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Rodney Hide Speech: Roger Is Back

Roger Is Back Rodney Hide MP

Sunday, June 8 2008

Speech to Sir Roger Douglas Electorate Announcement; Blackbridge Road, Karaka, Auckland; Sunday, June 8 2008

It's a proud day today - Sir Roger's back.

He's back supporting ACT. And he's standing for ACT. For the first time. Here in Hunua.

And Sir Roger Douglas has agreed to be as high on ACT's list as our members place him. If ACT wins the Party votes, Sir Roger Douglas will be back in Parliament. Isn't that something?

Sir Roger was first elected to Parliament in 1969, serving in Norm Kirk's Cabinet.

His grandfather Bill Anderton was first elected in 1935 and was an MP - first for Eden, and then Auckland Central - through to 1960.

His father Norm was elected in 1960 and served through to 1975; his brother Malcolm was elected as the very first MP in Hunua in 1978. The Douglases know a thing or two about politics and campaigning. Malcolm is managing Roger's campaign here in Hunua.

Richard Prebble learned his politics as a teenager from Norm Douglas. Norm learnt his politics from John A Lee and Bill Anderton.

In Parliament I was always begging Preb to tell me more Norm Douglas stories, and the two of us always ended laughing until tears ran down our cheeks; so many great stories about a great man.

We have Roger's mum here today, Jenny. She and Norm set up the famous Princess Street branch of the Labour Party. Mrs Douglas goes back to Mickey Savage, Walter Nash, and Peter Fraser.

Roger Douglas is back with all his experience and knowledge. This grand political family of New Zealand politics will once again be represented in our Parliament.

Here's how it happened:

I went to see Roger over summer. I explained that Heather and I and the team had all worked hard to ensure that I was the best MP Epsom could wish for, and to ensure that every Party vote for ACT would count.

I said that it was clear there was to be a change of government but, with John Key's "me too-ism", no change of direction. If we kept doing the same old policies, we'd get the same old results. New Zealand would continue to languish, and our best and brightest would continue to leave in droves.

I asked for Roger's advice, and he said we needed to set a goal for the country. "Like what?" I asked. "Beat Australia by 2020," he replied.

I loved it. It captured perfectly the competitive Kiwi spirit we see so well in sport - where we regularly take on the world and win.

It also forces us to think about whether we accept being second rate in the world with third rate politics, or whether we're prepared to pin our ears back and strive to be the very best that we can be - to excel economically, socially, and politically, as well as in sport.

It sorts out the optimists and the winners among us, those who believe we can and should, from the pessimists and the losers - who think we can't and should accept second best.

Roger said it wasn't enough just to set the goal: "You need a plan to get there."

I said I needed his help - not just with the plan, but in Parliament. I needed his help to implement it. And so, for the sake of our country and our future, Sir Roger Douglas agreed to stand.

I'm in much better shape this election than I was last election. I've needed to be - I've struggled to keep up with Roger; he's on fire.

First it was the Plan. Then it was candidates and organisation. Now it is getting the Plan out. What surprised me working on ACT's Plan was the level of agreement among selected business leaders, economists, commentators and policy experts on the policies needed to catch Australia by 2020.

There was ready agreement on the policies, and on something else too: that no politician had the guts to do what's needed. That's how we came up with ACT's new slogan: "The Guts To Do What's Right"

No one's ever accused Roger Douglas of lacking guts - nor Heather Roy, nor any ACT candidate for that matter.

It takes guts these days to stand up for what's right for the country without first checking with the focus groups. You need guts to do what's right. And that's ACT.

Helen Clark and John Key both played politics with Roger announcing he's standing. John Key labelled Roger Douglas "radical right wing". Helen Clark joined in.

But here's the thing:

Neither Helen Clark nor John Key is prepared to change the policies that Roger Douglas introduced in the 1980s.

Roger Douglas ended the wage and price freeze. He floated the New Zealand dollar. He abolished supplementary minimum prices. He introduced GST. He halved the top tax rate. He introduced the State-Owned Enterprises Act to run government businesses as businesses. And he made the Reserve Bank independent to get inflation under control.

All political parties now subscribe to these policies. And neither Helen Clark nor John Key is promising to get rid of them. The past has been won. Our task now is to win our future. Not with clichés and focus-grouped lines. But with policies of substance that will put New Zealand back on top and deliver an extra $500 a week to Kiwis.

To do that we need politicians of vision, principle and guts. The very vision, principle and guts that Roger Douglas has exemplified his entire political life. And before him his father Norm. And before him his grandfather Bill.

And here's my challenge to John Key: which of ACT's 20 policies is bad for New Zealand, and which is "radical right wing"?

Is getting government spending down to Australian levels by 2014 bad?

Is getting rid of red tape bad?

Is giving every child a scholarship bad - so they can go to the public or private school of their parents' choice? Is that too right wing?

Is ensuring that every New Zealander has health insurance bad - so people can get surgery when they need it and not be stuck on waiting lists in pain?

We know John Key agrees with Labour policies, but what specifically in ACT's 20-Point Plan does he disagree with and think would be bad for the country?

I suspect John Key agrees with the policies but doesn't believe they're politically palatable. That's why he's sticking with Labour's policies.

It's our job to show that ACT's policies are politically palatable. We have the goal. We have the plan.

We have had John Ansell package ACT's 20-Point Plan into a pledge-card and the best political pamphlet I've ever seen. I know it works. People will read our 20-Point Plan.

And there are many, many New Zealanders who agree saying, "Thank goodness someone has the right goal, the plan to achieve it, and the guts to do what's right."

The pamphlet is being printed in the hundreds of thousands as we speak. Our job now is to get it into the hands of as many New Zealanders as we can.

It's a done deal that there'll be a change of government this year. What's not certain, though, is whether there'll be a change of direction - and that's what we so critically need.

If we don't succeed in the vote, we'll have a new government but the same old, same old policies - and the same old, same old results.

That's why ACT succeeding this election is so crucial. It's the ACT vote that will determine the country's direction.

We have put our plan up. It's our job now to win the support that I know is out there for it.

Then we can make Roger Douglas Minister of Finance. And then Roger will truly be back. And so will New Zealand.

ENDS

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