National President’s Address To Annual Conference
Judy Kirk National Party President’s Address
Address to National Party Annual Conference, Duxton Hotel, Wellington
Leader Don Brash, Members of the Board, Members of Parliament, General Manager, Delegates, and Guests to the Conference!
We meet today at our 69th Annual Conference, a critical time for the National Party. This will be one of the most important and defining elections in National’s history.
The challenge for all of us is to ensure that we deliver a National-led government.
It is time for change.
Fifteen years ago there was a landslide victory to National.
Fifteen years before that – another, fifteen years before that – another one, back in 1960. It is our job to ensure that the cycle continues in 2005.
As our stunning new billboards, paid for by our supporters up and down the country, say, it is a two-horse race – red and blue.
Three years of planning and organising have come together.
We are ready for a general election, which is 90 days away at the most.
But I caution you all: there is much yet to be done.
Labour has turned us into a “can’t do” society, but Don and the National team will move this country to a “can-do” society.
Our task is not merely one of itemising Labour’s failures. Small-business people bound down with red tape and high taxes already know which way to vote.
Farmers and lovers of racing will know which way to vote.
Older people concerned for the future of their country and the speed of social change under Labour will know which way to vote.
The parents of children who have been disappointed by our disgraced education system know which way to vote.
But I think that New Zealanders expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. As John Kennedy said:
“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”
To safely secure that future we must have a Don Brash-led government. And that government will make a difference.
National has returned to its grass roots. That is where politics begins – listening to and tackling the issues of mainstream New Zealanders. Politics is about people. I personally have been listening to these people and their concerns when out door-knocking with Jo Goodhew in Timaru and David Bennett in Hamilton, and business-calling in Auckland and in Christchurch.
People all over are feeling the disastrous effects of this Labour government. They are middle New Zealanders who need more prosperity, sensible policy, real growth and stability for their future.
I can say that our soon-to-be-released tax package will benefit middle New Zealanders and give them the tax relief they deserve so much.
You see, that is the difference between the Labour Party and the National Party. The Labour Party thinks that all our tax money is theirs to spend and waste as they see fit. We believe that governments take the people’s money on trust to be used for the benefit of all New Zealanders, but what is surplus to requirements should be returned to those who make the money.
We will once again provide a world-class education system for our children.
Bill English has been a star in the educational area and will be a great Minister of Education. He will restore confidence in NCEA, restore greater choice to the education system and bring focus back to the tertiary sector. .
We will reform welfare. Again, a major point of difference between National and Labour.
Labour’s attitude to welfare beneficiaries is that it is okay to stay dependent and that it’s too hard to change. Our attitude is that people have the capacity to enjoy life so much more if they are independent and earning their own money. We’ll help them find a job and sustain them while they are unemployed. But for their own sake, and for the country, they can’t be permanently unemployed.
Ours is a positive message. Of course we will look after those who cannot look after themselves, but we must help others to get back into active society.
In last year’s Orewa speech, our Leader stated clearly the need for “one standard of citizenship for all.” We will resolve outstanding Treaty grievances justly and quickly. No one wants the Treaty grievance process to go on forever.
We will rebuild our infrastructure. This government has erected a legislative framework which screams out “you can’t build roads.”
Our proposals are the opposite; we will reform the RMA, and we will make petrol tax funds available because we must rebuild our roading infrastructure and improve transport. Spread the word about our RMA promise; we will have reform legislation in the House within three months of being elected, and it will be passed within nine months. No ifs, buts, no maybes. It will be done.
We will ensure that our citizens live in safe communities, that the Police are adequately funded, that criminals are punished, and victims supported. Tony Ryall as Minister of Police will return security to New Zealanders so they feel safe in their beds at night.
So, by all means attack this present administration, but don’t forget that we have a positive message to sell. We have done so much work on policy over the past three years, and this is being illustrated to you at this conference.
Make sure you spread the message that the two main parties have very different messages.
Our message is positive. We represent the “can do” society. We represent an enterprise free-market state leading New Zealand forward. We represent personal freedom, choice, and responsibility, and we are tackling the issues of mainstream New Zealanders.
The second message you need to pass on to voters is that we have a team that is ready to govern.
I pay tribute to our Caucus for their hard work over the past three years. In 2002, the National Caucus was reduced to 27, and they have had their resources sorely stretched over those three years. They have been tested, they have fought hard, and they have rebuilt their position to the point today where they are fighting this government to a standstill.
We have rejuvenated the Party with our outstanding 40 new candidates who represent middle New Zealand. On election night, our Caucus numbers will be greatly increased by the addition of some exceptional talent.
I personally am very proud of the introduction of the Candidates College. Through this college, would-be candidates have been trained in the history and values of the Party, campaigning, and the responsibilities of being an MP. It has proven to be a great success to date, and the real proof of its value will be when these new candidates enter Parliament.
I believe that as a political party we have a responsibility to train our candidates so they will serve New Zealand well as MPs – and they will!
The calibre of candidates is a strategic campaign component. And we couldn’t have done better – for the first time our list for the general election is the full team: 65 candidates, including all MPs standing. This is a major shift for us as a political party and a very positive one for 2005.
The relationship between the Leader and President, the party organisation, the Board of Directors, the Caucus, the Leader’s Office, and the Party staff has improved out of sight.
We have become a strong and capable political machine, ready to fight and win elections. Unity and discipline is crucial – I congratulate the Party on the genuine team culture that has developed. Discipline is pivotal to our success.
The third point to emphasise is leadership. We have an extraordinary leader in Don Brash – generous in spirit, intelligent, and determined. Don has always been a success in the past, and will continue to be successful. Don is someone you can trust and who has the guts to do what is right. After three years he is knocking on the door of government.
Don, your support for me as President has been really appreciated. Thank-you. And on behalf of all of us here, thank-you for what you have already done for our great Party and for what you are going to do as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
To those who are retiring, Roger Sowry, our former deputy leader, to whom the party owes so much, and Lynda Scott, thank you for all your hard work and invaluable expertise. All the very best for the future and keep in touch.
I have spoken at length about policy, the candidates and leadership. I know what some of you are thinking. Good Lord, she hasn’t mentioned the need to win the Party Vote.
Here is the Party Vote commercial.
How many times must we say it? The Party Vote alone determines the make-up of Parliament. There is still a lack of understanding about the Party Vote; trust me –- II know. I hear it all the time.
You must get through to the electorate – and above all to our Party members and supporters – that it is no good giving the Electorate Vote to us and the Party Vote to a minor party who you think will make a good coalition partner. That is a recipe for disaster.
Look what happened last time – there was a swing to the right, but the largest centre-right party suffered the worst defeat in almost 100 years because the Party Votes were sprayed far and wide.
The only way we can win is for us to receive the most Party Votes. To change the government, give National your Party Vote. If you take nothing else from this conference, please, please take that message. To change the government, give National your Party Vote.
So now it’s over to us all – Don, me, MPs, candidates, campaign staff, the unsung heroes – that is you, the Party members, volunteers. You will decide the outcome of this election. The ball is in our court.
Please make sure that:
We stay on message. Emphasise the Party’s policies, the difference between National and Labour, between what’s right and what’s wrong.
Support the Leader, MPs, and candidates.
Support one another – unity is essential.
Stay disciplined. Loose lips lose elections.
Stay focused on the prize. Think of the joy on election night when we are declared the winner. Keep that image in your mind in the next few weeks when the going gets tough, when the slog seems particularly hard. We need to push harder, work harder, be determined. We need to keep lifting the bar, and you all can do it!
You can be very proud of the National brand in 2005. We are better resourced, have increased our membership, chosen great candidates, and developed sound policy. We are united and focused. Let’s go that extra mile to ensure victory.
Thank-you for all you have done for the National Party.
As I said at the start of this speech, this is a critical time in our history. Let us ensure it is also a time of change; a time when we roll our sleeves up, fight hard, and win our sweetest victory – a victory for the National Party and a victory for the values of all mainstream New Zealanders.