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Only a Vote for ACT is a Vote for Change

Why only a Vote for ACT is a Vote for Change

Rodney Hide Wednesday, 6 July 2005 Speeches - Taxation

Speech to Birkenhead Rotary, Rawene Centre, Rawene Road, Wednesday 6 July, 7pm

The mood in New Zealand is a mood for change. A change of government. A change of direction.

In 2002, ACT was the only party campaigning for tax cuts. Now every party bar Labour is in favour of tax cuts.

In 2002, only ACT was campaigning on welfare reform, now every party is.

In 2002, only ACT was standing up for one law for all New Zealanders, now every party is.

ACT has gone from a lonely voice to being part of a babble of voices.

I take heart from that. We have lead the debate and other parties have followed. That’s ACT’s role.

It’s been ACT who has held Labour to account. It’s us who have been responsible for scraping the Teflon from Helen Clark.

We have in Don Brash an ACT man heading up the National Party.

He has stood up for low tax, free enterprise and welfare reform. That’s good. He’s had a model to work from. It is called ACT’s manifesto. And Don Brash has moved through it very well.

And so the ACT agenda that we set out over ten years ago is now the agenda for this year’s election.

But now the problem:

Voters think because National is ahead of Labour we’ve actually got a change of government. That’s not so. No way have we got a change of government.

We have MMP.

National can’t govern on their own. On present polling National will need Winston Peters. And Winston Peters isn’t going to let the National Party implement any of its programmes. He can’t afford to because he’s made a solemn promise to retired New Zealanders to increase their pension. He will stick to it. He saw what happened to Jim Bolger when he broke his solemn pension promise.

So Winston Peters will ensure a big-spending government, just like in 1996 when Winston Peters made Jim Bolger promise another $6 billion worth of spending. That will happen again. You can kiss goodbye to National’s tax cuts.

And remember this, the National Party itself, the MPs, they haven’t changed with the arrival of Don Brash. They’re actually more centrist and pragmatic than anything I have ever seen in a National caucus in my time in politics. So Don is way ahead of his caucus and his caucus is well behind him in the policy and direction that New Zealand must take. There is a mismatch. There is a problem.

We see that problem with the policy reversals that have occurred where Don Brash has announced a policy only to have to reverse it.

So the prospect on present policy is this. A National government with NZ First and no ACT.

If we have that, it is a massive leftward swing in our Parliament. You will have the Labour Party, the Greens and the Maori Party in opposition and the government itself will be dragged way over to the left by Winston Peters and by the National caucus who will do anything to accommodate him to hang onto power.

And without ACT there is no counter-balance. There is no party standing up firm for free enterprise, individual freedom and personal responsibility.

If that happens, the hope and ambition of New Zealand will be lost. Because it won’t be a government much better than what we have got. It won’t be any better than what it was under Jim Bolger and Winston Peters and that government was a joke and it fell to bits. That is the best that can happen under current polling.

And it would be a tragedy because the country is voting for ACT policies, but won’t get them. The vote will be for tax cuts, welfare reform, smaller government, but the Parliament that will be delivered will be the opposite of that.

The centre of New Zealand’s Parliament will be shifted to the left.

That’s the best scenario on present polling.

The more likely scenario is that Winston Peters will go with Labour and that is even worse.

Half of Peters’ vote comes from Labour and half from National. If he goes with National he will burn off half his voters. It is true he runs the risk, if he goes across to Labour, of burning off half, but he can show that he has mixed it up and he truly is a party of the centre.

National one time, Labour the next.

Winston is a conservative. He doesn’t change governments, he modifies them. Against all expectation he went with Jim Bolger the last time he had a choice. This time he will stick with Helen Clark.

That will suit Winston. He’s lazy. Going in to form a new government with the National party would be hard work because there is no experience, there are no ministers in place and it would have to be all set up from scratch. Going with Helen Clark will be a piece of cake. The machinery is all in place and better still, Helen Clark’s ninth floor machine will look after his MPs as ministers, and they will need a lot of looking after, as he won’t do it. So that will suit him.

He will demand his policies and Helen Clark will give them to him. Why? Because she is desperate to be the first ever and only Labour Prime Minister elected three times to office. That is her goal and she doesn’t care beyond that. She will give him anything.

But there’s also the policy match. Winston is a big spending interventionist. Her policies squaremore easily with Winston’s. She can easily give him his pension promise - she made a similar one in 1999, she can agree to the Treaty changes (after she won’t have the Maori seats to contend with!), and she has already shown a preparedness to match her policy to Winston’s on immigration.

The fourth reason Winston will go with Helen Clark is she is a player. She will negotiate, she will talk, she got burned in 1996 with Winston Peters because she said we have won, here is the deal and he said Jim Bolger is actually talking to me and offering me things.

Don Brash is made of sterner stuff. He will say, I just don’t agree with this stuff, it is

rubbish. But Helen Clark will agree with it. She’s learnt negotiating with parties under MMP. How to pull it off.

And then the final reason is the personalities. Don Brash and Winston Peters. There is a personality clash like you wouldn’t believe. These two men can’t work together. But Helen Clark and Winston Peters can work together. They are both politicians. They are both about power and they both understand each other perfectly. They have been in politics all their lives.

Now under any of those scenarios, it isn’t good for New Zealand.

And I tell you where our voters are. In New Zealand, 7% of New Zealanders favours ACT. They love ACT. They believe in ACT, they believe in what ACT says and they love what we have done.

They love the fact that we have held Labour to account for all these years. They love the fact that it has been us that has done the hard yards, they love the fact that we’ve outperformed the National Party. They love the fact that we have gone into Parliament and put up the policy ideas and vision for a better New Zealand. They love that.

But there is one thing they feel about politics more strongly than their love of ACT. They don’t like Helen Clark and they want to get rid of her. They will vote anything to get rid of Helen Clark and that 7% that favours ACT over National are telling pollsters that they are voting National. Why? To get rid of Helen Clark.

Doing this makes us sink to 2% and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy - a non virtuous circle, because they say, gee, the guys that I like aren’t going to make it, so I’ve got to vote National to make sure my vote counts and I get rid of Helen Clark.

A parliament without ACT would be a disastrous result for New Zealand.

To succeed as a nation we need to lift our sights. We need to see that we can prosper and that we can succeed. We need a party that stands up for free enterprise, for limited government and for less tax.

National can’t do that locked in government with Winston Peters. And what if Winston Peters goes with Labour? Well, then Don Brash is dumped as National’s leader and National sinks back to its old pragmatic self.

And so ACT is campaigning hard this election. We have a message for New Zealand voters. If you believe in free enterprise, then you have to give your party vote to ACT. That is your guarantee_of_change.

National can’t do it. They can’t do it on their own. They can’t do it with Peters.

Our country runs the risk, even with Don Brash doing so well, of sinking back into a political mire.

If we end up with the National/NZ First government and no ACT, that is going to be as good as it gets in New Zealand and to me that isn’t near good enough because that will be just steady as she goes, status quo politics and it isn’t good enough for me. That’s a recipe for status quo policies, political instability and a busted government - just like what happened last time.

ACT is campaigning hard to get back into Parliament. If it is Labour and Winston Peters, I tell you what, we have been fierce on this Labour Government and Helen Clark and we will redouble our efforts because that would be an unpopular government. We would get to see them off and it wouldn’t take three years.

If we have a National/NZ First government, I can’t see how it can last either. I think the National Party will burn its reputation for a second time and I think the Labour government will come romping back for an extended period.

But if we have a National/NZ First Government and we are there, then we will hold them to account too. Just like we did in 1996. And won’t they need it.

We’ve wasted the best economic conditions of my lifetime under Helen Clark. We have got a huge opportunity to grow and to build our economy and to make ourselves attractive for our young people to stay here. Let’s actually vote according to the parliament we want. And that means if you believe in freedom and free enterprise, giving your party to vote to ACT.

Thank you very much.


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