The Right Talk, The Leader's View 26 August 2003
The Right Talk, The Leader's view
26 August 2003
A unified, positive Caucus
National MPs were in a positive mood after last week's two-day caucus retreat in Christchurch. Stimulating policy presentations show there is plenty of room for National to move to combat a Government which is knee-deep in social engineering and nanny-state options. These changes are bad enough now, but 18 months down the track the electorate will be crying enough. Cabinet decision-making resembles the Mad Hatter's tea party as taxpayer money is flung about. The ground is seen to be moving more in favour of the centre-right, and especially National's core policy of One Standard of Citizenship for All. On the seabed and foreshore issue, Labour has opened up a whole new grievance industry based on indigenous title, where Maori will no doubt have a major hold on the regulatory process and where customary rights decisions can be made on grounds of "mana" and "ancestral association." All this at a time when we should be ending the grievance process and be putting the emphasis on nation building. We are all New Zealanders and we should all have the same rights and obligations as citizens. We can never make this country work under a form of separate development. National will legislate to ensure exclusive Crown title on the foreshore. See http://www.beachesforall.co.nz/ . We will also call a halt to the wasteful, multi-million dollar Maori TV industry. The audience ratings on the proposed Maori TV channel - if it ever gets to air - will be even lower than the ratings of chat show hosts Brian Edwards and Pam Corkery on State Television (or should that read Labour Party Television?). If the Maori language is to be promoted as a requirement under the Treaty, there are more efficient methods of using taxpayer funds to do so.
The polls reflect our rise
You would not have known it from the television coverage, but figures presented to the National Party caucus retreat show that National is the only Party to have made real gains in the average of all public polls over the period from last December to this month (August). We went up from 21 per cent to 26 per cent in the averaged rating. Labour remained about the same, dropping from 50 per cent to 49, NZ First climbed marginally from eight to nine per cent, Act dropped from six to five per cent, the Greens from seven to five per cent and United Future from four to three per cent. I would be the first to agree that we should be doing better. The electorate is unforgiving towards parties which are indulgent enough to air their internal divisions.
Building National's platform
National will be the core party in any coalition of the centre-right. We are carefully building policies that will stand the closest scrutiny and which will repair our relations with traditional allies. We will end the social engineering, remove absurdities like the flatulence tax and legislation establishing lesbian fathers, wind back the growing compliance costs on small business, and set New Zealand on the path to growth. This is a time-consuming policy process that requires a dogged determination. But we will get there, just as we earlier redesigned the Party for the MMP era with the biggest constitutional shake-up in our history.