“Making Your Vote Count”
18 April 2005
“Making Your Vote Count”
Public Address by the Rt Hon Winston Peters to the people of Dunedin Wobblys Function Centre,Forbury Raceway,Victoria Street, South Dunedin
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is good to be back in Dunedin talking to an audience of real New Zealanders.
For a politician, it is therapeutic to be with people who are in touch with what is really going on in this country.
Sometimes Wellington seems to be like another world, a different planet.
This is because the ideas that come from the capital are often so different to those held by people who have to live with them.
Today I want to talk about how YOU can make a difference and have some influence on the future direction of your country.
It is called MMP and it is about how you can vote strategically in the election that is looming some time over the next few months.
You will all be aware of the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has broken out in the North Island.
It is very contagious.
Every time John Tamihere opens his mouth – the prime minister puts her feet in it.
We don’t want to focus on this bizarre outpouring of Mr Tamihere’s about tossers and tuggers, but in his own uniquely warped way he has exposed the very essence of MMP politics.
Mr Tamihere survived his foot and mouth attack because the Prime Minister and others in Labour calculated that forcing him out would cause more pain than keeping him in the fold.
In any other first world country he would be gone by lunchtime.
Mr Tamihere would not have survived under a First Past the Post electoral system.
Labour would simply have found another suitable candidate to contest his seat.
The process of looking had already started.
But this is MMP and Labour faces a challenge to its Maori support from the Maori party in the Maori seats and New Zealand First for the party vote, so Mr Tamihere stays.
We also witnessed another significant shift in MMP politics last week.
At the Grey Power annual meeting President Graham Stairmand told the delegates there that if seniors votes as a block they could have significant influence over the outcome of the next election.
He suggested supporting one of the parties most likely to be part of the next government outside of Labour or National.
We all know that in effect there is really only one choice in this regard – New Zealand First.
Now Mr Stairmand was absolutely right. There are nearly half a million New Zealanders aged over 65 years.
If you add those in the 55 to 65 years bracket this is almost one million voters.
When you consider that just over two million people voted in the last election, you can see the potential political power of this group.
And in the MMP environment this power is amplified.
Let me give you an example.
If you feel torn at election time over wanting to vote for one of the old parties and New Zealand First, there is a simple solution.
You simply vote for the electorate candidate of your choice and give New Zealand First your party vote.
This is making MMP work for you and why we are about to have our first real MMP election.
At the same Grey Power meeting New Zealand First launched our senior citizens policy.
We believe that our seniors have been getting a rough deal from successive Labour and National governments and we want to give them a chance to change this with their vote.
We do not believe the rate of superannuation is high enough and so we will be increasing it to 68 percent in April 2006.
We have also launched a Golden Age Card which brings together in a single smart card a range of subsidised services and discount schemes.
This includes a greater range of subsidies for doctor’s visits and prescription charges, reduced transport costs and lower power gas and telephone line charges.
You would not know it by the media coverage, but before Labour promised rates rebates – we already had.
But we are getting used to the old parties stealing our policies.
We also promised in our policy more funding for the elder care sector which is being ruined by this government.
This policy also includes money set aside to guarantee better wages for workers in this sector.
We think the days of slavery are over.
We wanted changes to the drivers licence testing regime for seniors (again before Labour).
This policy is our commitment to seniors, that in return for their party vote – we will deliver for them.
We have given them a chance to make MMP work for them, but this can only occur if they vote as a block for New Zealand First with their party vote.
Let me tell you what we will do:
From 1 April next year a married couple of superannuitants will be nearly $20 a week better off and single superannuitants more than $10 a week.
Those receiving the non-qualified spouse rate of superannuation will have their rebate brought into line with other benefits and not be penalised at 70 cents in the dollar once they earn over $80.
All those over 65 years old will have a Golden Age Smartcard, which will become a symbol that this nation values its seniors.
This card will bring all of the benefits outlined previously.
We will see the capacity and planning in our elder care sector restored.
Ultimately, we will see our seniors treated with some dignity.
Now some have said that we in New Zealand First are being irresponsible by making these promises.
We say it is irresponsible NOT to do something for the forgotten people in our society.
People trying to live on $255 a week.
In both 2000 and 2001 Labour set the rate at 67.4 and over 68 percent and have since let it drop.
Labour is now crying wolf when New Zealand First says we have to do it now.
There is a word for this approach and it starts with ‘H’.
Indeed, Labour has engaged in a farcical campaign of falsified figures to say it cannot be done.
It is interesting that the Dominion Post – a newspaper that does not love New Zealand First – has described Dr Cullen’s calculations as “naughty” and a “bit too cute”.
In other words the Finance Minister is getting his officials to cook the figures for our superannuation policy.
This is the work of a desperate man who knows he is ripping off the elderly.
This is the work of a man who pays out countless millions to businesspeople, film makers, Treaty gravy train riders, immigrants and refugees but is prepared to let the elderly starve and freeze to death.
He said that he isn’t prepared to give senior citizens an extra cent.
Well we say to our seniors, give New Zealand First your party vote and we’ll show you that it can and will be done.
We also know that Labour has built up so much waste in the bureaucracy – and we are not talking about essential workers like teachers, nurses and police – that it can be trimmed to pay for our promises.
These are the bureaucrats that dream up hip-hop tours and fly Kaumatua’s around the country to escort frogs.
This type of waste costs us hundreds of millions of dollars each year and can be better spent on our seniors.
Now you might ask is it wrong for our seniors to use the political process to better their lot?
Let me answer it by again referring to Mr Tamihere’s comments about the Labour party.
He highlights the various interest groups such as gays and unions within Labour that have overtly influenced Labour’s agenda.
It is worth asking – would we have gay marriage and legalised prostitution today were it not for the gay support of Labour.
We suggest that if our seniors want to have the same degree of influence over government decisions as the gays do in Labour, then they need to vote strategically and give New Zealand First their party vote.
New Zealand First is not simply a party for senior citizens.
We represent them because they are one of many groups that are forgotten and taken for granted by Labour and National.
These parties want their vote, but only make token gestures to meet their needs.
It is very much how Labour treat the working class.
They place civil unions and political correctness ahead of real progress.
They talk of a booming economy, but as anyone on a low wage will tell you it is only benefiting a few wealthy people and Wellington bureaucrats who are growing exponentially in numbers.
Indeed, it is making more money for overseas investors than the average New Zealander.
And this government wants to take this even further by rushing into free trade agreements with every large Asian nation that it can.
China, Thailand and now Indonesia are all lined up for deals.
All countries that will force our workers to compete with their cheap labour and force our wages down.
Someone has to stand up for these workers – clearly Labour won’t.
Someone has to stand up for our exporters who must constantly battle government policies forcing interest rates and our dollar up and thereby compromising their competitiveness.
Our seniors, our workers, and our exporters all need a champion.
New Zealand First will be that champion and a party vote for us under the MMP system will help us restore this country to greatness.