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Peters Speech - Keeping The System Honest

Extracts from a speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting in the Blackball Hilton, Hart Street Blackball. Noon Monday 8th November 1999. Theme : “KEEPING THE SYSTEM HONEST”

There has been a surprisingly hysterical reaction to New Zealand First’s announcement that it will not be part of any coalition after the election but will give supply to the party which wins the most votes.

At our annual convention in July, and in recent statements, we pointed out that we would only go into government with other parties which were prepared to change the flawed economic direction of the country, support MMP and be trustworthy in coalition.

The other political parties have since made it clear that they do not wish to accept any of these conditions and that they do not wish to govern with us.

We accept their decision.

That means that on the day after the election we will give an assurance of supply to ensure that the wheels of government keep turning.

Anything else will have to be debated in Parliament and passed or lost on its merits.

There will be no bribes and no defectors this time. If any political parties seek support by trying to entice any New Zealand First MP to prop them up, the public will be alerted immediately.

Any talk of holding the country to ransom, or forcing another election, through New Zealand First taking such a stand as this, can only be described as political and constitutional drivel.

We are only one grouping in Parliament – the majority of MPs oppose us - so how can we, outside naked bias or ignorance on the part of commentators, be accused of holding the country to ransom?

What is wrong with National and Labour taking their plans to Parliament where they can debate them out in the open for a change, instead of making back room deals.

If National and Labour fear this open form of government that we have outlined, our advice is for them to form a coalition between themselves.

They are after all, the most likely partners in Parliament. They have the same policies, the same track record, and the same corporate backers.

Only by remaining outside Government can we effectively represent the country’s interests and stop New Zealand reverting back to the old two-party system so despised by generations of New Zealanders.

For the past few weeks National and Labour have been doing side deals with all the minor parties in a bid to decide the shape of the new Government before election day.

We have seen this happen in Wellington Central, Tauranga, Coromandel and Ohariu-Belmont.

It means that these old parties have simply refused to accept MMP and are keeping their First Past the Post mentality.

We will prevent Parliament from reverting back to a closed shop run by one political group and we will keep the issues out in the open.

By staying in Opposition we will also prevent any grouping from achieving an outright majority in the House which they could use to betray the country, the way Labour did in 1984 and National in 1990.

Neither National - ACT, nor Labour - Alliance, have revealed their agreed post election agendas.

They have asked for a blank cheque before the election, regardless of which party has the most votes.

New Zealand First will not sign any blank cheque for these political parties. We will simply grant supply to the party with the most votes.

Treasury has warned that tax reductions can only come with reduced social spending - is National discussing this out in the open?

What are Labour and the Alliance going to take as their final positions about tax increases? Are they discussing this out in the open? Would they let us all know please so that we can discuss it?

This idea of having hidden agendas ready to be implemented by the executive branch of government is not acceptable.

It is the right of Parliament to examine issues and to set taxation. Countries have fought civil wars over such important matters.

It is the right of MPs to vote on issues on their merits.

In 1980, the late Sir Robert Muldoon tried to introduce a system, the FISCAL REGULATOR, which would have given the government the right to change tax laws without going to Parliament.

The National Party rejected this because MPs knew that Parliament was the proper decision making forum for this.

It is after all, the highest court in the land, and it should be pointed out that all the other courts have their proceedings open to the public.

The violent reaction to the New Zealand First position means simply that neither National or Labour wants to be kept honest and accountable.

Issues and ideas must be judged on their merits. It is illogical and futile to argue that only the occupants of the Treasury benches have the answers to our country’s pressing problems.

If any minority Government chooses to make any initiative a confidence issue without reaching public agreement with New Zealand First, it will lose that vote.

By taking this position on behalf of New Zealanders, New Zealand First will effectively prevent any new government maintaining the present political culture which has corrupted the public service and destroyed the faith of the people in the democratic system.

We believe that keeping the system honest is more important than seeking power – and judging by the reaction that is the last thing that National and Labour want.

We will become New Zealand’s political caretakers for the next three years, keeping the public informed every step of the way.

Commentators and parties that accuse us of fence sitting are talking constitutional nonsense.

It could only be in New Zealand that such an objection could be raised challenging the right of MPs to cast a vote on the merits of an issue.

The malady of the ignorant is to be ignorant without knowing it.

These people suggest we should make a choice and prop up a coalition government.

We can’t because we simply don’t know what they stand for any more, and what sort of programmes are they planning.

The best idea is for us to examine everything as it comes along and then make a decision. We believe that is how New Zealanders want MMP to work.

Ends

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