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Judith Collins Speech -Clevedon Lions Nov 2002

FullText Of Judith Collins Speech -Clevedon Lions Nov 2002

Scoop Note: This is the full text of the speech by Judith Collins that has led to some debate between Ms Collins and Minister of Social Welfare, Steve Maharey. The speech is available on Ms Collins website - http://www.judithcollins.co.nz

Clevedon Lions and Constituents Thank you for your warm welcome.

I have been asked to speak on any topic but most especially on my life in Parliament - so far.

In so doing, I will try to avoid party politics as much as possible. I will however express my personal opinions about a couple of issues that are very important to me and which have already had an impact on my life in Parliament - so far. I have been a Member of Parliament for 4 whole months and what fun it has been. In that time, my family and I have shifted to the country - Whitford to be precise - acquired 5 acres, 10 sheep, a duck pond, native bush, stables and big sheds - ideal for storage of election hoardings.

In that time, I have set up an office at Papakura, employed 3 staff and commenced constituent clinics at Papakura, Meadowlands, and Maraetai. In that time, I have taken over as the National Party's spokesperson on Internal Affairs and National Libraries and have taken the role of Associate Health spokesperson. In that time, I have become a member of two Parliamentary Select Committees, Health and Social Services and as the only lawyer on either have taken it upon myself to stop the "Yes, Minister" syndrome making poorly conceived legislation even worse.

In that time, I have given many speeches in Parliament including one which received significant media attention and which has been named the "Work is honourable" speech. In that time, as a result of the furore resulting from the "Work is honourable" speech, a Government Minister, Ruth Dyson defamed me outside Parliament and I was forced to take legal action against her. This resulted in her having to apologise on 3ZB radio and in writing.

I'm going to frame the letter. And, in that time, following my rather vocal complaints over :
- lack of Police in Papakura,
- Lack of night time services by Social Welfare and
- Constituents being chopped off hospital waiting lists,
There has been a distinct improvement in all 3. So, all in all, its been a great 4 months. I've never had so much fun and I feel that I'm making a difference.

I'm making a difference in the ways that I know how - by speaking up, by letting the 6 local newspapers and 1 local radio station know what important issues are affecting the constituents of Clevedon, by being seen and by being accessible. And the best way that I know to make a difference - above all else - is to "call it as I see it". I don't have a problem saying the things that are true but which often don't get said. I never sit on the fence - it's too uncomfortable. And one of those things is that work is honourable. I made that speech in a debate on the work test provisions for the DPB. I made my speech after listening to Ms Dyson insult manual work by calling it "low grade", " demeaning work".

Now, I come from generations of farming stock. My first holiday job was as a nurse aide and I saw "red" at that. I pointed out that the people who do the manual work in this country should not be looked down on - none of us would get very far if the whole country was made up of lawyers, doctors and politicians.

The people working away at $8 per hour are the real heroes of New Zealand. They're the battlers - The people who try to get ahead by working and setting a good example for their children. They're the people who deserve my support and they're the people who get most upset when their neighbours sit around all day watching Sky TV, living off the taxpayer, letting their children run riot and getting stoned.

And if you think I might be exaggerating, then just remember - there are 400,000 work age adults in this country living off welfare. That about 12% of the whole population. If you take children, students and the retired out of the equation, that's about half the country keeping the other half. It's a scary situation that's not going to get better until we get an attitude that work is honourable.

To make our way in the World, to contribute to our country, to look after our families are to be valued- to be prized. They make us proud. They give us self esteem.

Last week in Parliament, we had urgency. That means that Parliament starts at 9am and finishes at 12 midnight each day. They're long days and I spent most of my time in the House taking part in the debates. One of the things that got me a bit of attention and a bit of flak was when I spoke against the form of apartheid that we seem to be embracing. I speak of course about legislation getting rammed through the House, without public debate, which entrenches special privileges for Maori over other New Zealanders.

The trend now is for all Government departments, local councils and legislation to embrace the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Well what are these Principles? Well for a start, they're not in the Treaty of Waitangi. There are only 3 articles in the Treaty. There is an English version and a Maori version but each has only three articles. There are NO principles.

The articles broadly say this: First, Maori ceded sovereignty to the British Crown. Secondly, the Crown guaranteed to Maori the full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their land and forests, fisheries and provided that Maori were to sell only to the Crown rather than to private purchasers.

Thirdly, it extended to Maori, the Queen's protection and gave Maori all the Rights and privileges of British subjects. And that's it.

No Principles added. So where do these Principles come from. Well they come from an interventionist Court of Appeal and from an interventionist Waitangi Tribunal. In other words - they made them up - they were "discovered". And, I say that's not fair. It's particularly not fair because now it seems that the Principles along with the Treaty are "living". They've got a life of their own and if anyone dares to speak out against this sort of lawmaking on the hoof, they get called racist or culturally insensitive. I say this - if you want to keep 30% of Maori at the bottom of the social strata, then just keep talking Principles - just keep making excuses.

If you want to keep Maori men comprising 60% of the male prison population, then just keep talking Principles - just keep that grievance gravy train chugging along. If you want more Maori to underachieve than any other race in this country, then just keep changing the goal posts - just keep sending out the message - " You don't have to try hard - we'll change the criteria for you". In other words, just keep treating Maori in a patronising way. Just keep making excuses. Just keep saying –

"We're all equal, it's just some are more equal than others". Nowhere in the Treaty of Waitangi did it say that there should be an alternate justice system for Maori. Nowhere in the Treaty did it say that extra funding is to be spent on one race over another. Nowhere in the Treaty did it say that the New Zealand taxpayer would fund kaumatua to accompany the travels of native frogs from the North to the South Islands - and then have them die anyway. Nowhere in the Treaty did it say that we can't say Grace at the state function when our Head of State and Head of the Church of England is visiting but it's OK to fund kaumatua to travel to Thailand to bless the opening of an embassy building. The Treaty did support All are equal. I'd like to make this very clear. I don't have a problem with Government targeting assistance based on need. What I do have a problem with is Government targeting assistance based on race.

Government should give people a helping hand. What it should not do is to condone abuse. And that brings me to my final point this evening. If we are ever going to get this country moving forward; if we are ever going to get our standard of living up with the Australians, then we have to look at the things that we have traditionally done really well. We used to have a great pioneering spirit. We still are - deep inside us, an independent bunch. We have a proud military history and we have a strong No.8 wire mentality. We do have good education. We do have a beautiful country and most of us are decent, law abiding souls with a strong sense of justice and fair play.

Last year, I became extremely angry at the no-can-do attitude that I saw permeating through our society. That's when I decided to stop just griping and to get involved. I decided then that no one was going to push me out of my country. No one is going to get away with turning my country, our country into another Tasmania. And just in case, there is any doubt, I don't intend to take prisoners. I thank you for your invitation to speak with you tonight. I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I am happy to answer any questions


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