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Peters: “Look out 2005, here we come!”

27 August 2004

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting, James Cumming Wing (Gore Town Hall), Ardwick Street, Gore, 12.30pm Friday 27 August 2004

“Look out 2005, here we come!”

It is now about twelve months from the next general election.

This means that every move by every politician – every statement – will be made with a weather eye on the electorate.

That is a reality of politics.

The first principle is to get elected because unless you are a Ghandi or a Nelson Mandela, it is hard to make a difference outside the system.

Today I want to share some thoughts with you about the pressing issues facing the country and the political climate in which these issues are being addressed – or not addressed as the case may be.

Heartland New Zealand, where we are gathered today is the real engine room of the economy.

It is in places like the Southland and Otago hinterland that wealth is created for all New Zealanders.

The strong base of primary production, both on the land and sea, and the spectacular tourist attractions, provide downstream jobs for hundreds of businesses and thousands of people.

This is what it is all about.

This is the New Zealand that matters to ordinary people who make their daily contribution to the community they live in and raise families to continue into the next generation.

Each day we hear from the media how well the economy is doing, but at the same time we hear about deficiencies in our social services caused by lack of money.

A new report this week warned of the problems coming because of older people not owning their own homes.

And we are constantly warned that we cannot afford to pay these same people a pension that allows them some dignity in their declining years.

Why is it that we live in a wonderful country with great natural and human resources, yet our health system is failing, our teachers are stressed out, we can’t afford to build new roads and we have to pay higher interest rates?

Some of the answers are staring at us in the face.

New Zealand is a bountiful country – full of hard working and enterprising people. But a vast proportion of that wealth provides no benefit to ordinary people.

Why?

Because it is lost to foreign owners.

Unless this takeover is halted New Zealanders will wake one day to find they are strangers in their own country – they will have become peasants in their own land.

For those who care to notice hardly a week goes past without another strategic asset being lost.

One by one almost all the ‘commanding heights’ of our economy including key strategic assets like railways and the power companies as well as the growth sectors like wine are passing into foreign ownership.

Like all thinking Kiwis we ponder the progressive impoverishment of New Zealand as more prime and profitable assets fall to foreign ownership.

And we look on amazed at the abject failure of both Labour and National to address this issue.

The new economic orthodoxy adopted by both the tired old parties has it that any form of foreign ownership is beneficial.

This is an ideology just as stupid as the way the Government claim that all immigration is beneficial.

We should not be surprised that the brilliant minds at Treasury in advising the Government on its recent review of overseas investment rules advised the doors be thrown open.

Anything that puts the interests of ordinary Kiwis first is anathema to that bunch of purists as they decide the fate of the nation in the Lambton Quay coffee bars.

Some of these officials – or should they be called ideological high priests - ought to reflect on who and what pays their big six figure salaries.

What it shows is that the dogmatists of the far right are still deeply entrenched in influencing economic policy.

We in New Zealand First do not buy the assertion that all foreign ownership is benign.

Because that view is patently bogus.

Much foreign ownership is costing us alarmingly – no wonder we have a chronic and worsening balance of payments deficit.

In New Zealand First we look at the billions of dollars that are being sucked out of our economy annually in the way of profits, dividends and other remittances and ask:

why is this fundamental fact being ignored?

why are National and Labour pretending this massive annual drain of wealth does not matter?

how can we hope to significantly raise the standards of living of New Zealanders when there is this huge and unacknowledged - hole in the bottom of our economy?

We all know that you do not grow wealthy by selling your best and most productive assets to others.

The spirit that drove the mad economic experiment that began in the eighties and continued into the nineties is still alive and well and lurking in both the Labour and National party caucus rooms.

Both the old parties are besotted with the new buzzword “globalisation” - whatever that means.

It’s got something to do with closing down New Zealand factories and getting the goods made in China where they can employ nearly twenty workers for the price of one New Zealander.

Gore knows about businesses closing down in the name of globalisation.

When you lost Flemings Oat Mill, up to two million dollars of disposable income left the local economy.

And this is not an isolated case. Similar events have been reported in many areas.

Even in my electorate – one of the fastest growing provincial economies - it has been happening.

It was announced last month that sixty workers would lose their jobs at one of the Western Bay of Plenty’s top manufacturers because labourers in Asia are 18 times cheaper! Invensys Appliance Controls will close its factory within the next few months and take its manufacturing to China.

And we are chasing a free trade deal with that country! There is something seriously wrong with political parties that put overseas interests ahead of their own country. Make no mistake, National would be even worse than Labour. Don Brash has long been an advocate of a scorched earth policy and the sale of New Zealand assets. In the eighties, as Reserve Bank governor he said he could not stand with National for Parliament because he supported rogernomics.

A leopard does not change its spots. And it is interesting to note that the media have now picked up on the fact that he is seldom in the House playing the Great Game! To use a rugby phrase, when he does turn up, he usually finds himself on the wrong side of a ruck, without the ball! Bill English on his worst day is a far better political fighter than Hurricane Brash and it would not be a surprise to hear knives being sharpened in the National party caucus once again.

It’s one thing to read a speech about Maoris at Orewa but it’s entirely different to have to do the hard yards day after day, week after week, in the maelstrom of politics. Don Brash simply cannot hack it. However, to be fair, he is no longer choking the life out of the economy at the Reserve Bank. There is no doubt that Bill English was thrown a hospital pass when Jenny Shipley was shown a red card by the National caucus.

Talk about trying to attack with a flat backline! Poor old Bill had no tight five – just a few loosies, and some backs who would not get their shorts dirty. He didn’t have a hooker or a halfback – they were looking for another captain!

Voters looking at the two old parties do not have much of a choice and that is why New Zealand First is so important to the political scene. We stand as a party for the people between the economic extremism of National and the social extremes of Labour. We do not believe in hard right economics and neither do we accept left wing “gender bending” as being in the interests of ordinary New Zealanders.

As you know we have fought hard over the past two years to stem the immigrant invasion, to promote maintaining law and order and to derail the Treaty of Waitangi gravy train. Despite being rejected by Helen Clark at the last election, we have bailed Labour out over the foreshore and seabed because New Zealand First’s demand for Crown ownership was the only way to protect this priceless asset for all New Zealanders for generations to come.

We make no apology for that. We have always insisted on one rule for all and we were doing that when the banker was banking. This next election will be about real issues that affect real people. It will be about whether in future we will be the masters of our own destiny or the servants of overseas owners.

History has shown us throughout the world that an unhappy fate awaits countries which are ruled from afar. And that applies just as much to economic rule as political rule. The results are the same. We are our own nation and our own people. We do not want to be the seventh state of Australia or some tiny outflung outpost of the United States or Britain.

As Richard John Seddon once said, we are “God’s own country but there is a devil of a mess to clean up.” New Zealand First pledges to clean up the mess. Our time is coming in 2005. We are on our way!

ENDS

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