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Peters: Opening Of Auckland Office

3 March 2006

An address to invitees only, Friday 3 March 2006 at 6.00pm, New Zealand First Auckland Office, 3rd floor 33 Wyndham Street, Auckland

Opening Of Auckland Office

Party President Dail Jones and other party officials, Parliamentary colleges, party members and to those visiting with us today, welcome to the official opening of our Auckland office.

This is an exciting occasion – and one that has taken some time in coming.

It could be argued that New Zealand First should have had an office in Central Auckland some time ago – but as the old saying goes, good things take time.

This office adds to the sense of permanence that our party is gaining in the political psyche of this country.

You see the doomsayers have been writing us off for years now – yet we remain the pivotal party in New Zealand politics.

Having an office in Auckland's CBD reinforces the notion that we are putting down solid roots right around the country and we are going places.

That is an important signal for us to be sending the electorate right now.

Developments such as those today do not occur without hard work behind the scenes.

We must thank Dail, Pita Paraone, David Major and all the others who have worked so hard to make this office a reality.

I want to make clear also, to any media representatives interested that we have retained my office presence in Tauranga also.

New Zealand First was formed over 12 years ago with a mission to protect New Zealanders from political extremes and to advocate for those most vulnerable and neglected in our society.

While this occasion is about looking forward – particularly to the 2008 election – it is worth reflecting briefly on the role our party has played over this time.

We are a party that has always made a difference.

When we have been in a position to influence government decision-making, the lives of New Zealanders have been made better because we were there.

We have always advocated sensible policies and we have never lost sight of those whom we serve – the people of New Zealand.

Let me give you an example.

In 1998 we ensured that process of moving petrol tax directly on to building roads, rather than going into the Crown account was begun.

A that stage it was a modest shift – only 2.1 cents.

This policy was reversed by National in 1999.

Now here is the important point – had that policy continued and been expanded as we had wanted it to then the cries we are now hearing about a shortfall in funding for transport infrastructure would never have arisen.

You see – we understood long ago, and long before any other political party in parliament, that the key to success in ensuring our transport infrastructure is funded appropriately is to put the money that was meant for roads into roads.

Now everybody wants to jump on that bandwagon.

Just look at our stance on immigration.

Who would ever have thought that now even the leader of the National party has adopted our position on immigration.

You see it is our policies that they have pilfered in order to camouflage National's lack of original thought and policy vacuum.

And this has happened on so many fronts.

Free healthcare for under sixes is now something all New Zealanders expect from our health system thanks to New Zealand First.

Resolving legitimate historical grievances as matter or urgency is now accepted by all political parties – thank to New Zealand First

Securing our borders and ensuring we get the right type of immigrants is now widely accepted – thanks to New Zealand First.

Growing our exports and supporting our export industries is now part of the accepted economic orthodoxy for New Zealand and we played a key role in shaping that thinking.

Lifting ourselves out of a low wage economy and a $10 an hour mentality by increasing wages at all levels is part of this government's agenda thanks to New Zealand First.

Making our streets safer with 1000 more frontline police on the streets and key changes in the criminal justice system are now accepted as necessary because we made it so.

And our senior citizens, who are among the most vulnerable in our society, will see their living standards rise with an increase in superannuation, a huge injection into eldercare funding and the introduction of a dedicated seniors card, all because New Zealand First has ensured its influence is used to make peoples lives better.

Now I could go on.

But we as a party should take great pride in the work we have done.

New Zealand is a better place because we have been there.

But our work is not done – not by a long shot.

2008 may seem like a long way into the future – but we must start planning now for our success in that election.

Our track record shows us the good we can do when we are in a position of influence – but unless we start preparing now, and opening this office is an important part of this preparation, then we limit the good we can do.

We must never loose sight of our end goal – to put New Zealand and New Zealanders First.

That is what makes us unique, that is what makes us so important to this country's future and this is what makes the fight worthwhile.

We have a great future as a party if we prepare properly today.

It was George Burns who said:

"I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life."

We in New Zealand First should look to our future – because New Zealand is where we live and much of our nation's success will depend on the contribution we have to make.

So lets builds on what we have done and continue to make this country great.

ENDS

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