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Rt Hon Winston Peters: Timaru Grey Power Speech

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader

16 July 2014

Timaru Grey Power Speech
Wednesday 16 July, 10.30am
South Canterbury RSA, 21 Wai-iti Rd, Timaru

“Twenty Nine Years – How Little Has Changed”

It is a pleasure to be back in the city of Timaru and to have an opportunity to speak with you.

This city has certain memories because on 15 June 1985 a by-election was held here after the death of the sitting Labour member Sir Basil Arthur. Some of you will remember that campaign in the middle of winter and the result.

What happened on that by-election day was that the people of Timaru spoke and a seat, long held by Labour, was lost.

The reason for the Timaru voters wanting a change still exists today.

Eleven months before the 1985 by-election the third Labour government had come to power.

They threw their manifesto in the rubbish bin and pulled out their secret agenda of Right-wing, free-market economics.

The export provinces of New Zealand were hammered.

Twenty-nine years on you have a city in a province which is the backbone of New Zealand exporting.

But, rather than treasure you and your contribution to our national wealth, the country is being run to suit the big city foreign-owned banks, the paper shufflers and currency speculators at home and abroad.

Timaru is having a brief fillip as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes and Lyttelton port cargo relocation, and a new cement terminal at the cost of cement production ending on the West Coast.

It will not be New Zealand-made cement coming through the port, but foreign-made, and far fewer workers in the cement industry.

Timaru is doing better than most provincial cities but if you look closely at growth here the biggest sector is in social services – education, health, welfare, local and central government and the police and fire services.

This social services sector has average growth of 3.7 per cent per annum each year for the last 11 years.

In brief then, while South Canterbury has sought, through farming and other industries, to be the success it was 40 years ago the rewards are simply not coming back to South Canterbury.

The regions have been neglected under the National Government as it focuses constantly on our biggest city, pouring money and immigrants into Auckland as it bursts at the seams.

There is a huge cost to that and you are already paying it with a bloated exchange rate, the highest since the Labour Party floated the dollar in March 1985, three months before the by-election, and high interest rates, four times that of some of our overseas competitors, in a vain attempt to rein in the Auckland housing inflation bubble.

Within weeks interest rates will go up again.

Do any of you remember the slogan of the National Party in 1985 when economic decimation of the provinces was all around you?

Well that National Party slogan was: A request for you to tell Parliament how you felt.

“Send Them A Message”, cried the National Party, and you sent the Labour Government a real message. Labour lost the seat.

The problem is you sent the message and National promptly forgot it and have done so ever since.

For those who argue otherwise, where is the real growth of production and exports in this once great economic powerhouse?

Twenty-one years of New Zealand First
As we approach this election it is a good time to set out some of the major policies that New Zealand First has stood for.

In two days time we will celebrate New Zealand First’s 21st birthday.

And because we’re in politics for the long haul let’s start by stating some of the fundamental principles we operate by because they have served us well.

New Zealand First is not blinded by ideology – our policies are based on reality.

Unlike other parties we are not beholden, constrained or limited by a whole range of pre-existing positions or serving particular interest groups.

This gives us a unique advantage.

New Zealand First looks at the facts and works for what is in the best interests of ordinary Kiwis and New Zealand as a whole.

We have a comprehensive set of social and economic priorities based on sound principles.

New Zealand First stands for a society based on merit and equal opportunity for all New Zealanders.

Because we take a long term prudent approach to policy we take nothing for granted.

Like New Zealand’s identity or social cohesion.

Given the large scale demographic changes that result from an open door approach to immigration we are mindful of the serious risks.

One of the reasons we favour a strict immigration policy is to ensure that our economic and social cohesion is not undermined or threatened.

New Zealand has been taking in immigrants at an alarming rate – and this has given New Zealand one of the highest population growth rates in the OECD.

New Zealand First’s policy is to apply the brakes - it’s time for a pause and some sanity.

National has flooded New Zealand with immigrants – and that has put enormous pressure on housing, health services, education and employment.

But National and many commentators are determined to pretend otherwise.

Apparently they like the wide variety of restaurants, as though a country can eat its way to wealth.

So New Zealand First wants a drastic reduction in the rate of immigration into New Zealand.

If you agree with us and think there is too much immigration you only have one choice on 20 September.

All the rest keep coughing and changing the subject.

On this issue of who New Zealand needs only one party is serious.

Separatism
Another area where New Zealand First stands alone is on the question of separatism.

Unlike the other parties, we have no truck with separatism, or those parties that have not got the courage to confront it.

We totally oppose the trend to create a ‘parallel state’ for Māori through programmes such as Whānau Ora and divisive legislation covering the seabed and foreshore, or two flags, and calls for a separate legal system based on race.

New Zealand First is colour blind and gender blind.

No other party is.

The mixed economy
As a sound practical party we support a mixed economy.

We never subscribed to Labour’s free-market experiment and we do not subscribe to National’s free market ideology.
We now have private prisons and much elder care is through private businesses. They are now privatising the education sector through charter schools.

And as we all know, the electricity sector is a complete shambles thanks to National’s theory driven changes.

Some will recall when we had an electricity sector that worked for New Zealand. Now it can only generate price hikes and requires total overhaul.

We are going to bring New Zealand’s electricity sector back under New Zealand taxpayers’ control.

Social services
Access to education and health services are fundamental to a decent society.

There can be no real equality of opportunity if there is gross inequality and disparity in these two critical areas.

So we strive for a high quality public education system and high quality public health service.

Pensions
New Zealand First’s policy is to preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive NZ Superannuation (NZS) as it now is, with eligibility at 65 years, as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme, with no means-testing.

The Super scheme that remains, remains because of the work of one political party:

• New Zealand First abolished the iniquitous surtax on Super.
• New Zealand First legislated for Super to be 66 per cent of the net average wage.
• New Zealand First brought in the SuperGold Card for those on Super, with all its benefits, and we’ll do much more, including giving you three free doctor’s visits a year, getting you a 25 per cent health insurance rebate, and negotiating a 10 per cent power discount for you over winter months.

At 4.1 per cent of GDP net of tax, New Zealand Super is affordable and there is no reason why that should change provided some sensible changes are made concerning immigrants and overseas pensions.

But be vigilant, as we are, National’s cronies in the Financial Services sector are intent on undermining New Zealand Super to serve their own agenda. They want control of it.

If you honestly reflect on how other parties tried to harm Super in the last 30 years, and how New Zealand First succeeded in stopping them, then those of you on Super who value a fair go, have only one party to give your party vote to.

Remember National is having a review of aspects of Super, but after the election.

Do you see any red flags here?

Economy
Right now the Government is pretending all is on track with the economy. That is far from the truth.

Despite New Zealand’s terms of trade being at a 40 year high there are still nearly 150,000 unemployed New Zealanders – a figure that exceeds the population of Dunedin. That is an appalling waste of human talent and is not acceptable.

New Zealand First has a clear set of economic priorities.

As a vulnerable trading nation, we must rebuild our economic base to deliver long term prosperity for all New Zealanders.

New Zealand's export growth is sluggish and too reliant on a relatively small group of products.

Dairy and timber account for 40 per cent of New Zealand’s export receipts.

We say manufacturing matters and not just the basic manufacturing of primary produce. A diverse and innovative manufacturing sector is the hallmark of a healthy, resilient economy.

Timaru was once a thriving city filled with promise.

We say Timaru should have a much greater range of capabilities and businesses in the manufacturing sector.

We have policies to actively support, encourage and where appropriate protect this vital sector.

There are too many jobs, skills and wealth creation at stake in building a broadly based manufacturing sector to allow it to wither away.

New Zealand’s international indebtedness is around $150 billion – one of the highest rates, relative to GDP, in the 34 OECD countries.

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

So we need to stabilise our overvalued currency as a matter of urgency.

We have legislation to change the Reserve Bank’s mandate in favour of balanced growth that will encourage exports and support the manufacturing base.

Ladies and gentleman, if the current monetary policy favours the big overseas banks, the financial industry and the currency speculators of metropolitan Auckland then it most definitely does not favour you, Timaru or South Canterbury.

Foreign Ownership
The final topic today concerns foreign ownership. Remember the Crafar farms fiasco? That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Just as National is giving away our citizenship as if it were confetti, they have the same cavalier attitude as to who owns New Zealand land and homes.

Much of our productive asset base, including our prime agricultural land, has gone into foreign ownership.

National is deliberately concealing the facts. They have a Sergeant Schultz like deliberate strategy of ‘know nothing’.

There are no official figures to tell us how much of our land and homes is in foreign ownership.

What we do know is that National has allowed at least a million hectares to go into foreign ownership over just five and a half years in office.

National claims that is insignificant – and the size of Stewart Island. The truth is it is six times the size of Stewart Island.

New Zealand First will put this madness right. We have legislation that will provide, for the first time, an accurate picture of the extent of foreign ownership of New Zealand land and homes.

Why should we allow foreigners to buy land in New Zealand when we cannot buy land in their country?

Meanwhile many New Zealand workers are ending up as cheap labour for overseas investors to exploit. This must stop.

We have KiwiFund, (our policy for a government owned KiwiSaver provider) to encourage savings that will support buying back our assets and investing in our infrastructure.

Conclusion
In 2014, New Zealand First is offering a comprehensive range of social and economic policies to do four things:

Deliver a decent standard of living for all Kiwis.

Stop the selling and squandering of so much that is of value to our country.

Preserving our values and our way of life.

Returning New Zealand to be a world economic and social leader like we, and our country, once were.

This election you have got two votes. Use one of them, your party vote, to buy yourselves some insurance, by party voting New Zealand First.

ENDS

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