A Question Of Leadership - Winston Peters
4 May 2005
An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to members attending the Wanganui GreyPower AGM,Raceway Function Centre, Wanganui Racecourse, Purnell Street, Wanganui at 2.00pm, Wednesday, 4 May 2005
"A Question Of Leadership"
My talk today is like a game of two halves.
In the second part I want to cover New Zealand First's policy for senior citizens.
But first I want to talk about what we see as the most critical question that voters must decide on in this year's election.
That is the question of leadership
Because when you survey the political landscape it is clear is that neither Labour nor National are providing real leadership.
Helen Clark has the leadership style of an interfering bossy boots in a university staff room.
Don Brash shares her tendency to "know best' but is too weak to have any impact.
Both of them are happiest when laying down the law to the rest of us.
In New Zealand First we believe that our primary role as a political party is to provide leadership.
And we consider that leadership calls for certain characteristics and qualities.
First - leaders stand for something.
Ask yourself what do National and Labour actually stand for - apart from their naked lust for power?
They are forever tacking and trimming with every puff of wind that blows in from a focus group.
Instead of listening to ordinary New Zealanders they prefer to use focus groups to try and figure out the mood of voters.
The truth is National and Labour don't want to deal with real people - the general public.
Because real people have a habit of asking embarrassing - direct - and difficult questions.
National and Labour see politics as being about experts conducting focus groups, marketing campaigns and using computer technology to analyse the electorate.
The word for all that stuff is manipulation.
The end result of treating politics as a popularity contest is that Helen Clark and Don Brash will say and do just about anything if there is a vote in it.
They will change horses in mid stream and take the saddle with them.
With New Zealand First, we ask people to look at our record.
Even our opponents admit that we have always been consistent in our stand on policy areas.
We know who we are and what we stand for.
Because what we stand for reflects the values of the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders.
Take the Treaty Gravy Train.
National gave the Treaty Gravy Train its initial head of steam.
Then Labour happily stoked up the boiler.
This was its way of buying Maori votes.
Remember how Labour was intent on spraying money around in their so-called "Closing the Gaps" policy.
It was New Zealand First's stand again the burgeoning Treaty Gravy Train that is starting to actually derail it.
We exposed it - we let the public in on this shameful scam.
And that dose of daylight has had a remarkable effect.
Now no one ever uses the phrase "Closing the Gaps" in Helen Clark's hearing if they value their job!
Second - real leaders are there to serve
In this respect the contrast between New Zealand First and with National and Labour could not be greater.
Time and time again National and Labour have arrogantly betrayed the interests of New Zealanders.
And their agenda is driven by doing favours for those who bankroll them.
For Labour it is the unions and their camp followers in all sorts of politically correct fringe groups.
For National big business calls the tune.
Both parties consistently put the globalisation agenda ahead of the interests of ordinary New Zealanders.
So it has not bothered either Labour or National that here has been pitiful growth in real wage levels for most Kiwis - despite endless talk of how well the New Zealand economy is performing.
Remember the total silence from National and Labour on immigration until New Zealand First put it on the agenda?
They refused to see the connection between an open door immigration policy and overloaded services and infrastructure.
And they pretended that a mass influx of migrants would not depress wages.
Labour and National's addiction to globalisation means they are eager to sign New Zealand up to free trade agreements without adequate safeguards.
It means that both like foreign ownership of New Zealand assets and infrastructure.
The economy is supposed to be booming but ordinary Kiwis are not benefiting from it - certainly not students facing crippling debts, working families struggling to buy a first home or the elderly surviving on basic superannuation.
And these are the people New Zealand First is working for.
Third - leadership calls for courage
A real leader has to tell it like it is even if upsets and offends some people.
New Zealand First will not indulge in make believe.
Other political parties can play the "let's pretend game" but we will not go along with the so-called consensus when it denies New Zealanders the real story.
As everything we have done over the past three years affirms, we are not going stand by silent while New Zealand's interests are sold down the river.
And that is where we are coming from whether it's opposing nonsense like the Zaoui fiasco or stopping foreigners plundering our prime assets.
This is our commitment
We will make a stand - based on what we see as New Zealand's our country's true interests.
Because we do not serve the unions, big business or any other sectional interest - we serve New Zealanders.
People like yourselves who have given a lifetime of service to your families and the wider community.
People who give rather than take.
Recently at the Greypower AGM we outlined our senior citizens policy which is based on our golden age card.
The first point is to raise the level of superannuation from the current rate of 32.5 percent of the Net Average Wage individually for each married superanuitant to 34 percent.
This will put nearly $10 a week extra in your pockets.
In the long term our aim is to lift superannuation from 65 percent or below of the Net Average Wage for couples to 72.5 percent.
We will also correct the anomaly related to the non-qualified spouse and bring their rebate rate down from 70 cents to 30 cents in the dollar like other benefits.
The card also includes improved subsidies for healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
We also intend to:
- improve the rates rebate scheme;
- lower charges for power, gas and telephone;
- improve access to savings incentives in the form of bonus interest rates on term deposits;
- and extend transport and other discounts available to seniors.
We propose that the card be developed as a "smartcard' so it can be "loaded' with all of the relevant information associated with the cardholder's benefits.
For example when you go to the doctors or the chemist, all the benefits and subsidies you are entitled to will be automatically recorded on the card so you won't have keep filling out forms.
This will also apply to your lower charges for power, gas and telephone - it will all occur automatically by swiping the card.
The current rates rebate scheme is not accessed by all who might be eligible because many people are not aware of its existence or how to access it.
It provides too little to too few.
Labour has belatedly acknowledged this, but has done absolutely nothing about accessibility.
With our plan a swipe of the card will establish eligibility and credit the appropriate amount.
You won't have to play hide and seek with officials to get your entitlement.
Our aim is to see this card become a universally recognised symbol for all of the associated discount schemes, including travel.
What it means in brief is this - "the holder of this card is a valued member of our society. Please give this person every courtesy".
Also included in our policy, but not part of the Golden Age Card, is the need to dramatically increase funding to the eldercare sector and to remove income and asset testing.
This policy is based on a vision of our seniors living a better life, with dignity
Already Labour and National have come up with umpteen reasons of why we can't afford to treat our seniors with dignity.
We say with a little leadership and refocusing priorities it can be done.
Your choice now is to decide which type of leadership that you want to follow.
A party vote for New Zealand First will secure you strong and effective leadership.
It will deliver you leadership committed to seeing through its promises. We promise you that.