Peters Speech To Tauranga: 'We're Back'
22 June 2008
Mount Branch Mid-Winter Luncheon
Omanu Bowling Club
Beach end of Gold Road
Some of you may have read the commentary during the past week of Tiger Wood’s great victory in the US Open – while carrying an injury.
It led many commentators to ask who was the greatest athlete of all time.
Such a subjective question can never really have one answer but each of us will have our own views.
For me, one champion stands out, not just as an athlete, but as a human being.
Perhaps his greatest trait was his ability to take all the knocks, all the criticisms, to be written off time and time again only to come back, confound the critics and win against the odds.
You see what really made him great was not the number of wins he had – and there were many – but the number of great wins where he came back from a loss.
His name of course was Muhammad Ali – you might have heard of him.
He retired a champion and in many people’s minds will be remembered simply as “the greatest”.
But we have not gathered here today to talk about retirement – we’ll leave that to a certain Bob the quitter.
No - today we are talking about a comeback.
Not a comeback aimed at personal glory but a comeback aimed at righting the wrongs of the last three years of an incompetent incumbent.
An incumbent frightened of a rematch – he has run scared.
He has embarrassed the people of Tauranga for three years and has delivered nothing.
This is a comeback which will bring hope to Tauranga again.
We do not need to remind this audience what a special place Tauranga is.
It is the fastest growing and most dynamic city in New Zealand. Three years ago Tauranga and the Mount had been the beneficiary of the biggest roading, schooling and hospital investment of any provincial city in New Zealand. On roading and a bridge it had been the envy of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in particular.
It not only deserved, but had, a representative who could get things done. Like a new harbour bridge.
A representative who can deliver.
And Tauranga has not had that for the last three years. It was Winston Peters and New Zealand First who despite the 2005 result locally got the new harbour bridge being built now, toll free.
You see Tauranga was sold a dud by the National party at the last election.
And we are here today to right that wrong and to do so decisively.
Only one party has delivered for Tauranga over the past three years.
Only one party secured a toll free habour bridge – saving the citizens and business of this region hundreds of millions of dollars.
Only one party secured hundreds of millions of dollars for the eldercare sector over the past three years - $530 million dollars to be exact.
Only one party secured increased superannuation – with a bonus in October this year.
Only one party delivered the SuperGold Card – and we notice everybody is now trying to jump on board now it has become a success.
And there is more to come on that front.
Only one party secured a reduction in business tax to 30% and Export Year.
Why does this matter to Tauranga – well as one of New Zealand’s critical gateways to the world driving exports and using the tax system to put the right incentives in place for business is critical.
Only one party delivered more police numbers – 1000 of them over three years.
And only one party has been consistently tough on gangs, drugs and violent crime.
The people of Tauranga know how critical a proactive law and order stance is.
Many of you have become victims in your own homes after years of “soft on crime” polices from the two old parties.
Now we could go on – but there is one thing that is clear when it comes to New Zealand First.
You see I told the people of Tauranga last election we would get them a toll free harbour bridge – too many didn’t believe me – but we did.
We told them business taxes would be lower – and they are.
We told them exports would be higher – and they are.
We said superannuation would be higher and it is.
We said we would delver more money to eldercare and a SuperGold Card – and we did.
We said we would get you more police – and we did.
Now you have to ask yourselves one simple question – who has been the real MP for Tauranga over the past three years.
Who has delivered – just as he said he would?
In many ways I have never stopped being the MP for Tauranga.
I did this because I keep my promises and because the other guy was so bad.
There were many times I felt embarrassed for Tauranga because he was so incompetent and out of his depth.
But we have a new election looming and a chance to restore hope to Tauranga again.
With the unparalleled energy crisis New Zealand is facing it’s own economic crisis worsened by the monetary policy of the two old parties. Without experienced leadership this country could face a nightmare within six months.
It’s all in the Reserve Banks latest monetary policy statement this month. These forecasts point to a massive growth of unemployment of 95,000 to 100,000 New Zealanders losing their jobs. That’s a loss to our economy of about $7.5 billion dollars.
And the key reason for this is a monetary policy aligned not to our economy but to some foreign ideology which says that no matter what the pain is, or how unaffordable things are the Governor of the Reserve Bank will go on trying to defeat imported inflation with the highest interest rates in the OECD.
New Zealanders need to heed the warning signs which are visible now. For despite all the reforms and all the sacrifices we’ve made over two decades, and obeying the monetarist mantra that inflation containment is everything, we are still on a slide and no change of Government pursuing the same policy will change anything.
These forecasts if accepted, and the old parties both accept them, predict four years of economic stagnation, minimal growth, huge unemployment and more and more New Zealanders not being able to afford essential supplies of life. In short, four years of seriously lost opportunity await us.
This election will be about how we deal with the dark clouds on our horizon.
How we deal with the economic uncertainty and social unrest in our society.
It is about who has the plan, the polices, the experience, the leadership and the courage to deal with these problems.
Who will deal with the revolting scourge of gangs – wrecking their p-crazed violence and havoc on innocent New Zealanders?
Tauranga is not immune from this scourge. We need a voice of experience and strength.
We need a leader who can look these criminals in the eye and not flinch.
Gangs don’t respect weakness – they fear real strength.
New Zealand First offers that strength.
Who is going to deal with our economic perils?.
Who will tackle the Blue Chips that have ripped so many people off in this region?
Well you can’t deal with them if you go and name your stadium after them and hold them up in blazing lights for the community.
Who is going to deal with our crippling and volatile dollar, our high interest rates and our slowing economy?
Who has the ideas and polices and the proven record?
Only one party can answer that question – New Zealand First.
And who is going to ensure – just as we always have – that the most vulnerable people in our society, our seniors and our young children, are protected during these tough times?
Only one party can answer that – New Zealand First.
Ask yourself this question – which is the only party prepared to lower GST to 10% so that everything is more affordable?
And ask yourself this question – who is the only party prepared to stand up to those who want to sell off our best assets?
And when you answer that question remember that Labour only a few weeks ago signed off on a Russian company buying out 100% of New Zealand Dairies Limited.
So you, the people of Tauranga, have a real choice at this election.
You can have experience which delivers – not learning on the job, with no real influence – but hitting the ground running on election day.
You can have courage to fight the gangs, drugs and violence.
You can have a programme to heal our ailing economy.
You can have financial and personal security.
You can have strength and optimism for a better future.
When I first stood for this electorate I promised the people of Tauranga and Mt Maunganui that if they voted for me then henceforth there would not be a single issue of economic or social import in the corridors of power where they did not first ask the question – what does Tauranga think?
As Tauranga’s MP I always kept that promise.
You need that voice again.
Ultimately we have three words for the people of Tauranga which we promise will bring them great hope – We are Back!