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Peters Speech: Making A Difference Where It Counts

Making A Difference Where It Counts

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting to launch the New Zealand First Campaign in Tauranga, Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 1.30pm, Bay Court Exhibition Space, Tauranga

They say there are only two certainties in life – taxes and death.

In a democracy, there is another certainty. Periodically, the elected have to seek their mandate again.

It has been my privilege to serve the people of Tauranga since 1984.

Tauranga and the Western Bay are unlike anywhere else in New Zealand.

It is a unique blend of burgeoning economic development with spots of unparalleled aesthetic beauty.

Its port is the economic lifeblood of the region – and for much of New Zealand– and its people are among our most innovative and entrepreneurial.

The flooding earlier this year, showed our resilience and determination to ‘get on with the job’.

We are not afraid to speak out when we think something is wrong – and it would be a fool that did not listen to such messages.

The people of Tauranga have high expectations of their representatives. Their support can never be taken for granted – and it must be earned.

Like all growing cities there are challenges, some are unique to this region, while others are familiar to New Zealanders everywhere.

This election you will hear a lot of promises from candidates here and throughout the nation. The big question is – will they deliver on those, and in the case of local candidates in Tauranga. Can they?

It is really worth noting the value the other major parties place on this region.

One party has their candidate at number 49 on their list. And the other party have not placed theirs on the list at all.

So the people of Tauranga must ask themselves: can you trust their promises when they clearly have so little or no sway within their party.

From experience, unless you are part of the decision-making groups in Wellington, promises count for nothing. The people of Tauranga know, what our opponents don’t understand, that to be an effective representative you have to make a difference where it counts.

That is what we have been doing in parliament for the last 21 years – making a difference where it counts.

So where does it count for Tauranga?

Take the most pressing issues facing this region.

Just this week, the pressure applied on the Harbour link, bore fruit with the announcement by the government that it will partially fund the Harbour Link project.

While this is progress in the appropriate direction, it only goes part way towards what can actually be done.

The rest is to be repaid through tolls, despite the strategic importance of this road to the State Highway system and your extra petrol taxes for Auckland.

Only one party, New Zealand First, opposed tolls at the 2002 election. All the rest supported it.

Now the Transport Minister answers my questions in the House on the second bridge by claiming a survey found people here support building the Harbour link with tolls - if it happened sooner with tolls.

Here is what he did not say – he forgot to ask the people if they wanted the harbour link sooner – without tolls.

Now we all know what the answer to that would have been.

And in case any of you believe National will do any better, think on this.

National’s Finance Spokesperson, despite all of the party’s rhetoric on the issue, has said it will cap transport funding nationwide at $600 million dollars – about half of what Labour has promised.

So don’t be fooled. National can’t explain increased transport spending and large scale tax cuts. That is why its finance spokesperson is now desperately trying to water down tax cut expectations and talks of public private partnerships for roading i.e. tolls.

For us the Harbour link bridge is a priority and will be completed without tolls under New Zealand First. The savings to local bridge users will be great.

My track record on transport infrastructure is there for all to see. From the Tauranga Bridge, through to Route P and Routes J and K. Three separate local Bills were passed to ensure the necessary progress was made. And remember back in 1984, much of the Kaimais was a metal road.

That is why our policy of ensuring all of the money raised through petrol tax goes into building road infrastructure and why borrowing against future earnings is so essential.

Our 1995 Bill to do just that was voted down by a National Government. So was our 1998 initiative to move more roading taxes to roads repealed by a National Government a year later.

That’s the National Party’s track record. Not what they now say, but what they did then.

New Zealand First has been a lone political voice for over a decade on the economic impact of not investing in our infrastructure. And now the two old parties want you to believe them.

Let me give you another example - locally and nationally we have a funding crisis in our elder care sector.

Labour’s chronic under-funding of this essential service, has seen over 40 elder care providers close their doors in the past three years.

A Price Waterhouse Coopers study found that the industry's residential care services required a minimum 20% increase in the funding over the next three years.

Healthcare Providers New Zealand, the industry representative organisation, estimates that without a further $197 million dollar injection per year over the next three years then the crisis will deepen.

Compounding this is the fact that residential care nurses are paid up to $20 an hour less than nurses working for District Health Boards. In fact, some carers get paid as little as $9.80 an hour.

This is simply not good enough.

New Zealand First makes the following three commitments.

First, we will dramatically increase funding to this sector to put it on a stable footing. We will remove income and asset testing for long stay hospital care, and asset testing for long stay private care.

Labour promised this and has not delivered.

Second, we will ring fence funding to raise the abysmal pay rates of people working in the aged care sector.

Finally, our long term plan recognises that those aged over 65 will increase from about 500,000 now to nearly 800,000 in the next 20 years, and that the best type of residential care is local care, rather than a McDonalds style large urban-only option.

We have a record of making a difference where it counts. Tauranga has New Zealand’s fastest growing port. The biggest crisis facing all ports in the last three years was the vagaries of the proposed seabed and foreshore legislation.

It was New Zealand First that stepped in to protect the interests of ports.

We kept the seabed and foreshore in Crown hands for all New Zealanders – we made sure the legislation affecting ports guaranteed they would not be disadvantaged.

Representatives of New Zealand port companies met with us. We made a difference where it counted and Tauranga and the rest of New Zealand benefited.

We have joined the battle for our local airports’ to be funded equally with larger centres which provide the same passenger clearance service.

When Tauranga’s airport was sold, we sold it not to foreign investors, but to the people of Tauranga with a two year interest free settlement scheme.

We have fought for the upgrading of rail networks in this region.

When it comes to building Tauranga’s and the Bay of Plenty’s infrastructure – we have made a difference where it counts.

My challenge to my opponents in this campaign is: show me one city in New Zealand, in the last 21 year years, with as much per capita investment in education buildings, roading, and hospitals that we have secured for Tauranga. Just one city.

We are the party with a plan to grow our exports rather than just hoping they will grow.

This matters to Tauranga, and its residents.

In December 1996 our amendments to the Reserve Bank Act resulted in both a lower dollar and interest rates and helped build export growth.

The Labour Government, along with the New Zealand economy benefited greatly from that which makes it even more perplexing that both National and Labour retain a myopic focus on inflation and refuse to use the Reserve Bank Act to help exporters.

We live in an export province. Indeed, exports are critical to our country’s wealth and prosperity. For exporters, when it comes to making a difference where it counts, it is New Zealand First to whom they turn.

In health care we have a track record, in this region and throughout New Zealand.

With others we lobbied for, and obtained the funding for an extra 45 new beds in Tauranga’s Hospital, health funding in the region increased by more than 15%. A new hospital is under way.

With others we saved our Mortuary and Tauranga now has the new Mental Health Care Unit.

The Tauranga ambulance service has been extended.

When last in government we introduced free health care for under sixes, which we will extend to all primary aged children, and got an extra $252million in elective surgery for 32,500 more operations per year.

Free health care for under sixes has done more to improve long term health than any other change by any recent government.

We prefer to see the ambulance at the top of the cliff rather than the bottom.

And we have made a difference in our local schools.

We ensured funding to Tauranga schools was increased by 27% and gave pay parity for primary and intermediate teachers.

We have also had bio-security funding increased by $46 million, and will increase this again in the future. As a trading nation, a commitment to bio-security is vital.

Last week we named our five priorities for this election. These are issues where we believe we make a major difference, like our repeal of the hated surtax.

Our Golden Age Card will make a world of difference to our seniors.

While the two tired old parties continue to cheat seniors over super – there is one party committed to lifting the rate of super to 68 percent of the Net Average Wage for married couples and in time to 72.5% - the same promise other parties made in September 1993, and failed to keep. And remember promised tax cuts don’t extend to super. We will also change the rebate scheme for non-qualified spouses, in line with other benefits. Our Golden Age Card will bolster subsidies for doctors visits, prescription charges, and includes transport concessions, and lower prices for power, gas and telephone line charges. It has a rates rebate scheme, and savings incentives, linking into other discount schemes. We will look at transferability of overseas pensions, particularly sections 19 and 70 of the Social Security Act. Stories of seniors confined to their homes in winter, without heating and little food calls into question what has become of our country. We have and will make a difference in law and order. We need more police on our streets. In the western world where police to population ratios have increased, crime has fallen. We will separate traffic officers from the police and stop the failed experiment of detectives sitting on roadsides issuing tickets instead of solving crime. That will bring clarity to policing and to traffic officers – with no more mixing of the two roles. Police will solve more crime and traffic officers can reduce the road toll. We will restore confidence in the police and give them the resources to do their job. This will include better resourcing for DNA testing and drug testing. We will reconnect police with their communities and make policing a desired career choice.

In 1997 we trained more police trainees than at any other time in New Zealand's history.

Tauranga Police numbers were cut by National in 1999 so that in the last 10 years police numbers remain about the same. We’ll do much better than that, and establish a Police Drug Unit here as well.

To stop the crime growth industry, we will double police sworn numbers over the next five years. New Zealand First will require the High Court to order all potential recidivist serious offenders on release from prison to be electronically tagged so they can be monitored for life. The court will have full powers of control including releasing the monitoring order if the risk of recidivism is over. We are going to re-write the book on justice; You don't have to ask New Zealand First who we support – the victim or the criminal – it is patently obvious; If you do the crime you won't be out in no time; The rights of criminals will not be ten times the rights of victims; Many victims of violent crime won't be voting on 17 September. They can't. They are no longer with us. But you are; and you can vote for them. We will make a difference when it comes to protecting our borders and our citizenship.

The two tired old parties have run open door unchecked immigration policies for years - never caring who came here or why, or what they get up to once they arrived. Their only motivation is immigration fuelled consumption artificially propping up our economy. These failed policies continue to embarrass this government, from members of Saddam Hussein’s regime through to illegal brothels, and yet they never seem to learn. We have a comprehensive population policy to end knee jerk annual immigration and to start working on robust ten year and 25 year plans. We will also establish long-term labor market demands and import skills needed if sufficient New Zealanders cannot be trained, and target people with the skills we need to ensure that migrants have jobs to go to.

We will reform the Immigration Service and end the practice of foreigners making decisions on who comes to New Zealand. Only New Zealand citizens will be involved in this work. We will create an entirely new body to protect the integrity of New Zealand citizenship - an Immigration Inspectorate which will be a specialised forensic unit of investigation. We will establish an “undesirables” category, to ensure those from dangerous and unethical regimes are red-flagged before they get here. We will remove the capacity for New Zealand to even consider refugee status for those with terrorism related convictions in other jurisdictions. We will make DNA testing compulsory when any doubt exists over immigrant/refugee family relationships and introduce fingerprinting and eye scanning. We will review our humanitarian role and clean up the immigration industry.

We’ve been vilified over immigration and yet in the latest copy of ‘Law News’, Minister Swain, after six years of Labour, admits our Immigration Laws are a mess.

It was New Zealand First that began the campaign for funding based on need not race. You see we in New Zealand First think that Maori culture is an integral part of who we are as New Zealanders. But we do not think race should determine how the government treats you. Here in the Bay a separate franchise based on race has spread to local government.

The irony is – Maori in Environment BOP now have fewer representatives than before. Rotorua is moving to a race based franchise despite 1/3rd of Council already being Maori.

New Zealand First has shown that a single franchise, not race based, works. We want Maori language and culture protected – but the way to combat racism is not reverse racism – ensuring equality in government services, across the board, in housing, health, first world education and salaries. We will restructure the Waitangi Tribunal as a genuine Commission of Inquiry aimed at resolving authentic grievances quickly. This means a deadline for lodging claims of five years, with all claims resolved by 2015.

Interesting isn’t it that other parties have moved into line with us on this issue. But there remains only one party actually committed to seeing it through.

Remember Jim Bolger’s promise in 1990 to end all Waitangi claims in 10 years. Now National promises again to end it all in five years. Yeah Right. Both Labour and National built the train and the tracks that the Treaty industry runs on and their past inaction belies their present words.

Now there is a threat to this nation on which we have been a lone voice and where we simply must make a difference going forward. New Zealand has not done globalisation well. We have sold ourselves cheaply to foreign owners and have been naive on Free Trade Agreements with low wage economies. Both National and Labour have a long legacy of selling off our assets, land and heritage to the highest foreign bidder.

These policies have affected Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty in significant ways. Only last year this government further relaxed the laws on foreign ownership by raising the threshold ten times. National said nothing. The years of successive Labour and National governments holding neon signs up for the world to come and pillage us has devastated our economic base. We now have the largest Current Account Deficit ever – over $10 billion dollars. For those of you running businesses or managing household budgets – this means we are not balancing our books. One of the largest contributors to this is the huge profits lost to New Zealand through having sold off our infrastructure – profits of $11 billion a year and growing. We are now increasingly becoming tourists in our own land – having to pay foreigners to see our best sights. This issue is urgent and under National and Labour it just keeps getting worse. The ownership of more and more New Zealand land keeps going offshore. When people here refer to the “$10 Tauranga” wages, there is your answer. Over two decades the two old parties have built a low wage economy. But they won’t admit it. To compound our economic slide the old parties are obsessed with signing Free Trade Agreements with low wage Asian nations – the proposed China FTA being the latest. This threatens the base of our manufacturing and workers. We cannot compete with Chinese wages and nor should we have to. These nations have few, if any, labour laws or protections for intellectual property. Free Trade Agreements are about trade rules, and it is true, that by changing the rules, we may send more exports into China. But here is the downside. It is like you trading me $5, but in doing so costing you $20. That is how it works with China. They already have a two billion dollar per year trade surplus over us. A Free Trade Agreement will simply increase this.

The solution is a real export plan focused on growing our exports, and it won’t be special deals with low wage economies. In this years budget exports are forecasted to fall.

And we’re heading for troubled times. This election is really about priorities. Do you want Labour’s nanny state of warped priorities which place gay marriage and prostitution above New Zealand jobs? Or do you want a party to provide better income for New Zealanders, that wants to provide dignity for our seniors and safe homes and streets. Do you want National’s out dated policies and a leap back to Ruth Richardson and her ‘Mother of all Budgets’ running New Zealand for everyone but New Zealanders, selling what state assets we have left to the highest bidder. Or do you want a party that wants to protect our borders, our jobs and ensure all New Zealanders are treated equally. Your choices at this election are critical because they will determine your future. We have outlined our five priorities following the election. Our seniors policy, law and order policy, immigration policy, our Treaty policy and our economic plan which places New Zealanders first – not foreigners. That’s five policy priorities – for the next three years. We can and have made a difference in Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand.

You know my track record and that of New Zealand First – on the big issues, the ones that really matter – we make a difference where it counts most.

In professional life there is no substitute for experience. Willy Nilly promises are no replacement for solid performance. When we have seen corruption we exposed it, and not engaged in a cover up.

We ask that in this election you give us the opportunity to keep making a difference.

21 years ago I made a promise to you all. “Henceforth there will be no economic or social issue of importance decided in the corridors of power without first asking – but what does Tauranga think”

That promise has been kept. And today I renew it.

Re-elected – we will continue to fight your causes.

Your support will not be wasted – it will form the basis of our decision making over the next three years and beyond.

For us politics is about making a difference where it counts – that is what we do.


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