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Speech to Grey Power: Don’t Take It Any More!

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader

19 April 2013

Speech: Horowhenua Grey Power Public Meeting
War Memorial Hall, Chamberlain Street, Levin
Friday 19 April, 2pm

Don’t Take It Any More!

A controversial American publisher once said this:

“Few businessmen are capable of being in politics,

They don’t understand the democratic process.

They have neither the tolerance nor the depth it takes.

Democracy isn’t a business.”

The publisher was a man called Malcolm Forbes, of Forbes magazine fame, and what he said is important.

He understood that running a business was different to running a country.

Democracy is not simply the will of the people at the ballot box.

It’s also about listening to them when they express concern about important issues.

The impending sale of our power stations and the control of our rivers and lakes show that nobody in government is listening to the people.

May 2013 will go down as a black month in the history of the New Zealand economy with the listing of shares in Mighty River Power.

In the face of overwhelming economic and financial logic this Government has ploughed on with this damaging project regardless of the cost to the country.

National puts the ideology of the market above all other considerations.

You – the people - are being dealt yet another dodgy deal.

The so-called safeguards over the extent of foreign ownership are worth as much as this Government’s other empty pronouncements.

New Zealand First is committed to buying back Mighty River Power at the first opportunity.

Leaders are supposed to be custodians.

The word custodian means a keeper, a guardian, or a caretaker.

Custodians hold something in trust on behalf of others and do not act in self-interest or the interests of their mates.

Custodians don’t use the position of privilege and power just for some in their charge, they are required to use their position for everyone in their charge.

Just think of a few cases.

When Warner Brothers came here to tell the government to change its labour laws and subsidise the production costs, the Government agreed.

When Sky City wanted to expand its gambling system, the Government did another backroom deal.

When Sky City and China Southern Airlines wanted to bypass the immigration system to get thousands of wealthy Chinese gambling at Sky City, the Government did yet another deal.

When pressed by the Australian Prime Minister on the issue of boat people, they did another deal.

It is clear from the Prime Minister’s recent trip that he has thrown open the doors to China, to the extent that major problems are emerging over land and resource acquisition, and parental reunions.

Last month, it was reported that Auckland’s population was over 20 per cent Asian and is on target to reach 30 per cent by 2021, and whether that is a good or bad thing, you have never been asked your opinion on population targets in this country.

Here in Levin, we cannot say “this is an Auckland problem”.

You will hear the media scream about xenophobia because we mention China but China’s domestic policies have a huge effect on this country.

Here is why.

When an immigrant from India or the UK comes to New Zealand, any application they might make for family reunification is treated identically.

But with China, for the most obvious reason, it is different.

Say we get one immigrant from China.

Say he comes with his wife and child.

China has had a one child policy for decades.

What does this mean?

It’s clear as daylight, isn’t it. If you’ve only got one child, and that child becomes an immigrant to New Zealand, he can bring his parents and his wife can bring her parents.

So we get the wife, child and four parents all from one immigrant under the ‘centre of gravity’ policy.

People are telling me that they think it’s wrong, that it’s not fair, and it’s unfair to the New Zealand taxpayer and the remaining immigrant community.

Even Chinese journalists and academics have referred to this as being wrong.

Fifty per cent of healthcare spending and resources in New Zealand are on people aged over 65 years.

The waiting lists for elective surgery are getting longer and longer.

So any artificial spike in the numbers affects everyone.

The biggest hits are on New Zealand Superannuation.

On our figures, there are tens of thousands of immigrants who have acquired Superannuation this way.

Instead of addressing these anomalies, there’s talk of raising the age and means testing.

The problem is who we are giving Superannuation to.

A migrant only has to be resident for 10 years, and from age 65, they are entitled to full New Zealand Super without any prior requirement to work.

Ladies and gentlemen, as one who has extensively engaged in communication with governments and politicians from Asia, this can be said without any fear of rebuttal.

There is no politician or political party anywhere east of the Bosphorus River in Turkey who would have any truck with the policy that we’ve got. In fact they think we are nuts.

An article in the Chinese media says this: “A fat pension for foreigners? Isn’t the NZ government stupid? Sounds rather stupid. The NZ pension system provides foreigners with the same entitlements as its own citizens”

No other country in the world has a universal pension at this level of generosity.

You spend your lifetime struggling and you get the same pension and health entitlements as an immigrant who comes here at age 55 – and contributes nothing!

We believe there needs to be an examination of the years of residence between 20 and 65 years.

We stand by retaining New Zealand Superannuation at age 65 years for Kiwis the way it is – a bit higher when the country can afford it.

The Government’s first priority must be to New Zealanders.

That is why we are called New Zealand First.

We know that things are tough for many pensioners.

• That’s why we will try again this winter to get you a SuperGold discount on your electricity bill. Grey Power is fighting for this and we are too!
• We also want three free health checks to pick up winter ailments – and treat them and have a Member’s Bill in the ballot for this.
• We also have a Member’s Bill for tax breaks for medical insurance. There are too many older people who are giving up their medical insurance at a time when they may require it the most, because they can no longer afford it.
• There have been cuts to home help – and we want to restore these services.

In many cases New Zealand First is simply trying to restore services that were once taken for granted.

We owe this to our senior citizens.

When was the last time this government told big business to pull its head in and did something for ordinary people?

On Wednesday, New Zealand First announced that as part of our energy policy, we are going to buy back Mighty River Power, and merge it with the other two State Owned power companies, Genesis and Meridian.

Those of you who pay attention to the media would have been stunned by the blustering arrogance of both the Prime Minister and Steven Joyce at the idea that the people who paid for those power companies should now get control of them and dramatically reduce power costs.

Just think about it. When in the history of this country, would you have politicians thinking that it’s absurd for the people to control their own assets?

Sometimes we wonder why New Zealanders are not marching in the streets over the state of their country.

We are being fed a daily dose of spin and propaganda from the Beehive about how things are getting better.

Out in the heartland though, there is a stream of job losses and endless cutbacks to public services.

Even sick people in hospitals are not safe from this government.

The Government wants to save money on hospital meals.

They will probably get them flown in, frozen, from overseas!

You’ve all heard the stories of people queuing down the street for a job at their local supermarket.

Yesterday in Parliament, New Zealand First revealed that last year 49 temporary work visas were issued to foreigners to work as ‘checkout operators’ in New Zealand.

Ask yourself, how does this make any sense at all?

There are now about 620,000 Kiwis across the ditch and they are leaving at the rate of 30,000 a year.

Most are leaving because they can’t get the job they want in their own country.

New Zealand First has had enough of the economic lunacy that’s going on.

The Government and Reserve Bank have policies that are stuck in the 1990s.

Our exporters keep getting hammered by the high dollar.

Just two weeks ago, the Government came up with a policy which says that if any bank has a problem, then to save that bank, the depositors are going to take a financial haircut.

Just like in Greece.

That means you will be bailing out the bank if it fails.

Before you make your next bank deposit, you better ask them about the state of their finances!

Levin is typical of much of New Zealand.

It is typical heartland where National’s economic policy is doing so much damage.

Where is the Government’s policy for regional development?

They do not have one.

But New Zealand First does.

Levin is surrounded by farmland and resources.

Our policy reflects the importance we place on using New Zealand assets for New Zealanders.

Central to our policy is encouraging as much value added to resource development before sale as possible.

This means for example we won’t be sending logs overseas in their most raw state, to bring hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to other economies.

We’ll harvest the logs here ourselves and send a highly finished product offshore.

This will have flow on effects of jobs and dollars for our, not some other, economy.

We need leaders who recognise that they are servants of the people.

We need leaders who understand what being a custodian is – leaders who will protect our interests and our assets.

Our greatest assets are our people – yet the current leaders are prepared to let hundreds of thousands of children live in poverty.

There is a lot of lofty talk about ending child poverty and relentless and earnest discussion.

Child poverty is a misnomer.

It’s not the child that is at fault. It’s family poverty, it is societal poverty.

Family poverty is caused in the main by low wages and unemployment.

Unemployment is the biggest single issue facing this country.

And yet big business and their mates in government persist with policies that see our jobs going overseas.

They do nothing to keep local manufacturers afloat.

In fact they make it harder and harder for them to survive.

Levin has long suffered from this callous attitude to local manufacturing businesses.

When New Zealand was at the top of the world’s economies, manufacturing was responsible for over 30 per cent of our GDP.

Now it’s 13 per cent and falling.

New Zealand First intends with a range of initiatives, to turn that disastrous ratio around.

Initiatives like:

• Changing the monetary policy
• Introducing taxation incentives for business exporters
• Changes to the depreciation regime
• Tax credits for research and development
• Real incentives for employers to take on and train unemployed or unskilled workers.
• And by ensuring that we have a Buy New Zealand policy, so that government departments, local bodies and SOEs all subscribe to a Buy New Zealand policy. This would ensure money and jobs stay in New Zealand.

Remember what we said at the start:

“Few businessmen are capable of being in politics,

They don’t understand the democratic process”.

Ladies and gentlemen, this speech has been about what goes wrong when the custodian acts like they are the owner.

They are not guardians.

They have turned themselves in to salesmen, and what they are selling is your property and your future.

In the remaining months until the next election, make up your mind.

You don’t have to take it anymore.

Thank you.

ENDS

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