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The Right Talk - 14 February 2003

The Right Talk
From The Desk of National Party Leader Bill English

At our Napier caucus, the National Party decided there would be four main issues it would put its name on this year, economic growth, welfare dependency, one standard of citizenship and education. These are long term challenges for New Zealand, so we are looking for serious debate.

Why Welfare Dependency

First the good news. Unemployment has dropped below 5% because there has been 4 years now of growth in new jobs. Now the bad news. The number of people on other benefits has increased. DPB, Sickness and Invalids benefits are all rising. There are now more than 350,000 New Zealanders on welfare and offical forecasts tell us that even if unemployment stays down, another 30-50,000 people will go into dependency over the next 3 years. In another 3 years there will be twice as many people on the long term invalids benefit as there were 5 years ago.

Waitangi Visit

Police were concerned enough about what I had been saying on the Treaty of Waitangi that they sent security with me for the two days. In fact I was treated well. I was given a good hearing, in stark contrast to the abuse that comes from the government every time the Treaty's discussed.

The local people made a real effort to restore the dignity and respect a national day deserves. Waitangi will work better when pakeha politicans talk openly about how most people feel about the Treaty. Up until now it has been one way traffic - pakeha are guilty and have to make up for it.

Thanks to all those who contacted my office in support of the Treaty speech - we have had hundreds of letters and emails.

The War Zone

National supported the Government's decision to send a frigate, an Orion and Hercules to the Gulf, which will be right in the thick of the Iraqi war zone. This contribution is, in fact, a good proportion of our airforce and navy, involving several hundred personnel. Unfortunately many people don't realise how large the contribution is, and how dangerous the Gulf will be during a war. It'll be much more dangerous than East Timor. Parliament has debated every other major contribution, but not this one. Our armed forces should be going into danger with the country behind them.

Portfolio Change

Richard Worth has moved from Defence to Justice and Simon Power has moved from Justice to Defence - a clean swap. Richard has extensive experience as a senior lawyer, and he will make sure the appointments to the new Supreme Court are not politicised. Simon now has much of our defence capacity situated in or near his electorate at Ohakea and Linton.

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