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Maiden Speech - John Key MP for Helensville

Maiden Speech - John Key MP for Helensville


John Key MP for Helensville Maiden Speech 29 August 2002

Madam Speaker.

This afternoon I rise full of gratitude to the people of Helensville, without whose support I would not be here today.

The election in Helensville, was dare I say it an unusual event; and I find myself in the unique position of being the only member of the National caucus to have beaten a National candidate to get here.

As a result of MMP, I am joined in the House by the only other MP for Helensville in history, Dail Jones, the member from 1978 - 1984, and I acknowledge my Parliamentary colleague.

The Helensville seat was formed from the nucleus of the former electorate of Waitakere so I wish to acknowledge the work carried out over the past 12 years by the previous incumbent, Brian Neeson.

As a political rookie, I am indebted to a wide range of people for their support, encouragement and knowledge; but in particular I wish to pay tribute to Thomas Grace, Beverley Revell and James Ryan for their enormous contribution.

I would also thank my family, specifically my wife Bronagh and our children - Stephie and Max - who are here to support me today. Politics demands many sacrifices of family life; an almost-impossible challenge made possible by their understanding.

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-appointment, and Sir I look forward to being under your guidance in this chamber.

Helensville is a microcosm of our society - from rural South Head on Kaipara Harbour, all the way south to the urban belts of Massey, West Harbour, Greenhithe and Albany Heights - that, for the most part, is bordered by the rugged coastline of the Tasman sea to the west and the rolling farmlands of Kaukapakapa and Paremoremo to the east.

The Helensville seat is noted for its enterprising Dalmatian migrants who, after initially settling as gum-diggers, struggled against the odds (including the threat of prohibition after World War Two) to foster a love of wine amongst a beer-drinking nation. The electorate includes some of New Zealand's longest-established wineries.

It also has a proud history for its association with our Air Force at Whenuapai and formerly at Hobsonville airbase. The future development of the Hobsonville land now provides a real opportunity to enhance the local community - it could become the jewel of West Auckland's crown.

Every district has its challenges and I am committed to finding solutions to the many real issues in my electorate, particularly those posed by its rapid population growth. These include the need for extra intermediate and secondary schools; an extension to the Auckland motorway network; and increased levels of police services. I promise to be vocal on these, and other, local issues.

Madam Speaker, I come to this House with high hopes of improving my fellow New Zealanders' lives, by implementing practical common sense policies and legislation that will reflect the knowledge gained from my recent past in the real commercial world.

My views on life were shaped by a remarkable woman, my late mother Ruth. At the age of 16, unable to speak a word of English, she escaped to London from the Nazi invasion of Vienna. After working as a nurse in the British Army, she married my father George and they moved to New Zealand.

When I was 6, my father died; leaving my mother penniless with 3 children to raise. From a humble start in a state house, she worked as a cleaner and night porter until she earned the deposit for a modest home. She was living testimony that you get out of life what you put into it. There is no substitute for hard work and determination. These are the attitudes she instilled in me.

So it is with first hand experience that I acknowledge the need for a society fostering personal responsibility; supporting aspirations and inspiring dreams. A society based on meritocracy, where every citizen has every opportunity to reach the greatest heights their qualities allow.

Poverty of expectation and ambition is not the way forward; nor is long-term dependence on welfare. As Peter Fraser once lamented, 'too many people expect welfare to provide an armchair ride to prosperity'.

The success of New Zealand's future lies in the creation of a fertile economic environment propelled by a positive entrepreneurial attitude.

For our small nation to produce long-term sustainable levels of economic growth, a number of factors will need to be addressed: including the raising of education standards; cutting compliance costs; increasing the availability of investment capital and improving productivity levels.

We must create an environment that sends the message loud and clear: New Zealand IS open for business.

It is unacceptable to expect our business community and investors to negotiate around legislation that is unworkable, impractical or internationally uncompetitive.

I remain baffled at legislation that simply puts New Zealand in the 'too hard' basket. The Resource Management Act is a prime example of a self-imposed straitjacket.

Indeed I have to say the only thing I find more compelling than the need to revamp the RMA ...is the fact that the Bledisloe Cup should run only for 79 minutes!

During my time working abroad I was able to reflect on what it means to be a New Zealander and indeed how privileged we all are.

That said I have been some what surprised by what I have discovered since my return.

A new wave of thinking has begun to pervade our society.

The type of thinking that oozes political correctness, at the expense of all else

Some have interpreted this as a reason to downgrade their ambitions for themselves and their country- to believe life is solely about competing, not winning; about taking part, not taking the lead, about sipping from the half empty glass, not quenching their thirst from the cup that is half full.

This group has started to build an institutional psyche that whispers bleakly about our structural disadvantages.

Those who cite Ireland or Singapore as economic miracles to emulate are quickly shot down by scoffers who claim we don't have the neighbouring population density; we don't have any EU-funded roads coming our way; or that their success doesn't translate to our Kiwi culture.

My time in the commercial world, taught me there is one thing more important than the tangible factors like product mix or savings rates or population density. That 'something' costs nothing...that 'something' is ... attitude.

* It's about having a dream, then following it.

* It's about seeing yourself as a winner, then acting like it.

* It's about hard work; and discipline; and self-belief

* Or, as Tennyson said in his epic poem, Ulysses: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"

As politicians if we really want New Zealanders to have those big dreams; to dare to win - knowing they might lose; then we must celebrate their actions and their results.

We must create a climate of innovation and enterprise; where talent and ability can flourish and be respected, because make no mistake when enterprise is undermined, it is the weakest and most vulnerable who suffer to the greatest extent. For this group, moving to more fertile conditions simply isn't an option.

Madam Speaker.

If we are to stride the path of our future with determination, purpose and passion then we will have to create the kind of environment that allows all New Zealanders to have a positive attitude.

An attitude that encourages us to come to terms with our history, and binds us together - so we can tackle our future as one people.

An attitude of tolerance and respect for one another, interwoven with a realistic sense of fairness and personal accountability.

An attitude that defines us as Kiwis, a small nation with a big heart, confident we can meet and beat the challenges that lie before us.

And why shouldn't we?

Our young nation has some incredible competitive advantages:

Our quality of life, our English legal system and our history of stable government are just three items from a long list that could point to a bright future.

With innovation we can attract and develop capital; creating jobs that will anchor those gifted New Zealanders who pour out of our educational facilities every year.

But we mustn't be scared to do things because they might offend small groups, or seem unconventional.

Good government is more than doing what's popular.

Good government is more than blindly following the latest opinion poll.

Good government is about leadership, providing our nation with an economic and social roadmap for enhancement.

On September 11 last year the world - as we knew it - changed. None of us will ever forget the sight of those commercial airliners hurtling senselessly into the New York skyline.

The citizens of 86 nations died that day - including 2 Kiwis. A tragic and graphic illustration of how our world has changed - from isolated silos of nationalism to the brutal reality of Globalisation.

Nations now compete at unprecedented levels, with an unparalleled mobility of individuals and companies and capital... and it will not stop.

Lifestyle and nice beaches alone won't keep ambitious Kiwis here. The current Diaspora of talent simply must be reversed.

Madam Speaker.

I am proud to be a New Zealander.

I am proud to be a Member of this House.

And to those who ask ...why am I here?

Because I want to rekindle the sense of adventure and pioneering spirit of our forebears; those courageous men and woman who came to this new place carrying little more than their hopes, and determination to build a better life.

I have as a goal, my ambition to build on their efforts and others who have preceded me so that I may play my part in creating something even greater for those who have yet to arrive.

Ends


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