NZ First Speech: POLS 111 Speech
NZ First Speech: POLS 111 Speech
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
14 May 2014
Victoria University, Wellington
In four months’ time you will find yourselves in a polling booth, supporting the candidate and party you think best represents you.
Politicians, pollsters, media organisations, your family and your friends will all tell you how and why you should cast your vote and invariably it comes down to the big four: the economy, education, law and order, and health.
Even though politicians often wish it was that simple, often it comes down to something as simple, or quite frankly bizarre, as ‘oh that politician, he shook my hand once. I’m going to vote for him’.
Perhaps that could be updated in 2014 to ‘oh that politician, he took a selfie with me once, I’m going to vote for him’.
If it was that easy, experienced politicians have quite likely shaken hands with a large number of New Zealanders – but just shaking hands doesn’t make an automatic winner.
You’ll hear politicians talking about something called ‘hip-pocket politics’.
Basically, that people vote on how they perceive their vote will affect their wallet.
Words are thrown around to lump voters together. The grey vote. The urban vote. The farming vote. The ‘mum and dad’ vote. The student vote.
That last one is an intriguing group. Because it is you.
Don’t worry about it – you’ll grow out of it!
The rest of the voters are often in their category for a decent period of their life.
But the student vote – an undergrad degree takes three years of full time study. For that group, that’s just one election where they are under the ‘student vote’ umbrella.
Right now many of you will be on a high, a legal one, on having left home, possibly having moved from a different town or city to come to Wellington to study.
You’ll be happily exploring the wonders of Cuba St and Courtenay Place.
It’s quite possible that wondering how one pays back thousands of dollars in student loan debt is the last thing on your mind.
How many of you have taken out a student loan to study here?
Don’t be shy, put your hands up.
Next, how many of you have given real thought and planning on how long it will take you to pay back that loan?
For it is a loan. That means it must be paid back even though some of your peers may have lofty plans to head overseas, never to return and hence, think they don’t have to pay back thousands of dollars to you, your family and your friends (and yes, that’s what it comes down to. You’re all taxpayers.)
Some say that people who do this are in a way stealing from you.
However, there’s no doubt that the exceptional students that take POLS 111 would never, ever, entertain such an idea!
How many of you know what your situation will be like in five, ten or fifteen years time?
The simple answer is that you don’t.
Even the best laid plans can go astray.
So perhaps it’s time for a rethink on the way we view tertiary education?
Not just in the way it’s funded – both to the provider and to the student, but in the way it’s promoted, and seen to be the only passport to a well-paid career.
Let’s say that you do all the things that countless governments have told you to do.
You’re already doing one – studying at tertiary level.
If you’ve got a part time job, or a holiday job, you’ll most likely be contributing a minimum of three per cent of your wages towards KiwiSaver – and long term saving towards your first home or your retirement - a long way off for you.
Let’s presume that upon finishing your studies, in three years, you’re trawling through TradeMe or Seek to find a job.
The following year you come back to Victoria University, like many this week, for the graduation parade with your friends and lecturers from the past.
Like the song, you’ll be talking about your “glory days”, exchanging stories of your first ‘real life’ job and it’s here that reality will start to kick in.
It’s that first year, after leaving university, that you’ll realise how much of your weekly pay cheque goes to pay off your choice to study.
And how much goes towards the Government.
Against how much goes towards your future via KiwiSaver.
And don’t forget how much goes towards your basic living expenses – rent, power, food.
And you’ll then wonder why in 1 April 2013, April Fools Day, the Government did the dirty on all of you who were doing exactly it advised you to do for the last few years.
That was when the Government sneakily increased student loan repayments from ten per cent to twelve per cent. On the same day, they also increased the minimum KiwiSaver contribution from two to three per cent.
So, in the space of one day, this Government took three percent more from the pay cheque of all New Zealanders who were doing the right thing – undertaking tertiary education and starting to save for their first home.
Sadly, there’s more.
Because just the day before, 31 March 2013, they cancelled the 10 per cent repayment bonus for those that paid extra off their loan!
Now that is hip-pocket politics.
So when the next National MP comes here and boasts how much their party is doing for students, perhaps you could ask him or her about these policies that have dealt to students.
Having visited universities over many years as an MP, there is one thing that has never changed.
The will of many students to get involved in what they believe.
There are student chapters of most political parties on university campuses throughout New Zealand.
New Zealand First is often associated with the elderly. Gran has her SuperGold Card and 66 per cent of the net average wage to live on thanks to New Zealand First.
So you may be surprised to learn that we were the party that bought in 1997 bought in free health care for under sixes (which many of you will have benefited from).
We’re also the party that bought in the biggest increase in the minimum wage ever – from $9 to $12 in three years as part of our confidence and supply agreement with Labour in 2005-2008.
We’re the only party that when student loans were first introduced by a National government, looked into the future and said that the biggest one-off education cost in the education budget in this country was going to be defaulting student loan debt, and sadly over time we have been proven correct.
One didn’t have to be a genius to see that, because the same policy in the United States brought about the same consequences for US students – massive debt and massive default.
We were the first party, back in 1996, to promote a universal student allowance.
Recently other parties have started to join up on that policy.
Well, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
We’re here today to talk briefly about your vote and a party called New Zealand First .
In brief, New Zealand First is a patriotic centrist political party, much like a mixture of the old National and Labour parties from whence we came.
We neither believe in blanket socialism or neo-liberal economics.
We do not believe in selling our land to foreign interests and we believe that state owned assets should be held in trust for the people.
You may not care about selling power stations to foreign interests – but you will care about the power prices you pay.
Parliament and Government’s role is to protect and defend the people - to be guardians of the country’s resources – and to help the people reach their potential through enlightened, health, education, housing and employment policies.
They all say it – but New Zealand First acts on it.
We also believe in special obligations to the old and the young – society’s most vulnerable.
If we are not looking after grandma, are you going to look after her?
We believe in one law for all – irrespective of ethnic background.
We believe that Maori needs are the same as all New Zealanders. They need good education, housing, health facilities and most of all they need good paying jobs.
Come to think of it, that’s what we all want.
Lack of full time employment is a serious issue for all, and more so for Māori and Polynesians.
New Zealand First believes that we must train, skill, educate and employ our own people first.
There’s no excuse for the hiring of cheap labour from overseas when so many are on the unemployment scrap heap back here.
On the issue of foreigners speculating on housing in New Zealand – we’ve had the courage to say it for years but successive governments have refused to act.
New Zealand’s economy suffers from not having a practical plan for its people.
And blind ideology is not a substitute - the current economic vision is simply the Auckland housing bubble, increased immigration creating a consumer demand, the Christchurch rebuild, and milk powder to China.
We cannot survive without implement a much more diversified economy.
For decades the percentage of the youth non-vote has been alarming.
We hope you aren’t one of them come September 20.
If you follow the unfolding election over the next few months you will see our position to assist student debt repayment and policies targeted to encourage New Zealand students to stay in this country after they graduate, because they can be confident of a great future in New Zealand.
There are many young people who say ‘why bother voting, it doesn’t matter’.
We have news for them and it’s all bad.
Every moment of your life, waking or sleeping, the policies of governments are affecting you, and often adversely so.
Everything in the cost structure of your life, whether at work, university or leisure, is affected by government policy.
If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be wise to have your say in what those policies are?