Speech: Peters - One Year On
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
23 November 2012
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Speech: Bay of Plenty Public
Arataki Community Facility, Zambuck Street, Mount Maunganui
Friday 23 November, 12pm – 2pm
One Year On
Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you today.
Let us begin with some topics that are particularly important.
New Zealand First has been back in Parliament one year.
And it shows!
You will recall that we vowed during the election campaign to face National across the House and put some much-needed spine into the Opposition.
It’s fair to say that we have done that and it’s been interesting to see National’s sunny faces become serious, and their glib remarks lose their gloss.
Their “spray and walk away” party is well and truly over.
The Prime Minister is reduced to pleading amnesia whenever certain subjects come up and the rest of them parrot empty phrases written by their army of minders.
We warned repeatedly before the election of the danger of giving away water rights with the stupid sale of our power stations.
We pointed out that we had to keep control of our lakes, rivers and waterways.
Did they listen? No.
Is the whole issue a total shambles? Yes!
We have repeatedly warned about separatism – and the nonsense of Whanau Ora.
Did they listen? No!
Did we stand up in Parliament and ask why taxpayers’ money was spent on family reunions? Yes!
Last week we exposed the shonky China Southern Airline visa scandal.
In the most recent act of rank stupidity the government has agreed to rubber stamp the visas of wealthy Chinese so they can come and gamble at Sky City casino.
The official papers for this idea state quite clearly these people did not want to disclose their employment or financial status. Wonder why?
We raised this in Parliament and the Minister of Immigration tried to bluster his way out of it and denied Sky City was involved.
Too late! We had the papers and Sky City’s DNA was all over them.
We also revealed in Parliament the repeated warnings by officials that the visa scheme was a very bad idea.
This government cares more about the demands made by Beijing than the plight of ordinary New Zealanders.
It is also firmly in the stable of Hollywood moguls like Warner Brothers.
When they say jump, John Key bounces
around like a ping pong ball.
The Kiwifruit Crisis
The Bay of Plenty has paid a particularly heavy price for this Government’s folly in ignoring border security issues.
All of you will be very aware of the devastation to the local kiwifruit industry.
The bio-security breach that allowed the Psa bacteria into New Zealand has been a catastrophe for an iconic New Zealand export earner.
The Psa bio-security breach will go down as a monumental blunder.
The ultimate cost to the country in terms of lost production and the collapse of Kiwi orchard land values could run into billions
The Bay of Plenty economy has been dramatically affected for the worse.
Yet again we have seen the folly of taking absurd risks with bio-security.
The safety of our border protection system means nothing to the wheeler-dealers!
In their ideological hang up with cost cutting and market solutions the Government failed woefully to protect a great success story.
Despite all its evasions and denials by the Government one fact is self-evident - Psa was allowed to enter New Zealand and devastate the Kiwifruit industry.
The bio-security system failed.
The June 2012 report by the Sapere research group which investigated the bio-security breach was one of the most damning documents of its kind.
The Sapere report did not pull its punches.
clearly identified that
• Unwarranted bio-security risks were taken
• Import requirements were deficient
• Testing was unreliable
The Sapere report was a withering indictment of complacency and incompetence.
Yet we have a Minister for Primary Industries – David Carter – who would have us believe that we have a world class biosecurity system.
Like we had a world class mines inspectorate!
Like we had a world class building inspection system that allowed the leaky homes fiasco!
Light handed regulation and an inadequately resourced public sector is a recipe for disaster.
The crucial question we face is this - do we have to get an outbreak of foot and mouth disease before this Government gives bio-security the priority it warrants?
Bio-security must have the resources to safeguard our borders – no if, buts or maybes.
We have to get
real – or the agricultural base of our economy will be put
Now let us turn to what is the greatest area of this Government’s failure – the economy.
It is doubtful whether New Zealanders fully appreciate the extent of Key’s failure as an economic manager.
National promised us a brighter future.
They vowed to stop the exodus to Australia.
They were going to create 170,000 new jobs.
On all these three promises they have failed.
Four years later we’re all worse off.
Only the wealthy few can claim to have experienced any demonstrable improvement to their standard of living.
The rest have seen it go backwards.
A significant number – 52,000 per year – have gone to find a better life in Australia.
Even those fortunate enough to still have jobs in New Zealand are struggling in the lead up to Christmas.
For many there will be little to celebrate.
The latest Household Labour Force Survey shows a record number of people out of work.
In the September quarter a total of 300,000 people were reported to be jobless.
1 in 6 New Zealanders are looking for work!
That is the highest in 13 years or since Bill English was last Minister of Finance!
40,000 jobs have been lost in manufacturing alone. That’s 200 jobs a week.
A total of 1300 manufacturing companies have been lost.
It is devastating – not just to the families of those workers, but to their local towns and regions as well.
Provincial communities have been the biggest victims of all.
The potential for growth has been squandered.
Entire industries are being swept aside by headwinds from offshore.
Yet the National Government refuses to act.
They have chosen to sit comfortably in the sanctum of their Beehive offices and ignore the storm wreaking havoc on the rest of the country.
So far removed is John Key from reality that on TV last Sunday he claimed that if he were to go under a bus tomorrow, he would have left New Zealand in better shape than he found it.
This is from a Prime Minister who has, for four years, presided over economic conditions that can only be described as recessionary.
In 2013, New Zealand First will continue to hold the government to account for these failures.
In the past year we’ve successfully drawn attention to the crippling exchange rate.
The NZ dollar should be closer to 60 cents US not 80 cents US and until we understand and act on that our exporters will go on haemorrhaging.
Although our bill to amend the Reserve Bank Act failed by one vote on its first reading, it nevertheless shows that we’re ready to tackle the big issues.
The economy will remain a major focus for us going into the New Year as we challenge the government to make good on its promises, and as we work constructively with other parties to develop good, sound economic policy that will benefit all New Zealanders.
In conclusion, let me say that New Zealand First – unlike some parties - has a united and effective team.
We are delivering on the job we were returned to Parliament to do.
We are holding the Government to account and exposing folly and failure.
We are working for policies that put New Zealand’s interests first!