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English Speech: Give MPs the tools to do their job

Speech: English - Delegates urged to give MPs the tools to do their job

Address to National Party Special Constitutional Conference Wellington

April 12

Delegates urged to give MPs the tools to do their job

President of the National Party, delegates of the National Party, let's not beat about the bush.

We the National Party need to change our constitution and today is the day to do it.And there's a simple reason why we need to change our constitution. So that we can win.

You all remember, I hope, as powerfully as I do the aftermath of the last election.

And when I spoke with members of the National Party, then with supporters, when we sent the caucus out to talk to you about that defeat, there was a strong will to change.

Now the pain might have receded, but the need to change has not.

We have a simple requirement for the next election, that is to run a tightly focussed disciplined National Party campaign for the party vote.

Because we've discovered without one of those, without that sort of campaign, MMP is absolutely unforgiving.

Today we can right that.

And as we go through the details of these proposals, the either's and the ors, and the sections and the sub-sections, just remember this.

The caucus and the Party membership are guardians of a very special heritage.

We are a broad-based party; we reflect conservative principles and values.

We are rooted in New Zealand's unique and particular history and it's unique and particular way of life. We seek to represent the best prospects of every New Zealander, every New Zealander, not just those who support us, or those who believe the things we do, but every New Zealander.

And that heritage is important to the nation as well as it is to us for this reason.

The values and principles laid out here and carried in the hearts and the minds of every member of the National Party, represent the best way for this country and for its people to achieve their potential. And I can tell you that a lot of people who aren't here today, do want us to make the decision to change. You've met them, many people around New Zealand.

There's frustration and criticism of us, it's not because they oppose what we believe, it's because they support what we believe but they want us to succeed, so remember them.

It's been a long, and at times, difficult process, getting here.

I want to pay tribute to the President and to the National Management Board for getting to grips with the fundamentals of the need for change so quickly after the election.

Many of you have taken part in this process, a discussion about first principles, meetings about the detail of these proposals and I want to tell you why it has been worthwhile.

It will give us the chance to do what needs to be done for our country.

By 2005 those needs will be great - to lift our economic prospects.

We have the principles and the values that encourage competition and creativity.

That encourage the enterprising people and their families who have built this nation through their farms, their small businesses their community organisations.

We represent the idea that risk, that commitment, that enterprise, that reward for achievement, that profit are good.

The next job we will have to do is to craft for New Zealand one standard of citizenship.

To bring to the first decade of this century, the vision of people who want to build New Zealand on its hopes not on its failures, on unity, not on separatism.

And then there's a third task, to push back, the growing and grinding hopelessness of welfare dependency. Where so many hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are carved to one side by a left wing Government and patted on the head because they'll vote for them. Labour thinks it's better to keep them there.

It's our job to take on the difficult task but the vital task, of carving out for those people a sense of opportunity and confidence when they need our support and to meet the obligations as those who do support them.

And finally there's a task that I didn't think we would need to do and that is to re-establish New Zealand's place in the world as a country strong enough to make its own decisions but not too proud to stand with its friends in their time of need.

A country that is not bound by its young history, but knows enough of that history to know which side it's on.

And I want to say to Helen Clark, fix the damage, fix the damage.

All it would take is the one thing she finds so hard to do - just a few moments of humility. Because she's our Prime Minister and what's at stake is our national interest.

For a start up to a billion dollars benefit that the Government knows about from a free trade deal that we could lose if Australia gets it and we don't.

You see why it's been so damaging is because everyone knows the apology is as genuine as the signature on that painting.

And I say this to Helen Clark, if she can take personal responsibility for everything from the Chinese Poll Tax in the late 1800's, to the Samoan flu in the early 1900's, to discrimination against gays for a century, then she can take personal responsibility for comments she made last week.

This is what it means when you're a National party that represents the national interests. You see when she apologises as head of state, she does so on your behalf.

On all our behalf, and that is the obligation she carries as leader regardless of her personal views and personal beliefs.

So ladies and gentlemen I refer you again to the mission and values, which you, through a process of consultation and review have laid out in this document. I embrace those values.

They are knitted into the lives that you have led, the families you have raised and the party that you work for.

So I ask you to embrace those values and if you do, then today give us the tools to do the job. Thank-you.

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