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The Winebox - Who's Responsible? - Peters

(An Address by the Rt Hon Winston Peters MP to a Public Meeting at the Cashmere Club, 88 Hunter Terrace, CHRISTCHURCH)

In 1993 we formed New Zealand First in response to hundreds of thousands of our fellow men and women who had expressed a desire for a new political party that would put the country and its people first, with parliamentary representation committed to electorates and political accountability.

The years of betrayal by the two old parties brought forward the political movement – New Zealand First – where our central belief is endemic in our name.

Our movement was borne of the disillusionment the public had in both of the old parties.

Like us, they had simply had enough.

Many of you will remember those disturbing years when party manifestos meant nothing, with an emerging breed of spin doctors, consultants and shadowy vested interests with the ability and money to capture a party’s soul.

Together National and Labour put the interests of a particular business and political elite before the public interest.

Between them they took the power away from the people and placed it in the hands of the big money men and women who have had far too great a say in the economic and social life of our country for the past fifteen years.

Let us not forget that before they came along New Zealand had a history of great political leadership.

We had leaders like Holyoake and Kirk who were inclusive, democratic and fair. Politicians who, regardless of political affiliation, governed for the many – not just the few.

They were proud to serve us and they made us proud to be New Zealanders.

They were leaders who showed qualities of loyalty, honesty, and honour that exemplified the period in New Zealand Politics in which they served. An era when both of New Zealand’s two old political parties were respected, not only by those they were elected to serve but, also, by each other.

Compare that to the pettiness and one upmanship of today’s Parliament.

Those qualities that we used to respect and admire in both our parties and our leaders are now the source of contempt and abuse – not by the public who yearn for the return of such qualities in their leaders – but by some politicians.

Abroad, the leaders of former iron curtain countries took over half a century to learn that you cannot indefinitely impose your will upon the people, yet Labour and National First Past the Post Governments since 1984 learned little from this.

History, it seems, has taught them nothing.

You all remember the Campaign for Better Government in 1993 – the malignant influence on the body politic established for the sole purpose of sabotaging by any means necessary, the public’s right to make a free choice as to how they elect their politicians.

The Campaign for Better Government was nothing but a tiny elitist group acting as a cover for duplicitous political opponents of electoral reform opposed to change and the preservation of the monopoly of power they and their ilk enjoyed for far too long.

Those politicians in Labour and National and a certain business elite who have shared in the ill-gotten gains First Past the Post delivered them, were determined to poleaxe MMP at any cost, even if it meant both the truth and the public’s right to make a free and informed choice were sacrificed in the process.

Now the same people are campaigning against MMP all over again.

Business Roundtable Member Doug Myers, journalist Graeme Hunt, the Prime Minister and the former National Party President Geoff Thompson have all come out swinging against MMP in recent months.

The two old parties are attempting to corrupt the new MMP system just like they did the old First Past the Post one.

And just in case that didn’t do the trick they’re signing up to a new anti MMP campaign. They may not call it the Campaign for Better Government but it’s all the same – the same people, the same money, the same motives.

What it comes down to is that Labour and National are both against the true sharing of political power. They don’t want you or I to have a say.

They want us gone from New Zealand Politics.

They know that if they get rid of us they will be free to do as they please, never being challenged, never being held accountable. Nothing else stands in their way but you and me.

They are all part of the same political and business clique that has worked together over the last eight and a half years to shut down our fight for accountability on the Winebox.

They have not been successful because of the tenacity and sacrifice of people like my lawyers - but most of all because of average New Zealanders across the country who – financially and personally - supported the public’s right to know – even though many could not afford to do so.

This fight has been so long – and so expensive.

But – as we now know – key elements of the two old parties in Parliament didn’t want an inquiry and had everything at their disposal to stop it, including the support of some elitist members of the business world and significant elements of the media, Parliament’s powers of investigation and disclosure became severely limited.

That is what we have been fighting all these years.

We were up against people who didn’t want an inquiry and were prepared to use everything at their disposal to stop it.

We were up against a Labour Party that was too deeply implicated itself to pursue the truth.

We were up against many in the media who preferred to look the other way instead of working at exposing the truth themselves.

We were up against some elitist members of the business world who had nothing to gain and everything to lose from an inquiry.

To some the odds appeared too great – the struggle futile.

But just who prevented the truth from being told and why?

Let’s take a closer look at those parties whose self interest – individually and collectively – prevented the people from finding out what really happened.

In Opposition in 1989 the National Party said that upon becoming Government they would hold an inquiry into the BNZ. They talked of double dealing, illegal dealing, insider trading and preferential treatment. They said they would cut through the veil of secrecy and hold a full public inquiry. Remember at that time the DFC debacle had seriously impaired our financial reputation in Japan particularly.

But in government, when one member of the National Party Caucus attempted to hold them accountable to that promise they ostracised him and then expelled him.

So much for living in a democracy.

When the National Party called for an inquiry in opposition they were met by jeers from the governing Labour Party. After the Election, both old parties were jeering the same.

And some wonder why the public think the two old parties are identical. Their hypocrisy and double talk is matched only by each other.

But no more.

No longer are significant elements of the establishment going to be allowed to commit the “sin of silence” – in circumstances where silence is acceptance.

Over the last eight and a half years I have frequently been asked – what are my personal and political motives? What do I expect to gain from all of this?

The fact that they need to ask shows how little they understand us -–and the principles we are fighting for.

For the answer is simple.

You cannot put a price on democracy.

It is part of an MP’s responsibilities to keep the system accountable to the people he or she represents. It’s part of an MP’s duties to seek redress when those same people blamelessly lose their total life savings not because of market failure but market deceit.

Leadership is about trust.

The failed leadership of National and Labour over the last 15 years has created a new, undesirable breed of public servant.

But how can we be surprised that too many civil servants and government officials have forgotten the true meaning of public service – when their Ministers and the country’s leadership forgot first.

The Prime Minister and his or her Cabinet are, after all, supposed to be running the show. They are the ones who are meant to be held accountable – in theory anyway. The buck is supposed to stop with them.

They are supposed to be leading by example. Their failure to do so has created the problem and no amount of memos from Simon Upton can fix the problem that he and his Ministerial Colleagues, and their Leader, have created.

There will not be a return to the public service of old – until their bosses – and our leaders - show the principled and accountable leadership of yesteryears.

Labour is just as much to blame.

When that Party’s Leader attempts to disassociate herself from the lies and the deceit of previous Labour Governments in which she was a Minister that is a sign of failed, unethical leadership.

If a Minister does not speak up about what is right and what is wrong – in Caucus, Cabinet or anywhere else – they are not fit to lead the country.

That is the problem the public has with both Labour and National.

You have the hypocrisy and double standards of Labour on the one hand – and on the other you have the unprincipled, undemocratic actions of the Shipley minority government - with one fiasco after the other - the tourism payouts, the resignations of Murray McCully and Ian Revell as Tourism Minister and Junior Whip, the TVNZ Cross fire Interview, the unprincipled comments, the WINZ affair, Incis, the Fire Service – to name but a few.

No wonder the critical issues for this election in 1999 are:
A track record of keeping political promises and
Making MMP work for the people

This election, when you vote, remember you are voting on behalf of and with hundreds of thousands of forgotten New Zealanders throughout the country.

Your fellow countrymen and women will be looking to you to send a message.

That message is about leadership and the kind of leaders and political parties you want governing New Zealand and securing a new, more inclusive and accountable standard of politics than we have seen in recent times.

Had enough? Seen enough? Suffered enough?

Then vote for Leadership You Can Trust

Since the breakup of the Coalition the Government has descended to a tyranny of the few – a non elected dictatorship that eschews all parliamentary checks and balances in favour of elites and lobbyists who worship at the altar of Mammon whilst maintaining a pretense of patriotism and longterm national interest.

You have a chance to change all that on Election Day.

Don’t let that opportunity be lost. Before you vote, examine the status quo. If you want accountability – if you believe it is time for politicians to practice what they preach – to mean what they say and say what they mean – then you will vote for a new standard of leadership and give yourselves, your children and your fellow countrymen and women a more fair and more representative New Zealand.

A more inclusive New Zealand.

This Election take the power off of the politicians and give it back to the people.

Let’s be honest. The present leadership is our collective fault. Improving it is our collective responsibility.

Together we are going to send them a message. That the political soul of New Zealand is ours. It belongs to us and it is not for sale.


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