Hide Speech To Wizard NZ Annual Conference
Rodney Hide Speech To Wizard New Zealand Annual Conference
Clearwater Resort, Christchurch Monday 4 August 2003 Noon
Thank you for having me along to speak.
The All Blacks make all kiwis feel proud when they take to the field. They are a winning team. We should be proud of them. And we should reflect on what makes them a winning team.
There is no doubt that the All Blacks want to win. Coming second is not good enough. They know too that it is not enough just to want to win. They know they have to plan to win. They know too that they have to play to win.
And they are the world's best team.
It is important to reflect on how the All Blacks do it. If they uncover a strategy that isn't working, they stop it. If they uncover a strategy that is a winning strategy they refine it and develop it.
And if they have a player, no matter how popular that player is, whom they don't think is up to the mark, they drop that player. Why? Because they want to win.
The objective is clear. The rules understood.
We have New Zealand businesses that are the same. Businesses that want to do well. They plan to do well. They operate to do well. And they are good businesses.
We have, like the All Blacks, world-class businesses in New Zealand. They can provide what the customers want at a price they are prepared to pay. They can take on the rest of the world and compete and compete well.
But businesses are all running under a handicap. They struggle. And the handicap that they are all up against is our government.
What we have in New Zealand now is a losers' government. It is a government for a losing New Zealand - not a winning New Zealand. That is not what New Zealanders want. We want to win. We want to do well.
Helen Clark's government is second rate. Her policies third rate.
Helen Clark's government is pulling us all down. It is hampering us all and making business in New Zealand tough at a cost to us all.
Helen Clark could learn a lot from the All Blacks. Her policies have failed consistently in the past and she keeps at them. Does anyone really think it is a good strategy for the government to run an airline? To try and run a bank? To try and run trains? No, I don't think it is. We tried those policies before and they failed.
Now look at Helen Clark's team. Imagine if John Mitchell was in charge of Parliament. Would he have a slot for Parekura Horomia based on performance? I don't think so. He would have dropped Parekura. And although Michael Cullen is a witty guy, wit doesn't pay the bills.
We need the winning attitude for our economic policy that our All Blacks have. I want New Zealand to be successful. I think we all do. But if we play to lose, then we will lose.
Helen Clark has put taxes up. We want to get a richer as a country but Helen Clark goes and puts taxes up to make it harder to get richer. How dumb is that? It is a bit like making Joe Rokocoko run down the sideline with a sack of spuds on his back to slow him down. Why? Because he is faster than all the rest. Because he's better than all the rest. Because he works harder than all the rest. It's not fair that he's faster than the others, so let's put a sack of spuds on his back to slow him down. That's not how we play rugby; it is not how we should run our economy.
I look at the absurd costs we put on businesses with the Resource Management Act, OSH, GST and PAYE. It's a wonder anyone is left working. We tie businesses up in red tape so they can hardly breathe or operate. That's like running tape around Dougie Howlett's legs so that he can't step as fast. Again, we wouldn't do that in our rugby, so why are we doing it to our businesses and to our economy?
The All Blacks learn from the past and then look ahead. They take the lessons from the last game, the game before that, and all the games they have played. And then they look ahead to the next game. It is important not to forget your history or your experience. But we mustn't become trapped by our history. It is the next game that counts, not the last one.
Think about what we are doing in New Zealand with the Treaty of Waitangi claims. We are endlessly debating the past until we can't look forward. We are endlessly debating about how we can reshuffle wealth, rather than how we can create more. It is a like debating endlessly who should have been in the 1905 "Originals" Team. And then looking for the descendants of those who weren't included - and who should have been - to compensate them and say we are sorry.
If the All Blacks spent their time doing that we wouldn't have a very good team. And the same goes for New Zealand. The same goes for our government. The same goes for economic policy.
We are becoming backward looking rather than forward-looking.
New Zealand, I believe, is the greatest country in the world. It has people who work hard, who look after each other, who care. We are a people with enormous skill, aptitude and entrepreneurial talent.
But we must be honest with ourselves and state clearly that we are not succeeding as a country as we might. We are not doing as well as Australia. We are not doing as well as countries we like to compare ourselves with. We are not doing as well with the countries that we used to think of once as poor. In the economic game, they have passed us. They have found winning strategies and they stick to them, whereas we struggle with the old game plan.
To succeed as a nation in New Zealand we need a winning strategy. I can't see how the Labour party under Helen Clark can supply that winning strategy. Hers is a losers' government. And so we must look at National and at the ACT party to supply the winning strategy. The challenge is quite considerable.
It is not enough just to change the government - we want to change it for something that is better. And what do I mean by something better? I mean a government that is looking ahead, not just to next election or to the Holmes show that night. But looking ahead to the next generation and where New Zealand can be.
I mean a government that is putting in place the policies and the strategies to get us to where we want to be. A nation that is proud, a nation that is free, a nation that is prosperous. A nation that can hold its head high with the standard and quality of life that its people enjoy. That's what we should be striving for.
And that means welfare reform. Because we can't succeed as a nation if we have more and more people not working for a living. More and more people discovering that they have a bad back. More and more people discovering there is no work out there. More and more people having children as a way to get taxpayer cash. And so it means welfare reform. Not just because of the financial cost, but for the social cost. We have children growing up today uncared for. Where no one in the household, indeed, the community, works, or has ever worked. That is not a way forward for New Zealand.
We need a strategy that recognises that wealth is created by private individuals, by entrepreneurs, not governments, not committees. And that to be an entrepreneur and to succeed is the best thing that a human being can do. Because it means looking after yourself and your family and providing what your customers want at a price they are prepared to pay. And it means employing your fellow New Zealanders and providing them with the dignity of a job, with an income, to put a roof over their head, to put food on their table and to give them the pride that only working for a living can provide.
How does that compare to a government that says, "Ooh, come along here, here is your handout because you can't provide for yourself? Here's your house because you can't provide for it yourself." And in doing that ladies and gentlemen, a government that puts a whole series of traps in for a welfare beneficiary so that they can't climb out of dependency into being independent. Why? Because Helen Clark's government loves people to be dependent because then they vote for them.
The highest tax rate in New Zealand is confronted by a young woman on the DPB. If she starts earning more than $80 a week, wouldn't you think the government would say, "Great, you are now contributing to New Zealand. You are now providing for yourself. We want to encourage this activity." No. Our government hits her with an effective tax rate of 93%. So she can go and earn a dollar and get to keep seven cents. No one in this room would work for that. And so our welfare roll grows. Not only that ladies and gentlemen, if you are twenty years old in New Zealand and your girlfriend gets pregnant and you are on the average wage for a twenty year old, you'll double your income if you split up. Or you tell the government that you have split up. And the loser of course is the taxpayer and the loser of course is the child.
So when we are looking ahead ladies and gentlemen, welfare reform has to be high on the agenda.
The second thing that has to be high on the agenda is the economy. To get taxes down to twenty cents top on income and going down from there. Now that would be a winning strategy for New Zealand. That would give the Australians a fright. Imagine how much wealth we could create. Imagine if we had twenty cents dollar on the top now. In ten years time we would be wondering what we had been arguing about. We would be so successful.
Third thing, recognise private property as sacrosanct. Not the plaything of politicians in local government and central government. Recognise contracts. How often now do our politicians come along and people have a contract and the government changes it? At will! People can't do business under those conditions. We shouldn't expect them to.
Fourth thing. We have to put this Treaty of Waitangi endless claim process behind us. It is ripping our nation to bits. It is dividing us and it is committing our resources to arguing over who owns what, rather than committing our resources to making our cake bigger.
So let's set a timetable. End of this year, no more claims. Five years time - hear all the claims. Ten years time - settle the claims. If we could do that and go ahead as one nation, that would be the greatest thing that we could bequeath the next generation. Because ladies and gentlemen, we do run the risk of ripping ourselves apart over who owns what and Treaty claims that go on and on without end.
And the fifth thing we need to get right? We need to understand what government's priorities are. And what they should be. And they are simple. To protect the citizens of New Zealand from the thugs and the bullies. That's what we have government for. That's why we pay taxes, and that is what we are not getting.
I remember with horror in Christchurch some twenty-five years ago when the Police said that there were some streets where it was no longer safe for a woman to walk down at nights. That horrified me. But now we are no longer safe in our homes or in our businesses. That's not right.
And that is not rocket science. It means this. Number one - Police. Number two - bad guys (and they are guys) get caught. Number three - when they are caught, they are punished.
I did a quick calculation and I was horrified to discover that if you commit a burglary in New Zealand today, your expected time in jail is less than a day. Less than a day. If you factor in the chance the crime being reported, because who bothers now? The chance of it being reported and you being caught. The chance then of you being found guilty of that crime that you committed. The chance then that you would go to jail, and then deducting off, time for " good behaviour and automatic reductions". It comes to a day.
The message is simple to our young people. Crime pays. As long as you take more than one hundred bucks, you are on to a winning strategy in stealing in New Zealand. And that is the other thing ladies and gentlemen that we have to turn around in New Zealand.
So it is not just about replacing the current government, it is about replacing it with something better. And let me explain what needs to happen there.
National and ACT are working better together. When we combine our efforts in Parliament we are devastating. We need to expand that co-operation as my colleague Murray McCully has explained.
The first thing is that we are very lucky in our Parliament to have Dr Don Brash who is a giant in terms of understanding the economy and public policy. His credibility as Reserve Bank Governor in the world is second to none. It is his job in my view to work within the National Party and with the ACT party to put together the policies for the next dozen years of government. Not just the next three years, but also the next twelve years. The programme that will take us forward. And I have to say it has been my honour and my privilege in Parliament to work with Dr Brash.
The next thing we need to be like the All Blacks and contest this government at every opportunity. We have to play and play to win. This is not a government that New Zealanders want. We have to show that. We have on our side Murray McCully and Richard Prebble, who are Parliament's best two strategists. And we are starting to put the heat on this government.
And just look at some of the people that are there. Muriel Newman in ACT and Katherine Rich in National. Two leading senior women politicians who understand the need for major welfare reform in New Zealand. We are very fortunate to have those MPs in our parliament. What we need in our politicians is a soft heart, but a very hard head. What we have with Labour is the opposite. Soft heads and hard hearts.
We must contest this losers' government's right to govern. We must explain the winning alternative.
We know that when the All Blacks take to the field next weekend every New Zealander will be behind them willing them to win. For the All Blacks to have a winning strategy. For the All Blacks to play hard and to play well and to play to win.
The question I have for New Zealanders is this: Do we also want to win as a country? And if we do, then it is up to National and ACT to put a winning strategy together for how New Zealand can win and do well.
It's a challenge for New Zealand. It's a challenge for our parties. But it's a challenge that for the sake of our children and our country we must rise to and accept.