Brownlee Speech A Great Time To Be In National
Gerry Brownlee Speech A Great Time To Be In National
Address to National Party Northern Region Conference Waipuna Conference Centre Auckland
What a great time it is to be a member of the National Party.
I can’t recall the last time there was so much enthusiasm and so much anticipation within our Party organisation.
2005 is going to be a great year for National.
I want to extend a warm welcome to all our new candidates.
We look forward to hearing a lot more from you over the coming months, and we’ll all be working to make sure you join us in Parliament by the end of the year.
Delegates, that is the task ahead of us.
New Zealand needs National to win this election.
New Zealand needs National to put right the Treaty grievance industry
New Zealand needs National to put an end to the culture of welfare dependency.
New Zealand needs National to stand up for the victims of crime.
New Zealand needs National to bring down taxes, and it needs National to restore the faith in our education system.
New Zealand needs the fiscal discipline and the honesty of our Leader Dr Don Brash.
Like most New Zealanders I’m sick of the secrecy, the propaganda and the weasel words employed by the Labour Government.
For Labour, this election isn’t about taking the country forward, raising living
standards or making New Zealand a better place to live in.
For Labour, this election is about one thing and one thing only, getting re-elected.
What’s wrong with that? Let me tell you.
Under Labour, mediocrity is in - aspiration is out.
Under Labour, big government spending has fuelled inflation, interest rates are on the rise and growth is projected to slow.
The cracks are starting to show.
All the fiddling and all the tinkering, and all the things like the anti-business changes to employment law are starting to slow our economy down.
And that’s frightening. Under Labour we will never start closing the gap between
incomes here and incomes in Australia.
That’s why our best and brightest are leaving.
They’re packing their bags and going after the big money elsewhere. For them, New Zealand is where they go at Christmas to visit relatives.
No one blames workers for seeking pay rises. After five years under a Labour
Government that has amassed the biggest surplus in our history, workers think it’s their turn.
They don’t think the con job that is Working for Families is good enough. They
understand that because of Labour’s twisted priorities, four out of five households will get nothing, and that for many workers, future pay rises will be swallowed up by Michael Cullen’s relentless need to tax.
As John Key pointed out recently, for some workers 5 per cent in ’05 will equal 5 – that’s just $5.
And what did Helen Clark tell us when Don Brash raised this with her in Parliament?
I read from the Hansard: “I regard it as ludicrous to suggest that workers should be getting their pay increases out of tax cuts.”
You don’t have to be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree to realise there is
something wrong with the message that Labour is sending to hard working New
And that is why it is a great time to be a member of the National Party.
We have the right message for the right time. We have the right team. And we have the right leader.
In the National Party, we’ve co-opted the phrase political correctness to describe the myriad of feel-good, but achieve-nothing measures that Labour is responsible for.
We’re being smothered in cotton wool by a Government that thinks it knows best. It believes we want our taxes spent on homeopathy for pets, fingernail technology, dog grooming and twilight golf.
Labour believes we want our taxes handed over to violent criminals as compensation for ‘hurt feelings’ and Labour believes pouring our taxes into sing-a-long and ‘Party Guitar courses’ gives us a good return on our investment.
Let’s have a look at just some of Labour’s loopy PC ideas. I have 20 examples of
Labours PC ideas gone wrong – too many to mention, but a few are.
March 2003: A Radio advertisement by the Inland Revenue Department ‘promoting’ the DPB: The script reads… “You always knew that having children would be rewarding…how much you receive depends on how many children you have… and with two children in your care you could earn even more …”
May 2003: The Family Commission Bill is introduced. It included a provision that
could see gangs defined as a family group because they ‘shared a significant
psychological attachment’. Labour later backs down.
July 2002: About 50 endangered Archeys frogs are flown from Te Kuiti to
Christchurch - accompanied by 3 Waikato kaumatua. They were given a powhiri
upon their arrival at Canterbury University. DoC spent more than $2000 flying three Maori elders to Christchurch with the frogs.
I could go on… and on… and on.
What does all this show.
It goes to show how out of touch this Labour Government really is with the priorities of ordinary New Zealanders.
It is so out of touch that it thinks George Hawkins is the man to fix the 111 emergency service.
It is so out of touch that it is still requiring public servants to subscribe to its particular view of the Treaty principles.
It is so out of touch that Labour thought it could smooth over the major failings of the NCEA without any public fuss.
Think for a moment about education; about the spectacular waste in the tertiary
sector; about the complete debacle surrounding NCEA; about the complacency of this government in the face of mounting evidence of widespread failure and creeping mediocrity.
As Don Brash said in his speech on education this week, there seems to be a
conspiracy to ensure parents can no longer compare the results of pupils or schools.
It is well documented that the worst levels of literacy and numeracy are found among Maori and Pacific Island children. Adult literacy surveys show that less than a third of Pacific Island New Zealanders have sufficient literacy to cope with the demands of everyday life in a modern society.
The proportion of young Maori and Pacific Island children in the population is
expected to grow over the next 20 years.
Improving literacy and numeracy skills is thus a matter of urgency, not just for those individuals directly affected, but for the country as a whole.
And what does Labour do about it? They give us the shambles of NCEA. They offer second-rate catch-up tertiary courses. They will make a life on welfare more
comfortable – they will give up on you.
Well, National is going to do something about it.
As Don announced this week, National commits to those parents whose children are fail to achieve the national standards we will establish, that they will be provided with “reading vouchers” to enable their child to catch up. And we will do the same with maths.
For the next National Government, improving our basic literacy and numeracy
standards will be a national mission.
And that really will make education a path to a better future for all New Zealanders.
I want to turn now to the Treaty of Waitangi; its treatment in law, its interpretation by those charged with exercising the law, and expectations that have arisen from its frequent reference in law, has bedevilled New Zealand society.
Not withstanding the success of the Treaty grievance settlement process – which
National supports and will move to speed up – the Treaty and its status remains an aspect of public law that is far from settled, and to say the least, challenging for any government.
National’s concerns were outlined by our Leader, Dr Don Brash, when he spoke at Orewa in January of 2004.
In typical fashion Labour originally dismissed the issues Dr Brash’s speech raised.
But by late February 2004 Helen Clark was saying that she was looking for one
definition across all agencies when it comes to dealing with the principles of Treaty of Waitangi.
She created a new race relations Minister, Trevor Mallard, who said Labour also
wants one definition for the state sector on the principles of Treaty.
He went further to say that he believed that clauses pertaining to the Treaty of
Waitangi may have very little relevance to some laws and are therefore no longer
Mr Mallard was commissioned by the Prime Minister to conduct a review of race
based policies. But in the 12 months since his appointment, very little has changed.
Indeed this year, on the 16th of February the Dominion Post carried no less than 30 job advertisements for government departments, each of which required the
candidate for the job to have very specific understandings of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.
A Customs Officer in the New Zealand Customs Service, for example must
“Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the Maori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi including its historical, legal, social and economic significance to the Customs workplace, with specific emphasis on:
- Valuing Te Reo skills in others;
- Responsiveness to the cultural needs of Maori staff and Maori clients;
- Recognising and acknowledging the contribution of Maori staff.”
And an advertisement for a Secretary in Trevor Mallard’s office one of the
competencies is listed as:
Achieves Effectiveness for Mäori. It describes working effectively with and for Mäori colleagues, clients and stakeholders, ‘to ensure their specific needs are identified and met, and to create a positive work environment for Mäori’. It relates to our Effectiveness for Mäori (EfM) strategies, policies and guidelines and supports our vision to be recognised as an EfM leader in public service.
The candidate would be required to:
• Show awareness of the implications of the Treaty of Waitangi;
• Develop basic skill in Te Reo and Tikanga;
• Show understanding of issues for Mäori in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi
and government policy
These are all very nice things, and to some may seem quite reasonable. However, none of them states exactly what the implications of the Treaty and its principles are in practice. Yet it is most certainly the case that all these statements contain an assumption and an expectation, that the most important aspect, or principle, of the Treaty relates to an ongoing partnership. But in our view this is not the case, and I believe article 1 makes that clear.
The point I want to make is, that if we are all New Zealanders, and if we are to have a future that does not separate us out as being different from each other in the eyes of the law, then very clearly some of our attitudes to the Treaty of Waitangi have to change.
During the select committee process when submissions were sought for the
Government’s foreshore and seabed legislation, I was quite alarmed to hear from
many Maori who said they did not consider themselves to be part of the Crown in
My understanding is that the Crown in the context the submitters were referring to, is the sovereign government of New Zealand. In this context the government of New Zealand takes its authority from all of us who vote to give it that authority.
They argue that they are not part of the Crown, that they are somehow separate from the Crown, and consider those who are part of the Crown owe them a particular obligation. This is, to say the least, divisive and provides us an insight to a most uncomfortable future.
When the seabed and foreshore legislation was passed last year the National Party said that this legislation would exacerbate Treaty grievances.
Our predictions were correct. That forecast has come to pass in the Whakatohea
claim for some 51km of Bay of Plenty coastline.
This claim is not being made on the basis of gathering of shellfish in one or two
discreet areas, it’s not being made on the basis that waka were launched from any particular spot.
Nor has it been made on the basis that stone or sand or anything else was gathered from a beach at any particular spot. It is being made on the basis that Whakatohea claim rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over that vast stretch of coastline.
In simple terms, rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga translate to governorship and
authority. Pita Sharples, the co-leader of the Maori Party, tells us that means they
will have the right, or expect to have the right, to deny access.
So no matter what Michael Cullen claims, no matter what Helen Clark claims, that is the belief deeply held by Maori.
Well the challenge for National is to accept that those beliefs and those deeply held associations by Maori groups will not go away.
It will be our job to represent all New Zealanders.
When I entered Parliament in 1996, I said in my maiden speech that I hoped that
when I left Parliament more New Zealanders would understand the Treaty of
Waitangi and its relevance to them.
I stick by that. Because my understanding of the Treaty is that it offers as many rights to non-Maori in this country as it does to Maori.
If you consider the circumstances in which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, then I think it very clear that those who drew up the document would have called upon their classic public school education to help them put that document together.
They were honest people, and those Maori chiefs who sought the Treaty, did so with a very clear intention of establishing British law in this country.
At the moment the coastline of New Zealand, the seabed and foreshore is
administered by no less than four agencies of government, and sometimes more.
If those agencies have become remote from people, remote from ordinary New
Zealanders, then it will be a National Government that will find a new way to manage the coastline of this country.
The Treaty of Waitangi, and everything that it guarantees to Maori and non-Maori, can be part of that.
I note that earlier this month, on Maori Television, there was a very interesting
programme outlining the history and making that exact point. Maori wanted a treaty with Britain.
A priority for a National government then, would be to ensure that the understanding of the Treaty that guarantees rights to all New Zealanders is the prevalent view.
I would have no problem with the RMA making references to the Treaty of Waitangi and the necessity to consider the cultural values of New Zealanders according to the Treaty of Waitangi, if it meant that my cultural values would have equal sway.
Similar arguments could be mounted across a range of legislation.
There are in fact some 32 pieces of legislation that confer specific duties upon those exercising the law in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi.
Winston Peters has a bill before Parliament that would remove these references.
We will support it going to the select committee because we want the Crown Law
Office to start looking at what will be a mammoth task to remove unnecessary Treaty references in legislation.
National is the only party that can be relied on to forge a path forward for New
Zealand that unites us as one group of people with various differences, but focused on best interests of our future.
Delegates, we have a big task ahead of us.
I’m confident we can get there, but I want to send a message to those agencies of government, single interest groups and others who claim that they represent ordinary New Zealanders like you and I.
Their actions demonstrate the truth behind John Tamihere’s claim that helen Clark and the 9th floor of the Beehive have tentacles that are far reaching and all
persuasive. And we are not impressed by the outward political bias expressed by
some of those agencies.
Where was the Race Relations Conciliator, Mr Joris de Bres, when Mr Tamihere
made his offensive remarks about the concerns that Jewish people raise over the
holocaust – nowhere. He was silent, how quick he was, under instruction from the 9th floor, to rip into Don Brash when he gave his Orewa speech in January of 2004.
A speech well embraced by New Zealanders, a speech that had hope for all New
Zealanders, and in no way marginalised any New Zealander.
So how quick will this card carrying Labour Party member Mr de Bres be to respond to Mr Tamihere? Watch his silence.
The same can be said for the Human Rights Commission. Not a whisper from that agency about the offensive remarks that Mr Tamihere made about the women in top positions in our country.
And where were the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on that particular issue? Nowhere in sight. Hushed by the 9th floor.
Well Don Brash will bring a much more reasonable and open regime to his leadership beyond the next election.
Delegates we are listening to New Zealanders, we are hearing what they are telling us.
We know they do not like this Government. They are seeing a Labour Government focused on the rights of the gay lobby, on the rights of unionists, and on all manner of preference for Maori.
This is a Government that has forgotten everyday New Zealanders.
They are the people who get up every morning, who get the kids to school, who work hard, who pay their taxes, and who want the Government out of their lives.
We have the right team, this is the right time, and we have the right leader. Lets go out and win this election.