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New Zealand First's Commitment To Christchurch

New Zealand First's Commitment To Christchurch

Rangiora Grey Power Public Meeting

Tuesday 5 August, 1.30pm

Rangiora Baptist Church, 111 East Belt, Rangiora

Being here in Rangiora and the Canterbury region means we should address the latest situation in Christchurch.

Last Friday the Christchurch City Council released the Cameron Report on its future finances.

Unless something is done the City could be facing a deficit of up to $800 million in a few years.

The report looks at options to meet this funding requirement.

One option is for the City to sell assets.

In our view that is a dangerous road, down which the Council should not be forced to go. Selling valuable assets is a very short term solution. Doing so will reduce the City’s future revenue stream.

We all know where asset sales have led to at the central government level.

A massive loss of wealth and annual income to the New Zealand people.

New Zealanders have been the victims of blind ideology where few benefit at the expense of the many. Deal after deal has been done with the Government’s mates at home and abroad.

In short, because this Government believes that taxpayers and ratepayers should not have commercial assets, they are indulging in absurd banality, forcing the Council to sell sound commercial assets like the brand new airport.

New Zealand First will stop this fiasco.

Accordingly, we would support extra Government funding for Christchurch City Council to eliminate the need for it to sell its assets – so it can keep its revenue earning assets for the future good of the city.

An act of God caused their plight. An act of fairness from all of New Zealand can fix it.

Central government can borrow at much cheaper rates to help Christchurch, and so it should.

If Mr Key and Mr English can blow $800 million on South Canterbury Finance to help their mates, then they can do the right thing by Christchurch.

The issue of the financial impact of Christchurch’s rebuild is getting murky.

What is going on?

There is much creative accounting being applied by central government to rebuild estimates and costs in order to claim the small surplus in the last Budget.

Government shaved half a billion from the Christchurch rebuild. At the same time, the Prime Minister was saying that another $5 billion was required in future years.

Now how can those two circumstances be reconciled – a Christchurch budget cut back in 2014/15 when an extra $5 billion is required in the near future.

When questioned at the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, Minister Brownlee finally conceded that the two positions outlined above could not be reconciled (1).

We pledge to continue to get at the truth of what is going on with the rebuild and what the people of Christchurch and the region are actually up against.

Recently, Gerry Brownlee offered his resignation in an attempt to deflect from his irresponsible action at the Christchurch airport, when he evaded security.

But Brownlee should not go because of that, but rather because of a bombastic bumbling performance on the Christchurch rebuild.

Everyone knows the rebuild has been far too slow and the real prospect of momentum has been lost.

Instead of being on the side of the Christchurch victims of the earthquakes, the Government has all too often sided with corporate and insurance company interests.

Now we are starting to learn that much of the rebuild itself is shonky.

Some experts are predicting that New Zealand will be facing another “leaky homes” fiasco as the extent of poor quality building in Christchurch starts to surface.

The Prime Minister should have used Gerry’s airport escapade to replace him with someone competent both on Christchurch, and the transport portfolio (how many Cook Strait ferry disasters do we need to prove that?)

That could have been a gift for the people of Rangiora!

Brownlee was behind the recent rejection of the Christchurch to North Canterbury commuter rail service.

Given that there was funding available to meet this low-cost project, Brownlee demonstrated once again the woeful lack of vision that is a hallmark typical of the National Government.

National, in its folly, totally ignored the congested roads, the increasing populations north of Christchurch, the pollution and the jobs a commuter service would create.

The restored rail link would have cost $10 million. In the scheme of the Christchurch rebuild that is a very modest sum.

In comparison with National’s $12 billion Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme it is a drop in the proverbial bucket.

New Zealand First’s Railways of National Importance (RONI) policy would easily fund this type of project by diverting money from National’s obsession with road building.

New Zealand First is committed to fund the Christchurch to North Canterbury commuter rail service.

After the next election, when we are in a position to do so, New Zealand First will see that the government fully funds the rail link so that ratepayers would not be left with the burden.

It’s a practical common sense approach to fixing a transport problem in the Canterbury region.

The thinking around rejection of the rail project has clearly been influenced by National’s belief that only roads matter.

It is prepared to spend billions on its Roads of National Significance programme especially in Auckland.

Given that rail links already exist from Christchurch to the north, west and south, we should be grabbing the opportunity to transform them into viable commuter corridors.

Last year, the esteemed British publication The Economist said that New Zealand had the most expensive farmland in the world.

The latest disaster is the proposed sale of Lochinver Station, and the Prime Minister and his Ministers have been caught out, fobbing off yet another sale, as Steven Joyce described it, of a ‘ridiculously small piece of land’.

It’s not. It’s almost 14,000 hectares.

If you saw Mr Joyce on TV3’s The Nation last weekend, then you witnessed a most appalling display of bluff and arrogance.

Now the Government, concerned at the public backlash, says it will crackdown if the pace of farmland sales to foreigners quickens.

The Government does not keep records of land and house sales to foreign buyers.

Worse still, it involves itself in serious deceit.

This is the record of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO):

In 2013 there were 117 OIO decisions. Of these, some of the details were hidden on 40 occasions, pleading confidentiality.

In 2012, there were 113 OIO decisions. On 36 occasions, details were confidential.

In 2011, there were 151 decisions. Confidentiality was used on 34 occasions.

And the OIO refuses to say why these details were confidential.

The OIO has been making a decision on sales to offshore interests every three days over the last three years.

Today, we reveal the sale of another station of 1037 hectares of quality farmland to overseas interests – Wheturau Station at Whatatutu, Gisborne, being sold and before the OIO for $5.5 million.

How do we know it’s being sold to overseas interests?

Because we called up the agents, Bayleys, expressing interest in buying, and were told it’s already been sold offshore.

Seventy per cent of our exotic forests are now in foreign ownership, and today over 70 per cent of our share market is in foreign control, up from only 19 per cent when the Rogernomics madness began 30 years ago.

In this campaign, the Government will use every excuse to avert accusations of their allowing the sell-out of New Zealand.

The truth is that since National came to power over a million hectares, or a land area six times that of Stewart Island, has gone into foreign ownership.

On this issue, they are not to be believed.

In this election, New Zealand has a chance to address a serious malignant development in our society. That is, the growth of poverty.

New Zealand First is going to do something serious about it.

We have the fifth highest food prices in the 34 OECD countries.

For a country that grows so much of its own food, this is just repugnant.

So New Zealand First is going to take GST off Your Food and Rates.

And we can afford the costs because it is not much more than half of National’s income tax cuts, which since 2008 are costing $5 billion annually – so they can hardly claim we are being irresponsible.

When we say GST off food that will be about 95 per cent of the food items you see in a supermarket.

And just a reminder. There are many parties claiming that they will help you.

However, it was New Zealand First that got rid of the Superannuation surtax, restored Super to 66 per cent, bought in the SuperGold Card, and has defended the interests of the young and the old when no other party would.

New Zealand First has a comprehensive range of sensible, practical and affordable policies in all areas – the economy, health, education, immigration, superannuation.

You know what to do in September, because it’s common sense!


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