Andrew Williams, New Zealand First: Maiden Speech
Andrew Williams: Maiden Speech
8 February 2012
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, fellow New Zealanders, Kia Ora
It is a great honour to be here in the New Zealand Parliament, our nation’s House of Representatives as a New Zealand First Member of Parliament.
It is no wonder that the Beatles song The Long and Winding Road is one of my favourite tunes.
As a fifth generation proud New Zealanders the journey however spans more than just my lifetime, going back to the pioneering days of the 1830’s and 40’s when the likes of Welsh Captain John Williams skippered an early vessel to this country, when Robert Williams arrived and was the first doctor and coroner in Otago.
When the Forbes, Stewarts and the Fairbairns journeyed from Scotland to a new land of opportunity.
Those family names live on with my third name and my children’s third names all still honouring the Forbes and Fairbairn names.
Honouring family members who fell in both World War One and World War Two, to uphold New Zealand’s democratic principles and that of the Commonwealth.
Growing up in a family of five in the country town of Waipukurau in Central Hawkes Bay.
Fond memories of endless hot summers riding bikes everywhere on the hot sunny tar roads.
Swimming in the holes in the river or at the baths and having competitions to see how many times you could peel over the summer.
Listening to pirate Radio Hauraki out on the Tiri on the late night airwaves.
Our family had a strong community focus with my father Bruce a stock and station agent working alongside my mother June for Wrightsons.
Both following the footsteps of our forebears with Dad on the Achilles in the Pacific during the war and Mum a wartime farm girl, she and her sister taking care of her parent’s farm in Wyndham.
The good days when the New Zealand economy was in boom times.
Dad would be at the salesyards as an auctioneer and they would put through 60,000 ewes in a couple of days.
Stock trucks lined up for miles coming into Waipukurau.
Our parents organised the annual A&P Show, the largest one day show in the country, while Dad also served as a borough councillor and trustee of the Pukeora Home for the Disabled.
New Zealand was number 2 in the OECD, only surpassed by the United States of America.
The New Zealand dollar was worth more than a US$.
Everything we could produce was shipped off to Mother England.
Full employment and job security was expected by all, as was a good free education, free health and social security.
But the New Zealand bubble was about to burst.
New Zealand became embroiled in the Vietnam War and with the introduction of television we had war in our living rooms for the first time.
Very sadly in 1969 my brother Jack was killed in action in Vietnam.
One of the 37 young soldiers who gave their lives.
I’m very proud to be here in this corner of this House where the Vietnam crest is proudly mounted on the wall, and being in Parliament in 2008 when Prime Minister Helen Clark delivered the formal government apology to the Vietnam Vets for the way they were treated.
We as a family never got over this tragic loss.
In 1971 we visited Terendak Camp in Malaysia where Jack was buried.
How proud we were of him.
Flying back on the Air New Zealand DC8 from Singapore I can recall as a teenager the pride I had also in our national airline Air New Zealand. Our airline.
Having been in debating clubs at St Peters School in Cambridge and then at Central Hawkes Bay College my journey was to have been in the field of law.
I recall visiting the Auckland District Court and seeing a young lawyer in full flight.
His booming voice totally dominating the courtroom.
His huge physical presence.
That was David Lange before he entered politics.
Oh to be a lawyer like him.
But as fate would have it a six pack of Huttons sausages was to change all that when I rolled up to a barbeque in Castor Bay with the uncle of Waipukurau friends.
That was Ross Finlayson, a pioneer in the meat industry with sales to Russia and the Middle East.
He wanted a young export trainee and offered me the job.
What a choice - be a poor law student for years or travel the world selling New Zealand meat.
So by the age of 20 I was going to amazing places such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.
New Zealand’s bubble had also burst with Britain joining the EEC.
No longer could we rely on the huge UK market, so exporters pounded the pavements in exotic new markets trying to diversify hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sheepmeats.
My journey on the long and winding road moved into farmed venison for Wrightsons, taking this wonderful low fat meat to Japan, Asia, the USA, Canada and Europe.
Then managing the perishable airfreight and shipping side of Challenge Freight.
In those days The Terrace in Wellington was the commercial hub of corporate New Zealand with head offices for Fletcher Challenge, Crown Corporation, Dalgetys, Brierleys.
The Think Big projects saw the likes of the Clyde Dam built, the Methanol plant in New Plymouth. Our container ports were developed
In less than a decade much of corporate New Zealand was totally transformed and carved up.
Head Offices moved to Auckland or to Australia. Corporates downsized or disappeared.
NZ Railways, the BNZ, Air New Zealand. Sold out.
What a mistake we would all come to regret.
I joined the Belgian Trade Service as Trade Commissioner here and was appointed Honorary Vice Consul.
What an interesting 10 years being involved with a dynamic economy like that in the centre of Europe.
Historically important to New Zealand when you see the names of Passchendaele and Messines on these chamber walls.
Economically important for the distribution of so many NZ products such as kiwifruit, apples and meat.
But somehow disappointing to witness the comparison between Belgium with 11 million people and NZ with 4 million.
Their huge investment in education, R&D, technology, science and innovation, public transport, city infrastructure.
This inspired me to get more involved in local government, becoming a councillor, a community board member and then Mayor of North Shore City.
To try to bring some of that European flair to the Shore and to the Auckland region.
My thanks go to the council and staff of North Shore City during my 9 years involvement with them.
We achieved so much as NZ’s 4th largest city with cutting edge technology and innovative thinking leading the way in New Zealand.
Sorting out the Pak ‘N Save on Wairau Road, the Birkenhead Library and the risk of the Whenuapai Airport. …Thanks to WAAG. Land purchases at Long Bay and Chelsea Heritage park
Putting in place the first 15 year Long Term Council Plan of any city in the country.
Only to have the rug pulled out from under us by the Auckland Super City.
The 800 page Royal Commission report tossed in the bin and replaced by a 34 page replacement.
The Shore is not the same today and is a shadow of its former self.
It’s a tragedy really that 230,000 people have been effectively disenfranchised with Corporate Auckland in the form of CCO’s now in control of the city.
Gone are the annual arts competition, the Wag n Walk dog fundraiser, the Body Arts Awards.
The weeds are growing taller, the services are declining, and the rates and costs are going up.
That was not the way we expected to North Shore to become when my parents retired to Torbay in the late 70’s.
Elderly – Gold Card – off peak travel and concessions
RSA - $1million to support RSA
Youth – employment and student loans $1 for $1 subsidy
Child visits for under 6’s – Jane former Plunket Nurse
Thanks to Jane, now my wife for 31 years, and Sam, Nicky and Bryony
Thanks to mother and family
Thanks to the supporters on the Shore and the many groups, volunteers.
It has been a Long and Winding Road.
At the end of the day, like the Williams, Forbes and Fairbairns and Stewarts, who came to this land of opportunity. Our aim in this House must be to strive to make this a better place for us all. And to give a A Fair Go for All