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Pansy Speak: The true state of the nation

Pansy Speak
The true state of the nation

Botany had its own ‘Super Tuesday’ on February 5 when I won the National Party nomination for the seat against three other candidates. There was the same excitement and the same commitment as Super Tuesday in the United States, though on a much smaller scale!

Botany is a newly created seat for a unique and coastal town, where people are hardworking, community-minded, and progressive. About 50% of the residents are European, 31 % Asian, 12% Pacific and 6% Maori. My recent door-knocking in the electorate has been a very positive experience.

When the National Party supported me in my bid to become New Zealand’s first MP of Asian ethnicity in 1996 it sent a strong message that Asians can, and will, serve our country as Members of Parliament. It has always been my dream to win a seat to show that representation can go beyond ethnicity, because I believe New Zealanders are fair-minded people.

The day after my selection, I attended the Waitangi Day celebrations hosted by Manukau City Council at Hayman Park and I really enjoyed soaking up the sun at the vibrant and diverse event. The mood was similar to the one at Waitangi because there was a lot of talk about respecting each other and working together in a partnership. National Leader John Key dared to go where the ‘fearless’ Prime Minister couldn’t, and he received a very warm welcome at Te Tii Marae. Leadership is about fronting up and inspiring people to move forward.

Meanwhile Helen Clark’s first state of the nation speech has already been forgotten, while John Key’s still has people talking.

As for Clark’s opening address to Parliament, John Key had this to say: ‘I was surprised by Helen Clark's speech at the opening of Parliament yesterday. I was expecting her to be bold, to be visionary, to have a sense of hope and aspiration, and to show that she understands the frustrations New Zealanders feel about where our country is heading, and the performance of her government after almost nine years in power.

Instead she gave us the same old stuff. She gave us her version of sustainability, recycling a host of previously-announced policies - some of them going back to a speech she made in 1994 - and re-using National's policies on tax cuts, NGOs, and Public Private Partnerships.

New Zealanders deserve better. They deserve a government that deals with the real problems we face - like interest rates nearly 4% higher than when Labour came to power; like the 77,000 Kiwis who left New Zealand for good last year; and the ongoing breakdown in our health system. They deserve a government that will arrest our fall down the OECD rankings, and lift the hopes and aspirations of all Kiwis.

It won't take National nine years to confront youth crime or housing affordability. It won't take us nine years to respond to the frustrations of NGOs. And it won't take us nine years to give New Zealanders the tax cuts they deserve’.

I am already confronting the crime issues affecting Botany, and I met with Manukau Police earlier this month to talk about them. The Police were fresh from busting a P lab and were happy to share with us their other successes, including programmes like Turn Your Life Around and Cops in Schools
Three years ago, my National colleague, Judith Collins, lodged a petition along with 5,503 other people, asking for more Police for Counties Manukau. The community wanted no less than the equivalent of one police officer for every 556 residents by 1 January 2007.

The petition was lodged with the Law and Order Committee which found that it wasn’t the House’s responsibility to enforce a recommendation on operational police matters!

In 2004 there were 795 sworn officers in Counties Manukau but that dropped to only 728 officers last year. From last year’s statistics that’s 0.8 of a police officer or every 500 people.

Botany residents, like the rest of the country, weren’t impressed by the Police Minister’s fleeting visit to the area and her proclamations that the sun and the moon were responsible for the crime hike. Someone said in a letter to the Editor of local paper The Times: Were there any solutions and pearls of wisdom? Did she offer anything for us citizens to cheer, or was it for publicity for her, while she pontificated to us out there?
It says it all!

Pansy Wong

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