“Back to the Future”
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
24 May 2012
Budget debate 2012 – Rt Hon Winston Peters
“Back to the Future”
This is a ‘Back to the Future’ Budget. The National Party is caught in a twenty year old time warp.
In July 1991 Ruth Richardson stood in this House and delivered “the Mother of all Budgets”.
It created hardship, misery, thousands lost their jobs. State assets were sold – large chunks of the country were flogged off overseas.
Remember these quotes from her speech in this House twenty years ago.
Remember how National was going to solve all New Zealand’s economic woes and create a better future for all of us?
This is what National said.
On the state of the New Zealand economy in July 1991:
“For too long we have struggled in a trap of economic stagnation and rising debt. No economic growth. Rising unemployment. And a huge overseas debt.”
On New Zealand’s external debt:
“We now owe more to foreigners, relative to the size of our economy, than almost any other country of our kind”
On National’s vision for New Zealand in the 1990s:
“A society where the disadvantaged have access to high-quality social services”
“A society where workplaces are creative and dynamic”
“A society that is prosperous, confident and paying its way in the world”
“… to transform New Zealand from a declining, debt-ridden country into a dynamic, enterprising and prosperous nation”
On asset sales:
“These sales are designed to free the assets for more effective and competitive private sector management… The whole economy will benefit.”
On New Zealand’s fiscal position in 1991:
“The improved fiscal position has resulted in major improvement in the outlook for public sector debt.”
And from that mother of all budgets came the glimmer of an idea for Ruth’s less than gifted colleague.
A young Bill English – who not only listened to that speech in this House.
He actually believed it!
I can recall arguing with the National Party back then about their economic policy.
Bill English said to me “so what are you going to say Winston when it all works out?”
And my reply “what are you going to say when it doesn’t?”
And today – in a sincere tribute to Ruth – Bill has decided to reproduce her 1991 Budget.
What an act of political courage! What vision, what insight!
This Budget shows that National has learned absolutely nothing in the last 21 years.
We hear the same old rhetoric – the same old excuses, the same old - same old.
To be fair though –
· It is a great Budget – if you are not a pensioner with a big power bill. Last year 30,000 households had their power cut off because they could not pay their power bills.
· It is a great Budget – if you are not an exporter trying to sell goods overseas with a dollar that’s out of control and without government support.
· It’s a great Budget – if you don’t have a student loan.
· It’s a wonderful Budget – if you are not a mother or father with children to feed and educate.
· It’s a wonderful budget for workers undecided about heading to Australia.
· It’s a great Budget – for Australian employment agencies.
· It’s a great Budget – if you are not an elderly New Zealander with your grandchildren living overseas and you are lucky to see them once a year.
New Zealand is living through its biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And as with last year and the year before, this Budget will simply make the situation worse.
The crisis was created by the financial manipulators in the United States.
We all know who they were.
One of their former employees is supposed to be running New Zealand but he’s running New Zealand into the ground.
This budget is the latest example of New Zealand stumbling like a punch drunk boxer from one panacea to the next.
The reason why National has brought in this Budget is because it has simply no ideas about how to deal with the situation.
Their only answer is to privatise, sell, cut back and hope
The very rich will not be hurt by this budget today.
The National Party knows how to look after its mates – just like Ruth did.
Remember how National was going to make New Zealand the financial capital of the world back then?
And three years ago John Key came up with a bright idea to do that also and then had a great idea to build a cycle track and he can’t even do that properly.
Every now and then a light bulb goes off in the brains of the neoliberal Neanderthals in the National Cabinet.
If the country’s children acted like this we’d put them all on Ritalin.
National is spending tens of millions of dollars dragging us into free trade agreements that makes New Zealand look like some sort of international knock shop.
And in the meantime the exporters, the manufacturers, the provincial engine rooms of the economy are being forgotten.
Every month we lose a bit more of our manufacturing base.
Every month another plant closes and more workers lose their jobs.
This happens because our currency is way overvalued.
It suits the speculators and the currency traders – the financiers and the overseas banks.
This government drools over mining in our conservation estate.
It gets excited about fracking for oil or drilling in a pristine ocean setting.
But it will do nothing to keep one factory open or help one exporter earn one more dollar or keep one more job.
Tough, tough times are ahead.
Dairy prices are falling.
We are staring down the barrel of really hard times.
The real people in Heartland New Zealand did not create these problems but this government is going to make them pay for it.
Advanced economies such as Singapore, Sweden, Germany, Norway have two things in common.
They all have high savings rates, much greater than 10% of GDP, and they all have great manufacturing bases of over 25% of GDP.
We once were like that with a savings rate well over 14%, now seriously in minus figures and our manufacturing percentage of GDP has fallen from 30% to 13%.
We will never get rich again without tax policies that encourage high savings, research and development, investment into productive plant assets that create high margin exports and jobs.
We’ll never get rich when we flog off our timber in its most raw state, without any added value.
We’ll never get rich with a fishing industry part-owned by the Japanese or fished with foreign rust buckets and poorly cared for kamikaze crews.
We’ll never get rich with the great Marlborough wine industry, again like all the others, up to 50% foreign owned.
We’ll never get rich with a political party - with its Klingons - who’ve learnt nothing from this disastrous experience.
We will never get rich if we ignore the need for new Kiwi IT industries to bloom and grow in a sympathetic tax environment that keeps them here.
To be fair this government does one thing really well.
The millions it spends on public relations spin doctors, consultants, media manipulators and navel gazers create an appearance of normality where chaos prevails.
They are spending $120 million on asset sales alone.
This is a ROTTEN budget.
It contains all the putrid elements of twenty years of failure.
It did not work in 1991/92 and it will not work twenty years later in 2012.
For 21 years the Minister has come to parliament – at great expense to the long suffering people of Dipton and the rest of the taxpayers – and guess what he has learned?