Peters Speech: Smoothing the Rough Road Ahead
Kawerau District Council
11 July 2008
Smoothing the Rough Road Ahead
Thank you for the invitation to be here today.
It's good to be back in Kawerau, you produce some pretty good singers here (John Rowles) as well as the products from the trees.
Kawerau has a special place in the history of our nation.
This was a timber town that came into being through the foresight of governments in the early 1900s who organised tree planting programmes.
Later, subsidised work schemes planting trees provided employment during the Great Depression.
Some described the planting as pointless, soul destroying work.
It was not – and over time it created a huge asset and generated great wealth for our country.
Many skilled and qualified New Zealanders were sent to labour in poor conditions for a pittance so they could keep body and soul together.
They lived in tents in freezing winters.
And they sent something home for the families back in the towns.
The latest management jargon would have called it a waste of valuable human resources.
After the Great Depression, we were plunged into a global conflict that swept across Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, South East Asia and the Pacific.
Many of those men who planted the trees never came back from those places. But the forests created The Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill and a town called Kawerau. This was their legacy.
There might not be a lot of yuppie bars or latte lounges here.
We don’t see a lot of Versace or Armani hanging on the hooks in the clothing shops either.
The value of this place is not measured by the trappings of wealth or power – it can only be measured by the quality of the people who live here and who created their own community.
The spirit of this community has held Kawerau together through good times and bad.
When it was established in the fifties, only a decade after World War Two, New Zealand was a country of great hope.
We were nation builders. We had a “can do” attitude.
When something was wrong people tried to fix it and that included the governments of the day – National or Labour.
Many of the MPs back then had seen the horrors of war and they wanted the young people of the nation to grow up happy, healthy and educated.
The reason for going down memory lane with you is that many of you remember and believe in the New Zealand we grew up in.
There was a sense of togetherness. We were all in it together - except of course when the Ranfurly Shield was at stake.
Things are different today but there is still one political party that has retained the traditions and values of heartland New Zealand.
That party is New Zealand First.
It has been a great privilege to lead that party for the past fifteen years.
Our politics is built on core New Zealand values.
We believe we should own our own country.
We believe senior citizens have a right to security in retirement.
We believe that all citizens should feel safe in their homes and on their streets.
We believe that we must look after the young,
We believe in one country with one rule of law for all citizens.
We believe that our economic systems should work for the good of our people – not the barons in foreign boardrooms.
Only if we are in control of our own destiny will we survive and prosper in a world that seems bent on turning itself inside out in the name of globalisation and free trade agreements.
Free Trade Agreements with low wage economies make someone else wealthy, take away jobs here and send our young people away.
Every day now the economic soothsayers and doom merchants warn that we are facing tough times.
Unfortunately, this time there is a strong element of truth in what they say.
This coming election is about some of the really basic issues.
It's about the survival of ordinary people in the face of oil price shocks, exorbitant interest rates, price rises, increased crime and threatened unemployment.
We worry that senior citizens, who have made a great contribution to their country, face soaring power bills and have to think twice about turning on the heater.
We are concerned that people who really should go to the doctor or buy a prescription can't afford to.
Food costs are soaring – the price of petrol is going through the roof.
We know that life is not easy for you.
We could go on but there is a message I have come to deliver.
We will do something about it.
You can rely on New Zealand First.
Three years ago we said the base rate of New Zealand superannuation should be higher – and now it is.
We said the eldercare sector needed a huge injection of funds – and it has received $530m over the past three years.
We said you deserved a SuperGold Card – and we delivered that.
We are now at the point where the card has exceeded most Australian states, with nearly 5,000 business outlets on board and free off- peak travel on public transport to come on October 1.
We said it would take time – but we are delivering – and there is more to come.
We said there needed to be more police and we have delivered 1000 more.
We said Maori Wardens needed better funding – and we delivered that too.
We said wages need to be higher – and they are – by more than $80 a week.
We said taxes for business need to be lower – and they are.
But there is so much more to be done.
The good news is – we are ready, able and prepared to do it.
But we need your help. You hold the solution in your own hands.
That solution is to support New Zealand First.
We believe in a civilised society.
If you want to fight gangs, violence, crime, drugs and white collar crime, simply talking tough is not enough – you must be tough.
These criminals see weakness in the two old parties – they know they can literally get away with murder – and live in state houses subsidised by taxpayers.
Many are on social welfare benefits.
A number of others get paid by the state to liaise with other gangs to keep a lid on things so they can get on with their drug dealing in peace.
We must deal with this in ways that will make a real difference.
Many gang members claim they actually want a better life for their children but continue to peddle drugs, inflict violence and crime on society and snub their noses at the law.
If we are to deal with gangs once and for all then we must be bold.
First we must ban the gangs. For those who say it can’t be done, vote for some other party.
New Zealand First has legislation, based on international experiences in banning gangs, which will do just that.
Unless you ban them, then the criminal gang lifestyle remains a choice.
But we must also provide a pathway out of the criminal gang lifestyle.
This means re-education and employment training. This means drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
This means helping the women and children – often the real victims of the gang lifestyle – out of the gang environment and into safer housing.
The other step is to tackle this generation of youngsters before they are caught up in the gang system.
That means banning violent video games.
It means getting them involved in organised sports, music, cultural and other activities or even military type training and discipline.
In many ways it means embracing those elements of a civil society that have been lost over past decades.
It means giving Plunket the resources it needs to truly help these children in an integrated way from birth through to their school years.
In means supporting sport, community and cultural groups so that they can run the programmes these children need to learn discipline.
We must also provide them with ways to succeed – to build self belief.
But underpinning these three steps is a fundamental attitude change which must occur.
We must end the bastardisation of Maori culture by the gangs.
They are a disgrace, and every time they hog the media limelight they embarrass and undermine Maoridom.
Only one party can deliver this type of change.
Only one party has the policies and courage to deal with the scourge of gangs on our society.
We are sick of all the talk and no action.
We make you this promise today – give us the numbers in parliament, and we will get rid of the gangs and their disgusting lifestyle once and for all.
Now let us turn to those other pressing issues of concern.
New Zealand First recognises that affordability is a huge issue.
This is why we want to see GST reduced to 10% across the board.
Everything becomes more affordable – and it is deflationary, easing pressure on interest rates at least in the short term.
We also accept that your incomes must rise to meet these rising costs.
For this reason we will put New Zealand Superannuation up to 68% of the Net Average Wage – to keep you ahead of rising inflation, rather than just keeping up.
We will also ensure that the first $100 of income earned is tax free.
This delivers a windfall for all workers as well as those on New Zealand Superannuation.
All up, we estimate this will put at least an extra $30 a week into your pockets – and any part time work you do will provide you with more cash in your hand.
But again the equation is simple. We cannot do this without your support.
Put it this way. We cannot protect you if we don’t have enough troops to fight for you in Parliament.
We have a fair idea of what is happening and what the tactics will be after the election whoever wins it.
The people in the National party who brought you the cutbacks of the nineties are alive and well, still in Parliament and raring to go with their secret agenda.
Supporting those on New Zealand Superannuation is not part of that agenda.
Too many in Labour have lost touch with ordinary New Zealanders, lost touch with their roots and have forgotten about the basics.
We in New Zealand First will stand as a buffer between the people and the party that forms the next government.
We will only accept economic measures that help our business and ordinary people.
You have the power to decide your future.
You have the power to take your country back.
You have the power to put things right.
We urge you to use that power. New Zealand needs you more than ever before.