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Who is the Weakest Link?

Rt Hon Winston Peters’ 2005 Budget Speech
Thursday 19 May 2005

Who is the Weakest Link?

Madam Speaker

Before I begin my speech I want to take a moment to update the House on developments in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty region.

Having just returned from Tauranga and having witnessed first hand the devastation last night, I can report that the people of Tauranga have demonstrated their resilience and fighting spirit.

Those from Civil Defence, the Police, Fire Service, Health and Defence Forces personnel, local authorities and others who have come from outside the district have done an admirable job in assisting our region in its hour of need.

I wish to thank these people personally and reassure the House that every necessary step is being taken to address this state of emergency and put the region back on a stable footing.

But now to the matter at hand.

In all my years in Parliament I have never forgotten a speech or a face but after listening to those before me today, I am happy to make an exception.

We came here expecting to hear words of political wisdom, a blueprint for a dynamic future, a fair deal for the elderly but we just got the latest version of the spin doctors’ manual.

This has been an innocuous policy prescription for an ailing economy falling into decline, by a visionless regime of warped priorities which will soon be leaving the Treasury benches.

New Zealanders are crying out for leadership and a clear direction – a plan.

They are tired of being led by aimless focus group polling, with the only intent being to keep Labour in power.

So while today we are none the wiser as to what Dr Cullen actually wanted to do, we now know what Labour’s focus group polling is telling them.

But here is the problem with this short-sighted approach.

It is all about token gestures, but there is no vision.

Where is the export plan which will underpin our long term economic growth?

Where are the incentives for innovation for our businesses – other than driving our brightest and best offshore?

Where is the equity and fairness in the treatment of our senior citizens?

Where is the genuine commitment to addressing our infrastructure needs?

Where are the policies which will reverse the trends of importing welfare recipients, while exporting our educated young?

Where are the policies to control the consumption driven economy, which has forced real wages down and inflation and interest rates up?

Where is the commitment to addressing race relations issues?

Do they really think a Treaty road show will do this?

Where are the policies which will stem the tide of more than thirteen hundred New Zealanders a year dying on hospital waiting lists?

What we have is an orchestrated litany of election year largesse, derived from focus group polls aimed at getting Labour re-elected.

Well it won’t work – New Zealanders will see this for what it is.

But I must say this has been something short of the spectacle it was meant to be.

We have growth projections of only 2.5%, the lowest for more than half a decade.

We have net debt spiralling out of control.

We have a Current Account Deficit reaching epidemic proportions with projections of deficit of more than 11 billion dollars in 2008. It is little wonder that the world bank ranks us at number 40 for gross national income per head of population and there is nothing in this Budget to reverse this trend.

It seems clear that Dr Cullen’s dark secret agenda over tax was so dark that no one could find it.
Who would offer working class New Zealanders a tax incentive of $0.67 in three years time?

Little wonder Dr Cullen did not want to have his photo taken with it.

If that was meant to be a battle of New Zealand’s economic heavy weights then the public really should be entitled to a refund.

In National’s corner you have a someone more at home in a tae-bo class than in a heavy weight clash.

Mimicking the motions of the instructor – but no menace.

In the other corner, a Finance Minister whose government carries so much baggage that it’s difficult to strike a clean blow with any force.

Most of the time his gloves are up in defence.

Well, the real contender is here and New Zealanders can be grateful that at least one party is willing to stand up and fight for them.

But this budget is really about finding who is really the government’s weakest link.

And boy is this a tough ask!

One thing is clear – the Prime Minister probably now wishes that the former Associate Minister of Education had put tennis balls in the mouths of all the tossers and tuggers in her caucus.

So where do we start.

One really can’t go past the Minister of Education – Trevor Mallard.

We must be the only developed nation in the world which tolerates such incompetence from an Education Minister – and it’s our children who are paying the price for this.

While we have had two resignations so far over the NCEA exam debacle there really must be one more – the person, who despite numerous warnings that there were problems with the process he had overseen, tries to place blame everywhere except where it should be.

When he was warned the system was failing what did he do?

Everybody - nothing

He tried to dodge this bullet by appointing an Associate Minister to take the flack.

Well that ploy failed because it seems Mr Benson-Pope was otherwise engaged.

The mind boggles… and so I imagine too do the eyes.

So here is an Education Minister who put the future of thousands of our children at risk.

Is he a weak link?

Everybody – Yes

Should he go?

Everybody – Yes

But wait there is more.

We have a Mark Two Minister of Immigration who has the same problems of the Mark One version – the giggler from Christchurch.

He doesn’t know who came here, why they came and what they are doing here.

This Minister’s incompetence seems to know no bounds.

You see for years now we have been warning him about immigration fraud and what has he done?

Everyone – Nothing

And the result is that we now have hordes of undesirables living in this country, a number of whom will no doubt become Iraqi versions of Zaoui.

We have warned him numerous times about fraudulent activities in gaining visas and permanent residency.

And this is the same Minister who was too frightened to front the media over the Iraqi issue, instead sending a public servant to do his dirty work.

Such dishonourable meekness alone should warrant his removal.

You see this Minister just doesn’t know which Tom, Dick, Yossef, Ahmed, Osama or Ying Tong is actually here.

We have passed on many of these cases and as the Prime Minister told the House, what did he do?

Everyone – Nothing

We copped all their abuse when we highlighted the dangers of this government’s soft touch open door immigration policy.

And we were told that this Minister was going to review the immigration laws.

But now we know what he was really up to.

Everyone – Nothing

You see the terms for his review which he promised a year ago haven’t even gone to cabinet yet.

Is he a weak link?

Everybody – Yes

Should he go?

Everybody – Yes

But wait there is more.

You see there is a Minister of Police, who although it is hard to believe, is probably more incompetent than the Minister of Immigration.

Talk about trying to pass the buck where New Zealand First’s Ron Mark for months raises the debacle in the 111 system, this Minister said all is well.

Well last week we found out what we already knew – all is not well and in fact it is a failing system.

When New Zealand First says there needs to be many more police, this Minister says the Commissioner has all the police he needs.

Well we know this is not true, it hasn’t been for years, and new staff are urgently needed.

When we claimed that police were sitting on the side of the road with their radios turned off this Minister denied it.

We now know it was an all too common practice.

And this Minister has the audacity to claim morale is low in the police because of Opposition attacks.

Now there have been precedents in this House for a Minister resigning in the light of such sustained poor performance.

The threshold is normally set at numerous and cumulative mistakes, people dying as a result of ministerial incompetence and of ministerial inaction leading to a crisis of public confidence.

This minister is guilty on all three counts.

Is he a weak link?

Everybody – Yes

Should he go?

Everybody – Yes

But wait there is more.

There is a Minister in this government whose heart drips icicles.

This is of course the heartless Minister of Finance who keeps our seniors on the breadline.

This same Minister told this House why he had set superannuation at or near 68% for the first three years he was in office – because changes to calculating superannuation was ripping superannuitants off.

This same Minister then tells the House that he always intended to rip-off the elderly by lowering the rate to 65%, meaning all those previous gains are now lost.

But he makes it much worse by allowing the rate to go below 65% for most of the year.

In fact last year, for three out of four quarters, the rate was below 65%.

Such a callous attitude is why seniors are leaving Labour in hordes and coming to New Zealand First.

Is he a weak link?

Every body – Yes

Should he go?

Everybody – Yes

But wait there is more.

Now deciding who the weakest link is, is actually a tough ask.

You see, there is meant to be one individual here in parliament who should keep this type of incompetence in check.

He is meant to stand up to the government and give the people of New Zealand a credible alternative.

This is the man who now wants to constantly compare New Zealand’s performance with Australia and yet when he had the chance to actually support the Australian model in the 1980’ and 1990’s he instead elected to follow the model of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. This is another story of a man now crying wolf.

Sadly, he is failing on all counts.

So one must say in the case of the National party leader

Is he a weak link?

Every body – Yes

Should he go?

Everybody – Yes

But who is the weakest link?

Well that is the one person who could single-handedly fix all the above if she had the slightest concern for this nation.

This is the same person who has made gay marriage and legalised prostitution higher priorities than protecting the jobs of New Zealanders.

The same person who has allowed more than 1,300 people a year to die on hospital waiting lists, while she gallivants the globe for photo opportunities.

This Prime Minister who has countenanced $170 million dollars a year being spent on sex change operations, while all the time allowing hospital waiting lists to grow and grow.

She tells the media that George Hawkins needs protecting because the opposition are bullies – how’s that for leadership.

She spreads all sorts of rumours about Dover Samuels to get him sacked and now claims everything is okay because he has a token job outside cabinet.

She signs every Free Trade Agreement with every large Asian nation on offer with absolutely no regard for New Zealand workers.

This is the queen of PC, who has consigned Maori to grievance mode and dependency and now complains when Maori turn on her.

Now I could go on – but the voters know what we all know in this House.

Is she the weakest link?

Everybody – Yes

Should She go?

Everybody – Yes

And after the next election she will.

Now there is a party in parliament which cares about New Zealand workers, who cares about our senior citizens and our families.

There is a party that believes our porous borders need tightening and we don’t need to engage in name calling like others to do it.

There is a party that will derail the Treaty grievance gravy train and promote harmony rather than division through race based policies.

There is a party that brings New Zealanders – both young and old – hope for a better future.

And when the election is over, this party will begin the process of putting in place its policy programme for the future.

That party is of course New Zealand First.

And the halls are filling all over the country because help is on its way.


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