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Gerry: In the House

Gerry: In the House

5 August 2005

Parliament adjourns

This week was the last House sitting week of this parliamentary term. The one question time we had alluded to a fiery election campaign ahead.

Parliament’s last act of the term was the adjournment debate, which was held late on Wednesday night. Here is a selection of what I said during that debate:

“I want to discuss some of the issues raised by Michael Cullen. He claims that the Government will be re-elected because if its extraordinary economic success. It must be one of the only governments in the history of this Parliament to go through the revolving door of economic success on someone else’s shove, because during its six years in office it has done all it possibly can to prevent people from taking the best advantage that this country has to offer.

“A National Government will have a clear plan for how this country can grow at an even greater rate than is currently the case.

“I want to say to the Government that the one thing that it can’t get past is the wealth gap between this country and Australia that has widened during this term. That is why 600 young people cross the Tasman each week for a better life, and why so many people here decide that this is not a country they want to do business in.

“That issue is perhaps crystallised to the greatest extent when we look at the Maori constituency, which has been loyal to the Labour Party for so long. Labour will lose those Maori seats in this election. Those seven seats will go to the Maori Party. I have no doubt about that at all – not only because of the foreshore and seabed issue, because I think that was the issue that perhaps galvanised Maori into looking at Labour and realising what Labour’s activities actually meant to them.

“Maori in this country today are a group of people who earn, on average, $7,000 less in income than non-Maori. Labour has done nothing but sit and watch that gap grow wider through the last six years – six years of not addressing the issues that New Zealanders, Maori included, want addressed. Six years of dividing us racially through its very paternalistic programmes.

“I ran into a private from the New Zealand Army the other day while I was out canvassing. He said: ‘Mr Brownlee, are you going to do anything about the wages and salaries in the military?’ I said: ‘Tell me what the situation is.’ He said: ‘Well, I’ve got three guys at my work within the Army all coming to the end of their sign-on term, all about to leave. They are going to Australia to join the Australian Army – young men about 25.’ Interestingly, the salary increase will be about $27,000 a year. That is why they are going. So even our military are being lost across the ditch.

“I am delighted that the Prime Minister has gone out and said that this campaign will see candidates flight the election on the issues of trust, experience, and integrity. A campaign fought on issues of trust, experience, and integrity is going to be really fun from the National Party point of view.

“I can tell people something else - one generally knows whether one is in the political frame. Politicians have a nose for it. And I can tell that National members are very much in the frame. National will win the election, and National will form the next Government. Ask Clayton Cosgrove – he will not even put the word ‘Labour’ on his hoardings in his electorate. Ask Darren Hughes – he has been getting the door slammed in his face in his own electorate. Mind you, he has only been out for half a day, and he will not take any more of that! Ask so many of the Labour backbench what sort of reaction they are getting.

“One knows when things are on, and when it is off. It is on for the National Party. So I want to say to the Labour Party – bring out the lies, bring out the mistruths, bring out the red herrings, dry them on the table; they won’t count.

“At the end of the day, New Zealanders are not silly. They know they are being over-taxed. They know they are being over-controlled. They are sick of it, and there will be a change of government come the election.”

Labour releases another cynical election-year ‘pledge’

There is no end in sight to Treaty of Waitangi claims under Labour, and this is a classic example of spin over substance. The cut-off date of 2008 is meaningless without a firm date for final settlement. Labour claims to be aiming for an end date of 2020, but with Labour and the Office of Treaty Settlements setting the agenda, who really knows when it will all come to an end.

Until now Labour has refused to set a deadline. Labour’s announcement is nothing but a blatant election U-turn in an attempt to try to convince the electorate they are acting to halt the Treaty gravy train, when in fact they have failed to address this issue for six years. It is simply not believable. In 2002, the then Minister of Treaty Settlements, Margaret Wilson, said a deadline on Treaty settlements was ‘out of touch’ and ignored the ‘complexity of the Treaty settlement process’.

When Labour took office in 1999 there were approximately 800 claims before the Waitangi Tribunal. Today, there are more then 1,200 claims.

Their promises are hollow, considering they are going to do nothing to speed up the process. Today, Parekura Horomia is promising more money to get the process completed, yet Labour refused the Waitangi Tribunal extra funding to do just that in last year’s Budget. Even in the ’05 Budget, the increase isn’t big enough to keep pace with Labour’s so-called settlement targets. Over the past two years, Labour has refused extra funding worth $4,823,000. Clearly, they have no intention of speeding up the settlement process. This just shows how rushed their policy is.

How can Labour expect us to believe they are willing to speed up the process of Treaty settlements when they aren’t willing to fund it. This is another example of the post-Orewa panic that has gripped Labour.

National has made it very clear that we will speed up this process. We have a policy for all claims to be lodged by the end of 2006, and settled by 2010. We’re determined to bring the Treaty claims process to a full, final and fair conclusion. Labour is promising more of the same slow progress. You can read more about National’s policy here

The Clark motorcade saga

The news this week has been full of reports on Helen Clark’s speeding motorcade through Canterbury. Once again she is missing her day in court.

Any ordinary New Zealander who refuses to be questioned by police then refuses to give evidence in court would be put behind bars. All New Zealanders deserve to know why Helen Clark is any different. Even Jim Sutton appeared in court today to give evidence. He has been quoted as saying, ‘I knew they were driving faster than I would have driven but I couldn't see the speedometer because I was sitting behind the driver.’ And yet Helen Clark is claiming she had no idea how fast they were traveling.

It’s just impossible to believe Helen Clark didn’t realise how fast her motorcade was going. This car was travelling close to twice the open road speed limit at times. The Prime Minister had it within her power to take responsibility and save her minders from charges and a potential conviction. Instead, she is prepared to let them take the rap for doing what they believed was their job.

The least she can do is release her statement of evidence. This looks a lot like Paintergate. She refuses to be interviewed or answer questions then gets her lawyers to draw up a statement. Helen Clark is trying yet again to wriggle free of responsibility. It’s a disgrace. This whole episode yet again smacks of the Prime Minster’s superior and above-the-law attitude.


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