Prebble Speech: The Foreshore
Richard Prebble Speech: The Foreshore - It's The Deciding Issue
ACT Upper South Regional Conference, Saturday 27 September 2003, George Hotel, Christchurch
It's a pleasure to be here at ACT's Christchurch Regional Conference and I congratulate the organisers on the programme.
Let me begin by acknowledging the presence at this conference of Dr Don Brash. Having him in parliament gives the whole centre-right economic credibility.
These conferences make a difference. It is from these conferences that ACT gets many of our fresh ideas and new practical solutions.
I am pleased to report that ACT has had its best post-election year ever. Membership, fundraising and the polls are all up.
I am honoured to lead the most able team of MPs. They have been the effective opposition to the Labour government.
ACT does more than oppose. ACT puts forward a vision of how this country can be the most successful in the world. We put forward the fresh ideas and the positive practical policies to achieve our vision.
In two weeks time ACT is going to launch an ambitious campaign to make our schools the best in the world.
When I was at school international comparisons showed New Zealand school pupils topped the world in reading, writing and maths.
There is no reason why we cannot do it again.
The intellectual basis of our policy is an important book written by our newest MP Deborah Coddington. "Let Parents Choose" I predict will become a best seller. The book attacks the present government's one size fits all monopoly that fails so many children.
Today, to exercise choice, you must pay twice, once for the state model that does not meet your needs and again in independent school fees.
ACT is going to take its education campaign from North Cape to Invercargill, to every school, to every parent. Let's leave no child behind.
ACT has a greater challenge.
It's time for this government to go.
Labour has no agenda. They have no vision. Our government is in permanent crisis management as they lurch from crisis to crisis.
Labour not only has no policies to take the country forward, they have no vision of what New Zealand could be.
Instead we have the agenda of the Hon Margaret Wilson. New Zealand's most dangerous politician.
Ms Wilson is dismantling our Westminster parliamentary democracy and wants to create the Socialist state of Aotearoa. The abolition of the Privy Council is an important step towards the republican socialist agenda.
Rodney Hide made an observation to me one day in parliament. Helen Clark was speaking, now a fairly rare event.
He said. "Have you noticed how Labour's policy is directed to interest groups?" "Clark's appealing to trade unions," he said, "and she has just finished outlining an inducement to Maori, before that to social welfare beneficiaries."
"Notice how Helen Clark never says that the policy is good for the nation? She thinks of New Zealand as different competing interest groups; Maori, women, trade unions, welfare beneficiaries, business, farmers etc."
Rodney concluded, "At least the National party, for all their faults, thought of what is best for New Zealand as a country"
That observation is profoundly true of this Labour government and our Prime Minister. Labour appeals to our base instincts, and not to our best.
As a vote getter, it's been successful.
But I do not believe that Labour is reflecting our nation's real values.
I believe that National has made a mistake believing that they have to enter this bidding war with Labour.
National's other mistake is it believes that the centre right need do nothing in order to win. Under First Past the Post, this government would be gone.
Our Prime Minister decides to gratuitously insult the President of the United States by publicly saying how much better she felt a President Gore would have handled the Iraq war. Her statements were published worldwide and she destroyed years of work on a USA - New Zealand free trade agreement.
Now as the world trade talks have failed at Cancun, New Zealand finds itself the only member of the Cairns group that has not got either a free trade agreement with the USA or it's prospect. Our country has never been more isolated.
Then this week a quarter of the cabinet is at hui discussing with just 15% of the population the ownership of our beaches.
New Zealand should never have ratified Kyoto until America and Australia had signed. The Labour government is suddenly realizing what it's signed up to and now we have the Cabinet proposal to tax the flatulence of cows and sheep.
I have a confession to make. I feel a bit responsible for Shane Ardern finding himself facing a disorderly conduct charge. If it was not for ACT, Shane would be a law abiding National backbencher that no one had heard of. Gerry Eckhoff and Shane are parliament's only working farmers.
Gerry sounded off to caucus how outraged he was by the FART TAX. "Go out to the country and tell them," we said. And that's what Gerry did. It was Gerry Eckhoff's petition that the farmers were delivering. When we saw Gerry off, in our ACT campaign bus, there were eight ACT MPs, a crowd of 30 and two pantomime cows, Gertrude and Sally. When Gerry returned a month later he had travelled 7,000 kilometres, spoken at dozens of towns and small villages, had a petition signed by 65,000 and he was accompanied by 600 farmers, on their tractors with two real cows. Shane Ardern was so fired up he got on that tractor and drove it up the stairs - a fine piece of driving. So you can see, it's really ACT's fault.
There is a parliamentary select committee inquiry into Corngate. Helen Clark 10 days before the election said and I quote "I believe in total disclosure. I have nothing to hide". Last month in parliament she was forced to admit government failed to release the 184 documents.
We now know that the Australian company that tested the corn is actually owned by the New Zealand government but still refuses to give evidence to a select committee of our parliament. Of course, our Prime Minister refuses to appear as a witness even though Tony Blair has appeared as a witness before the commission of inquiry into the Iraq war.
This year our parliament has spent most of it's time on a Bill to legalise prostitution. I must have missed it, but I don't recall Helen Clark promising that in any campaign speech.
Did you know there is a select committee considering a measure that would require old ladies to have a microchip inserted in the ear of their miniature poodles? They must fence their properties leaving a path to their front door so that burglars can enter without being troubled by the dog.
Our "popular and talented" Prime Minister (we know this is so because she told us) when she is not overseas visiting war memorials she is climbing mountains. She will go anywhere rather than front up.
I have challenged her to front up and explain to the other 85% of the population her minority government's proposal for the foreshore at the Foreshore, Law and Politics conference that ACT is organizing in parliament next week.
I said to the Prime Minister that as the conference is in the Banquet Hall of the Beehive, she only needs to get into the lift and go down 9 floors to meet the public.
We are an intimate democracy in this country. The public have access to our elective representatives. My number is in the phone book.
Not Helen Clark.
She is the first Prime Minister ever, who can't or won't front up. I went to town hall meetings and heard Prime Ministers. I am old enough to have heard Keith Holyoake, Sir Robert Muldoon, Norman Kirk, David Lange and Jim Bolger. But no one has ever heard Helen Clark. We are sick of these phoney photo opportunities - what has happened to genuine town hall democracy?
She won't even front up at her own hui. I am not asking Helen Clark to do something I would not do.
I went to the government hui in Hastings. I sat through the whole five hours. There was no dialogue. I came away feeling very depressed about the future of our country. The treaty process has created two nations.
Helen Clark would not be able to make her ridiculous press statements on the foreshore, if she attended one hui.
Under First Past the Post, you would say that such a visionless government would be swept away.
But under MMP, people can vote for Labour's allies like the Greens, United, or whatever Jim Anderton's party is called.
ACT's challenge is to put together a grand coalition of the centre-right as a viable alternative to the left. We have the intellect and the policy principles for such a coalition.
I think we may have been given the issue.
The foreshore and seabed issue is a defining issue not just for this Labour government but also for what it means to be a New Zealander.
Labour sees it as a crisis to be managed.
They tell the general public - that there will be free access to the beaches and then they bargain with Maori over how much Maori will get.
"Would 20% of all marine farms do it?" "What about a slice of the seabed minerals?" "How about the Maori land court granting customary titles to the foreshore?"
No principle, just squalled political deals.
Let's set out some principles. The principles our nation was founded on.
Winston Peter's frequently challenges the government to say what are the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi? There is a deafening silence because the Treaty industry is busy inventing new principles and even a new clause in the Treaty.
Let's accept the challenge, because our founding document is a good place to start from.
There are just three clauses in the Treaty of Waitangi.
Clause one cedes sovereignty to the Crown. Not two crowns, not two parliaments, not two courts, but just one.
The Crown is every one of us. Maori, European, Asian, Pacific Islanders, every one together. A great concept. One nation indivisible.
There are not two partners. We are all partners. A nation of four million equal partners together.
Article II guaranteed property rights. A free society is one where you can own property in your own right - free from interference. A real ACT principle.
Article III guarantees the right of British citizenship. Why was British citizenship prized in 1840? British citizens were equal before the law. An Englishman's home was his castle. Magna Carta guarantees that an Englishman could not lose his liberty or his property without due process of law.
That's it - three clauses, three principles - one - undivided national sovereignty, second -property rights and third - equality before the law.
Apply that to the Foreshore and the Treaty issue. What do we get? Or perhaps I should say what don't we get?
· No race based law
· No race based policies
What we would get would be policies based on the principle that we are all New Zealanders.
Applying Waitangi principles to the Foreshore row and there is no issue.
All the Court of Appeal found was that Maori, like everyone else, are able to go to court to make a property claim. The court pointed out that it did not think much of their chances.
Customary title is a very poor title. In both British and Maori common law, it's use it or lose it. We have not seen signs on Takapuna beach saying, "keep out, the property of the local iwi." I'm sure we would have noticed.
If the government had left the issue to the courts the Marlborough Iwi's claim to the foreshore would have failed and this issue would have just faded away.
But Labour has no faith in the courts and sees all issues as a race issue.
How long your hospital waiting list is depends on race. What education course can you do, what electorate you vote in, what TV your taxes fund now depends on race. More and more government programs are race based.
80% of New Zealander's don't want race-based law. A majority of Maori do not want race-based policies.
A tiny minority of people who have become rich on the Treaty settlements are driving the grievance industry.
It's time to say no. But let's be even bolder.
Let's challenge this political correctness and tell it like it is.
There is no nation in the history of mankind that has succeeded that is based on tribalism.
Tribalism is a form of socialism. Everyone is pulled down.
What has transformed human existence has been liberal capitalism, free enterprise and personal responsibility.
Where is Labour's mandate to reinvent tribalism in the 21st Century?
Tribal socialism and liberal capitalism are not compatible.
New Zealand cannot be a successful trading nation in a global economy and also have much of our wealth diverted into tribal socialism.
They are at either ends of the spectrum.
Tribal socialism means collectivism. Everyone owns it, so no one owns it. No individual Maori has received as much as a snapper from the multi-million dollar fishing settlement.
Free enterprise is a system where you succeed by your own efforts, your own thrift, and your own enterprise.
Tribal socialism is the creation of laws passed by parliament. Government has set up these iwi structures.
Maori in 1840 were organized economically into family hapü.
Socialism has failed everywhere and it is nonsense to pretend that Iwi socialism will succeed.
As a nation we need to choose between these competing economic systems. Socialism or free enterprise.
In a democratic society, that's what elections are for.
Those who will benefit most are Maori. I recently shocked a young future leader of Maoridom by expressing the view that capitalism would be of most assistance to Maori. The reply was "doesn't capitalism depend on having many poor people?" I pointed out that this was not so and that capitalism has the capacity to lift everyone's income and that black Americans now have a higher median income than New Zealander's. Ask any Scot whether their identity depends on going back 250 years to clan tribalism. Of course not. In a free society people can choose their cultural identity because they have free choice. There's a huge difference between being proud and knowledgeable about your iwi and hapü and having the government organize you into an iwi run economy.
It's a powerful message. It's one the centre right owns.
Let's put the choice to our fellow citizens.
Do you choose Labour's race based laws, its treaty industry, it's socialist tribalism or do you choose freedom, liberty, one nation undivided, and one law for all? A nation where we are all New Zealanders.
We can sweep the country.