Maiden Speech - Judith Collins
Thursday 29 August 2002
Since this is the first time that I have spoken in Parliament, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your reappointment. I also take the opportunity to congratulate the Deputy Speaker and the Assistant Speakers on their appointments.
I am proud to represent the electorate of Clevedon on behalf of the New Zealand National Party.
Clevedon is a diverse electorate located both to the South and to the East of Auckland. It's 80 per cent urban, 20 per cent rural.
Included in its boundaries are the historic township of Papakura, the rural areas of Clevedon, Orere Point, Kawakawa Bay, Brookby, Alfriston, Whitford and Ardmore which - incidentally - is home to the busiest airport in New Zealand. It encompasses the coastal townships of Maraetai and Beachlands and to the North, New Zealand's fastest growing residential areas: Dannemora, Somerville, Shamrock Park, Point View and Shelly Park.
The people of Clevedon are ethnically diverse. The population includes European New Zealanders, Maori New Zealanders, Pacific New Zealanders, and increasingly, New Zealanders who have migrated mainly from Taiwan, Korea, India, China, South Africa and Fiji.
It is an Electorate of schools with the highest decile ratings and of schools with the lowest decile ratings. Clevedon is an electorate of old and new traditions, of Christian churches and Buddhist Temples. On the one hand, it is the home of the present Minister of Justice. On the other hand it was the home of Michael Choy whose brutal slaying continues to shock all of us.
It is New Zealand - as it is today.
I am the youngest of 6 children born to Percy and Jessie Collins of Walton, in the Waikato. We were dairy farming people. We were not wealthy people but we were not poor. We were and are, middle New Zealand. In a way we were privileged. We had two parents, discipline, responsibilities, plenty of love and more than anything else, we had security- a family in reality not just in name.
I decided to become a lawyer. I didn't know any but I had seen them on Television and I knew that lawyers could do a lot of good for people. That vague ambition was made solid when someone made the mistake of telling me that I couldn't do it.
The exact words were " You won't be a lawyer - You're a nice girl. You'll get married."
At University, I met and later married, my husband, David Wong Tung, who was then a Police Officer. David had come to New Zealand as a child from Samoa.
I've been a lawyer for over 20 years. In that time, I've also been a restaurateur, a public company director, Law Society politician and regulator, a gaming regulator, a business person, a wife and mother. So the nice girl did get married, did become a lawyer and did quite a bit else as well.
My ancestors came from England, Ireland, Wales and Germany - all looking for a better life - a life of freedom, opportunity and security. The first of them sailed into Nelson Harbour in 1842.
But, like many of my generation and later generations, this country is my only home. It is a country of which I am immensely proud and a country for which I am prepared to upturn my life and that of my family to serve - here in Parliament. When I look around at this profoundly beautiful debating chamber, I am moved by the knowledge that this is a War Memorial. War Memorials, like ANZAC day services, are not about the glorification of War but instead, they are about the commemoration of sacrifice of individual citizens for others.
I am proud that my family has contributed to New Zealand in both peace and in war.
In this country, they were farmers - breaking in the lands of Taranaki and the King Country and they served their country in the New Zealand wars in Taranaki, in both World Wars and in Vietnam. When I look around these walls, I see commemorated so many famous battles - battles that my father told me about - battles where he fought - to name just two - Alamein and Cassino.
Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my family, to my parents who personified to me the New Zealand spirit - the New Zealand culture - honest, hard working people who called a spade a spade.
I thank my husband David Wong Tung, and our son James who have always been supportive of me and whose sacrifices I appreciate. I thank my mother in law, Flory Wong Tung, who has been a wonderful grandmother to James and friend to me - which has enabled me to pursue this course.
Winning Clevedon, against the odds, with a healthy majority, took some doing. It also took an incredible team led by Campaign Chairman, Chris King and Electorate Chairman Roger Burrill. Five of my campaign team have travelled to Wellington today to support me. I'd put my campaign team up against any other, any time and we'd still win.
I thank the people of Clevedon for the faith that they have shown in me.
At this time, I pay tribute to two former parliamentarians. The first is my good friend Annabel Young who is here today and who has long been a promoter of my coming into Parliament. The second is the long serving Hunua Member, Warren Kyd. Warren served Hunua and its predecessors faithfully and well for 15 years. When I won selection as National's Clevedon candidate, Warren called on voters to support me in the gracious and generous manner that one expects of him.
A maiden speech should include what a politician stands for.
Well, Mr Speaker I have a vision for New Zealand.
I have a vision for New Zealand that recognises and supports business as well as New Zealanders at every level of society. That encourages opportunity. That celebrates success. That rewards hard work.
A New Zealand that grows.
All through the campaign, I said that there is nothing wrong with this country that a change in attitudes wouldn't fix. And I say that again today. There is nothing wrong with New Zealand that a change in attitudes wouldn't fix.
As a lawyer, I know that laws affect attitudes. Good laws help make good attitudes. Parliament makes the laws and shapes the attitudes and that's why I'm here.
I'm here to make a difference to those attitudes. I've told the people of Clevedon what I stand for.
I stand for one standard of citizenship for all. For one Justice system for all, for one country, for one sovereignty. Conversely, I don't stand for political correctness and I don't stand for dividing this country, - my country, - our country along the lines of race.
I stand for every young person knowing - as I did - that they can achieve anything they want - if they are prepared to use their talents, their energy and if they are prepared to make sacrifices.
Conversely, I do not stand for young women leaving school to go on the DPB because they think that's any easy option. It's not. It's a trap. I stand for a safety net not a welfare trap.
I stand for a robust Justice system that gives the Police the resources and, just as importantly, the backing, to sort out the criminal gangs. The gangs that manufacture the meth amphetamines currently fuelling much of the increase in violence in the South Auckland region. The gangs that fill the gaps left by absent or incompetent parents, that recruit from and are affiliated to the youth street gangs. The gangs that have turned whole chunks of New Zealand into cannabis plots. The gangs that are said to run the prisons.
I stand for business - particularly small business. 85 percent of business in New Zealand is small business. I know first hand what it is like to mortgage our home to go into business. I know first hand the hours and the money spent on completing silly little forms that probably go no where and which don't seem to achieve anything anyway.
We've heard a lot about the changes brought about in the 1990s.
Well, I remember what it used to be like in this country before the 1990s and the changes that a National Government put into place. I remember how every Christmas holiday, the ferries and the airlines could be counted on - counted on to go on strike.
I remember how every time there was a drought, the freezing works could be counted on - counted on to go on strike.
I remember what it was like trying to run a business with 28 percent interest rates.
I remember what it was like under compulsory unionism - as an employee, being forced to pay Union fees and never seeing a union delegate.
I've seen plenty of small business owners put the welfare of their staff first but I have yet to see a Union put a worker first and the Union second. Big Unions might have a place in big business but they have no place in small business.
I stand for sensible defence. I stand for New Zealand committing to its allies, pulling its weight and growing up. Conversely, I do not stand for us bludging off other countries. I do not stand for us, as a country, riding on the coat tails of our SAS force and believing that that is all we have do.
I stand for first world health care and education and I know that only a strong, growing economy can deliver those.
Mr Speaker, There is a form of poverty in this country. But it has little to do with poverty in a monetary sense. The poverty of which I speak is a poverty of responsibility. A poverty of courage, a poverty of truth, a poverty of love, a poverty of faith.
And that brings me to my final point.
I stand for the dignity of the individual. I believe in God and I believe that every human being is created with free will to do either good or evil.
That is what I stand for and the people of Clevedon have told me that they agree. I pledge to the people of Clevedon that I will stand up for them. That I will represent them and their views to the very best of my ability. And, Mr Speaker, you can be assured that I shall.