The Hijacked Election
An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to members of Western Bay of Plenty Grey Power, Monday 12 September 2005, Holy Trinity Church, Devonport Road, Tauranga, 1:30pm
The Hijacked Election
This has been a most curious election – both locally and nationally.
Like those of us in New Zealand First, you are probably thinking something was missing, something is not being said and that something is lying below the surface – hidden.
The question people are asking about the 2005 election is clearly – is this all there is?
A litany of secret deals, leaked emails, underhand tactics and a divide based only on tax and welfare.
Because behind the uninspiring election campaigns that Labour and National are running there is an uneasy sense that the New Zealand public is not being given the full picture.
There is a sense that despite all the huffing and puffing between Labour and National, most of the combat is phoney – it is like TV wrestling – fake.
Many in the public are waking up to the reality that what they are seeing is a sham fight.
The public rightly suspect that the real battle ground is elsewhere – away from the glare of media scrutiny.
In particular, why are Labour and National collaborating to make their respective packages of tax cuts or tax relief the main battleground?
Why have they both agreed to make this issue the centrepiece of their campaign?
There are two main reasons.
The first is obvious.
The government’s coffers are awash with money – your money.
The tax take has surged as the economy has grown on the back of unrivalled consumption and the Government is now swimming in an ocean of money.
Well at least that is the public perception.
Labour’s attitude is clearly that they have the largesse and they are prepared to return it to the people whether it is responsible to do so or not.
National decided to go one better of course – let’s spend the lot on tax cuts and then let’s borrow and cut government services to make them even more extravagant than Labour’s.
The second reason they want to focus on tax packages is more devious.
Tax is a convenient topic for taking people’s attention away from other more critical – more fundamental matters.
And as every householder knows, buying anything on price alone, is almost always a mistake.
The packages that are being proffered are just a set of headline numbers.
What really matters are the repercussions.
What do they actually mean in terms of services to be cut back or eliminated?
What do they mean in terms of higher interest rates?
What do they mean in terms of jobs?
Look - $30 off a person’s tax bill is of no consequence, if that person is out of work.
$40 a week sounds wonderful - but not if it goes with a 2% interest rate hike on the family’s mortgage.
In short Labour and National have paraded their wares in the election market place – but they have left off the price tags.
The New Zealand public has only been told one side of the tax cut – tax relief story.
What really matters is what the tax packages represent in terms of the things that New Zealanders value – and will have to forfeit or forego in the future.
Right now all the electorate has is blank page.
And yet New Zealand First was being castigated for not signing up to one of these “gift boxes”.
We were supposed to say which of these mirages we preferred.
Sorry - but New Zealand First was not about to buy a tax package that had no price tag in terms of what Kiwis will actually lose.
So you will have to excuse us in New Zealand First if we don’t join the clamour to drool over the tax packages on offer.
Look around New Zealand.
Everywhere there are deficits.
There are deficits in health – in education – in infrastructure – in our police service.
Just look around our region.
We face massive bills just to get our infrastructure back in shape in both road and rail.
The Harbour link can be built without tolls – but only if we don’t over promise on tax cuts and welfare.
Repeatedly we are being warned that the era of cheap oil is over – and this is really reflected at the prices at the petrol pump.
That inevitably means more investment in new sources of energy.
We are told that the national grid - the power transmission system - alone needs to have billions invested in it to avoid major vulnerability to electricity supply
But neither Labour nor National have given the slightest indication that such factors have been taken into account, in formulating their taxation and spending auction.
Another reason for scepticism over tax packages is this -
Are they believable?
Are the packages credible?
In the heat of an election campaign, Labour and National have, and will, say anything.
They are shameless.
They will not hesitate to fling big figures around because they think that if they become the government, all bets are off.
Right now, they are prepared to say almost anything to gain an edge in the race for the spoils of office.
In their desperation for the perks of office, they will promise the moon.
They are relying on the fact that, if elected, they will be able to invent any number of excuses for having to amend their pie in the sky election promises.
Then they will trot out the familiar litany of excuses:
Oh dear - we are sorry but we’ve done our sums again – now we find that the economy is not in as good shape as we thought.
Oh dear - we are sorry but the tax take is not as high as anticipated.
Oh dear – we would like to fulfil our election promises but out coalition partner won’t let us – so blame them.
In short - National and Labour’s promises are dud cheques
New Zealand First says to New Zealanders - Beware!
Treat both the National and Labour packages not just with a pinch, but with a bucket of salt.
Their packages are mirages.
When the time comes to open them the boxes will be empty.
We say look deeper – look at which party is offering real strategies to take New Zealand forward.
Look to a party that is concerned with the fundamentals.
It is clear If New Zealand had a standard of living and wage equivalent to Australia’s we would instantly cure our brain drain and the exodus of our best and brightest.
Labour and National have a common interest in keeping certain key issues out of the public gaze.
There are some issues they do not want talked about.
The truth is that neither Labour’s nor National’s package will fundamentally alter the standard of living and prosperity of New Zealanders.
New Zealand First says that it is the issues that do not figure in either Labour’s or National campaigns that will actually determine how well off Kiwis are.
The foremost of these hidden issues centres on how much of the wealth of the New Zealand, New Zealanders actually own.
Foreign ownership is what lies behind the difficulty in raising living standards in New Zealand.
And it is why, after years of a so-called economic boom, living standards for most Kiwis have barely moved.
New Zealand is a Niagara of wealth, but it is being poured into the coffers of foreigners, not New Zealanders.
We have some brilliant businesses.
Take New Zealand Steel.
In August New Zealand Steel announced it has produced its third consecutive record performance to contribute $198.3m to the annual operating profit of its Australian parent company, BlueScope Steel –formerly BHP.
President of Glenbrook-based New Zealand Steel, Bill Jacob, said performance was 195 per cent better than the previous year, driven by production improvements, savings in supply costs, and record sales of non-steel items.
A brilliant New Zealand success story – but who gets the benefit? –
The Aussies get the cream!
And that is becoming the pattern in New Zealand – if it’s worth owning, it belongs to foreigners.
Foreign ownership is a massive issue for New Zealand – but it is treated like the metaphorical elephant in the corner of the room – ignored.
Labour and National are in total denial on foreign ownership.
They simply do not want to it be an issue – so they treat is as taboo - off limits for serious public discussion.
Their reluctance to address foreign ownership and its dire consequences for New Zealand is a disgrace.
But understandable - because they have been responsible for creating the mess.
They have fed the forces of foreign ownership.
In the 2005 general election only one party – New Zealand First – is committed to ending the pretence that foreign ownership is of no consequence.
New Zealand has been prostrated on the altar of globalisation.
And globalisation is the god that both Labour and National worship.
And we say that National and Labour are using tax as a smokescreen to avoid the fundamental issues facing New Zealand.
Tax cuts – tax relief – they are both examples of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Unless we tackle the fundamentals, like foreign ownership, New Zealand’s drift down the international league tables of prosperity, will continue.
Do not be fooled.
Labour and National are trying to bribe Kiwis with their own money.
And the losers from this phoney election campaign will be ordinary New Zealanders who will end up seeing no real gain in their standard of living.
Ownership is ultimately about New Zealand’s identity.
It is about whether we want to be a free, independent and prosperous country.
Or – as National and Labour would prefer – to end up as an economic colony to be looted and exploited by overseas interests.
It is time to call National and Labour to account.
Why should GST not be removed from petrol?
Why should there not be a re-examination of the impact of GST on specific items?
Why should there not be a Golden Age Card for our seniors?
I give this commitment today that whoever becomes the next government that they will have to take our five priorities seriously.
On the Golden Age Card;
On one law for all;
On law and order;
On who owns our economy.
I said at the start that this has been a most curious election locally and nationally.
Locally there is a candidate who has ignored the law on candidates’ expenses. He has not just overspent, but he has grossly overspent. And the effect of section 237 of the Electoral Act 1993 is now in point.
The National party having been involved in four electoral petitions since 1978 knows full well what has happened here in Tauranga, but admit that they have a candidate and electoral organisation that is out of control.
Not only has he refused to engage in public debate, but his organisation is involved in deceit and innuendo, thinking that money can win them this election. It is time for some truth here.
1. Mr Clarkson’s over expenditure means he has already forfeited the election, but in dong so a certain undesired repute will fall on this city.
2. On the weekend, a metropolitan paper sent my office some alarming information: Mr Clarkson in 2002 was at the “centre of a sexual harassment dispute”, as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times October 05 2002. The National Party was aware of that, but were assured that he had effected a confidentiality agreement that would supposedly put the issue in the past. And so shortly after receiving that assurance the National Party confirmed Clarkson as their candidate. The Bay of Plenty Times for its part ran Mr Clarkson’s side of the story, having first secured from Mr Clarkson an indemnity agreement covering them against all costs should the complainant sue the paper.
The Bay of Plenty Times then published Mr Clarkson’s side of the story and, despite the complainant’s legal rights on the issue of victims’ name suppression, printed her name. Those actions are disgraceful, and the people of this city are entitled to know the facts. I am revealing today the legal settlement, not just the complainant’s claim for commission payments, but also for “all other matters”. The paper and Mr Clarkson can deny today whether or not what I am saying is true, but they won’t be.
3. In addition, Mr Clarkson can tell the electorate how many times he has been investigated by IRD and made ex-gratia payments. In that connection, I am releasing an IRD interview 08 March 1989 plus supporting documents – sent to me by the newspaper.
Nobody is above the law, certainly not those who seek to make the law.