The Political Maelstrom Who Is Being Sucked In?
The Political Maelstrom Who Is Being Sucked In?
12.30pm on Friday, 18 June 2004 Public Address by the Rt Hon Winston Peters to the people of Christchurch Papanui Club, 310 Sawyers Arms Road, Bishopdale, Christchurch
Politics in New Zealand is entering a new and interesting phase.
Some new aspirants are putting their hands up for a shot at the big time and some of the old players are trying to reinvent themselves.
It has created an interesting feeding frenzy within New Zealand politics, with some quite quixotic results.
We have one of the leaders of the new Maori party saying that he doesn’t know his left from his right when it come to politics.
And on the far Right, the new leader is advocating that National really needs them – National might but New Zealand sure doesn’t – and put simply they may be able to hide now, but they still can’t run.
Meanwhile the leader of the far Left extremists are claiming that a vote for them is a vote for Labour – so why even bother voting Green.
Added to this mix has been Parliament’s self avowed holy man of “commonsense” looking for a scrap with anyone to attract some attention.
First he turned feral on the Greens and then later on Act, while all the time his intentions have been to stitch up a deal with Brash, which is where his heart really lies.
This man of many parties has been talking out one side of his mouth to Labour and out of the other side to National.
How can the electorate trust such antics? We also have the extraordinary situation of the new National party leader claiming he won’t work with New Zealand First because we have highlighted his policy inadequacies as much as we have Labour’s.
This is one of the true dangers of being an apprentice who is still learning on the job – your party risks being painted into corners that you cannot escape from.
Don Brash must learn that it is the voters who will decide the make up of the next government and it is nonsense to think that an option could be ruled out 15 months out from the next election.
What he should have been doing was following the message a recent NBR poll contained which showed that a majority of both National and Labour supporters prefer New Zealand First as their coalition partner.
This poll simply confirmed what we already knew – that New Zealand First is the insurance policy of New Zealand politics and the public recognises this.
What the poll should have asked was “which party do New Zealand First supporters want us to support?” That will be the real question following the next election.
And we have this word of warning for Mr Brash.
Don’t burn your bridges before you cross them.
Remember that Helen Clark said she did not want a bar of New Zealand First before the last election.
Now she is happy to seek our support when the crunch comes over crucial issues.
And we are always willing to give our support when it is in the interests of all New Zealanders.
We hold a unique place in Parliament.
New Zealand First has been able to stand aside from the political wrangling that has been going on.
We are secure in our place because we know we will be back after the next election and part of the next government if our supporters wish us to be.
We do not need to engage in publicly taking sides with the old parties and nor do we need to fight with other parties because unlike the Greens, United Future and Act, we do not have an identity crisis.
We are a commonsense party committed to working for the best interests of all New Zealanders and to finding solutions that work.
This is why we were able to work with Labour on the seabed and foreshore legislation, while at the same time criticising their abysmal handling of issues like law and order, immigration and the Treaty industry.
However, we believe that there is another inherent reason why these other parties quarrel desperately among themselves for political survival – and that is their indebtedness to those who pull their strings.
New Zealand First is the only party in Parliament that is not beholden to a specific interest or lobby group. There are no puppet masters pulling our strings.
Labour must always balance the interests of the unions, the gay and lesbian community, the PC institutions, ethnic communities and various Maori groups.
National have strong attachments to Federated Farmers, the Business Round Table and other neo-liberal institutions.
Act are lobby fodder, financially supported by big business and many of the same groups that influence National.
The Greens are clearly attached to groups such as Greenpeace and Forest and Bird while United Future has its religious affiliations, the gun lobby and some outdoor groups.
Such groups ensure the capture of their corresponding political incarnations through financial and philosophical means.
New Zealand First stands alone as the only political party that can be forthright and blunt about what is best for New Zealand without fear of retribution from any particular lobby group.
Indeed the only lobby group we are beholden to are the people of New Zealand.
Groups and individuals have tried in the past to climb on board with us and on some issues, such as reducing the size of Parliament, and tougher sentences, we have supported their cause.
However, we have always been able to survive independent of any specific group or individual support.
We raise this because as we confront several major decisions as a nation, we must be confident that our leadership is not subverted or distracted.
We must know and feel that decisions are being made that will benefit us all and place us on a stable footing into the future.
If the experience of the 20th century has taught us anything, it is that rigid adherence to fixed ideas is a formula for failure.
One of the most dangerous fundamentalist belief systems which stands out as a threat to our future is the arrival of a new fundamentalist religion, which has insidiously broken the accepted social compact of the separation of church and state.
I am talking here about the outbreak of Treaty fundamentalism.
Like all fundamentalist religions, it has reinterpreted its core beliefs in the light of modern circumstances, fuelled by modern evangelists whose aims are more aligned to their personal interests rather than the cause.
Its doctrines have become contrived – in particular the foolish notion of the “principles of the Treaty” – between those who are misguided but well meaning and those who are exploitative and devious.
This religion has been sheltered from any real scrutiny, as the state has increasingly become its guardian.
Now let me be clear – New Zealand First is not attacking Maori culture or the Maori people. Most Maori understand that their culture, their language, their lifestyle, is their choice.
They do not want other cultures forced down their throats and they respect the rights of others not to have the government force a reconstituted version of Treatyology down the throats of other New Zealanders.
This is the basic tenant of religious freedom and the separation of church and state.
We respect the rights of others to have their religious beliefs and we expect the state to be neutral rather than promoting one religion over another.
A strong nation can never emerge if a government is playing favourites.
However, the solution is not to denigrate the religion (and in this case the associated Maori culture), but rather to place it within the context most New Zealanders believe it belongs – one view - and a matter of personal choice.
It is no coincidence that against this backdrop we see the emergence of a Maori party.
How ironic for this Labour government that in pandering to the demands of Maori through establishing Iwi radio stations and Maori TV, that these are now being used as the mechanisms to undermine it.
It is also no coincidence that this new party is built from those whose wages and incomes are almost entirely derived from the state.
While the entrepreneurial among Maori – as they do among non-Maori – get on with the business of creating wealth, others operate under various guises, all of which though are ultimately dependent on the state.
This new party is no pathway to freedom for Maori.
It is more a cargo cult than a political movement.
Remember that the leadership of the new party has publicly claimed that all non-Maori are foreigners in this country.
It has likened the colonising of New Zealand to the holocaust.
However, these extravagant and misleading phrases do not conceal the true intent of the party and that is to benefit substantially from the taxes paid by these so-called foreigners while it enters a pre 1840 time warp. It has been well documented what a diverse group Maori really are.
Whenever there is a rumour of a Maori party forming, all of the usual suspects show up – most of them failed aspirants under different banners from the past. This new party is no different.
Ask yourself this question - if this new party chooses those same failed candidates to stand for them what chance does the party really have?
And how will this new party legitimately be able to claim to represent all of Maoridom’s various groups if the major Iwi such as Tainui, Ngai Tahu and others won’t formally endorse them or even give them resources?
While most Maori are urbanised and many are disconnected from their Iwi, it is folly to believe that a Maori party could survive without Iwi backing or the backing of the Ratana church.
While these groups have been supportive of Tariana on the seabed and foreshore – they have been clearly hesitant to back her new party. This should set off warning bells for those forming the party.
The party has already exposed its naivety on policy formation on two fronts.
Faced with the prospect of the Legalise Cannabis Party standing a candidate against her, Tariana Turia said she would personally support its decriminalisation.
Is this how they will be formulating policy? It sets a dangerous precedent and do Maori really need this harmful drug more freely available to bend the minds of the young.
Mrs Turia also rather curiously claimed the new party could work with National.
Let me issue her a word of warning – for National there is no middle ground.
National would inevitably undermine the new party and any relationship between the two would be doomed to failure.
This means the new party’s only real option is Labour. Ask yourself this question – is Labour really going to reverse the seabed and foreshore legislation or go along with any moves aimed at separate Maori sovereignty objectives, risking political oblivion?
It won’t happen. So it will actually leave the party in the same place that the Maori caucus within Labour occupies now – able to achieve a few policy wins, but largely ignored.
This has been a critical factor in the move to form a new party – the ineffectiveness of Labour’s Maori MPs.
However, forming a new party is not the answer – selecting better MPs is, and this has been the New Zealand First strategy.
We understand the simple maxim that building a strong nation does not come through promoting division – which is the only path the Maori party can take – but through working toward consensus.
That is why New Zealand First is supporting an inquiry into the Treaty of Waitangi.
This document has become bastardised over the past three decades to the point that it now drives a colossal wedge between New Zealanders.
Its place as a fundamentalist religion, if allowed to go unchecked, may become entrenched.
This must not be allowed to happen.
If New Zealand is to go forward on a footing of unity then the place of Treaty must be clarified and – freed from the ideological baggage, which has attached itself to it – placed in its true context within New Zealand society.
We cannot pretend it does not exist as some political parties seem intent on doing, nor must we go on allowing the courts and others to redefine it.
But address its place we must – and New Zealand First is committed to this process and we are willing to work with other parties toward this end.
Make no mistake – we are the only party in parliament committed to building a better New Zealand free of ideological and interest group baggage.
We are your insurance policy against the extremes of our political opponents.
We will fight the scourges of corruption and rigid ideological thinking – and bring a pragmatic inclusive approach to political decision making.
We are fighting for your future – our nation.
Come join that grand fight and let us build a nation together.