English Address to Whangarei public meeting 16 Jul
Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader
Address to Whangarei public meeting 16 July 2003
1230 embargo Check against delivery
I am here today because the issue which concerns me most, and which is storing up the most problems for our future, is Labour's determination to march New Zealand down the road of separatism.
And for the people of Northland no clearer example of that exists than the foreshore and seabed issue.
You can't go anywhere in this province without realising how important access to the beaches is for tourism, recreation or fishing. It's why so many people want to come and live here. It's a wonderful part of this great country of ours, and it's for everyone to enjoy.
At least that's how it should be. But following the hui in Paeroa last weekend Maori said they alone had title to the seabed and foreshore and rights to the resources in them. And earlier this week, Helen Clark caved in.
Labour have said they will now allow Maori to go through the Courts to establish private title to what most New Zealanders think of as a public resource. National stands for one standard of citizenship for all. It is our path to the future.
National will see that the coastline and the beaches of New Zealand remain in the hands of all New Zealanders.
Ken Mair compared the National Party to the Ku Klux Klan when I stated this position.
We won't be fazed by abuse.
It's the birthright of every New Zealander to go to the beach, to walk the coast, to throw a fishing line in the water - it's about what it means to be a New Zealander.
I want for my children a country where rights come from a common citizenship, not from ethnic identity.
What do I mean by citizenship?
Our future is a nation of four main population groups; Maori, Pakeha, Polynesian and Asian.
New Zealand's 21st century will be a century of coming together, convergence by birth and convergence by citizenship. People who look the same will have different cultures; people who look quite different will share much in common.
The one thing they all share is that they are citizens of this great country.
Whatever ability, or race or status or belief they were born to, they all have the advantage of citizenship of New Zealand. I'm talking about citizenship because I want my children to be proud of the history and the unity of their country.
I want them to know New Zealand can solve the problems of our history and move on.
I do not want a country splintered by ethnic distinctions. The journey from 1840 to here has been a long and winding road through the gullies and hills of our history.
A colony has become a nation. New Zealanders have earned citizenship, a set of rights and obligations, honoured in depression and war. Through times of national sorrow and national protest and times of massive change.
We have been at our best when we have worked to make sure citizenship is fulfilled and preserved.
Citizenship erases the prejudices and privileges that go with birth, race or belief.
One standard of citizenship is the foundation of national unity, national pride and national ambition for every New Zealander. We have learned a lot about how to live together in the only place we all call home. Things Maori are knitted into our way of life, our sport, our politics, our work, our idea of how the world sees New Zealand.
We use Maori words and ideas every day - more than we realise. And our children use them more than we do. Many Maori have the same vision of a shared future.
More and more Maori enjoy the benefits of a good education and good jobs. Maori organisations now own a majority of the fishing industry - in time they'll own a large part of our forestry industry.
They are large successful players in farming and tourism.
National stands with them - we have enormous respect for the pride and self-determination that can thrive in New Zealand.
Some Maori, like some other New Zealanders, are poor and dependent.
A hand up to a job will be worth more to those New Zealanders than putting them on a committee. We have faith in the capacity of Maori to strive and succeed in work and politics on the same basis as everyone else.
It's an act of faith, that a minority no longer needs this protection from the majority. That's why a National-led Government will abolish the Maori seats.
We make common cause with Maori who share the philosophy of freedom, choice and self-reliance.
National offers choice in education and diversity in the provision of health services. National supports private and community organisations working with and for government.
National's philosophy offers more opportunity, more of a fair go for Maori than political correctness and promises of partnership.
Our opponents think Maori can't succeed without the Government, that the rights of New Zealand citizenship are not enough, that more must be done to make up for the past.
This is why National opposes the proposed Supreme Court being set up to turn the Treaty of Waitangi into a constitution to rule every facet of our lives.
It's almost 30 years since Parliament opened the floodgates on 160 years of grievances - that's most of my lifetime, living with the problems.
I want my children to be brought up living with the solutions.
We do not believe in endlessly relitigating events of the past.
National will close the books on historical treaty claims within one year of becoming the Government.
And we will move to clear all historical claims within five years of closing the books on new ones.
National will also move to end the culture of dependency.
The vision of Mickey Savage has been corrupted. It was meant to be a safety net for people facing hard times. Now some can choose welfare as a way of life. Now we have 350,000 adults of working age on benefits - more than the population of Christchurch. And these dependents have 250,000 children. Four years of economic growth have hardly dented the numbers - and the Treasury projects more people on welfare. By next year the invalids' benefit will cost over $1 billion - and these are people who are classified as unable to ever work again.
I recently met an occupational therapist who told me the worst thing for clients was the abolition of work testing. She said "now they believe they can't work, so they have a stronger sense of entitlement"
I am concerned the community is splintering between those who can and do work, and those who have never known it. I'm concerned that more of our children grow up with no experience of the stability and fulfilment of work.
We are a nation built on a work ethic.
Welfare dependency cuts at those foundations and undermines our future.
Fewer and fewer are paying for more and more.
Fewer and fewer people in work, and raising families, are paying for more and more who are not working. The rising burden of welfare comes on top of the bills our working people already pay.
Student loans, higher rates, rising health and superannuation costs, more stealth taxes.
National believes everyone is capable of doing something. We believe that with strong and smart support we can push back the tide.
* There will be support as well as sanctions.
* National will reintroduce work testing. * We will bring in work for the dole.
* We will act on truancy.
The response to National's welfare discussion document has been overwhelmingly thoughtful. Because even those who disagree on the solutions know there is a serious problem.
We have faith in our fellow citizens, and we have the political will to lift people out of the grinding poverty of spirit that is long-term dependency.
And there is no shortage of jobs - just a shortage of people to do them.
Ask anyone in business if they can get the tradesmen, the truck drivers, the doctors they need. Even our defence forces are suffering from a chronic lack of people.
Here is a comment which shows how we can change the culture
"My sister, aged 45, lived on the Gold Coast for some years. She was unemployed for three years and tried very hard to find a job. She applied for 300 jobs during that time. She was required to keep a diary of the applications on a file and produce it to collect her unemployment benefit, which she did. Eventually she got a job. She still holds it. I have a friend in Hamilton, now aged 56. She collects the dole. She is able-bodied. She has never been asked if she is applying for jobs. She has turned down the occasional offer from WINZ because she can't be bothered. No one checks up on her. Doesn't New Zealand care!!! "
Under Labour, New Zealand doesn't care enough to bother. She is too old, she's a woman, she can't possibly contribute. And Labour think the same about Maori - they're just not up to it - so give them benefits and get their vote.
If John Tamihere spent less time trying to gatecrash National Party parties and more time trying to change the mind of his blinkered Welfare Minister Steve Maharey then the country might benefit. But as he hasn't got much hope of success with his Cabinet, National will step in to stop this rot, to turn dependency around, to encourage youngsters into jobs.
One foot on the job ladder -- any job -- is better than none.
Welfare was intended to be a safety net, not a lifestyle choice.
We can't stay complacent about dependency or about the economy. You all know that New Zealand households earn an average of $200.00 per week less than an Australian household.
I want to close that gap.
There is no good reason why we should earn less than Australians.
We might be small, we might be a long way away but we back ourselves, our people and our businesses.
National's principles are the way ahead, private enterprise, giving people the freedom to face the ups and downs of the market, and limiting the role of government. New Zealand will be carried forward on the spirit of enterprise, and we will need all the spirit we have.
The population will age.
There will be less people putting in. Health costs are growing fast, dependency has to be turned around.
Our young people will compare our opportunities to the opportunities with other countries, just one cheap plane flight away.
When last in Government, National worked for an open competitive economy. New Zealand is now enjoying the benefits.
We won't stand by and watch it slowly suffocate.
Since the election we have produced discussion papers on Welfare and Economic Direction. We have more coming on Education and the Treaty.
And as for foreign policy; I can assure you a National Government will repair our relations with traditional allies.
Innovation, growth targets and the knowledge economy have turned out to be more about seminars and bureaucrats than growth. I want to close the income gap between New Zealand and Australia - You need a supportive government.
We are the party of national unity in one standard of citizenship, and national ambition for a strong economy.
I look forward to working with you on both.