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National Party President Judy Kirk Speech

National Party President Judy Kirk

Speech to National Party Annual Conference 2008

Saturday 2 August, 11.00am

Leader John Key, Deputy Leader Bill English, members of the Board of Directors, Members of Parliament, Distinguished Guests, Candidates, Delegates and Members of the National Party.

Here we are, around three months out from the 2008 General Election.

The mood of the Party is one of excitement. The feeling all around the country is that it's time for change. The old Labour Government is tired and out of ideas. National is ambitious for New Zealand and ready to govern.

New Zealand is a great place to live work and raise a family. But the last nine years are a story of one lost opportunity after another. Labour has simply failed to take advantage of the best economic conditions a Government could hope for to build a stronger, more resilient economy.

And now that times are getting tougher, ordinary New Zealanders are suffering because of Labour's lack of vision and imagination. Kiwi families are now hurting from increased food and petrol prices; the second highest interest rates in the developed world and rising household debt.

And that's not the only problem. New Zealanders are tired of public services still underperforming. Labour has poured billions of dollars into the health system and still there are major problems. Violent crime continues to rise.

Courts are clogged and criminals are re-offending. The result of all of this is that every year tens of thousands of New Zealanders are voting with their feet and moving across the Tasman.

John Key and National are committed to addressing these issues and creating a better New Zealand.

But to do that - to strengthen our economy and deliver better wages and living conditions to all New Zealanders, to provide efficient and effective public services, to make New Zealand safer, to halt the exodus to Australia - we must first win the election.

And the election is all ahead of us. We cannot afford to be complacent in any way.

Election 2008

This has been a year of hard work. For many of you it has been years of hard work. I thank you all for that. You need only look where we've come from to where we are today to see the fruits of your labour to date:

- The Party is the strongest it has been in a long time - indeed it is the most unified it has been in a generation

- The Caucus is strong, unified, disciplined, working-hard and absolutely focused on the end game

- The calibre of our 2008 candidates is outstanding. It is a very diverse and talented line up of individuals who will do us proud.

BUT, I cannot stress enough that our job is a long way from complete. Our hard work is not over yet. In fact, the really hard work is only just beginning and it's going to get harder.

We cannot, and must not, take anything for granted. Despite what some commentators say, this election is not a foregone conclusion. We have to fight to the final hour, indeed the final minute.

There are still very important jobs left to do - jobs like fundraising and 'Getting out the Vote' on Election Day.

We are running a grass-roots campaign and the more people we can get on board the more successful our campaign will be.

There are many tasks that we need help with this year: putting up hoardings, handing out pamphlets, holding cottage-meetings, getting out the vote on Election Day, using scrutineers and scrutinizing the results on Election Night, to name but a few.

If you know anyone who wants to help, don't hesitate to sign them up.

Every single volunteer and every second of time helps. Imagine the space we're in at the moment filled three times over. That's how many new volunteers we'll have if every person in this room gets two other people on board to help.

Equally if you know anyone who wants to help but doesn't really have the time to spare, direct them to our newly up-graded website, which, after it's 'soft-launch' just over a week ago, I am officially launching today.

Our website has been given a face-lift in preparation for the campaign. It includes our latest policy releases, the latest statements from our MPs, profiles on all our candidates and video journals from our Leader John Key.

Importantly it also includes new buttons for donating to the campaign, becoming a member of the Party or signing up to volunteer for the sorts of tasks I've just mentioned.

It's the donation button that's of most importance for people who want to help with the campaign but don't have the time to spare. You can ask them to make a donation to National's Party Vote campaign and be part of our team.

The trend internationally, including most recently in the United States, is to encourage grass-roots, internet-based democracy where everyone pitches in. We think that's healthy and our new website promotes that.

Making an on-line donation is very simple. And we will be making a huge push to receive as many as possible. Any amount of money people can give will help. It's the donations from ordinary New Zealanders like you and me that will make all the difference to our campaign this year. So please spread the word.

John Key

You can rest assured that while you're out there working for victory so is John Key. We are very lucky that after twenty years of a highly successful career in finance both here and overseas he has made the commitment to serve New Zealanders and to help our country succeed.

John is a down-to-earth and hard-working New Zealander. He's ambitious for New Zealand. He is driven by a vision for a greater and more prosperous country, where opportunity and success are the norm.

John represents hope and confidence. He will lift our sights with new ideas and energy. As Prime Minister John will deliver much needed fresh leadership and apply a pragmatic and sensible approach to Government.

I'd really like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Bronagh, John's wife, and their two children, Stephie and Max, for supporting their husband and dad in this commitment and for sharing him with us and all of New Zealand.

Candidates

As you have already seen, in 2008 we have one of the strongest teams of candidates we have ever put forward for a General Election.

A victory for National through the party vote matters more than a National victory in any electorate. Quite simply, if we do not win the party vote we will not win the Election.

Of course there are some battlegrounds where we will take the fight directly to Labour. These battlegrounds are mostly concentrated in the major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and some of the seats within those centres. We have a number of high-quality candidates contesting these seats, and they are working exceptionally hard.

In Auckland Central we have Nikki Kaye. Nikki is a young, energetic, go-getter and for the voters of Auckland Central she's a brilliant alternative.

In Maungakiekie we have Sam Lotu-Liga. Sam is a very impressive individual who is working exceptionally hard in a seat that has been dominated by our opponents in the past. I'm pleased to report that Sam's got Labour in panic mode and he is making great inroads into territory that Labour considers its heartland. They certainly can't consider it their heartland this year.

In West Auckland I've just spent some time with our Waitakere candidate and current list MP Paula Bennett. What a fantastic operation she's running and what a mood for change there is amongst her electorate. Her constituents are concerned about infrastructure, quality schools for their kids and generally making ends meet - sound familiar? Paula needs to work hard for the votes - as do all of our candidates - but she's making excellent headway.

In Wellington, Stephen Franks is contesting the high profile seat of Wellington Central. This seat always generates a lot of media attention. This year will be no different. We have a great candidate in Stephen Franks and a real chance of returning Wellington Central to National.

In Waimakariri, List MP Kate Wilkinson is taking the fight directly to Labour. Another seat Labour considers its own. I wouldn't be so confident. Kate is very capable and has a good chance of success in her endeavours to turn Waimak blue. We will back her all the way.

As I said, these are but a few of the seats in the battlegrounds we have identified. There are others we are seeking to win.

I want to thank all our candidates for their hard work and dedication. I am proud of our very strong team.

Every single one of them is campaigning for the Party Vote because a Party Vote for National is one vote closer to Government - regardless of where it's cast, and regardless of who wins the electorate.

The Next Three Months

In the next few months there are several things that we need to vigilantly guard against.

First, we must ensure there is no diversion from our task to campaign hard for the Party Vote for National. Yes, there's a chance we will pick up more seats and that possibility is exciting. But the point of the exercise is not to win electorate seats but to win the election.

Second, we must not be complacent. We must guard against that at all costs. We especially must remember the lessons we learnt in 2005. This means being prepared for our opponents to throw the kitchen sink at us, and to effectively counter their scaremongering and smear-tactics, particularly in the last week of the election campaign.

Third, we must remember that we will win through team-work and discipline. We'll win through believing in ourselves and in our team, led by John Key. We'll win by refusing to rest until the job is done and until we are satisfied that every single last Party Vote for National has been identified and cast.

Only when the polls close on Election Day can we put our feet up, exhausted but knowing that we have done our job, the very best possible job we could do.

Fourth, we must at all times ensure we are operating within the law. Yes the Electoral Finance Act is a nightmare piece of poorly drafted, rushed legislation that is largely unworkable.

Yes it is a blatant attempt by Labour to screw the scrum. Yes it goes against the National Party grain in every respect and yes, given the chance we will scrap it. But it is the law and we will campaign within it because the National Party obeys the law.

We have given you the best possible guidance and advice and there's another session on the EFA today but if you are still unsure about what you can and cannot do please ensure you check with Campaign HQ before you do anything.

And just remember, on the days you find it frustrating your opponents do too.

Finally, we must remember that this election campaign is a grass-roots campaign. Every volunteer you sign up; every friend you talk to about National; every raffle you buy a ticket for; every pamphlet you hand out, envelope you stuff and every donation made to the campaign matters. Everything counts.

To give Churchill's words a modern spin...we shall indeed fight them on the beaches, but also on the door-steps, the streets, the factories and workplaces all over the country.

So let us be confident, but not complacent; positive, but not presumptuous; and let us make no mistake - 2008 is set to be one of the most important elections in New Zealand's history.

Our opponents will do anything to hold onto power.

Ladies and gentlemen - we are not going to let them! The stakes are high and the fight will be tough, but together, we will make 2008 a great year for National and an even greater year for New Zealand.

Let's maintain our focus, keep our eye on the goal and be determined, and fight hard to elect a new John Key National government

We're hearing it said across the length and breadth of New Zealand - it's time to change. It's time to choose a better future.

Thank you.

ENDS


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