Campaign Closing Speech - Bill English
National Party Leader
Campaign Closing Speech
WestpacTrust Community Theatre
Well, it’s been a hard campaign - one of the toughest.
But I’ve been inspired by the hard work I’ve seen in every part of New Zealand over the past several weeks by candidates, their support teams and rank and file party members.
I’ve seen people out in the cold rain on winter nights putting up the hoardings. I’ve met the candidates that have walked the length and breadth of their electorate to take the message.
It’s been a test of character and everyone of you is a winner.
I want to thank you for that commitment and all that you have done.
But it’s not quite over.
There is still the rest of the day and tomorrow to go. And we are going to campaign for the last vote that’s out there till midnight on Friday.
Because you know what? We can do it.
Ignore the polls. There is only one way to predict the future and that’s to make it happen.
I am prepared to work with like-minded parties who want to make a difference for this country. I will lead a Government that will listen and respond to the need for better incomes, safety in our communities and save our crumbling schools.
A Government that stands for one standard of citizenship, common rights and obligations and one rule for all.
New Zealand, in the last four weeks has seen the ads, heard all the commentators, the policies, the leaders. They've talked about corngate and the worm and tactical voting.
But the real issues for voters when they have the last word is what is best for New Zealand.
Because this country faces many challenges.
A fading economy, the billions of dollars lost on world markets, and the
falling incomes of our exporters, including the much lower dairy payout.
That’s why National has a plan to give the incentive, the encouragement and the opportunity for New Zealanders to be what they can be.
Then there are the difficulties faced by small businesses.
That’s why we are determined to cut red tape on small business and cut personal and company taxes, so we can get the jobs and a growing economy to support them.
I've run a small business.
I've left the forms on the desk for a week, hoping they will go away.
But they don't.
And there are the schools that are in trouble.
That’s why we’re determined to modernise the education system, so parents and teachers can have more control over the running of schools, and so good teachers can be paid what they deserve.
And then there’s the brain drain.
You know we’ve lost 49,000 skilled New Zealanders in the past three years. The best immigration policy we can have is one that brings our brightest and best back home. That’s why we have a “You Stay, We Pay Scheme” which writes down student loans if people stay and work here.
And there’s welfare dependency that is trapping too many of our young people.
You know there are 18,000 New Zealanders under 20 on benefits today. They’re young. They’re fit. But they’re doing nothing.
If they don’t learn the work ethic when they’re young, when will they? That’s why we’ll scrap the dole for those under 20 with a real programme to prepare them with the skills and actively move them into work.
That’s why our 90-Day work trial period gives incentives for small businesses to take someone new.
And then there’s the unacceptable level of violent crime.
That’s why we will stand up for personal safety by putting an extra 500 police on the streets and toughen sentences, including doubling the non-parole period for violent crime and ensuring that for the worst, life means life.
The 92% of us who voted to get tough on crime must be listened to.
Last week, I walked with the families and friends of murder victims through the streets of Wellington. Norm Withers was there too. You can’t hear their story and ignore the pain.
I can’t look people in the eye and say this is as good as it gets, tick the box and be happy.
I'm more ambitious than that, because you're more ambitious than that.
The most important pledge I can offer to you is that I will fight as hard
for New Zealand as you do for your families and your futures.
Now, more than ever, New Zealand needs strong economic stewardship - not three more years of policies that ride on the backs of our small businesses.
That won’t get us a 4% economy. That won’t stop us sliding further behind Australia. It won’t buy us the first world public health and education services we need.
Because with a 2% economy teachers will continue to leave the profession attracted by better pay elsewhere. And every superannuitant will be worse off because superannuation is linked to real wages which will fall.
And you know what? Labour will put more deadweight on those whose hard work we all rely on to get ahead. New taxes, a Health Tax, higher petrol taxes, and I believe even a capital gains tax. Because they haven’t ruled that one out.
Helen Clark cut-and-ran hoping to cross the finish line before the truth caught up with her. That’s what she did with the painting and what she’ll do to with her latest pledge card.
She cut-and-ran before the elderly and young get hit by the $124 million of health cuts targeted at them this year. Kaitaia Hospital has just a temporary band-aid.
And she did it hoping parents wouldn’t realise that the teachers’ industrial action is just a crack on the surface of a crumbling school system.
A system that’s turning out the next generation of New Zealanders; a generation that needs to be smarter and more productive than we are to support our aging population.
Again she cut-and-ran before anyone noticed that the brain drain is accelerating once again, taking away teachers, nurses and other professionals.
Yes, she called the snap election hoping that not too many people found out about the new law that’s let someone beat their mother into a vegetable, someone who gets sentenced to 9 years can be out on the streets in three.
And she called it before thinking no one would spot that Labour has no new ideas to take New Zealand forward. But plenty of plans to rob a generation of opportunities by investing $2 billion a year in overseas economies for the next 30 years.
You know for years now, successive Governments have struggled to balance the books. Now, for the first time in decades, we have the opportunity to really make it happen for our country, we have the choices to invest in New Zealand.
But the opportunity of a generation is about to be squandered by Dr Cullen’s Fund.
What else is happening? Well, they’re selling Air New Zealand off to Qantas. They won’t tell you that. But they should because it’s your asset. They won’t tell you how much it will hurt our tourism industry because that’s what will happen when New Zealand’s interests take second place to Australia’s.
New Zealand will be the budget, no-frills destination for tourists after the lucky country has had its fill.
Helen Clark doesn’t want people to know what’s going on. Because she knows that when New Zealanders understand, they won’t like it.
She doesn’t want you to dream of doing better. She just wants you to tick the box and say this is as good as it gets. Well, it’s not good enough.
You know I regret we have a Prime Minister who gets more fired up over an interview that reveals her hypocrisy than she does about crime, education and making sure people have better incomes.
And then there’s the challenge of staying in the first-world with the quality public services because we’ve got a growing economy to pay for them.
The more I travel around this country, the more I realise that the solutions to these problems do not lie with our Government. They lie with our small business people. They lie with our farmers. They lie with our teachers and policemen. They lie with every hardworking, decent and law-abiding citizen in this country.
And ultimately, the future of this country will be in the hands of our children.
It is the people of New Zealand that make this country what it is.
None of this will be easy.
But if we do what we’ve done, then we’ll get what we’ve got.
It will take real commitment and courage to deal with these challenges, and make our country great. And every day I meet people who deserve that commitment.
I can’t look them in the eye and say this is as good as it gets - tick the boxes - be happy.
They are more ambitious and I am more ambitious.
New Zealanders - the most important pledge I can offer to you is that I will fight as hard for you as you do for your families and your futures. That’s why you should stand up for what you believe.
Well, the time for talk is almost over.
New Zealand, it’s time now to think.
Think very hard about what you want to say on Saturday.
At the last election, you said you wanted to get tough on crime. Has this Government got tough on crime?
My message for every New Zealander is use your vote to stand up for what you believe.
It’s over to you now to have the last word - make sure you are listened to.
You've told me about the things that worry you, and they're the same things
I'm worried about.
But the only way to get what you want for New Zealand is to vote for it. And the small parties can’t do it for you. That’s a wasted voted.
Your vote is your voice. So, use it. And use it well.
I've worked to get a new team with new ideas, and they're good people.
But they'll only get there with a strong party vote for National.
The choice is really simple - a National led government to give you the changes you want or a Labour coalition that won't.
If you can be a strong voice for National, then we will be a stronger voice for you. Give your party vote to National.