Peters: Bring Back The Richard Seddon Vision
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
20 March 2014
Greymouth Grey Power public meeting
Thursday 20 March, 1.30pm
Holy Trinity Hall, 195 Tainui Street.
Bring Back The Richard Seddon Vision
It’s good to be back on the West Coast – with its rich history and the honour of providing New Zealand’s greatest premier – Richard John Seddon.
He lived in Hokitika – and represented Westland for many years.
Sometime ago our office was given a framed picture of King Dick – standing on a stage, hands on knees – entertaining a crowd and loving every moment of it!
He used to say that he could “play an audience like a piano”.
One of his great strengths was the way he identified with the people he fought countless battles for.
His government was the first to bring in laws to provide the old age pension and to push the interests of ordinary New Zealanders against large commercial interests and the massive land aggregation of a few landowners.
He also introduced the first industrial relations reforms, which if they were not so perverted by the National Party in the 1990s, may have avoided the tragedy at Pike River.
There is an important message from Seddon’s time for today because even though we are more than a hundred years on we are faced with a similar situation.
Back then, campaigning before the 1893 election, he said that New Zealand is “God’s own country but there is a devil of a mess to clean up”.
Now you would think that today’s leaders would have learnt something from history but alas they keep repeating the same mistakes and have done so for the last three decades.
You will have observed that in 2014 we are going back to the days of big landholdings and huge, often now, monopolistic interests with a built in self-serving rationalisation.
They call it globalisation but what that means is that much of your country is being hacked up and sold to overseas interests.
What is being sold is the investment and savings of past generations.
You remember it, Air New Zealand which your fathers and grandfathers built, the BNZ which former political leaders set up to give us independence from overseas banking, and New Zealand Railways which did so much to expand industry and population around New Zealand.
They are but three examples of investment and savings by former generations and are no different from the huge energy developments in hydro and other power sources that were once our pride.
Today the future is stark and you people know that more than any of those around the halls of power in Wellington.
The West Coast is an area of rich resources and great beauty.
It is hard to understand how your greatest resource – the people – have become almost an endangered species.
The Government doesn’t mind commercial interests sucking the wealth of the West Coast but the ordinary people are not benefitting and we in New Zealand First say this is not fair.
Why should you watch so many of your young people from the West Coast’s future drift away, often to Australia, because your resources are either locked up or siphoned off to benefit somewhere and someone else?
New Zealand First’s economic policy is that all New Zealanders should share in a well-balanced and thriving economy.
No region should be left behind.
In contrast, National has neglected the regions and created an unbalanced economy in which more and more resources are being siphoned elsewhere, often towards Auckland.
They were warned about Auckland – but they went ahead and created a super city which is treated like a separate state.
It’s not the fault of the battlers on the fringe in Auckland – it stems from a lack of proper leadership at the central government level.
Auckland now has a disproportionate role and influence – and is consuming vast resources just to meet basic infrastructural needs.
Auckland is overflowing, the roads are girdlocked, so are the schools and hospitals there, but still the external migration pours in.
And why wouldn’t they?
Take Superannuation, after only ten years here the parents of new immigrants get full New Zealand superannuation.
You’ve battled away your whole life, in some cases for up to fifty years before age 65 and yet they get the same as you.
You’ve worked here, raised your family here and paid your taxes here whilst tens of thousands get the same benefit as you without the same effort that you’ve made.
Don’t blame them however. Blame those short-sighted politicians who tell you that all is well but in the next breath say that the costs of Super mean the age must go up.
And because of the one child policy of China, one married immigrant can bring in four parents under the parental reunion scheme.
So New Zealand urgently needs a sound and sensible economic policy backed up by a sound and sensible regional policy, so essential for balanced development and growth.
When the regions thrive, creating skilled jobs and encouraging people to move to the provinces, we actually solve many problems.
That includes the housing crisis which is most acute in Auckland.
It’s a certainty that you are wondering why down here on the West Coast you have to put up with higher deposit ratios and higher interest rates (in real terms more than five times that of Japan, Europe, the UK and the USA), all to try and dampen down booming Auckland house prices.
You’re wondering who is the Economic Einstein that came up with this solution.
You read in the papers, watch TV and listen on the radio to the most absurd excuses justifying you putting up with higher costs because of a crisis somewhere else.
Part of the solution that New Zealand First advocates, along with Reserve Bank Act policy that considers your needs, is an effective regional development policy that generates jobs and is actually a sensible way of easing urban housing pressures.
The main element in New Zealand First’s approach to the regions is our Royalties for the Regions Policy.
We believe that royalties paid to the Government should not all go to the Beehive’s piggy bank.
Surely, some of these royalties should contribute to the development of regional communities and economies.
In simple terms, New Zealand First wants 25 per cent of the royalties paid on extraction of minerals – be it coal, limestone, lignite, gold, oil or gas or otherwise should go to the regional fund from which they are sourced.
This fund would be administered by the region’s council, for use in that region’s development.
Our royalties for regions policy rests on one fundamental principle – fairness.
The region that generates wealth should share in that wealth – simple as that.
It would not be a slush fund for people building monuments to themselves.
With our policy, the involvement of local people in decision making and development would also help concerned residents and mineral extractors reach agreement over environmental issues.
In short, it’s not the citizens vs the extractors but rather the citizens and the extractors working in everyones best interests.
Our scheme would bring economic and social benefits to regional communities and allow them to plan and spend more efficiently and effectively.
It’s not a substitute for existing funding streams - it is a new funding stream.
Under our proposal, over $80 million would have been contributed towards regional development initiatives nationwide in the 2012/13 year.
The regional fund created through the policy would contribute to local projects and developments upon advice from local authorities and interest groups.
We say the regions matter – they are heartland New Zealand.
They create most of our export returns and without them our economy would be dead.
Many regions in New Zealand are in trouble, economically and socially.
Rarely a week passes without news of another closure and loss of jobs in the regions.
Almost all the time these closures are a direct result of government policy.
The number one reason for closures in the West Coast is our hugely overvalued dollar which makes exports from here less competitive on the international market.
The truth is that successive governments have gone along with the free market experiment introduced by Roger Douglas many years ago.
Most people under 40 have no memory of a different time.
But what the free market experiment did is place the interest of financial markets above the interests of the exporters in the regions and evidence of that is to be seen everywhere.
It seems John Key’s economic development is about getting more pokie machines at the Auckland Sky City casino or a $42 million subsidy every year for the next 38 years.
Compare the Government’s financial support for the Sky City casino and their support for you on the West Coast.
If you’re voting National then you should sign up for the Mother Teresa society!
Another example - throwing huge money at overseas firms like Warner Bros and Rio Tinto in the hope they will drop a few crumbs to New Zealanders.
We say there is absolutely no reason why all your resources should be taken by someone else or locked up so no one benefits.
The economic and social health of the West Coast is at stake here.
We must provide job opportunities and shift the balance that locks up resources because of loud noises made by people who mostly have never been here even one day in their life.
The West Coast surely must know by now that they are suffering by the oppression of much larger urban majorities somewhere else.
It’s time for the West Coast to stand up for itself.
It is possible for there to be both good environmentalism and sound development to unlock more resources.
Those of you who have visited Scandinavian countries will know that they are light years ahead of us in terms of environmentalism and resource extraction and the two can go together hand in hand harmoniously.
Those parties that say it is one or the other, and there are extremists on both sides who say that, are both wrong.
And it is true this area has still not reached its true tourist potential.
But you can employ only so many people making lattes for visitors.
With sound monetary policy and a change to the Reserve Bank Act to assist you, the coal industry will pick up again and the West Coast has to be ready for it.
Under the present government the biggest regional expansion has been in the dole queues and the extra staff employed by WINZ.
After all these years, New Zealand is still acting like an economic colony with so much of our manufacturing and services base controlled abroad, acting not in our best interests but in their best interests.
Today, the Australians are acting like Trevor Chappell and bowling underarm.
In New Zealand, Australians are treated equally. In Australia, Kiwis are treated like second class citizens.
This year we will commemorate100 years since the first world war broke out in 1914.
The Australia New Zealand Army Corps fought bravely in that terrible conflict.
The diggers – the ANZACS - fought and died on equal terms. Why should their descendants be treated differently?
Next month we remember those men and women on Anzac Day.
We suggest that Australia’s leaders remember not only ANZAC Day, but also the spirit that existed and our mutual obligations.
New Zealanders do not run any campaigns against Australians - off the sporting field - yet it seems to be almost open season on Kiwis in Australia.
We accept that some unthinking, naive New Zealand governments allowed the wrong people through our back door and on to Australia.
New Zealand First warned twenty years ago of the inevitable consequences. The present Government, and to be fair the former Labour Government, did nothing to address Australia’s concerns about our loose immigration policies which is why so many of your relations in Australia are not getting a fair deal today.
It speaks volumes of the New Zealand economy that even though Kiwis living in Australia are denied usual access to social and medical benefits or the right to vote – they still think that their opportunities are better there.
So hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders that have voted with their feet might know somewhat more than John Key about the state of the New Zealand economy.
However there is one redeeming feature. Those New Zealanders in Australia can still vote back here for a government that will support their parents in New Zealand and organise a fairer go for them in Australia.
Six months from now, we’ll all be given a chance to move on. The election campaign has already started.
Some people in the Beehive and commentariot are getting quite agitated because they can’t form a government six months out from an election and before you’ve even had a chance to hear what’s on offer and then vote.
New Zealand First believes that it’s the voters who select governments – not the National Party. Not the Labour Party. Not the New Zealand First Party or any other party.
We’ve got this quaint idea that democracy is about you and we’ve come to the heartland to find out what you want.
The Prime Minister is calling an early election and he wants a new flag because he’s selling out the old one!
We trust the spirit of Richard John Seddon is still alive and well on the Coast.
It’s time to return to the days of the ordinary people he fought for – not the big self-serving interests of the few and foreign interests.
Trust New Zealand First with your Party vote and help bring back the Richard Seddon vision.