having a different voice at the Cabinet table. We have provided a real check on Government, and we have made good decisions better, and stopped bad decisions being made at all.
- Student fees and Interest Rates Frozen
- Indexing free health care for under 6s
- Kept all Solid Energy Mines in public ownership etcetera
We do not have open conflict very often - and when we do, like the Singapore Free Trade treaty, it is handled sensibly, based on the majority will of Parliament.
But this does not mean we have no differences. We voted against our Labour colleagues in Parliament over 90 times in two and a half years.
It is as if New Zealanders are punishing us for good management.
And some would say that I have paid a heavy price for stable management, not least because my determination in that regard was not shared by my former colleagues.
And I pause to add that those colleagues were determined not to support Andrew Little's nomination onto the Tertiary Education Commission - and I over-rode them and strongly supported him in that critical position for the future of our tertiary education and training.
But all that was behind closed doors.
Of course the media reports major conflict, like wars and violence, so I understand that good news tends to get taken for granted.
But at election time, people should not risk taking for granted what the Progressive Coalition offers and why it is critical that we get a strong Party vote.
We are gradually turning the tide from the politics of neglect.
We face a new tide, of the politics of fear, warning and threatening us about waves of immigration from foreigners who are not like us, (many of them are new Zealanders coming home) threatening us with false crime statistics (ie New York is safety than Wellington Auckland or Rotorua), or threatening us that the world was about to end over sweetcorn.
We need to keep turning back those irrational sand self interested tides. We have re-engaged the regions, local government, unions, local communities and businesses as partners in sustainable development.
For the first time in most people's memory, every single region is in positive growth and many over 4 per cent.
There are 104,000 more jobs than there were 3 years ago, 1 new job every twelve and half minutes of the past two and a half years.
There are 12 major industry strategies under way – from wood processing to casting and light alloy manufacturing to biotechnology information communication technology and industrial design- with many more lined up.
The most successful to date has been the Wood Processing Strategy Steering Group, which aims to double the size of the industry by 2015, making it our largest export earner.
Andrew Little, Peter Conway of the CTU and Jim Jones have been closely involved – at my instigation.
It is a good story, and getting by the day better.
You have a choice - New Zealand has a choice -
Uncertainty, or Progress?
Help us to get a strong party vote for the Progressive Coalition and keep the momentum of the best Government New Zealand has had for nearly 30 years going strongly.