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Speech: The Lessons of Brexit

Speech by New Zealand First leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters
Public Meeting Tauranga
Matua Hall, Levers Rd,
7pm, 24th June, 2016

“The Lessons of Brexit”

“Wake-Up Call for Democracies Everywhere”

This is a massive wake-up call for the British establishment and the high-placed bureaucracy.

It’s not just a wake up for the UK, or the EU, but to democracies everywhere.

The people who pay the taxes and face some of the greatest competition for jobs, working conditions and a decent economic and social future simply are not going to go on being ignored or treated as invisible.

They are sick and tired of so-called experts fobbing them off with promises and pixie dust.

This was a campaign where the experts employed fear and predictions, most of which related to the wellbeing of the few against the interests of the many.

The Remain campaign had all the money, and the advantage of political and occupational incumbency.

The trigger point which focused so many voters was the effect of mass immigration on their country, and their own economic and social futures.

The irony is that this happened to a population of 64 million bringing in under 250,000 people a year in contrast to New Zealand with a population of 4.6 million bringing in comparatively three times that number, whilst totally ignoring the economic and social consequences.

It was a bad day for Prime Minister Cameron and an even worse day for the UK Labour Party so out of step with UK workers.

I joined the Leave campaign at the Leave campaign’s request and I am delighted the British people exhibited the same character they showed when they confronted Hitler.

And what does this mean for New Zealand politicians?

First, face facts – alert the public to what is happening. Stop pretending that everything in the garden is rosy.

For example, it would do no harm to remind people buying into Auckland’s property bubble that to assume the best case scenario will always continue may not be smart. Internationally, negative rates are a sign of extreme risk aversion by investors.

In his Budget Speech Bill English made no reference to the global debt mountain and the spreading contagion of negative interest rates.

Clearly, he did not want uncomfortable facts to cloud his message of sunny optimism.

Second, take action to buffer the impact of an external crisis on New Zealand.

As a priority the government must stop the blatant boosting of the GDP growth rate by means of massive immigration.

Superficially, the flood of migrants does make New Zealand look good by comparison with other countries. We are in a world of anaemic growth but other countries face the facts. They are not trying to manipulate their growth rate by an open door immigration policy.

New Zealanders are seeing the bills from this influx even if the government is still pretending immigration is pure benefit – some sort of elixir for costless economic growth. The costs of immigration are being paid for in the housing crisis, overloaded infrastructure and health and education services under heavy pressure.

Third, government must recognise that low interest rates are a disincentive to save and an incentive to speculate.

A wise responsible government would be looking for ways to encourage savings and investment from domestic sources rather than continued heavy reliance on Australian owned banks to be borrowing overseas.

Another area needing an urgent rethink is government guarantees on bank deposits (up to a modest level for average savers).

Unlike in most OECD countries, there is no government guarantee on bank deposits in New Zealand – hence all savers are vulnerable to an unexpected “haircut” if government in a crisis decides this is needed to preserve a bank’s liquidity. (This is the NZ Reserve Bank’s Open Bank Resolution policy)

Taking action in the three areas outlined will take fresh thinking and courage. Neither of which are National’s strong suits.

The spread of negative yields on government bonds internationally is a big deal. It is a symptom of deep seated problems in the global economy and financial markets.

External economic conditions must be taken into account in the economic management of the New Zealand economy.

A wise responsible New Zealand government would have used the Budget to tell New Zealanders what is going on.

Instead, our government is recklessly refusing to prepare the country for difficult and dangerous times.

Auckland problems now Tauranga’s

The government’s ill-preparedness has effects right across the country.

Tauranga must be sick of hearing about Auckland’s problems - now becoming Tauranga’s problems.

Auckland has a shortage of 30,000 houses with an extra 13,000 being needed each year.

Last year only 6000 houses were built in Auckland.

Now there is movement out of Auckland, to Tauranga.

In the last quarter of 2015 CoreLogic says 29 per cent of houses sold in Tauranga were to Aucklanders.

Property prices are soaring.

Other people who can no longer afford to live in Auckland are fleeing south looking for hope and opportunity.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett offered families $5000 to get out of Auckland and move somewhere else.

You have people in Tauranga living in cars, tents and garages and shared substandard accommodation.

Rents are going through the roof.

Headlines in recent Bay of Plenty Times read: Tauranga’s homeless problem at crisis point; Rising rents adding to families’ woes.

One of the homeless people was reported saying: “We’re hearing about Auckland, Auckland, Auckland – what about the rest of the country?”

It’s obvious, ladies and gentlemen, the housing mess in Auckland, has spread to Tauranga.

This is what happens when a government opens the doors to mass immigration, ignoring the wider problems this brings.

Unbelievably government says there’s no housing crisis.

This is government by denial.

Remember it’s said New Zealand is not a tax haven for the foreign super wealthy and the money launderers even though experts here and overseas said it was.

In the Budget Mr Key and his government allocated a very modest $100 million for the development of Crown land in Auckland for residential purposes.

Last year a similar provision of $52 million only resulted in a paltry 13 hectares of additional housing land, so this year’s $100 million won’t go far either.

The complete absence of anything at all in the Budget to help young Kiwis into their first homes shows that the government has no real commitment to them.

Instead it will continue to allow uncontrolled immigration to soak up housing, health, infrastructure, education and other services; and it will not even curb the ability of overseas speculators to buy dozens of homes in competition with struggling Kiwis.

Even more serious is the government’s appalling approach to the social housing shortage.

While continuing with the state house sell-off, Minister Paula Bennett has thrown some Budget crumbs at the problem by providing $200 million for “the most pressing housing needs and to meet the rising costs of social housing rents”, caused by the government’s own failure to control house prices.

Other measures include $41 million for emergency housing places in a new “emergency housing Special Needs Grant” (presumably to pay for more motel accommodation for homeless families).

National are playing around with the issue – not tackling it head-on.

New Zealand First is not alone in saying this housing crisis goes hand-in-hand with mass immigration.

The Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association chief executive Kim Campbell linked the housing crisis to immigration.

A former director of the NZ Institute of Economic Research and Bank of New Zealand chairperson for 11 years Kerry McDonald said low value immigration was hurting New Zealand.

He called for a limit on immigration and an increase of costs on Auckland to boost regions and places like Tauranga.

Why are New Zealand First and people like Mr Campbell and Mr McDonald concerned?

Because we now have massive immigration figures, over 125,000 in total and 69,000 net – and all these people need a home.

NZ First housing policy – “Kiwi housing”

So what will New Zealand First do about it?

First of all we would put a lid on immigration as a first step to rebalance demand with supply.

Then we would establish a Housing Commission to manage the housing market.

The commission would develop, with urgency, a long term New Zealand housing strategy.

It would be government funded to establish a commercial entity, Kiwi Housing.

It would acquire land in areas of high demand for residential development and make use of prefabricated homes.

It would augment rather than supplant private housing development.

Kiwi Housing would then sell residential sections and completed homes under long term agreements for sale and purchase to first home buyers with low interest rates, on terms to make home ownership financially possible for the widest range of income groups.

It would also implement a range of options, including shared ownership models, to assist low income people into their own homes.

It would be empowered to purchase land compulsorily where required for immediate housing development.

Local councils would be required to work with it to ensure sufficient land was available without having to abandon urban boundaries.

New Zealand First says territorial councils have a core responsibility for social housing.

The Commission would require them to prepare and implement a social housing plan for their districts which must be consistent with the New Zealand Housing Strategy to ensure an adequate supply of rental housing to meet local demand.

Long term, low cost government loan finance would be available for council elderly persons housing and public rental housing to be administered by local government owned and controlled housing enterprises, operating independently but accountable to the councils.

Housing New Zealand would continue as New Zealand’s primary social housing provider.

In the short term, overseas purchasers, neither permanent residents nor citizens, must be prevented from buying houses in New Zealand.

Any overseas purchaser would have to apply to the Housing Commission for a permit to own a house in New Zealand if a genuine need to do so could be demonstrated.

These are strong policies, ladies and gentlemen, that will attack this housing crisis.

We are not a party that sits idly on the sidelines. New Zealand First would not let the market run rampant; that allows unfettered immigration to destroy what was once the Kiwi dream – owning your own home; and having a job.

Foreign students

In recent days we have heard Immigration New Zealand state a considerable number of Indian students are studying here with false documentation.

Hundreds are at risk of deportation.

New Zealand has been taken for fools by corrupt con artists acting as agents in India.

New Zealand First has long warned this is going on.

But, firstly here are some facts.

In 2015, there were more than 24,000 Indian students enrolled to study in New Zealand, an increase of 50 per cent from the year before (according to Education New Zealand).
Of 105,314 foreign students here 66,702 have work visas and are snapping up low skilled jobs. At the same time we have approximately 70,000 young Kiwis without a job and not in training; with the official unemployment rate at 147,000.
Many foreign students are paying their way with dollars earned here, rather than foreign currency. That is not Export Education.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has warned the government in a briefing paper about the level of unskilled migrants, but the government is ignoring this advice.
Agents in India promote student visas in New Zealand as a pathway to residence.
In its greed, government failed to implement proper systems, standards and regulations. Only government accredited New Zealand agents taking applications and issuing visas should be allowed. This would protect foreign students.
The government says the export education industry is now New Zealand’s second-largest service export earner, generating $3 billion. But at what cost to our economy?

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says the government's target is to increase the value of the industry to $5 billion by 2025.

The government doesn’t care about the illegalities going on.

They don’t care about the fraud, or that students are exploited when they get here, often working for wages as low as $4 an hour.

It’s all about getting as many bums on seats they can for courses that often lead nowhere.

Instead of flogging an industry built on the backs of poor overseas students, the government should start working to get those 70,000 young Kiwis who do not have a job, into employment or training.

Mr Joyce has the brazenness to compare the foreign exploitation education industry to the Colombo Plan (Taranaki Daily News, Feb 24, 2016) which brought 3500 students from under-developed countries to New Zealand for training and education from the 1950s to the 1970s.

This is an example of rewriting history – the Colombo Plan was designed to help students from under-developed countries who then went back to help their home countries.

This government’s exploitative “Export Education” industry is totally different.

It’s all about making money, regardless of the impact it has on sections of our society.

It’s being used to prop up private training establishments profiting from international students.

New Zealand First has given the government countless examples of immigration fraud.

For example, in July 2012 we warned 231 people had falsely obtained New Zealand student visas at the Beijing office.

The government refused to investigate.

Now Immigration NZ is discovering thousands of applications were approved with paperwork falsified by agents.

Many students are mere pawns, as are their families.


This has been a remarkable day in international politics. Billions of people will have observed the outcome of the UK referendum.

The British people defied the experts, the pollsters and nearly every international and local influential opinion. They understood the power of their vote and they went out in huge numbers to use it.

Their message is a very simple one, stop treating citizens with ignore, stop regarding ordinary people as invisible, above all the duty of politicians is to serve the public not hector, lecture and deceive them with outrageous propaganda.

Here in Tauranga tonight New Zealand First, which predicted the British outcome, renews its commitment to put New Zealand First, and New Zealanders first.

That afterall, is democracy in action. In coming months we are going to renew our efforts to remind fellow New Zealanders of just how much economically and socially is at stake if we do not take a new direction.

We’ll be laying out more of our policies over the next few months and we are asking for your help to ensure that the voice of the people is again heard in our country.


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