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Labour's Last Train To Clarksville

Labour's Last Train To Clarksville

Thursday 20 May 2004

Gerry Eckhoff Speeches

General Debate Speech, Wednesday May 19, 2004.

I suspect that every Opposition MP would give their right arm to listen in on a Labour caucus that is tearing itself to pieces. Gone is the unity that used to be, and gone is the confidence of that party. I must say that one thing still remains: the arrogance.

Watching Labour's pretence of unity is like watching an Irish river dance performed in bare feet. The Government is having no impact, is painful to watch and is a painful performer - I can guarantee that the New Zealand public will never require an encore.

Labour's performance is abysmal. It backs down at every turn; as soon as the pressure is turned up, it caves in. New Zealanders have had it with this Government, and no lolly scrabble in the forthcoming Budget will save it. That is very clear.

This Government is on the last train to Clarksville. Members will remember that song: "Take the last train to Clarksville, and I'll meet you at the station". Let me say that rural voters will not meet that lot at the station, or at the polling booth. They will remember the flatulence tax, the holiday legislation, the Kyoto Protocol, the dog tax, the fuel tax, and the sherry tax - they will remember every one of those broken Labour promises.

What about the hard-working families of this country, like the Gilbert-McLachlan family that featured in the Sunday Star-Times recently? That family has an income of $55,000, and is being taxed into poverty by this Government. They will not vote for another trip to Clarksville - that is perfectly clear.

The people earning $60,000 - a whole $5,000 more - are considered rich by Labour. They won't be buying a return ticket to Clarksville either. People earning $55,000 per annum cannot make ends meet under this Government, but the Government considers people earning $60,000 to be rich. What arrant nonsense.

So what about Maori? I was on the steps of Parliament during the hikoi recently; something like 15,000 protestors turned up. They bought a ticket to ride the train to Clarksville. They arrived in Wellington and what did they see? They tried desperately to find Prime Minister Helen Clark, but there was not even a reflection of her - not a skerrick, nothing. Where was the Prime Minister of this country when 15,000 people - who surely voted for her at the last election - came down to talk to her? Nowhere. I imagine that Maori will be off to meet Täriana Turia at her station.

So who will vote for this Government at the next election? There's always the cloth cap brigade - the trade unions - they are always good for a few votes. There will be those who retire at the age of 18 and board the Government's gravy train hoping it will never end.

Well, let me tell them that it will end. They will continue to vote for Labour, and it will buy their votes on the 27^th of this month. There is nothing surer than that. But the trip is coming to an end. The Government's gravy train will run out of steam. Why? It will run out of steam because there will be nobody left to stoke the boiler.


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