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Copeland: Christchurch Kiwi Party Conference

Gordon Copeland Press Release

Gordon Copeland: Speech

Christchurch Kiwi Party Conference

1 March 2008

Thank you for the welcome. It is great to be in Christchurch.

I am a fourth generation Kiwi on my mother’s side and although I was born in the backseat of a car in sunny Nelson, my mother, grandparents, and great grandparents, were all residents of this beautiful garden city. I always feel very much at home in Christchurch.

It is great to be a Kiwi! It is great to be a member of The Kiwi Party and along with Larry and the other Board members, part of “Team Kiwi”.

I want to be part of a winning team in this year’s elections but I know that that will only happen with your active support and participation in The Kiwi Party. Our agenda is radical but it is needed, and never more so than in 2008, if we are to live up to New Zealand’s call to greatness and make this, once again, the best place in the world in which to live, to marry, and to raise children.

The task set before us may seem daunting but with your support I have no doubt that we can succeed. Many Kiwis instinctively sense that the current political leadership has lost the plot both by dumbing down the family and by leading us away from those timeless values which we refer to as the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The vision which The Kiwi Party sets before you is a Government which places the common good and happiness of all New Zealanders at the forefront of its policy. No one is excluded, no matter their ethnic background, colour, sex, age, language, or religion. Our vision also reserves a special place to the protection of the babe in the womb, our beautiful children, sole parents, the sick and the needy. These values shape our policy.

It is my task today to talk through some of that with you.

I want to begin with the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission, in response to the referendum, which Larry has already mentioned.

We will ask them to begin by gaining an understanding of the wider causes of family breakdown.

This will include an examination of the effect upon the family of relevant legislative changes such as

* the introduction of no fault divorce

* the Matrimonial Property Act/Relationships Property Act

* the Prostitution Reform Act

* the Civil Unions Act

* the introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

and the effects of

* housing adequacy, including overcrowding and ownership versus renting.

* stress relating to work/life balance including seven day trading.

* changes in family form (married/defacto/sole parent/other)

* family income adequacy

In relation to family violence and child abuse, we will ask the Commission to look at:

* drug and alcohol abuse

* gambling addiction and the proliferation of pokie machines.

* increased availability and access to credit leading to greater household debt

* fatherlessness and its family form implications e.g. transient partners

* the loss of parenting skills due to the breakdown of the intergenerational family.

* pornography and its increased access via internet and TV

* violence as portrayed through TV, video games, the internet, and music.

That constitutes the first phase of the Royal Commission’s work. The second will relate to addressing those issues and will ask for their recommendations on viable, practical, “fence at the top of the cliff”, solutions.

These will include options like:
A) Educational initiatives
i) through charities and other third sector organisations
· marriage preparation, marriage and relationship enrichment
· parenting education, pre and post natal right through to the teenage years

1 fatherlessness and related issues

ii) through schools

* values and character training

* civics and citizenship education including the role of males and females as parents

* respect towards parents, teachers, police, and other community authorities.

* changing the approach to sex education so that it has an emphasis on “abstinence until married”.

B) Legislative change covering:

* divorce, property entitlements, the domestic purposes benefit, liable parent contributions, custody arrangements and any other relevant legislation

* the operation of the family court including associated processes around mediation and reconciliation

* the drinking age and sale arrangements for alcohol

* the existence of gangs

* criminal penalties in regard to drug related offences.

* pokie machines and gambling

* the portrayal of pornography and violence

The work I have just outlined to you would alone be enough to warrant The Kiwi Party being elected to Parliament. Unless we are there to force a National-led Government to establish such a Royal Commission, we will simply drift on, allowing the breakdown of the family unit, to continue. We cannot allow that to happen.

However our policy mix will include a number of other things as well. In particular, the policy of allowing each kiwi tax payer to direct $100 of their tax each year to a community charity that they wish to support has the potential to transform civil society in New Zealand. It will pour millions of dollars into that sector, and the heavy hand of the state will be able to withdraw from areas where it has no expertise.

For me personally, this step is a continuation of a dream which I have had for over 20 years. In December of 1987, Roger Douglas, in an infamous press conference, announced that churches and charities in New Zealand would henceforth pay tax and that the tax rebate for gifts for charitable donations would go.

This would have dealt a near fatal blow to the charitable sector in New Zealand. It would have bought civil society to its knees, and ushered in a new and disastrous dependence by the poor, the needy, the infirm, and the vulnerable on a cold, unfeeling, and inflexible bureaucracy.

Churches and other charities were simply not prepared to allow that to happen. Shortly thereafter I became the Chairman of the Inter-Church Working Party on Taxation which involved all of the churches in New Zealand, plus the Hebrew congregations. We formed an alliance with all other charitable and voluntary welfare organisations, descended in huge numbers on the Beehive, and told Government in no uncertain terms to back off. They did just that and fast!

Fresh from that victory we began to lobby for an increase in the tax rebate for donations to charities.

We visited every successive Minister of Finance. We made presentations to Parliamentary Select Committees. We organised seminars. Finally Dr. Michael Cullen, in 2000, adjusted the rebate for inflation from $500 to $630, and agreed to give favourable consideration to a lift in the rebate cap, but only after mechanisms were put in place to ensure that only donations to bona fide charities would qualify.

As a result, immediately before I entered Parliament in 2002, I represented the churches on a Government appointed Working Party. That led to the passage of the Charities Commission Act 2005, in which I was heavily involved after entering Parliament.

I then devoted my energies to a lift in the rebate cap. You can imagine my delight therefore when on 11 December last year a Taxation Bill was passed which removes, from 1 April this year, the rebate cap for individual donations and allows companies a tax deduction for donations up to 100% of profit! From one of the stingiest regimes in the world, we have now moved to one of the most generous.

Now, even a $1million donation will qualify for a full 33cent to the dollar rebate, i.e. $333,333!

Charities are the most efficient organisations in the world and they make an irreplaceable contribution to the health of our society. The Kiwi Party proposal, which will allow you to direct $100 of your tax each year to a community charity, is now a realistic and deliverable policy. Together, these two measures will transform our society.

I want now to turn to tax policy.

In addition to the two initiatives announced earlier by Larry, The Kiwi Party will introduce income splitting for couples raising dependent children. This would be particularly beneficial for single income kiwi families. For example, such a family with an income of $70,000 presently pays tax of $18,570. Under income splitting, for tax purposes, $35,000 is allocated to the wife and $35,000 is allocated to the husband, reducing the family’s tax bill to $13,650. This is a saving of $94.62 per week. It is right and just. Both partners contribute to the raising of the family and their different but complimentary roles are recognised. The present system taxes every income earner as if they are single and have no dependents.

We will bring fiscal drag to an end by regularly adjusting the tax brackets for inflation.
Labour has not adjusted the tax brackets since 2002. It is the intention of the Kiwi Party to do that. This would see the brackets move, for 33 cents, from $38,000 to $46,000 and for 39 cents, from $60,000 to $73,000, from 1 April 2009. That will leave more than $1billion a year in the purses and pockets of kiwis.

GST will be removed from rates. GST on rates is no more than a central government tax on a local government tax (i.e. rates). It must go. In addition, a percentage of the total goods and services tax collected from kiwis by government should be shared with local councils. In combination, these two measures will ease the rate burden on elderly kiwis and young families, whilst spreading local government costs more equitably across the wider community.

Health insurance premiums will be tax deductable. This will encourage kiwis to make a contribution to their own health costs. It will reduce costs to the state, whilst ensuring that everyone continues to receive world class health care.

We will introduce a four year tax deferral arrangement for new business start ups. We want to encourage kiwi entrepreneurs. Many new businesses go under during their first two years because they cannot afford to pay tax. A four year deferral will get them off to a great start.

In combination, the policies which Larry and I have announced today will raise wages for the lowest paid kiwis, significantly reduce taxes for couples raising dependent children, cut taxes for all kiwis earning $11,500 or more, reduce rates, make additional funding available for health, and give start up businesses a much needed tax break.

I want to conclude by talking for a moment about Christian democracy. You will find a paper on that subject in your folders and I would encourage you to read it.

Earlier this year I spent a couple of hours with my old boss, Cardinal Tom Williams, who is an expert on the history of Christian democracy in Europe. He explained to me that history which today sees Christian values parties in Parliament (and sometimes in Government) in Italy, Germany, Norway, Austria, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. Christian based parties are also in Parliaments in South America and even in Indonesia which is a Muslim country with a secular constitution.

In New Zealand things are quite different. We remained a democracy right through the 20th century whilst Europe grappled with communism and fascism. We saw the emergence of the Labour party after the Great Depression of the 1930s and their implementation of “applied Christianity” through welfare reform and other measures.

New Zealand did not adopt an MMP system until the 1996 elections. Even then, the Christian values parties which emerged in the form of the “Christian Coalition”, lacked cohesion and did not attract significant support from Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Methodists.

In the 1990s “black marks” against the National party arose when poverty increased as a result of benefit cuts and market based rents. Partly in response to those events, Labour was elected in 1999.

However, since 1999, a whole range of “black marks” have arisen against Labour and, to an extent, against National. The Marriage Bill, for example, was defeated by Labour, with support from 12 members of National. Prostitution Reform was passed on a conscience vote with most Labour MPs and several National MPs voting in favour. The same was true of the Civil Unions legislation. The anti-smacking law was passed, after Helen Clark and John Key forged a window dressing compromise, with both Labour and National putting all of their MPs “under the whip”.

Conscience voting seems to have become a thing of the past! The appointment of a practising abortionist to the Abortion Supervisory Committee was effected with all Labour MPs “under the whip” and support from some National MPs.

Years ago it was National who gave girls under 16 the right to an abortion without parental consent, but predominantly Labour, who defeated an attempt to repeal that law in 2005.

Perhaps more worrying, however, is that neither National in the 1990s or the present Labour Government, have done anything constructive to promote marriage as vital to the common good of New Zealand families, put real resource into good parenting programmes or addressed the issue of fatherlessness. Labour talks endlessly about sustainability but hasn’t a clue about how to build strong and sustainable families. Neither of the two old parties have figured out that a prosperous economy and a harmonious society flow from loving inter-personal relationships - the kind exhibited by Sir Edmund Hillary toward the people of Nepal for so many years.

The question now is, if we want to see Christian our values represented in the New Zealand Parliament, will the Christian community respond by constructively promoting an alternative political vehicle to both National and Labour? Under MMP, given the number of Christians in New Zealand (not to mention all of those other kiwis who support timeless Judeo-Christian values) there is no reason why The Kiwi Party can not hold the balance of power after this year’s elections!

Let’s go for it!


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