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Bill English's Unity And Development Speech

Unity And Development Are Better Than Division And Dependency.

Speech by Hon Bill English - Leader of the Opposition

At the Channel View Lounge - 3, Gibbons Road, Takapuna

The question I hear most often. It’s "What does National stand for?"

The New Zealand National Party is a mainstream Party.
It stands for:
personal responsibility.
strong families and communities.
freedom and choice.
limited Government.
national and personal security.
And one standard of citizenship - one rule for all.

When other parties take up our principles it’s another victory in the war of ideas.

But the New Zealand National Party is the only party able to make them the heart of government.

Two burning issues will dominate this decade, not just for politicians, but also for all New Zealanders. One is economic growth and how New Zealand can offer to its young people the opportunity they deserve to fulfil their potential.
The other is the role of the Treaty of Waitangi. Today, I will focus on the second of these issues.

But first, this Government’s complacency.

A good Government would seize the opportunity, of good economic conditions, an opportunity few governments get.

It should be making this the best country in the world for small business.

It should be making sure work is worth more than welfare while jobs are plentiful.

It should be making progressive changes in education, so every child gets the best opportunity.

But those historic opportunities go begging. The Prime Minister’s public statements this week show the Labour-United Future Government does not have a programme for New Zealand. Labour thinks it has done what it came to do.

But our country cannot afford to bask in the sun as if it were on a never-ending, summer holiday. The commuters and the producers can’t wait a decade for better roads.

Children can’t wait years while bureaucrats and cosy union deals strangle performance in our schools.

The country can’t wait while 6000 long-term unemployed and 12,000 young people under 20 waste away dependent on welfare.

Working families can’t wait forever for better incomes.

Small business can’t wait for the dollar to go any higher before we lift the burden of compliance off them.

The Treaty is the second burning issue. Labour has a very different view of New Zealand’s future than that held by 90% of New Zealanders.

It is becoming clearer and clearer what sort of country Helen Clark and her colleagues see themselves creating.

Their New Zealand is a bi-cultural nation in which the Treaty of Waitangi is written into every institution, act of Parliament and Government policy.

They don’t see the resolution of historical Treaty claims as an opportunity to close the book on some issues which have divided us. Instead, they are opening a new book of contemporary distinctions between New Zealanders on the basis of ethnicity.

The Clark Government’s greatest failing is its abdication of duty to lead by honestly addressing the relationship between Maori, Pakeha and other New Zealanders.

And it now risks throwing away 20 years of gains by continuing down the path of division for the next 20 years.

Constitutional experiments with the Treaty of Waitangi must be halted. The culture of cringing, political correctness must end. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and for the people to reclaim what it is to be a New Zealander.

Unless we call a halt to the policy of segregation between Maori and the rest of New Zealand, Helen Clark and her Government will continue to undermine the pillars of equality and goodwill at the heart of our egalitarian democracy.

The way ahead is unity and enterprise, not division and dependency.

Yet, raise these issues and the Beehive will call you racist or Maori bashing.

Most people share my concerns. Because everyday we read about divisive new laws, failed Government schemes, a stream of bad news that undermines our common citizenship. Yet, common citizenship is what we need to bind us together as we become a more diverse community.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We can repair the past. There’s a better foundation for a nation than guilt and recrimination.

New Zealand can realise the vision of its founders. We are a nation built on trust, and on economic opportunity.

It’s the way New Zealand started out.

The Treaty established a nation founded on one sovereignty, common citizenship.

When Maori and Päkehä founded New Zealand in 1840, it was the first, free British colony for two centuries.

No slavery, no convicts and no forced labour.

Settlers came for the opportunity to create a better life, a fresh start.

New Zealand was intended to be a mixed-race nation, formed with equality and full citizenship for both the indigenous people and the white settlers.

The Treaty created equality. It brought peace in 1840 and it’s the basis of our democracy now.

And it was always an egalitarian democracy.

Any person was as good as the next. As Keith Sinclair said of early settlers - it was their ambition to equalise upwards - that is the New Zealand enterprise.

Our democracy has been tested in recent decades by the Springbok Tour protests, the Rogernomics revolution, a change to MMP, and still stood strong and unquestioned.

However, our history since 1840 has not always lived up to its promise. The Crown betrayed the trust and goodwill of Maori. Promises were broken, land was confiscated, and people were dispossessed. The laws denied Maori rights of citizenship. For instance, Maori land could be taken for public purposes without compensation.

In recent decades, the wounds of the past have begun to heal as the Crown has recognised the wrongs it did to its own citizens. I stand proud of the record of the National Government, which settled the first large Treaty claims.

And where Maori had a better answer to economic development, or health or education we supported them, as long as they were effective. It's consistent with our belief in limited government.

Progress for Maori comes the same as it does for any New Zealander who has aspirations - economic opportunity. There’s a deceptively simple recipe - intact families, good education and work.

But we are a democracy. Further progress depends on the goodwill and support of the people. And the goodwill is eroding.

Look behind the public controversies at the legislation and the programmes that cause them and you see why.

Take the Local Government Act, the biggest constitutional change since MMP. The business end of the Act is the taniwha clause. It says in every decision your local council makes, it must take account of the special relationship Maori have with land, sea, air and water and other taonga.

Maori have rights as voters, ratepayers and property owners, just like anyone else. The Taniwha clause gives the force of law to spiritual beliefs of a group defined by their race. I too have spiritual beliefs, and a relationship to the land in central Southland where I come from, but these won’t have the force of law.

Helen Clark explains this by saying “We want to encourage local bodies to do their best to include Maori in decision-making”. That’s it - the only public explanation.

It’s dismissive and arrogant if she doesn’t care or doesn’t know.

This law will hand to some Maori groups a veto over local Council decisions.

Similar laws threaten scientific research on the basis of the same spiritual beliefs.

And there’s more to come.

Labour are changing the Resource Management Act, so ancestral landscapes for Maori will have the force of law. And iwi will have a right to draw up their own resource plan which your council must take into account.

New laws require Maori participation in deciding what you watch on TVNZ.

Then there’s the legislation for Maori TV.

In 1986, The Royal Commission on the Electoral System said that Maori saw the Maori seats in Parliament as the expression of their status under the Treaty. Things have moved a long way since then.

Maori representation no longer depends on the Maori seats. There are more Maori than ever in Parliament, and more broadly spread across several parties in the House. Most are elected on their own merits because the Maori vote is so large.

The Royal Commission proposed that under MMP there would be no separate Maori seats, no Maori roll and no Maori option. It is almost 20 years since the Commission reported to Parliament, but rather than ask what purpose the Maori seats now serve, Labour has extended the option to local government. Why?

We don’t trust the motives behind the Government’s new Supreme Court. In the hands of Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson it’s a purpose-built tool for constitutional experiments. In their hands it’s a device to shift responsibility for implementing divisive, government policy that does not have public support.

They have no right to set up a Supreme Court to do their dirty work for them. Least of all when they can’t even sort out what they mean by what they say.

Take partnership. The Government talks constantly about it, but Parliament doesn’t know what they mean. There can be no partnership in sovereignty. It’s a trust placed in the Crown and Parliament by the sovereign people.

So how far should partnership go?

Then there’s the tricky question of who Parliament means by Maori. Look in our primary schools. Who will be Maori and Pakeha when they grow up? Among Maori there is plenty of controversy about who has standing, who speaks for who.

Because it’s too hard Labour have handed the job of ethnic, and therefore constitutional definition, to your local council.

Special consultation requirements, a unique status for Maori beliefs and more and more segregation of things Maori.

Will this lift the status of Maori?

No. Because not enough Maori are gaining the self-determination that really works - economic success, and independence from the clutches of government.

The growing number of successful Maori enterprises is lost among the blather of bickering and bad news.

The same malaise affects the Government’s spending programmes.

“Closing the Gaps” is still going, despite Prime Ministerial assurances it had stopped. At least 2400 grants have been paid out ranging from $500 to over $100,000. Most are small.

It appears TPK officials drive around the country writing out cheques virtually at will. Some organisations appear to have received multiple grants. There are grants for economic development. There are also grants for classes in break-dancing and family reunions.

Surely Helen Clark can see dishing out cash with no accountability is asking for trouble? Because it’s nothing more than a protection racket to keep Labour in power - and it will cause a backlash, whether it’s Maori or anyone else.

It’s bad for Maori and bad for New Zealand, because it’s based on bad policy, on division instead of unity, on dependency instead of development.

The next National-led Government will stop this nonsense.

It will be a relief to all New Zealanders, including Maori. Because Labour’s political debt to Maori fosters distrust about how taxpayers’ money is used.

Honesty and straight talking is essential if we are to trust each other.

But I don’t trust Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson to deal with Maori and Treaty issues - because they don’t trust the people, they fear the people.

They fear that New Zealanders will reject their separatist philosophy. So, they won’t say what they mean, and they believe only the right sort of people understand them.

But their fear that the rest of us are prejudiced or racist doesn’t make us so. New Zealanders will run with a fair go - fixing past problems, helping people who really need help, and making sure everyone has a fair chance.

Helen Clark and her PC brigade like Joris de Bres just don’t have faith in New Zealanders to do that.

That’s why Labour should be counted out of this debate about our nation’s future.

The New Zealand National Party stands for one standard of citizenship.

Today, I call for a halt to more laws that separate our people and undermine our common citizenship. Different yes, segregated, no.

As for taniwha clauses - we say no more. I invite the other parties in Parliament to back National on this.

It’s time to rethink how this nation realises the promise of its foundation. We can be a country where every citizen is proud of our common New Zealand heritage, where our children know and respect our dramatic history, a country where everyone has the same rights and obligations.

Differences among us won’t go away - they are part of our social fabric. But we can live better with the differences if we can break out of the suffocating atmosphere of political correctness, guilt and fear.

Late last year, National ran a public meeting in Welcome Bay, where 180 ha of private land were declared wahi tapu. 300 people showed up.

The landowners knew the local Maori history. They knew there was a wahi tapu area on top of the hill, a beautiful site over looking Tauranga.

They offered to fence it off and protect it. Some local Maori supported the idea; some were opposed because of a genuine but unrelated grievance over past behaviour by the local council on a different block of land.

The discussion was reasoned and moderate. The voice of New Zealand I heard there was respectful, but it was frustrated, frustrated that the practical solution couldn’t happen. No racist ranting, just good people looking for a fair deal everyone could live with, and only cringing bureaucrats and bad law stood in the way.

I believe in the inherent, reasonable and fair-mindedness of New Zealanders.

Let their voice be heard.

The voice of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders must be heard. National will make sure their concerns for their country are heard.

It’s time for the people to take back the job of defining our democracy, to push aside the government, the bureaucrats and the theorists.

You cannot force people to believe what they do not believe.

It’s time for people of goodwill to stand up for one standard of citizenship.

Let’s make 2003 a turning point for the silent majority who want to reclaim their country.

© Scoop Media

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