Peters - When Integrity Counts Most
Rt Hon Winston Peters - When Integrity Counts Most
An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to Ashburton Grey Power Thursday, 16 June 2005, 1:30pm, at the Seniors Centre, Cameron Street, Ashburton
When Integrity Counts Most
Funny things happen in election year.
There are all kinds of expectations and a jostling for position among the various players as the tri-annual race to the ballot box heats up.
People make all kinds of promises in an attempt to woo voters, particularly party leaders desperate to lift their fortunes.
This is a winner takes all type of race as one party or coalition of parties will win and form the government for the next three years and the others receive the dubious title of the Opposition.
So the stakes are high for all concerned.
For some parties this election looks likely to be their last and it will be no bad thing to see some of the more extreme ideological elements on both the Right and Left leave parliament.
We might get some clear thinking and plain common sense for a change.
But ultimately this election is going to be about leadership and more than anything else the integrity of the leaders fighting this campaign.
For the major prize it a choice between the two tired old parties and their leaders and the party and leader of a growing and dynamic third party – New Zealand First. Make no mistake this is a three horse race.
The two old parties and their leaders have a lot in common.
Both leaders are former university students who became so-called experts in their chosen fields.
Remember the old saying: “an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less”.
In the case of Helen Clark and Don Brash – they now know everything about very little.
And it shows!
Both are totally out of touch with ordinary people who have to make a living, run a business, serve on the local school board of trustees or organise a kids’ birthday party.
In the case of Helen Clark she mixes with people like herself while Don Brash mixes with economic dinosaurs like himself in Wellington.
It must be terrible for both them!
The most useful experience a politician can gain is through the many people one rubs shoulders with from all walks of life.
Politics is about people – not about focus groups and computer printouts.
That is what is wrong with Labour and National. Their leaders would sooner consult a computer than a real person.
The old parties are obsessed with shaping the nation in their own image.
Labour is busy imposing its radical social and ethnic engineering policies on the people while National wants to return to the economic engineering of the 1990s.
The spirit of Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley is alive and well in the National Party caucus.
The leadership of Labour and National fail to understand that most people don’t like extreme policies.
They don’t want their country flooded with immigrants from alien cultures, same sex marriages and mindless political correctness.
Nor do they want more state assets sold, reduced health services and thousands thrown out of work because of mindless Free Trade Agreements with large Asian nations.
Only New Zealand First stands against these nightmare scenarios.
Fortunately, as the polls are currently showing – no government will be formed following the next election without New Zealand First, and that will be true whether we decide to go into government or not.
You will soon see two phenomena occur which will dictate why this is so.
The first is the Lions’ tour.
Politics in New Zealand is in a holding pattern for the next six weeks as the front five pages and the back ten pages of every newspaper, the first few news bulletins on every television and radio station will contain nothing but Lions coverage.
Politics can’t compete with this and nor should it.
If the All Blacks win then Helen Clark and Labour will try and maximise the feel good factor and Brash will be history.
If heaven forbid the All Blacks lose, then Labour will be in real trouble.
But neither will be able to combat the second phenomena which will be the public’s reaction to the integrity of the three leaders concerned.
You see whether you agree with New Zealand First’s policies or not there is absolutely no question as to what we stand for and our level of commitment to seeing these policies through.
The same cannot be said for both Brash and Clark who are both masters of flip-flop, hold your finger in the breeze style of politics – all whilst they pursue deep covert ideological agendas.
It is this lack of integrity which will ultimately see them shed support during the campaign.
Let me give you two examples which highlight my point.
The National party and Don Brash were totally exposed last time they raised race relations because they scratched an itch, raised false hopes but then offered no solutions.
When Brash was forced to actually provide some details and policy prescriptions he had none – like any plagiarist that does not know his subject.
Now he is trying to frighten New Zealanders into believing their beaches are again at risk.
Yesterday’s Independent states that, “National intends to repeal the new seabed and foreshore law and return the foreshore and seabed to Crown ownership”.
This is another display of National’s ignorance, because this is exactly what the legislation last year did.
Last summer they went to the beach just like they always had.
Nothing had changed – just like New Zealand First promised when we passed the Seabed and Foreshore Act.
And when summer rolls around this year they will be able to do the same again.
Now National are trying to raise some spurious concerns about the government’s negotiations with East Coast Iwi.
Again they are trying to spread misrepresentation and they have been caught out doing it.
Let me be clear – nobody but the Crown owns the public foreshore and seabed.
Maori, like those on the East Coast can negotiate for customary rights to be recognised and given the amount of land they own adjacent to the seabed and foreshore they should rightfully expect their customary rights to be protected.
Europeans under the Act can do the same as well.
But the Crown will always own it – New Zealand First guaranteed that.
The irony is that National claims they support Maori retaining customary rights. After all, it was National that first gave Maori customary rights.
Perhaps its time someone highlighted their hypocrisy and asked them what exactly they now mean.
National have been using Gerry Brownlee to front this issue and this goes a long way toward explaining their confusion and lack of understanding.
I mean, which party with several lawyers among its ranks would put forward a former woodwork teacher to explain what are in essence highly technical legal points.
They have no real solutions. That is why they lack integrity.
On 21 June in Te Awamutu New Zealand First will be announcing its Treaty policy.
We will once and for all put a stake in the ground on the Treaty and race relations.
Somebody must confront Labour’s mishandling of this issue with more than just talk.
And we will also be taking the fight to Labour over its preoccupation with signing Free Trade Agreements with large Asian nations.
This is a dangerous short-sighted practice which will destroy New Zealand’s manufacturing base.
The recent proposed agreement with China highlights just why this is so.
We already have a trade balance deficit of nearly $2 billion with China.
That is more than one fifth of our Current Account Deficit of over $9 billion dollars which has reached dangerous proportions and threatens our global economic standing.
The trade imbalance with China has grown every year for years and will only get worse with a prospective FTA.
It is simply bad economics.
Now some will say with New Zealand already has low tariffs, meaning there are few barriers to Chinese imports and our exports are likely to grow by nearly $500m with a FTA.
Lets consider that for a moment.
There is nothing in this agreement which tells us how we are going to grow our exports to a level that even puts us on an even footing with what China is sending to us.
We need a research based export plan that helps us grow our exports and this is what New Zealand First is proposing.
That is an export plan and it doesn’t require a dodgy FTA to do it – just clever planning.
Now the more likely scenario of this proposed FTA is that imports will grow exponentially because it is not just tariffs which are barriers to trade.
As a recent poll among Canterbury manufacturers shows, they are already nervous about this deal with net confidence dropping dramatically to a negative 25% from a positive 44% in 2004 – all due to the China FTA.
They cannot compete with Chinese wages or labour practices where one New Zealand wage buys 18 Chinese workers.
The trickle of companies such as Wellington’s Interlock which are already heading to China will become a torrent.
This is a loss for New Zealand workers and a loss for New Zealand business.
China is not into playing fair on free trade and we are naïve to ever believe they would be.
What we need is an export plan.
We must use trade to grow New Zealand’s interests, not appease the demands of other countries.
This is part of Helen Clark’s and Labour’s lack of integrity.
You see they used to be the workers’ party.
Now they are the party which places gay marriage above jobs and China’s trading interests over New Zealand’s.
This is the party that places legalised prostitution over a functioning police force, and Treaty courses and political correctness over standards in education.
National is no better. Their record proves it.
This lack of integrity is what will see Labour and National come undone.
You see when we released our immigration policy a few weeks ago it was interesting to see the reaction.
The usual suspects said we were xenophobic or racists.
But none of them could say we had not provided a solution to the problems that are staring us in the face.
No one could dispute our facts and no one doubted we were serious about doing what we were proposing.
And New Zealanders understand and reward this type of integrity.
It’s about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Now I just want to very briefly reinforce our commitment to seeing through our commitments in relation to the Golden Age Card and our seniors’ policy.
We will increase your superannuation.
We will provide a golden age card which will ensure greater subsidies for GP visits and prescription charges, transport concessions, lower charges for power telephones and a rates rebate.
Just like we removed the superannuation surcharge when we were last in office we will keep our word – it is a matter of integrity – of plain speaking.
The time for change has arrived.
The two tired old parties can only promise you more of the same.
New Zealand First is for change and a change for the better.