Peters’ 2006 Budget Speech
18 May 2006
Rt Hon Winston Peters’ 2006
Thursday 18 May 2006
An MMP Budget And Survivor Opposition – Who Will Be Left
Parliament lately has become like an episode of TV's survivor series. The series follows tribal life.
On one side the tribes are working together where they can and are making progress for the good of the country.
On the other are a bunch of malcontents, plotting and scheming among themselves like a parliamentary version of lord of the flies.
They lack leadership, purpose and wonder why it is that they just keep losing.
If there is one message that those commenting on this budget must grasp, it is the reality that this budget demonstrates that some parties in this parliament understand the potential of MMP and a multi party democracy while others quite clearly do not.
You see some parties have come to learn that by working constructively they can achieve positive outcomes across a range of policies for their supporters, while others continue to deliver absolutely nothing to theirs.
Some parties have matured along with the MMP system and others continue to play childish games and make no progress at all.
I am pleased to lead a party that has demonstrated just how successful a political party can be in achieving real progress for its constituents and which is seeing its policies make a difference to the lives of all New Zealanders.
It is no coincidence that New Zealand First's five policy platforms from the 2005 election – senior citizens, immigration, law and order, Treaty of Waitangi and an export led economy – feature so strongly in today's budget.
And there is much much more.
The racing industry benefits.
Our foreign affairs ministry and overseas aid benefits.
Transport infrastructure benefits – particularly in Tauranga.
Our communications system benefit.
And the list goes on.
New Zealand First fought a lone crusade at the last election to address the plight of our seniors.
Others were happy to pay lip service while claiming it was too expensive to do anything real to help them.
We said that too many of our seniors were struggling and that we were serious about improving their lot.
That is why we made it a cornerstone of our supply and confidence agreement.
One of the most pleasing aspects of this budget is the substantial increase in funding for the eldercare sector - $126 million over four years.
This funding cannot come soon enough for a sector chronically under-funded for many years.
It is important to note here however, that it is not simply a matter of getting increased funding for this, but of making sure that that money actually gets to where it is intended.
For too long now the DHBs have been siphoning off funding intended for eldercare into other areas.
This practice must end with this budget and we call on the minister to make it so.
But this increased money represents real progress.
We were the only party at the last election campaigning on a dedicated Golden Age Card for our seniors.
Work is progressing well and we will see this card become a reality in 2007.
This will represent a real boost to the living standards of our seniors.
It will go hand in hand with lifting the base rate of superannuation to over 66% for married couples and ensuring that our seniors are no longer the forgotten people of our society.
We are particularly pleased to see the increased funding of nearly $500 million in the police budget for 1000 extra front police over three budgets.
One day the National party might wake up and realise that this is a good thing and stop bagging the police.
The full measure of this commitment lies not only on the 1000 front line police, but in the provision of an extra 250 support staff.
Our families and our streets will be safer with more police and New Zealand First will make this happen.
We are pleased to see extra funding going into the Treaty settlements process.
We would add a word of caution. We don't believe that the government has done enough on this front and that there is much more work to be done – but like many things in politics we are pleased to see the government moving in the right direction.
We are also pleased with changes which have been announced with regard to the immigration sector.
After years of copping flack from every side for raising immigration issues, the government is awake to many of the pitfalls we have been raising and changes we have been calling for.
We are confident that by working closely with the government we can see real progress and change.
Securing our borders and valuing our citizenship lies at the core of what New Zealand First stands for.
New Zealand First has long advocated for an export year to give this vital sector of our economy a much needed boost.
While this aspect of our supply and confidence agreement did not receive as much fanfare as others, in the long term it is likely to have the most important impact.
You see if we can grow our exports at a significantly faster rate then we will see the flow on effects throughout our entire economy.
From greater productivity through to higher wages, from improved standards of living through to the lifestyle choices linked to this, we will all benefit from a stronger export sector.
New Zealand First is totally committed to ensuring that Export Year 2007 is a success.
While some have called it a budget leak, we in New Zealand First prefer to call the announcement of local loop unbundling as unfinished business which can finally be put to bed.
Back in 1998 it was New Zealand First and the Treasurer of the day who put unbundling on the table.
One would have thought at that time that a certain party which purports to support free enterprise and competition would have welcomed the move.
But no, they chose to protect their mates and squashed the idea – and they wonder why they have no credibility.
Now that it is back on the table, we will work to finally see it become a reality so that our telecommunications can move into the 21st century.
New Zealand First is pleased with the progress being made by the Minister's Dunne and Cullen with regard to business tax.
If we are truly to compete on the international stage then it is business tax and other business incentives which will ultimately improve our competitiveness.
We have already seen a major boost to the racing industry
The changes to racing announced in early March highlight just what a carefully considered plan can deliver to a specific industry competing on an increasingly international stage.
Competitive write down periods and a reduction in totalisator duty to 4% of gambling profits were simple steps and yet will yield huge dividends.
Now we have a party on that side which is obsessed with the mantra of tax cuts.
Well there are tax cuts in this budget – and significant ones at that – and they are going to the racing industry.
New Zealand First has delivered on meaningful tax cuts again – just like we did with $1.1 billion in 1998.
These are important changes which will benefit not only the racing industry, but the wider economy.
We are pleased to see extra funding going into transport – including the new Tauranga harbour bridge.
We are pleased to see the increased healthcare funding.
It is a sector caught up in bureaucratic capture, but we believe that the Minister of health has got many of the basic priorities right now, it is simply a matter of making them happen.
We encourage the Minister of health to focus also on delivering on the free healthcare for under sixes and on ensuring that emergency services are not put at risk.
New Zealand First supports the increased spending on biosecurity and the environment.
There are aspects of our economy and lifestyle which can easily be overlooked at budget time, but we believe they are worth noting.
It is also worth noting the important increases in this budget for both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Development Aid.
MFAT does an great job representing New Zealand's interests in an ever changing, increasingly complex global environment.
We have obligations both within our neighbourhood and far beyond. One need only consider the work we are doing the in the Solomons as just one example of the critical role we play in this region.
MFAT is often the face of New Zealand as it engages with the international community.
It needs to have the tools of the trade and capacity to meet this vital role.
This budget goes some way to achieving that.
New Zealand First has long wanted to reorient our aid efforts to better reflect our obligations in our primary region of influence – the Pacific.
This budget does that, ensuring that not only does our aid budget increase, but that its emphasis is on our neighbourhood.
This is just a sample of what can be achieved when parties work together for the good of the nation.
But sitting across from us are what happens when tribal politics goes bad.
You see they are led by a man who is actually worse than a dead man walking – he is a political novice, clumsily moving from one screw up to the next.
Whether it is walking the plank or a jaw dropping press conference, the truth is inescapable – he and his tribe has become dysfunctional.
No one believes that he will be leading the party at the next election, but the real question is why have they not replaced him.
And the answer lies in the latest episode of survivor opposition.
You see you have one obvious contender – the guy who everybody else is picking to win.
The one with the money and the ostentatious manner. He is self made, worshipping his creator– he seemingly has it all and is prepared to show it all off.
Nothing wrong with that except his mates strangely don't like him.
For him it is obvious, he is the heir apparent, he is just waiting for everybody else to cotton on.
But just like the television show – the favourite does not always win.
Particularly, when he takes winning for granted.
Then you have the other front runner.
The guy who they have tried before and was a disaster.
Now he has turned his anger on the poor kids in schools, pretty much guaranteeing the public won't warm to him.
Nobody can quite figure out why this guy, clearly the smartest, just can't capture the public's imagination.
It is probably because the earnest nerds seldom win at this game either.
Then you have the bully boy.
The character who tries to throw his considerable weight around trying to intimidate everybody around him.
From throwing old men down stairs through to trying to intimidate Madam Speaker, he exudes all the classic bully boy traits.
This is the guy who never gets his facts straight and always looks bewildered.
He has already abandoned the Zombie and has teamed up with the nerd.
No one can forget the recent TV image of the earnest nerd, fronting for the zombie, with the bully boy casting his rather large shadow over the whole affair.
Or Gerry Brownlee standing behind Bill English while Don Brash was hiding over the Telecom issue.
Then you have the crazy character.
The one you are never quite sure what he is going to do or when.
The one who looses the plot so often you wonder why he is still in the game.
It is little wonder he is the party's "blue greens" man. That juxtaposition would be enough to make anybody nuts.
This guy has been tried in a leadership role before – and lasted all of two weeks.
But every show needs a fruit loop to keep the public interested.
Then you have the hard woman who is a female version of Darth Vader.
She is prepared to trample all over tradition and anybody else in her way.
Nobody is fooled by the gossip mag's trying to claim she is a really a softy.
The problem is, when you look like Darth Vader, when you sound like Darth Vader and when you breath like Darth Vader, then there is a good chance you are Darth Vader.
This tribe has already tried a female Darth Vader before and that was an unmitigated debacle.
Then you have the tough talking runty guy – who everybody knows is all wind and no action.
He has such a jaundiced view of the world – always finding the negatives but never the solutions to fix anything.
He tried it on law and order, but nobody could really take him seriously because he looked as tough as a pansy blowing in the wind.
Now he is trying it on in the health sector – and again all wind, no action.
Next there is the boy wonder who was supposed to be leadership material but everybody is waiting for him to grow up.
So much promise, so many false starts, one wonders if it is a case of puberty blues or just a lack of capacity.
Now there are so many other characters we could consider.
The blonde who has stood up to the Zombie before and lost. The academic sort who is must now don the cape and mask as a PC eradicator.
The old schoolers some of whom are really suffering from attention deficit disorder.
Then the new eager intake – looking to leapfrog the old schoolers to get quick promotion.
This group has a real quandary.
They know the zombie is past it.
They know the nerd has failed them before.
They don't trust the rich kid.
So where do they turn?
And off on a little island all to themselves, is the smallest tribe among this group – the dancer and the soldier.
There they are, out on their own. No life raft, just left to amuse themselves.
All we can say is that the dancer better hope the soldier leaves her guns at home when she returns of he could have another mutiny on his hands.
But the tale does not end there – with a list of all the characters.
You see these types of characters are not new – some have been around for along time.
One gets the sense that the failure is actually due to a distracted and incompetent Machiavellian puppet master.
He has been doing this game for so long – and just keeps loosing.
You see if the puppet master pulls the wrong strings – and given the performance of the zombie of late you would have to say he was – then it all turns to custard.
Now he has to decide, do they go for the rich kid or the earnest nerd.
It is a tough choice for him.
He is also supposed to be a spokesperson on serious issues – but just like in the past, he cannot resist the temptation of the puppet strings and so his real job suffers.
Surrounded by incompetence one wonders if this will not be the moment when the puppet master rises from behind the parapet and decides he has to do the job himself.
But if he is true to form, he will slink into a corner like the deviant wormtongue character he is and try yet again to manipulate the tribe into his likeness – but without the courage to ever front up himself.
That is ultimately the failing of this tribe.
It offers zombies, rich kids and nerds to lead it, but nobody with real leadership ability.
So who will be the winner of survivor opposition – who knows and who cares.
We will celebrate the parts of this budget which this tribe New Zealand First has delivered on.
We want all New Zealanders to know we are a party which is there to make their lives better and to make this country great again.
While others are falling apart around us, we have stood firm and are working for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
That is putting New Zealand and New Zealanders First.