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Liberty Belle: Deb's Fundraising Dinner Speech

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

This week Sir Robert Jones was guest speaker at my fund-raising dinner in my North Shore electorate. He entertained the 180-strong gathering with a hilarious - but also thoughtful - response to Mayor John Banks' rubbishing of Wellington at Stephen Franks' fundraising dinner in the capital June. Bob's speech is far too long for a Liberty Belle (though I might put it on the web) so here's the speech I gave.

'Last week I attended an auction in Wellington to raise funds for cancer. Famous sports photographer Peter Bush donated 50 historic rugby photos. Sir Colin Meads was guest speaker. He urged Wellingtonians to dig deep, to raise more than the $70,000 Aucklanders had contributed a week earlier at a similar auction, and to dispel the myth that Aucklanders are more generous.

"There's a feeling in this country that Auckland reigns supreme," Sir Colin said. I thought the Pinetree was getting all philosophical and eloquent. Turning into a new age guy. His next words banished that thought.

"That pisses me off."

Sir Colin went on in a similar vein, talking about modern rugby and what was wrong with it: "Too many bastards interfering."

The All Blacks, he said, now hire an opto-mythologist - someone to tell them what the opposing side is up to. "Jeez, we need one of those," he said sardonically.

"Rugby's changed," he said. "In my day we didn't have to put up with all these people telling us what to do."

We didn't have to put up with all these people telling us what to do.

I think this is a metaphor for much of life in New Zealand today. Take that art debacle last week over the braying portaloo going - or not going, depending on whom you believe - to the Venice Biennale. The story has gone on and on in the media, mainly with a select group of state-funded art experts telling us philistines we shouldn't be commenting because we don't know anything about art.

But hang on; it's our money paying for this. We are allowed to comment.

We shouldn't have to put up with all these people telling us what to do.

In about 13 months time, on a sunny Saturday, we will trip into polling booths to tick boxes to choose the next Prime Minister and government.

This time there will be real competition - Helen Clark for PM or Don Brash for PM?

A Labour Government supported by the Greens and quite possibly the Maori Party? Think about that for a moment.

Or a National Government supported by whom? There's another competition. NZ First or ACT?

Don Brash is not articulating NZ First's policies. He's not even articulating National's policies. National's policies? Oh yes, they've had policies. Remember the Resource Management Act, OSH legislation, zoning, NCEA, Pharmac? National gave us those.

Remember them and think on Sir Colin Meads' words - "We shouldn't have to put up with all these people telling us what to do."

Don Brash is articulating ACT's policies. His vision for this country is ACT's vision - the safest country in the world, no able-bodied person languishing on welfare, all parents given the wherewithal to choose which school they send their children to.

Do you really want Prime Minister Don Brash held hostage by Winston Peters, or even by his own caucus? Most of those guys were there for nine years and did little to reform welfare, get tough on crime, give parents choice. Look what they did to Ruth Richardson when she made a good start.

I sat next to a senior National MP on the plane coming up here. He was excited and envious of Helen Clark's 'populist' stand against Israel. I expressed dismay. Do we want to make an enemy of a Western liberal democracy with a GDP of $US120 billion in favour of 22 Arab dictatorships whose total GDPs are markedly less than that? Should we be so cavalier of the consequences when our Prime Minister makes a friend of Hammas, our Foreign Affairs Minister is photographed with his arm around Arafat, and Paul Swain visits Syria in the name of trade relations?

All I ask is a balanced foreign policy - not the current increasingly pro-Arab, anti-Western thrust. But the National MP scoffed at my political naivety - and at my belonging to a party of principal.

Well I'm proud to stand on principals. I won't abandon them for power. But if you want Don Brash to stop all these people telling us what to do you need to make sure ACT, the party of principal, is there to help.

If you want government off the backs of New Zealanders you need ACT there to make it happen.

Thank you.
Yours in Liberty,
Deborah Coddington

Liberty Belle is a column from Deborah Coddington, Member of Parliament for ACT New Zealand. If you would like to be removed from this list, please advise by return email. If you would like to subscribe to other ACT New Zealand publications, please visit our web site at

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