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Peters: Blenheim Public Meeting

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
29 May 2014

Blenheim Public Meeting
Thursday 29 May, 2pm
Taylor Restaurant, Clubs of Marlborough, 42 Alfred Street, Blenheim

New Zealand First Super Policy - “No Ifs, No Buts”

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today in Blenheim - heartland New Zealand.
This is an exporting region.

As a vulnerable trading nation, it is vital that we strengthen our economic base to deliver long term prosperity for all New Zealanders.

New Zealand's international indebtedness is around $150 billion – one of the highest rates relative to GDP in the OECD.

This makes New Zealand a hostage to fortune in the event of a major external shock or disruption.

We urgently need to stabilise our overvalued currency.
That is the reason New Zealand First has a long standing commitment to a more flexible monetary policy.

For too long, monetary policy has been used as a cosh, a blunt instrument, to bludgeon the economy into submission.

But as you will have seen, the Budget was as silent on the overvalued dollar as it was on many other critical issues for New Zealand.

In contrast to the Government’s inertia on the dollar, New Zealand First has the legislation ready and waiting to broaden the Reserve Bank’s mandate in favour of balanced growth that will encourage exports and support the manufacturing base.

New Zealand First has consistently and repeatedly sounded the alarm on foreign ownership of New Zealand land, housing, firms and other assets.

Because let’s be clear. Foreign investment and foreign ownership are two completely different things.

We are seeing large purchases of dairy farms sold to offshore interests.

There is now vastly more foreign ownership of rural land than most people appreciate.

National’s agenda is clear. They are intent on selling much of our land, property and businesses into foreign ownership.

National have done nothing to stop or slow losses to foreign ownership.

Moreover, the Government deliberately hides the facts. They have constantly refused to maintain any official data that might reveal the true extent of the foreign takeover.

National continues to pretend that Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a watchdog.

No –the Overseas Investment Office is a rubber stamp.

In just two months last year, the Overseas Investment Office approved land sales to Dutch, Chinese, American, Swedish, Australian, Japanese, Swiss and French interests.

Under National, losses of our land to foreign ownership can only get worse.

What we need in New Zealand is a robust policy to protect New Zealand’s national interests and halt the losses. Because most so called foreign investment is bogus – nothing new is created – it’s just existing assets changing hands.

The losses are staggering in such sectors as wine and forestry.

As Marlborough people will be well aware the wine industry is now predominantly foreign owned. Montana is owned by French giant Pernod Ricard.

Nobilo, Selaks, Kim Crawford and Monkey Bay are owned by American company Constellation.

Brands such as Cloudy Bay, Matua and Wither Hills are also all foreign owned.

Foreigners have capital and know the true value of our assets – even if the National Government does not.

New Zealand First will put the national interest first in terms of foreign ownership.

Only purchases that meet strict national interest criteria will be approved.

The other opposition parties have belatedly discovered foreign ownership as an issue of deep concern to New Zealanders.

New Zealand First has consistently alerted New Zealanders to the extent and consequences of foreign ownership of New Zealand land, businesses and housing.

As a first step, in June 2013 we introduced a Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill into Parliament.

Our Bill will ensure that a comprehensive register is collated and maintained of all foreign owned land, and is made available to the general public.

There will be no more reliance on anecdotes and cherry-picked figures. The information will be there for all to see.

The other topic of today is one that matters to all New Zealanders but that is especially relevant to those at or approaching retirement age.

Currently in New Zealand there is a sustained and well-funded campaign to convince you that there is a crisis of “unaffordability” of Superannuation.

There is a concerted effort to undermine public confidence in New Zealand Super.

This campaign is based on half-truths - false information and false projections.

It is led by the financial services industry who have a vested interest in promoting private pensions.

The financial services sector has a very well-funded publicity machine.

And remember that the Financial Services Council is chaired by the infamous Jenny Shipley – who is no friend of senior citizens.

The fact is Super is only 4.1% net of GDP.

New Zealand First says that New Zealand Super is sustainable as long as we have safeguards.

The Super pie is not infinite – it cannot be an open resource for all and sundry to dine on.

We cannot just allow general access to a scheme paid for by New Zealanders for New Zealanders.

One measure to protect your Super is by stopping access by parental reunion migrants who can get 100% of New Zealand Super with only 10 years residence.

There are already over 68,000 such people.

This “free ride” for elderly migrants coming into New Zealand is incredibly generous, and in our view grossly unfair to New Zealanders.

Our policy is to cut back that entitlement to reflect the time elderly migrants have actually been in New Zealand. A fair and reasonable solution.

New Zealand First is the one party that gives an unequivocal – “no if’s or but’s” policy on New Zealand Superannuation. We do not have any fine print or say different things to different audiences.

You should note that National’s commitment to the present New Zealand Super arrangement is qualified by the phrase “as things stand.”

You would be very unwise to put any weight on National’s undertaking in the future.

New Zealand First’s policy is clear and upfront.

We will preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive New Zealand Superannuation as it now is with eligibility at 65 years, and as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme with no means-testing.

In addition New Zealand First has a number of member’s bills that will directly benefit our senior citizens.

Our SuperGold Health Check Bill will strengthen primary healthcare by giving SuperGold cardholders three free doctors’ visits every year.

This member’s bill has been drawn from ballot. The programme only needs to prevent one per cent of seniors from hospitalisation to be fiscally neutral.

That is, our policy will actually save both the government and senior citizens money.

Our Affordable Healthcare Bill will support the sustainability of the public health service by encouraging people to buy and maintain private health insurance.

Our SuperGold Health Insurance Rebate will entitle you to a 25% discount off health insurance premiums.

New Zealand First recognises the valuable contribution senior citizens have made during their life-time and continue to make in the voluntary sector in their retirement.

New Zealand First is the foremost advocate for the elderly in New Zealand.

No other party comes close to ensuring that New Zealand’s senior citizens are treated with respect and dignity, provided with an adequate income, and given opportunities for a full and active life.

We are proud of our record.

Help us to build on it.
ENDS

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