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Peters: Time to Prepare for the Battle

Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First Leader
June 18, 2014

Upper Hutt Grey Power Public Meeting
Wednesday 18 June, 1.30pm
Hapai Rooms, Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt

Time to Prepare for the Battle

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you in Upper Hutt today.

You may have seen an item in the Dominion Post last week that pointed to the Hutt Valley as tops for ratepayer value.

The article was making the point that the two Hutt Valley Councils compared very favourably when it came to assessing council performance across the country as a whole.

You may have your own opinion on how your rates are being spent but the article was pertinent and timely given all the talk of local body amalgamations - including the proposal to amalgamate the entire Wellington region.

New Zealand First takes the view that any local body amalgamations are a matter for the people concerned to decide – rather than having amalgamations and reorganisation foisted on them. It is called democracy.

Turning to New Zealand as a whole, the time has come to ask the hard questions of this National Government.

National have had nearly six years at the helm.

Sadly on economic matters they have made no progress on reducing our vulnerability or building a more broad-based and robust economy.

So despite having the best terms of trade in 40 years – an incredible once in a generation bonus for any government - what do we see:

• Nearly 150,000 unemployed.

• A large and ongoing balance of payments deficit, short for importing more than we export.

• $150 billion in external debt owed to the rest of the world.

• Nearly half the workforce received no pay increase last year.

When they took office in 2008, government debt was $10 billion – the legacy of previous governments.

Now government debt under National has ballooned to $60 billion!

Six times as much debt in under six years – and some people call that a rock star economy?

They have got to be joking!

What other achievements can National claim?

Well one thing they have done is allowed massive immigration.

They had no plans to manage this influx or the strain it has placed on housing, health care, education, transport and jobs – especially in Auckland, but they allowed massive immigration regardless.

One result of lax and unfocused immigration is that nearly half the influx in 2013 was not of skilled workers – those our economy desperately needed.

What that means is that almost half of those that came to New Zealand did not come to work.

New Zealand First is not anti-immigration but we are seriously anti economic and social stupidity.

We are for a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s economic and social interests.

Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealand pay and conditions.

It should not be used to mask our failure to train, upskill and employ New Zealanders first.

And it should not be used to turn New Zealand into one big retirement home for tens of thousands coming from offshore.

Today New Zealand has over 68,000 superannuitants who came from offshore and qualified for super after 10 years.

They immediately had access to our hospitals and all our other social services built up by the Kiwi taxpayer.

The number aged 50 and over coming to New Zealand has tripled in the last six years – under a National Government.

These figures are worrying. Even pro-immigration academic Paul Spoonley has said they are “a major concern”.

He says we do not need an increase in the number of older people in New Zealand.

He says we need younger immigrants who are skilled and will benefit New Zealand.

We say that New Zealand does not want to be known as a free retirement home.

New Zealand First wants to protect NZ Super for those who have worked and paid their taxes towards it.

We will retain the age at 65 years with no means testing.

We can assure you NZ Super is affordable. It costs 4.1 per cent net of GDP, far less than many other countries

For those of you who receive a pension from overseas we will allow you to keep that pension, to which you have contributed.

Your overseas pension is no business of the New Zealand government.

New Zealand First will protect NZ Super, and clean up the entitlement so that it is fair.

We want NZ Super to be based on the number of years resident in New Zealand. That’s fair.

So, when the haters and merchants of deceit label us racist and say we want to ban immigration you can say they are wrong – we want what is best for New Zealand, and we promise a smart and focused approach to immigration.

Take the housing crisis.

A clever government would have recognised long ago that immigration was pushing up the demand for homes.

National has actually encouraged an out of control housing bubble in Auckland.

In the face of the all the anecdotal evidence they have stubbornly refused to stop house sales to foreigners.

Why anecdotal? Because time after time this Government has refused to gather concrete data or insist that their many officials collect the facts and figures to show who exactly owns what in our country.

When we challenged the Prime Minister in Parliament, in his usual dismissive way he breezily asserted

“There is no housing crisis in Auckland”.

What planet is the Prime Minister on?

For National to simply allow tens of thousands of immigrants at a time of intense housing pressure shows gross irresponsibility.

They have also allowed great swathes of our best agricultural land to pass into foreign ownership.

The Crafar farms saga was just the tip of the iceberg.

Many of our best and most promising businesses have gone to foreign owners.

Is that the road to prosperity? No, it’s the road to pauperism.

Let’s be clear. Foreign investment and foreign ownership are two very different things.

National has run down many public services and functions all in order to claim they have a “Budget 2014 Surplus”.

How have they achieved this cigarette-paper thin surplus? Well, the following should give you some idea:

• Police are underfunded.

• Border protection is reduced.

• Defence is struggling to maintain capability.

• Conservation has been drastically cut despite all the environmental risks and threats we face as a primary producing economy.

• Public broadcasting – Radio New Zealand has not had an increase in funding for six years.

• Child or family poverty is at alarming levels

• Child abuse and domestic violence is being described as “a catalogue of despair”.

On this last issue, surely you have asked “so what was the effect of the anti-smacking legislation”, which so many politicians supported back in 2007.

National can go on fooling themselves that they have turned the New Zealand economy around to a surplus.

But is that surplus real?

That surplus is like a desert mirage – the moment it is closely examined it vanishes.

Just one more example alone proves this and it is from Christchurch.

The government has forecast a surplus of close to half a billion dollars. At the same time it was reducing the current budget for Canterbury earthquake matters by about the same sum.

Then recently the Prime Minister indicated that the government will have to spend a further $5 billion because the Christchurch Rebuild costs would escalate.

So, on the one hand, Canterbury earthquake matters costs for the 2014-15 Budget were written down whilst the same government was forecasting an additional $5 billion for Christchurch over coming years.

Which leads to the conclusion that the almost half billion dollar surplus comes at Christchurch’s expense and is the worst form of creative accounting.

At the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee this morning the Minister for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee was going through all sorts of verbal contortions trying to explain the anomaly.

This example is given because it demonstrates just how fragile and shaky the government’s books are.

In contrast to the record of the government and other political parties New Zealand First will:

• Cut immigration to bring in only those we need.

• Impose strict controls over foreign ownership in the areas of land, housing and strategic business assets.

• Collect comprehensive and reliable information on ownership of land and houses in New Zealand.

• Reform the Reserve Bank and give the country a working monetary policy that will mean we have realistic exchange and interest rates to support manufacturers and exporters.

• Put in place a serious programme to support regional New Zealand instead of the lopsided development where Auckland is the focus of all economic policy, while ignoring the rest of New Zealand.

Ladies and gentlemen, you will hear a number of political parties talking about these sorts of policies in the next three months, however, the real issue is what record do they have of consistently standing for these policies?

New Zealanders are entitled to expect their government to display some basic qualities.

First, they should have a vision of where they are leading the country.

Second, they should set a plan and a strategy of how to get there.

It has been clear for some time that National has neither a vision nor a plan.

They seem, most of the time, just out to enrich their mates and benefactors while the going is good – and to heck with the long term consequences for the country.

The Oravida scandal – the Cabinet Club – Maurice Williamson’s involvement with the police over a wealthy business contact – all revealed the way National plays its political game to advantage those on the inside – the chosen few.

New Zealanders rightly expect their government to show foresight and experience.

But National has shown so little of this in the almost six years they have been in Government.

What they have done is created a patina – a superficial, feel good factor to hide the underlying mess they have created.

The sad truth is that National policies have deeply damaged New Zealand.

They have put the country at serious risk, both economically and socially.

This is a meeting of voters who have an awful lot to lose if New Zealand does not rapidly improve its economic and social performance.

This is a group of voters that the politicians will come for when their failed economic policies are further exposed. Already you have heard countless threats suggesting that the economy can no longer afford New Zealand Super as you know it.

Rather than address their failed policies many are already looking around for scapegoats and New Zealand Super could be an easy target. It’s in your interests to alert your age group of what lies in store.

If you do, then you will have rightly defended a pension that you paid 40 and more years of taxes for.

In this particular sense, your economic future will be determined by the outcome of this election.

So let’s resolve, all of us, to steel ourselves for the battle that lies ahead confident that’s it’s a battle we must, and will, win.


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