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Peters: Christchurch Grey Power Political Panel

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
20 August 2014

Christchurch Grey Power Political Panel
Wednesday 20 August, 1.30pm
Cashmere Club, Colombo Street, Christchurch

Being here in in Christchurch means we must address the latest situation here.

As 3 News pointed out last night, the EQC is a Crown Entity which was by law required to report on its present accounts by end June this year.

They didn’t, and nor was this in yesterday’s Treasury forecast update (PREFU).

Why not?

It is because there is a serious financial gap between the claims on the EQC and what the EQC has to pay them.

It’s reliably estimated that this financial gap is $2 billion.

There are two ways to get past this financial gap.

First: scrimp and delay on payments.

Second: maintain non-transparent levies to EQC.

Seen this way, how can the Government claim to be in surplus?

Three weeks ago 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 they suggest is for the City to sell assets.

In New Zealand First’s view that is a dangerous road, down which the Christchurch City 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.

Christchurch must not be forced to follow the same fate.

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 will 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?

Government shaved half a billion from the Christchurch rebuild in this year’s Budget. 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.

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.

Minister Brownlee was behind the recent rejection of the Christchurch to North Canterbury commuter rail service when funding was available to meet this low-cost project.

Once again the woeful lack of vision totally ignoring the congested roads, the increasing populations north of Christchurch, the pollution reduction, and the jobs a commuter service would create.

The restored rail link would have cost $10 million, in comparison with National’s $12 billion Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme.

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

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.

Within the time of this debate, one should spell out what it is their party stands for in this election.

New Zealand First is committed to policies that protect New Zealand’s future.

New Zealand First is committed to:
1. Protecting our land and houses from foreign ownership.
2. Stopping open door immigration.
3. One law for all New Zealanders.
4. GST off Your Food and Rates.
5. Cleaning up politics.

The present unseemly, sordid, debate on underhand activities has got to stop.

The Prime Minister has got to stop trying to defy gravity.

He can’t say “well if you go and have a look at the book” when he claims to have never read it.

Or “it happened five years ago”.

Try that in a court of law when charges date from the time of first discovery.

National has been caught operating with a bunch of Modern Day Brown Shirt Bullies.

The sooner we get past this shameful episode in New Zealand politics, the sooner we can get back to the campaign and the real issues that New Zealanders are concerned about.

Again, overnight you have heard further attacks on New Zealand Super and its future costs.

However, none of the people leading this attack are prepared to confront costs we should never have when it comes to Super.

Like 68,000 currently on full NZ Super after only ten years in New Zealand.

Or the fact that nearly half of the people that came to this country last year had no skills, or that currently there are over 3,500 applicants for family reunion, where one country has more applicants than the other 194 countries all put together.

If National had of maintained contributions to the ‘Cullen Fund’, which has a world class investment record, then their position would not be so lame.

We all stand before you today on our record, not our promises.

New Zealand First’s record is:
1. Repeal of the grossly unfair Surtax.
2. Legislated for Super to be no less than 66 per cent of the net average wage.
3. Introduced the Super Gold Card and all of its benefits.

We pledge in this campaign, to:
1. Introduce power discounts in winter for Super Gold Card holders.
2. Three free doctor’s visits per year, which is fiscally neutral – that is, it will save, not cost money.
3. Health insurance rebates.
4. A fair go for those caught in the ‘Section 70’ loophole.

And you know that we will do this because we have the unique record of delivering on every promise we have made to your organisation.

New Zealand First is campaigning for common sense in politics.

That’s why we’re asking for you to party vote New Zealand First.

It’s Common Sense.

ENDS


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