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Peters: “Let’s go to the Promised Land”

Media Release

Rt Hon Winston Peters Budget Debate, 22 May 2008

“Let’s go to the Promised Land”

Budget 2008 contains some good elements, a few bad omissions, but most importantly New Zealand First is promising something better.

Moving tax thresholds in October this year will provide some relief for New Zealand workers and New Zealand First will support these initiatives.

But we would make this point – much of the good in this budget is found in the fine print and flows on from New Zealand First’s confidence and supply agreement with the government.

New Zealand First gains include:

• Free off peak travel on public transport for SuperGold Card holders
• Subsidies for hearing aids for SuperGold Card holders
• Advantageous tax effects for those receiving New Zealand Superannuation
• Increased funding for Maori wardens
• Ongoing funding boost for the eldercare sector, although there could have been more here,
• A significant injection into the shipping industry
• A lift for premier racing stakes

When you add the substantial budget boost for Foreign Affairs which will ensure that we have the resources to confront the 21st Century challenges of diplomacy and trade, you can see that New Zealand First has delivered again.

But there are critical elements missing.

We are disappointed the budget does not include tax policies to promote export growth and keep industries in New Zealand.

We are an export dependent economy and our policies should reflect that.

Nor has the government or its predecessor addressed the “elephant in the room” - the Reserve Bank Act.
This is a failed economic experiment.

Targeting imported inflation using the blunt instrument of domestic interest rates can only create domestic pain.

We have been saying this for twenty years.

Only if we get back on track as an exporting nation can we grow our economy so we can afford decent wages and social services.

This budget sadly has an inadequate policy programme to address the issues of affordability and the rapidly rising prices of household basics.

Let’s face it – times are tough and a lot of people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

But we have some questions for the National Party.

Will you cut New Zealand Superannuation and the $45 windfall for married couples from this October?

Will you torpedo Kiwisaver – the first positive savings initiative in more than two decades?

Will you cut the thousand extra police we are putting on the streets?

Will you slash the extra funding to the eldercare sector?

Will you take hearing aids off the elderly?

Will you take away their free transport?

Will you make them pay more to go to the doctor?

We could go on and that is where we are different.

Unlike National, New Zealand First has a solution.

We are actually able to offer a real alternative, with real policies which are tried and tested in other growing economies.

New Zealand First wants to see a tax free threshold of $5,200 introduced – a tax cut that everybody benefits from. We also want to see GST reduced to 10% across the board.

These two steps are not enough on their own. We must also raise superannuation to 68% of the net average wage for married couples, as only this will ensure that vulnerable seniors are not left behind.

So while New Zealand First will support this budget, we are looking forward with a real alternative of tax relief and greater affordability in Budget 2009.

We know that with a package of tax incentives for exporters and a rewrite of the Reserve Bank Act and a more equitable tax policy we can put New Zealand’s economy and its people back on the front foot.

It can only come through productive, and not consumptive, wealth.

Never has this been more urgent.

There were no solutions from the National Party.

Lots of flashy verbiage – but none of it means anything.

All puff and posture – but where is the substance. .

That is where New Zealand First is different.

There was a time when New Zealanders could expect to hear something uplifting and memorable from the National party.

We used to hear speeches which showed leadership, vision, ideas, answers and solutions but instead all we heard were some lines from a focus group.

And when we look across at the inglorious line up of wannabees, neverhasbeens and political seatwarmers we realise that the old saying is right.

“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.”

That is because, outside of John Key, nothing has changed since the 1990s.
The same old sad faces are in the same old sad places, looking longingly across the chamber at what used to be theirs, starting to count their chickens before they hatch.

But it’s not what people SAY during election year that counts – it’s what they DO.

National has been talking about cutting the cost of the bureaucracy.

Fair enough – they like slash and burn policies.

They did it in the nineties when they slashed benefits and pensions.

They cut police numbers and social services.

They called it market forces. Most of the culprits are still there.

Their DNA and fingerprints are all over everything that went wrong in the nineties.

And now we are being shown the soft kind face of capitalism from a state house in Christchurch.

But what you are not being shown is the cost of National putting its best bland face forward.

And you are not being told about the gravy train National is creating in the process.

Did you know that John Key himself employs 36 people in his office?

That’s right 36 people just in his office! That does not count the staff for MP's.

That is at great expense to taxpayers of course! Over seven million dollars a year in fact!

We have it here – the equivalent of the Lions on tour, two rugby teams and the reserves as well.

And that does not count his secretary.

There’s someone called a web manager, an IT manager, a graphic designer, a programme and stakeholder relations manager.

And of course, teams of PR people, spin doctors and policy advisors – what for? There is no policy.

These people are all busy feverishly working to create an image of leadership.

The John Key image that you see over there and on TV is a man shaped by many hands and spun by many spin doctors.

And that’s only the lot within Parliament!

What about all the blogsters, webmasters, consultants, ad agencies and even more public relations people outside?

Remember the so-called freedom fighting organisation called the Coalition For Free Speech?

It just so happens that their front man also works out of National Party headquarters.

The biggest increase in taxpayers’ spending is going to the National Party.

Why isn’t this a separate item in the budget?

Mind you – when you look at them they need all the help they can get.

And what about the people financed by big business on the outside?

How can John Key go round the country telling everyone that he is fiscally prudent when he needs a fleet of buses to carry his entourage?

National has a bureaucracy that would boggle the minds of the commissars in theold Kremlin.

Even Josef Stalin didn’t have 36 people in his own office.

Madame Speaker, I put it to this House that National is a cruel burden on the New Zealand taxpayers.

They are actually bigger than some Pacific Island economies.

They are bigger than some government departments and ministries.

Perhaps that’s what this is really all about.

The creation of a new big spending, freeloading, freelunching, perkgathering, jobs for the Nats ministry called the Ministry of National Affairs.

Now despite the efforts of all these people, assisted by a sympathetic overseas owned media, we still don’t know what National stands for.

So far we have had a succession of “me toos”.

National has a duty to tell New Zealanders what it would do if it ever regained the Treasury benches.

Remember it was Keith Holyoake who once said – “tell the people, trust the people”.

That is National’s problem – they don’t trust the people so they don’t tell them.

There are a number of parties in this House, brought here by a change to the voting system.

We know what these other parties stand for.

We don’t often agree with them, but they make no secret of what they want to do and we accept them for this.

But there is something about National that is not quite right.

It seems to be a party with secrets kept under wraps. Like a boil covered by a sticking plaster.

What has it tried to do since 2005?

What initiatives has it launched? Where does it stand on the burning issues of the day?

What policies has it sought support for?

It seems to have spent two and a half years waiting for a snap election that was never going to happen.

Bad luck! It's been a long wait.

There is only one real alternative to this years budget and it is being put forward by the one party not afraid to tell the public its policies and then deliver them.

We are the only ones with the answers here.

There is still hope we can get to the Promised Land – but we have to head in the right direction.

This means creating a tax free threshold, reducing GST to 10 percent, a tax regime for exporters, rewriting the Reserve Bank Act, and a better deal for the seniors.

We were once God’s own country, controlling our own destiny, built by generations of hard working and ingenious people.

We have seen what this country and its people can achieve.

Only New Zealand First has the policies, priorities and persistence to rebuild this country and make IT the Promised Land.


ENDS

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