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"Today The Real Bludgers Are At The Top"




Speech Notes from an Address by the Rt Hon Winston Peters to a Public Meeting at 2:30 pm on Sunday 19th September 1999 at Mount Albert Grammar School, 36 Alberton Avenue, Mount Albert, AUCKLAND.


For many years many middle class New Zealanders blamed those at the bottom of the heap for "bludging" on the rest of society.

The unemployed were attacked for being lazy,
Solo mothers were accused of having babies to get a state wage,
Sickness beneficiaries were told to stop malingering and
Pensioners were told that they were "greedy".

This was a situation in which the focus of accountability was on the most dependent and vulnerable members of our community.

There was a move away from our traditional values of fairness, and lending a helping hand, to blaming the victims for the circumstances they were in.

This is not to say that there were not cases in which the welfare system was exploited but there was machinery in place to prosecute those who abused the system.

We have a system now where the State actually seems to encourage abuse of the system - but those abusing it are at the top - not the bottom.

New Zealand has reached the stage in which a large group of people are feeding like pigs in the State trough, and both Labour and National Governments are to blame.

These parties encourage a system of double standards which is creating deep rooted cynicism and anger among middle class New Zealanders.

Much of New Zealand Society relies on an army of volunteers to carry out a wide range of public services.

These include the tens of thousands of people who spend many hours as members of Schools Boards of Trustees, who deliver meals on wheels, who volunteer at Citizens Advice Bureaus and so on.

In short, there are tens of thousands of New Zealanders performing valuable public services and seeking and receiving little or no reward while the friends of the old political parties get paid a fortune.

These party political hacks have no ethics of public service and can be best described as leeches and parasites.

The Chairman of Canada's Tourism Commission revealed last week that he gets paid a dollar a year for the job.

He was approached by the Prime Minister to head the Commission - which is overseeing a fifty billion dollar industry, and at the same time it was suggested that he didn't need the money - so he got a dollar a year.

The Canadian Prime Minister's Special Policy advisor gets the same money, a dollar a year, and so does the Head of Canada's War Museum.

These people made a conscious decision to return something to the community - their expertise - because they felt it was their duty.

In New Zealand, in contrast, the Government appoints people who believe it is their duty to rip off the taxpayers.

These people are either senior executives of State organisations - or political appointees to the Boards which control them.

We recently had the head of the Lotteries Commission resigning in a huff because someone questioned why he should get, all up, half a million a year for organising a weekly raffle.

24 people in State Owned Television New Zealand are on salaries of more than $200,000. Five of them get more than $400,000.

The head of ACC gets about $460,000, and at the top of the heap an ECNZ employee gets more than $800,000.

The Health Funding Authority - which is supposed to spend its money on public health - has fifty employees earning more than a hundred thousand dollars a year.

Now, there is also an army of board members, consultants, board members, policy advisers, policy analysts, and spin doctors making their fortunes from the public purse.

Some of these people are professional board members of Quango's.

Some work on exorbitant hourly rates that are more than what most people earn in a week.

When we were part of the coalition government, one former Labour cabinet minister's name was, time after time, put forward to us. Time after time we rejected it as any examination of his record as Minister would have demanded such rejection.

His charge out rate was six hundred dollars an hour.

Let me repeat that, a former Labour cabinet minister's services would be charged to the New Zealand taxpayers at the rate of six hundred dollars an hour - that's ten dollars a minute.

If these State funded organisations closed down, these professional State paid bludgers would be destitute - although many have huge golden handshakes written into their contracts.

This Army of mercenaries was created when the Labour Government created the State Sector Act, and shifted Ministerial responsibility to Boards and senior bureaucrats.

The ethic of public service was lost because too many of the public servants, and their political masters, had no ethics.

Decent New Zealanders have had enough of these highly paid parasites and it is time for a political revolution to get rid of them.

New Zealand First will change the Labour Party's State Sector Act of 1988 and restore the spirit of public service to the public service.

And we will stop these fat cat officials, board members and party cronies gorging themselves on the money that should be spent on our sick public health system.

The bureaucrats in the Health Funding Authority's new yuppie offices are sitting on thousand dollar chairs saying no to funding requests that would help save the lives of the nation's children.

South Auckland is a medical time bomb.

It has the highest concentration of urban poor in New Zealand, and Third World health problems.

The health statistics from South Auckland are shocking.

The immunisation rates for Polynesian children is fifty per cent.

That means that there are forty thousand youngsters in that area who have not been given a defense against disease.

There has been a meningitis epidemic in this area for eight years.

The situation is getting worse - with the number of cases increasing. The rates are higher than last year.

A whooping cough epidemic is on the way.

There is tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, and measles. These problems are four times the national average.

The death rate among the Polynesian children there is ten times the rate of European children.

Half the children admitted to Middlemore Hospital don't have an identifiable family doctor, three quarters of the children admitted to the pediatric wards don't have an identifiable doctor.

The number of acute admissions to medical wards is increasing at the rate of nine per cent a year - that is three times higher than the natural population growth. Why is this?

Only half those who qualify seek free health care. Twenty per cent of these people don't even have telephones.

The situation is desperate.

Public health authorities know as much as they will ever need to know now to do something about the health problems of South Auckland.

The time has come to simply do something about it. All it needs for a child to be vaccinated is for a public health nurse to stick a needle in an arm.

All it takes to find out about a child's serious dental problems is for a dental nurse to look inside a child's mouth.

South Auckland needs an immediate public health campaign
mounted, aimed at the "at risk" families.

We have to focus our attention on these families and make sure they get the right care and it should be monitored through a family doctor.

There is already some good work being done by very dedicated and public spirited people in South Auckland.

The trouble is the lack of resources and the refusal of the officials and their political war lords to give the extra funding needed.

When we were in the coalition government we got free medical care for the under sixes and increased the amount of money available for surgery in public hospitals.

We also started Hepatitis screening and were working on diabetes screening as well.

This time we will lift the age of qualification for free medical care and we will extend it to cover an initial check on the entire family - in areas such as South Auckland.

We will work with local community leaders, doctors and health authorities to set up teams to reach out and check every family which is missing out on health care.

We will recruit extra doctors and nurses - perhaps some of those
who want to work off some of their student loans - and place them under the supervision of the experienced local doctors and public health nurses .

We will match them up with social workers and community workers to help bridge the culture gap - because we don't have the time to fully train enough representatives of the different ethnic groups.

We will immediately set up a national immunisation register and start protecting these youngsters from Third World diseases.

This would probably cost about $4.5 million dollars - that is less than ten per cent of the cost of the APEC meeting just last week.

We noticed that the world's leaders were kept out of South Auckland.

Perhaps the local people do not understand the virtues of free trade.

We will also start working on the on the appalling housing and employment problems in parts of Auckland.

We will sack the Health Funding Authority fat cats and their consultant mates who feed of the health system. They have failed the people in many parts of Auckland.

It is time for action. We cannot afford to wait.


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