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Brash Address: New Government And A New Direction

A New Government And A New Direction

Don Brash Address to the Central North Island Regional Conference, Kingsgate Hotel, Te Rapa

Mr Chairman, Madam President, Parliamentary colleagues, fellow delegates.

On Thursday, Michael Cullen read his sixth and final Budget in Parliament.
What an opportunity lost for New Zealand!

Nearly 600 people get on a plane and leave New Zealand to move permanently to Australia each week - 30,000 in the past year - the equivalent of losing the city of Gisborne each year. They go because they can see a better life with better rewards for themselves and their families in Australia.

And the acid test for Michael Cullen and Helen Clark's Budget is this: will any of the 600 people lining up to leave this week, or any of the 600 planning to go next week, have second thoughts because of the Cullen Budget?

Of course they won't.
There is nothing in the Budget which offers the promise of something better ahead for New Zealand families. There is nothing which will make it less likely that your children and grandchildren will find their futures across the Tasman.

And the great tragedy is that if ever a Government had a chance to change the game, this Helen Clark government has had that chance.

And they have blown it.
Tinkering with the idea of inflation-adjusted tax thresholds in the future is an insult to all those hard-working New Zealanders who have been savagely over-taxed in recent years. We can do better than this, and New Zealanders deserve better than this.

National will bring in a tax system that rewards enterprise, rewards skill and rewards hard work. We will lessen the burden on the hundreds of thousands of middle-income families who, under the policies of the current Government, are taxed as if they are the new rich. These policies will be announced within the next few weeks and will be aimed at mainstream New Zealand.

And we can do this while improving the quality of Education and Health. The money is there; it is Labour's management failures which have been the problem. A vast new bureaucracy in Education, which wastes the time of teachers in the field. Similar failures in Health, which have seen billions more dollars poured in, with fewer operations coming out the other end.

If I have the privilege of forming the next Government of New Zealand, I will want to bring down another Budget before the end of the year to set some of these issues to rights just as soon as possible.

It is great to be here in the Central North Island.
The National Party already has great representation in this part of the country with five experienced Members of Parliament, and we are poised to build on that this year.

We have a small caucus - although that is about to change - and today I want to publicly acknowledge and thank my caucus colleagues from this region - Tony Ryall, Sandra Goudie, Georgina Te HeuHeu, Lindsay Tisch and Shane Ardern - for the tremendous job they do, and the great support they give me personally.

As a region, you can all be very proud of your new candidates - Tim Macindoe, Bob Clarkson, Anne Tolley, David Bennett, Moira Irving, Gil Stehbens and Weston Kirton. I look forward to this region increasing its representation in the next National caucus.

Allow me a special mention of Bob Clarkson, who is fighting the good fight in Tauranga. Winston may be the man about town in Wellington, but Bob is the man doing the work, on the ground, for the people of Tauranga. And the people are taking notice.

As you all know, it's the party vote that really matters under MMP. And the people in Hamilton, Gisborne, Tauranga, Rotorua, Whakatane, New Plymouth and other centres, who are sick and tired of the treatment meted out to them by Labour, look set to give National a really solid party vote.

This region has been dealt a particularly rough hand by this Labour Government.
In terms of the problems in the education sector, Labour was happy to blame Alison Annan for the problems at Cambridge High, but it was the system overseen by Trevor Mallard that allowed these problems to develop and go undetected for so long.

Your children suffered because of Trevor Mallard's arrogance and incompetence, and still he says there's nothing wrong with the system.

Even more worrying for our parents, students and schools, is that Mr Mallard is back on the job following the demise of David Benson-Pope. So the Minster who presided over the disasters involved in NCEA, and who was replaced, is now back in charge again. He is the Minister who was working with the teacher unions in Wellington to decide which of your schools would close, when those decisions are yours to make in heartland New Zealand.

We will all be better off when Bill English, who exposed the failures in Labour's management of the education system, is Minister.

And we will all feel much safer when Tony Ryall is overseeing law and order, instead of George Hawkins.
Peter and Maggie Bentley of Te Puke are the public faces of the 111 crisis. I cannot recall anything which has so comprehensively catalogued Police failures as the recent report on the 111 emergency call system, but still the Police Minister survives. National has been pointing out these failures for months. We would not leave rural communities without this emergency access. And nor would we allow serial rapists and murderers back on the streets. I simply do not accept Labour's parole programme for serious and repeat offenders. You know that Tony Ryall is the man to ensure that rural families can once again feel safe in their homes and on their land.

One of National's priorities in government will be to fix the roads. In Auckland, we tend to think of the roading crisis as an Auckland crisis, and of course it is. It has been estimated that road congestion is costing the Auckland economy in excess of $1 billion per year.

But it is not only an Auckland crisis. A study commissioned by the Automobile Association last year found that fixing the roading network around Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, and adding passing lanes to key rural roads, had an even higher social and economic payback than fixing Auckland's problems. And there are other important roading priorities also. It is vitally important that we don't make the roading issue into a divisive "Auckland versus the rest" issue. The whole country needs a better road network, both to reduce the carnage on the roads and to allow the economy to grow into the future.

I have already pledged that the next National Government will progressively move all the petrol excise tax which now goes into the Consolidated Fund into the construction of new roads, and in particular I have committed to spending $750 million to enable the Waikato Expressway, from Mercer to Cambridge, to be built within ten years. We will, of course, also complete other major roading projects in the region, including the four-laning of State Highway 2 from its junction with SH1 to the junction with SH27.

Let me briefly remind you of two other key election planks:
National will end the Treaty grievance industry and the indulgent culture of waste, extravagance and political correctness which surrounds it. As a nation, we need to step ahead as one people, not separated by two standards. Labour's policy will condemn New Zealand to the status of a divided nation and a Pacific backwater. We are better than that. And our people deserve more than that.

National will address the welfare rorts that, in a time of plenty, have left more than 300,000 adult New Zealanders on welfare - that's more than the equivalent of two Hamiltons, without even including the quarter of a million children in welfare-dependent households! There are many genuine cases needing taxpayer support and, of course, National will always maintain a welfare safety net, but the huge number of people dependent on a benefit at a time of plenty is an indictment of Labour's policies. Rather than making welfare a lifestyle choice, as some beneficiaries do, beneficiaries need to be encouraged into work, any work, to get one step on the ladder to a better life.

As many of you know, I left the Reserve Bank to enter Parliament. I wanted to become a parliamentarian; but I certainly wanted no part in the culture of evasion, deceit and half-truth that has sometimes been seen as an inevitable part of politics, and which certainly pervades Helen Clark and the Labour Party.

New Zealanders deserve better than that. They have every right to expect better than that.
Over recent weeks, as Helen Clark's involvement in the Peter Doone affair has been exposed, and as she has been asked to explain herself, we have seen the extent to which she will go to achieve her ends.

It has now become shamefully clear in court documents that Helen Elizabeth Clark secretly fed wrong information to a Sunday Star Times reporter about her then Police Commissioner Peter Doone.

She repeatedly confirmed this information to the reporter and editor in follow-up calls. And even though she practically dictated the story herself to the paper, the article reported her as saying she had "no comment."

Anyone who is prepared to read the Hansards of her answers to Parliament on the one hand, and her signed briefs of evidence to the Court on the other, is left with a sense of wonderment that Helen Clark's nose hasn't grown three feet long.

And all this was happening when Helen Clark was presiding over a process considering the Commissioner's future. That amounts to a conspiracy.

Today, I want you to know that the credibility of Helen Clark, the ability of our Prime Minister to tell the truth, the ability of her Ministers to tell the truth and to give honest answers in our Parliament, is firmly on the agenda as an issue for the 2005 general election. I make no apology for that.

New Zealanders have had enough of the culture of evasion, deceit and half-truth which characterises not just this Prime Minister but her Cabinet, and in a few weeks time they will have the opportunity to do something about it.

Thank you all for your work. Go out and spread the word. Labour has to go. And only National can set this country on the right road.


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