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Peters: Political Side Show Sidelining Economic Debate

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
2 September 2014

Blenheim Public Meeting
Tuesday 2 September, 7.30pm

Clubs of Marlborough, 42 Alfred St, Blenheim

Political Side Show Sidelining Serious Economic Debate

New Zealand is in the throes of a campaign like nothing it has ever experienced before.

Sadly the level of acrimony, animosity, and sheer hatred that is building up in the closing weeks does not bode well for this country’s future.

Part of the responsibility for this state of affairs unavoidably lies with the Prime Minister, because it is clear that he has failed to act when all the red flags should have been flying in his office.

It doesn’t matter what side of the political divide you are on because the overwhelming emerging evidence, whilst not conclusive in and of itself, points to something seriously wrong with New Zealand’s recent politics.

Politics has always been a tough, rough business, but the level of underhandedness and character assassination of civil servants and opponents, and even fellow party members and MPs, has no historical precedent.

Some time ago New Zealand First called for a full scale Commission of Inquiry, with the power and personalities to get at the truth.

And so it is difficult to understand why the Prime Minister is pushing for a much lesser, restricted inquiry into one circumstance, when the obvious alternative of a full and proper inquiry would have the benefit of proving his claimed innocence.

A restrictive inquiry would not exonerate the 9th floor of the Beehive in the minds of the public.

We urge him to see the sense in what is being called for here.

Political side show sidelining serious economic debate

The fall out of the serious side show we are witnessing is sidelining serious economic debate.

Whatever ones political persuasion, we surely have to admit that our economy is not doing nearly as well as it used to do, and could do again.

The latest forecasts have exports in decline, interest rates rising, GDP growth falling, all to the extent that a recent group of bank economists in Auckland admitted that rather than being a ‘rock star’ economy (the phrase one of their colleagues used a year ago), New Zealand is quite possibly an economy that is about to hit the rocks.

They warned further that there would be no soft landing.

With an artificially high dollar, a dramatic 40 per cent fall in our dairy returns and a decline in our forestry exports as well, their warning has to be taken seriously.

Remember, these bank economists have been recent cheerleaders, now turning into doomsday merchants.

When bank economists sound the alarm bells, given their propensity to talk up the market, it is surely time to start taking notice.

New Zealand First’s greatest regret in this campaign is the failure of political participants to outline a real, practical strategy to treble our GDP growth, rapidly expand our export growth, whilst shoring up that other export industry, Tourism New Zealand.

Where, for example, is the debate on our seriously inflated dollar, so damaging to exporters and the provinces, as well as the tourism industry?

Fundamentals of New Zealand First’s Economic Plan

1. Changing the Reserve Bank Act, so that our currency advantages exporters and the provinces, and not international interests.
2. Prioritising export growth and New Zealand’s savings.
3. Aligning taxation policy with progressive economic outcomes whilst delivering much greater fairness to all New Zealanders.
a) That does not mean increasing taxation. But rather reducing it in specific areas where we get the economic wealth creation outcome we seek.
b) Growing our wealth so that promises on social policy delivery can be met.
4. Promoting the new IT industries as a growing back up to our added value primary production and export objectives.
5. Regaining control of so much of our economy that has been swept into foreign ownership.

Foreign Ownership

As you know, much of what is owned in the Marlborough region is in foreign hands.

We have a great wine industry, and much of this industry is now in foreign hands.

Much of Marlborough’s forestry is in foreign hands.

Much of our fishing is caught by foreign crews on foreign boats.

So there is a worsening risk of more foreign ownership.

Under the National Government we have seen massive losses of land going into overseas ownership.

The amount is frightening.

The scale of the loss is breath-taking.
One million hectares has gone into full or partial foreign ownership under National – an area six times the size of Stewart Island.

Yet National pretends foreign ownership does not matter.

Steven Joyce said on the Lochinver Station purchase that “it’s a ridiculously small amount of land.”

So for National the 14,000 hectares of the Lochinver Station is trivial.

Really!

What we have is an open door for foreigners to buy our land, houses and businesses with encouragement from Minister’s like Joyce.

But New Zealanders are rightly outraged by National putting the interests of foreigners first, and New Zealanders last.

So in this election campaign New Zealand First is saying to all New Zealanders:

Your country is at risk – don’t lose it!

New Zealand First is the only party with a consistent record and policy on foreign ownership.

We will put the brakes on foreign ownership by imposing strict controls in land, housing and strategic business assets.

We will start collecting comprehensive information on foreign ownership of land and property for the first time in New Zealand, something National has deliberately avoided doing, and even opposing our home and land register proposals.

The Prime Minister said such an idea was silly.

And we will replace that toothless poodle – the fig leaf called the Overseas Investment Commission (OIO) with a new and powerful agency with real power to stop the sell-off.

Only purchases with proven benefit to New Zealand in terms of jobs and real new investment will be allowed to go ahead.

The rubber-stamp is going in the bin!

One of the aspects that the new agency for foreign ownership will consider that is not covered by the OIO is tax.

Currently foreign investors have access to tax advantages that do not apply to New Zealand residents.

This tax advantage is another way foreign owners easily out buy New Zealanders on the same market. We will put an end to the tax advantages foreign buyers enjoy over New Zealand buyers.

And we will start the buy back.

We will use the Cullen Fund and our KiwiFund scheme to buy back what were once our assets.

KiwiFund, our new KiwiSaver option, will be run by a government agency with low fees and a capital return guarantee will invest primarily In New Zealand assets like land as well as infrastructure.

Fishing Policy

Any visitor to Marlborough would know the people here have an enthusiasm for recreational fishing.

Fishing regulations and policy needs to be fair and balanced between recreational and commercial fishing interests.

To be sustainable, wise fishing policy would serve both interests.

Currently it does not.

For example, the Blue Cod fishery is closed from September 1 to December 20, but only to recreational fishers.

And New Zealand First is seriously concerned about the state of the Sound’s scallop fishery.

New Zealand First understands that fishing is a New Zealander’s birth right.

A birth right which we will not sacrifice.

Our fishing policy is fair, balanced, and sustainable for all involved.

That’s why we are on the side of recreational fishing, whilst fully compensating commercial fishing that will have to exit some parts of our coastline.

If you’re a recreational fisher and you are fair minded, you will appreciate that there is a price for sustainable policies.

So fairness to all sides is what New Zealand First stands for.

We will defend you but we won’t send some commercial fishing family onto the dole queue while doing it.

That’s fair.

That’s common sense.

Like all our policies, our approach to ownership is realistic, practical and affordable.

It’s common sense!

ENDS

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