Rodney Hide Speech: Ideas Into Action
Rodney Hide Speech: Ideas Into Action
Rodney Hide, Leader ACT New Zealand - ACT Annual Conference Address; SkyCity Convention Centre, Auckland; 10.20am, Sunday 13 March 2005.
Thank you fellow freedom lovers. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your commitment.
Unlike the other political parties, ACT knows what it stands for. We know what we stand against.
We stand for individual freedom and personal responsibility. We stand for private property and limited government. We stand for free enterprise and low taxes.
We oppose socialism. We oppose big government. We oppose high taxes and red tape. We oppose political correctness.
Let me pay a special welcome to someone I'm proud to call my friend, Jim Peron. Jim is the hardest of hard working men. He's a small businessman.
It is workers that ACT represents. ACT is the workers' party.
It is the workers of New Zealand who generate the wealth that we all enjoy - not governments, not politicians, not bureaucrats.
The Labour Party thinks that those who run a business aren't workers. Well, that shows how out of touch they are.
The hardest workers on the lowest pay in New Zealand are small business owners. Small business owners drive our economy. And what do they get in return? Governments ignoring their concerns, robbing them blind and tying them up in knots.
There is only one party standing up for small business and the little guy in New Zealand and that's ACT.
We don't distinguish the business owners from staff. We are all workers. We all work to pay our way and to contribute to New Zealand.
Hard working New Zealanders make up ACT's constituency and ACT is working hard for them.
I am fortunate to have the hardest working parliamentary team and party supporters in the country.
Over the next six months we will be working harder than ever.
ACT is the Liberal Party. We stand for individual freedom, choice, and personal responsibility.
Believe me there's huge room in New Zealand for a liberal party. In fact, increasingly so. The National and Labour parties are now almost indistinguishable.
Our philosophy doesn't waver. We are principled. We are committed. We are passionate.
We started ACT to deliver a freer and more prosperous New Zealand. We wanted to ensure more money in everyone's pocket and more choice in their lives. We haven't changed.
ACT stands against the political correctness rife in this country. We tell it like it is - plain and simple.
We stood staunch against last year's law that now sees the country's smokers standing outside in the rain. How ridiculous. ACT says, why can't someone open a smokers' bar here in downtown Auckland so that smokers can have a drink and a smoke in the dry?
When ACT was first voted into parliament I was told that MPs couldn't achieve anything from Opposition. Well ACT blew that idea apart.
We stopped the Inland Revenue Department beating up on small business. We made our MPs more accountable. We exposed government excess.
ACT never accepted that we could not make a difference. We have shifted the political goalposts on law and order, the treaty grievance industry, tax, welfare, choice and standards in education - to name a few.
It was ACT MPs who took ideas unheard of in parliament and made them part of everyday political debate. Ideas that other parties have now had to take up - at least in name if not in substance. It is our job now to make these ideas happen. That's why we titled this conference Ideas into Action.
Over the years I have been portrayed as some kind of political tough guy, a knee-capper, only interested in political blood sport.
Well I won't deny that I'm interested in scoring a point or two, but it is only a means to an end. My interest is making this country a place of opportunity for others.
I am in politics because I love New Zealand.
New Zealand is the greatest country on earth. We are great people. We work hard, we are entrepreneurial, we care for one another. Our country is the most beautiful country in the world.
The key to making New Zealand better is to make New Zealand richer. That's the way to better health care, better education, better care for our elderly and a safer more secure society.
The Greens think that a strong and growing economy wrecks the environment. They are wrong. It's the poorest countries that are the environmental basket cases. Rich countries can afford to care for their natural heritage and value it.
The Labour Party thinks it takes government to care for the planet. It doesn't. The former communist countries were environmental rubbish dumps.
It is private property owners who have every incentive to maintain and to care for their property, not governments.
I spent years studying and teaching environmental science. It was only later that I studied economics.
I studied environmental science because in a beautiful country like New Zealand it seemed the obvious thing to do.
I learnt that when governments regulate away property owners' rights they do the environment no favour. They simply diminish the incentive to care and to conserve.
The prescription for a free and prosperous New Zealand is also the prescription for a clean, green country. Good economic policy is good environmental policy.
I make no excuse for exposing government scandals. Government is a scandal. It's a scandal how much government takes off working New Zealanders. It's a scandal how little it provides in return!
The two old parties National and Labour argue over who should be running the show and getting to spend your money. ACT is different. ACT says you should be spending your own money, not government.
That why ACT works so hard holding government to account. We know how hard you work to earn the money that government spends so recklessly.
We have a proud record of keeping an eye on how taxpayers' money is spent.
ACT is the effective opposition.
As the Prime Minister told parliament, it was the ACT Party who brought the $239 million wananga scandal to public attention, not the National Party.
Labour said it had concerns for five years but only acted when ACT asked the questions.
People want us to remain in parliament. I had a dye-in-the-wool Labour voter say to me the other day, I'll never vote for you in 100 years but you guys do a great job holding the others to account. Parliament would be a poorer place without ACT.
Now, when Labour is caught out wasting your money. It knows it's wrong. It knows it's can't justify shovelling money at hip hop tours, Hubbard Foods and Te Wananga o Aotearoa when hard working households are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Labour loves spending your money, but this spending is not delivering results and it's coming at huge cost for households.
Helen Clark tells us we are hopeless savers and we should heed her advice. Well it's all right for her. She's not struggling to make ends meet.
But working families are.
New Zealanders aren't hopeless savers. They just don't have enough money to save. That's why Kiwis want a break. They just want to keep more of the money they earn.
And what is Helen Clark's response? Here's what she said in parliament this week, "I regard it as ludicrous to suggest that workers should be getting their pay increases out of tax cuts". How arrogant is that? I think it's ludicrous that working New Zealanders have to hand over 40 per cent of what they earn to Helen Clark. That amount would make the Sheriff of Nottingham blush.
Labour tells us that the economy is roaring along, but what about the Kiwi household? The average New Zealand household is no better off under Labour - and Dr Cullen admitted this in parliament late last year. The gain in wages has been wiped out by taxes and higher prices.
We have poor households but a rich, bloated, and greedy government.
And now we have yet another tax. The April 1 five-cent extra tax on fuel will likely see petrol exceed $1.30 over this winter. ACT opposed this tax. We believe the existing excise should go directly into road building.
The last thing Labour should be doing is putting its hand out for more tax. Labour is collecting more tax, spending more money, and building bigger surpluses than any government ever before.
With the Government running $7 billion surpluses, ACT's call for tax cuts is naturally getting louder. So Finance Minister Dr Cullen this budget is going back to cash accounting. That's so he can deduct from the operating surplus all the capital items. All the student loans advanced. All the super fund contributions. He can then plead poverty and say government has no money for tax cuts.
We are not fooled. We will fight this. We will expose it for the sham it is.
ACT says its time to reward the hard worker and the best way to boost incomes is to cut taxes.
Unlike National, ACT's stand on tax cuts is non-negotiable. We not saying slowly but surely, we saying by lunch-time and in government we won't budge. New Zealanders are over taxed, government over spends, and it has done so for years.
We should drop the company rate and top rate of personal tax to 25 cents in the dollar. And we should extend the bottom rate of 15 cents all the way up to $38,000. We should do that immediately.
That will flatten our tax system and drop the tax burden.
That will boost workers' pay packets by more than the unions' five percent wage claim. And it would boost our economy and our prosperity.
ACT is going to have a sharp focus this election. As well as tax, we're going to announce social policy that delivers.
Labour has been weak on crime. Labour tells us that crime is falling but no New Zealander believes that. What is falling is the reporting of crime. The police are so poorly resourced and so stretched they have difficulty responding to even serious crime. Violent crime has risen 13 percent under Labour.
Our goal should be simple: make New Zealand the safest country in the world. We heard from Ray Mallon yesterday how well our polices work. The public is more than willing to get tough. It's the politicians who have been soft.
Helen Clark's only solution on crime is George Hawkins.
Helen Clark has a plan on Health. It's to pour more and more money into a failing system. She has poured an extra $2 billion a year into health. The Labour Party crow about this extra spending. But where's the benefit?
More New Zealanders died on health waiting lists last year than when Annette King used to attack National for being miserly. There's been no increase in elective surgery under Labour.
Labour will probably pour a record extra billion a year into health this Budget. And where will it go? Up to $200 million a year on protecting inheritances through reducing income and asset testing, over $145 million on nurses' salaries because of pay centralisation, and over $50 million to cover the Holidays Act, to name just some. It's the system that's mopping up the money and still New Zealanders have to wait sick and in pain on endless waiting lists.
The health system is sick and pouring in more and more money is making no difference. We need choice, we need competition, and we need the private sector in health. The state-run bureaucracy always fails us.
The Education standards or the lack of them is an outrage. Labour doesn't like standards, doesn't like success, doesn't like excellence.
We opposed NCEA. National introduced it. Labour implemented it. ACT believes our secondary school students deserve better than being guinea pigs.
We believe in education standards, choice in schools, and funding following the child. Our education policy will be about giving our students the ability to compete internationally with the world's best, not about giving everyone a hopeless happy stamp!
How many parents and schools would choose NCEA if they had a choice. Well under ACT we'll find out. We will give parents that choice.
The National Party has improved its fortunes. That's good. It has a good and respected leader.
National chose Don Brash to lose less badly this election. Now they believe that they can win 50 percent of the vote and govern alone. Well, they can't and they won't. We have MMP.
Voters have two votes. ACT just wants one of them. The message is simple: Party Vote ACT.
The National Party's strategy this election is to minimise its differences with Labour.
So dropping Helen Clark's 39-cent tax rate is no longer a National Party priority. National now accepts the "smoke and mirrors" Cullen Fund. Businesses are going to have pay for another week's holiday. Unbelievably National now agrees with Jim Anderton that government should own and run a bank.
National's strategy is this: vote for us and nothing will change.
Don Brash is leader, but National is now more left-wing than when Bill English was in charge!
Well, ACT says New Zealanders deserve much better. We stand four-square opposed to what Helen Clark is doing to New Zealand.
We are independent. We are fighters. The country deserves nothing less.
This election will be no two-horse race. ACT will be back.
ACT convenes in Auckland every election year. Why? Because Auckland has always been good to us. And we have worked hard to be good for Auckland.
ACT is the liberal party. Auckland is a liberal city.
Many Aucklanders vote Labour because they can't bear the conservatism of the National Party.
Aucklanders need to stop and think what they really want.
ACT is the best of the two old parties.
We are socially-liberal. We are tolerant. We believe that people should be free to live their lives as they best see fit. Government should not tell us how to live our lives.
We are socially liberal where the Labour Party isn't. We are colour-blind. Helen Clark and the Labour Party pigeon-hole New Zealanders by race and determine entitlement by skin colour. That's socially illiberal.
We won't have a bar of that. ACT rejects Labour's new racism. We stand by one law for all.
Secondly, ACT is economically liberal. When it comes to Government - less is best. We believe in the free market, low taxes, small government.
ACT is the liberal party. We are socially liberal. We are economically liberal.
ACT needs a seat. I intend to win us one. Don't worry about the current Member for Epsom. He will remain in parliament. National has guaranteed all its sitting MPs a good list ranking.
The hard workers of Epsom contribute much to the Government's coffers through tax. They deserve local representation that can cut through to get results.
That's because I work hard and aren't afraid to stand up and be counted.
I want to achieve a lot more in parliament. As the Member for Epsom I will.
What gives ACT its real strength is the strength of its team.
Catherine Judd continues to do a fine job as ACT's president. She is without doubt the best party president in New Zealand politics. She's got great instincts. She's dedicated and has a great sense of humour. The caucus, and I know the party at large, are thrilled Catherine has been re-elected. Catherine, thank you.
Dr Muriel Newman and I sat side by side on the backbench. She's now my deputy. Muriel has worked day and night to make welfare reform a national debate. When TV One's Susan Wood wanted to debate the single benefit proposition a couple of weeks ago, it was Muriel who represented the Opposition against the Minister. Muriel is staunch ACT and her priority continues to be our party.
Richard Prebble's opinions whether they be on finance, foreign affairs or his often astute political observations continue to carry weight. No one else's weekly newsletter enjoys a readership or gets a reaction like Richard's does... and increasingly so!
I want to pay a special tribute to Richard. He nurtured and taught me as a rookie MP. He has been the best wise head and adviser I could have as leader. Richard won three elections for ACT. He made us what we are today. Richard, we are all forever indebted.
Stephen Franks is well regarded as one of the sharpest legal minds in the country. There is no one in Parliament better able to be Attorney General or Minister of Justice. And when it comes to the likes of name suppression, parole, and sentence length Stephen's the toughest.
Deborah Coddington came to Parliament three years ago with a well-known reputation as a journalist who got to the bottom of big stories. In parliament, she's also put her ferreting skills to good use - embarrassing both National and Labour over the NCEA debacle. Deborah also keeps a close watch on transport, particularly Auckland's woes.
Ken Shirley is having a big year. The wananga revelations have been the most damaging to this Labour Government since it came to power. If it weren't for Ken raising real concerns about Te Wananga o Aotearoa the Government would still be shoveling a quarter of a billion dollars at it each year without check. Ken Shirley has managed this huge issue better than anyone else could have.
Gerry Eckhoff is back in the yellow ACT bus in a couple of weeks' time heading to heartland New Zealand. He's campaigning against Jim Sutton's plan to overturn our trespass laws beside lakes, rivers and creeks. ACT had been the only party standing up for rural communities on the land rights issue and Gerry is the farmer's champion. Come election time, many farmers will remember ACT's staunch defence of rural communities. Gerry won't be turning up on the hustings making hollow promises, Gerry will be turning up to the woolsheds, community halls, and saleyards well known and with a track record to prove his, and ACT's, contribution and commitment to rural New Zealand.
Heather Roy has put her long association with health to good use. Very rarely can a first-term backbencher engage a long-standing Health Minister at any level. Heather regularly engages Annette King simply because Heather's getting to the bottom of her bluff and bluster. Heather's understanding of the health system has seen her the number one Opposition spokesperson for health. Few could tell you who the other Opposition health spokespersons are.
Kenneth Wang has been with us since November and is working hard for both the small business and hard-working families. Kenneth well understands the real struggles of small business. Last year he was a small businessman. Kenneth is out and about every day and night articulating to the many Asian New Zealanders that ACT is the party that best represents Asian values of hard work, enterprise, and thrift.
This election we have a fight on our hands. It's a fight we relish. It's a fight for freedom and for the future prosperity and success of our great country.
We were born a party of ideas and this conference `Ideas into Action' is exactly what the ACT party is about.
You can trust ACT to be tough on law and order. You can trust ACT to be the staunchest on education standards. You can trust ACT to be the workers' number one advocate.
We are going to have a great election campaign. I can't wait.
Ask yourself: Do you want a party in parliament that stands up for hard working Kiwis?
Do you want a party in parliament that holds all others to account?
Do you want a party in parliament that won't equivocate on tax cuts?
Do you want a party that fronts up when the going gets tough?
That party is ACT.
It's 181 days till the election. I want you to be telling your friends, your workmates, your neighbours why they should vote ACT.
Tell them they're right not to trust politicians. Tell them they should trust themselves, and when they do they will vote ACT.
I'm fired up. It's clear from this conference that you are fired up. It's time now to fire up the country.