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Winning In Public, Winning In Parliament

Winning In Public, Winning In Parliament

Rodney Hide
Monday, 11 December 2006
Speeches - Other

Speech to ACT Auckland North Electorates, Hobson Motor Inn, Hobsonville, Auckland, 7.30pm Monday 11 December 2006.

ACT has had a fantastic year in 2006.

We are often told ACT is the lucky party. Heather Roy and I have taken more Bills to Parliament over the past twelve months than ACT did in any one of the previous five years.

Having our Bills drawn from the ballot may have been good luck but the thinking and the work behind each one of those Bills represented ACT's commitment to its core values and principles.

We know that our achievements aren't simply the result of luck, but are the result of people like you working with us for our common goals.

Heather and I have both worked hard to raise our profiles and allow people to see us putting ACT's values forward in positive, practical ways.

We have crossed the country sharing our views and ideas with increasingly more attentive audiences.

This year Heather and I have delivered speeches on tax, health, education, privatisation, the environment, national security and local government.

We have put a new focus on constraining politicians and trusting the people.

ACT may be small, but we are not alone.

For the first time since our formation, we have made significant contact with parties overseas which carry the liberal torch.

Learning about their campaign experiences first hand, especially how they deal with the challenges of proportional systems was both invaluable and reassuring.

We were also reminded of the need to explain our policies in ways that more people could understand.

That the way people think about ACT and our advocates is important.

And that it's not enough just for us to know how our policies work, but that those who stand to gain the most from them need to know as well.

Now we come to the end of 2006 in great heart - and raring to go in 2007.

The National Party, under new leadership, are cuddling up to Labour Party policies.

The debate between the two old parties is now about who should be in power. Not about policy.

That's possibly smart politics from National.

And it certainly brings new opportunities for ACT.

But to capitalise on the opportunity we must stay true to our philosophy of freedom, which can be summarised as a fair go for all.

We must build our own support and establish our own constituency, to be the true third party in New Zealand politics.

And we must stand as a truly independent party - able to work with all parties in the best interests of New Zealand and as a tactical appendage to none.

ACT won't support National right or wrong. And we won't oppose Labour right or wrong.

The party that best promoted freedom and prosperity in my lifetime was the Labour Party of the 1980s. The worst was National under Muldoon.

When National does promote reformers - like Don Brash and Ruth Richardson - they are soon sidelined.

The Muldoon years followed by the Labour Party of the 1980s broke down the traditional tribalism of New Zealand politics. MMP has finished it. Parties must now work together for the good of the country and voters have a true choice instead of the tweedledee or tweedledum of First Past the Post politics.

I am determined that ACT will not be a tactical appendage for anyone. Our role in Parliament is much greater than that.

We do not fight to defend privilege, or to tear down the successful.

Instead, we are the only party that consistently stands up for freedom and prosperity.

We will lend our support to good ideas – no matter who proposes them.

We have worked alongside not just National, but United Future, the Maori Party and the Greens.

Keith Locke and I worked together - very successfully - to oppose the waterfront stadium. I enjoyed working with the Greens. So too did our staff and our volunteers.

I hope the Greens enjoyed it too. I believe they did.

I have received great feedback from voters who have been delighted to see two politicians from different parties working co-operatively in the best interests of Auckland and the country.

That's what people think should happen under MMP.

MMP works when parties get together, on the things they do agree on, for the good of New Zealand.

This year I made a conscious decision to keep away from the petty struggles that have obsessed the two old parties and we have focused on the big questions.

Like how to rebuild democracy and participation in public life.

Politicians have reinforced all the public's negative perceptions.

We can only earn back their trust by relinquishing the control that government and bureaucrats hold.

By having trust in families to make their own choices.

And by putting politics in its place.

It is ACT's role to offer hope and a coherent vision of a better New Zealand.

While the other parties would command and control, we are the only ones renegotiating the contract between Kiwis and government.

Instead of being a party of opportunists, we are the party of opportunity.

We would give individuals and families the opportunity to get better standards of healthcare and education.

The opportunity to make decisions over their employment and their environment.

Our agenda is about putting a brake on runaway government and giving New Zealanders a break.

We can achieve it with a red tape test on every potential new law, to make sure our rules are well considered and more effective.

By implementing a constitutional Taxpayer Rights Act to hold the growth of tax and expenditure.

By introducing a legislative cap on local government rates, and by putting government owned enterprises back into the hands of ordinary New Zealanders.

We are the only party writing Bills which would give the public a say in how politicians spend their money.

This year we started the debate about how to stop increases in local body rates.

Next year we will campaign for our Taxpayer Rights Bill to cap central government spending.

Both of these Bills require politicians to ask your permission before spending more of your money.

That's how it should be. It's your money after all. We want New Zealanders to be citizens with a say in their government. Not subjects being told what to do and having to like it or lump it.

The Taxpayer Rights Bill and the Bill to cap rate increases make the actions of parliament and local bodies more transparent - and politicians more accountable.

Both would make governments spend more wisely. And both would stand the test of time.

In the New Year Parliament will debate my Regulatory Responsibility Bill.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants says my "Regulatory Responsibility Bill affords New Zealand a tremendous opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government. That improvement in turn would translate into a better society."

They say my Bill represents "a significant improvement to the infrastructure that produces our regulation. A comparison can be made with the improvements that have come from the Fiscal Responsibility Act. It is about making decision-making more transparent, accountable, consultative and robust. It is pro-democratic."

But to make good policies like these you need to do more than trust the people – you also need to talk to them.

That's why I have spent so much time this year on the road.

When we win in public, we will win in Parliament, but all of our vision and our efforts will come to nothing if we stand alone.

Together we can do great things.

New Zealand is a small country where the power of individuals is magnified.

We here together today can make New Zealand free, fair and prosperous once more.

Auckland is a city on the rise. Nine of our top ten electorates last year were here.

The people of Epsom guarantee that every Kiwi who supports ACT counts – and we are doing all we can to ensure that our Epsom constituents are represented by Parliament's most effective MPs.

Our party will continue to grow from Auckland across the country.

Because ACT is the right party, with the right ideas, at the right time.

And because we hold fast to our principles.

Ours are the ideas of Hayek and Friedman, of John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith.

They are the ideas that can deliver liberty, opportunity and prosperity to people here, and around the world.

We know that no political party can fix every problem. No inspired leader has all the answers and no burgeoning, arrogant bureaucracy is ever a cure-all.

Families and communities benefit most when they can choose their own path forwards.

We allow them that choice by giving back control over how politicians spend their money.

By letting parents choose what kind of school their child attends.

By letting them choose between the public or private systems for healthcare.

By letting people choose how to run their business and look after their families.

But we are not free to choose while we live in fear.

In the last financial year almost 15 Aucklanders a day were victims of violent crime.

Even when criminals are caught, they are soon back on the streets.

ACT believes every crime deserves to be taken seriously and the justice system should be a real deterrent for thugs and thieves.

Being tough on crime is a liberal policy and the victims of crime are often the poorest, most vulnerable and the least influential in society.

Crime and terrorism often operate across international borders, but we cannot allow our vigilance to become paranoia.

That is why ACT welcomes new New Zealanders. Whether our ancestors are from Europe, Asia or the Pacific, we are an immigrant nation.

ACT wants to make it easier for everyone to share in the values and traditions that make us all Kiwis.

We will work with any other party who wants to support us, but ACT has never been afraid to stand alone when what we stand for is right.

Heather and I did not go to Parliament just to keep seats warm. We know we live in a great country that could be even greater.

We are determined to share our enduring values, our ideas, our optimism and our aspirations so that more people join us in our vision.

Our liberal flame burns brightly and it will continue to show the way for more Kiwis who know New Zealand can be an even better place to live.

Because liberty is always unfinished business.

Thank you.

ENDS

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