Young Nationals - Aussie Young Liberal Convention
Young Nationals At Federal Young Liberal Convention 2000
New Zealand Young Nationals
Youth Vice President – New Zealand National Party
New Zealand Chair – Young Nationals
Divisional Chair – Wellington Division
Member Young Nationals Executive
Deputy Divisional Chair – Wellington Division
Whanganui Branch Chair
Federal Young Liberal Convention 2000
Gold Coast International Hotel
Thursday 6 January 2000
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Mr. Chairman, Conference Delegates, Ladies and Gentleman.
It is a great honour to address this conference on behalf of the New Zealand National Party and New Zealand Young Nationals.
Please allow me to introduce two other delegates who are here from the Young Nationals – Scott Higham, Wellington Divisional Chair and Member of the New Zealand Young Nationals Executive and Carl Bates, Wellington Division Deputy Chair and Whanganui Branch Chair.
Scott and Carl will briefly give you an introduction to Young Nationals, and then I will talk about the New Zealand political experience over Election Year 1999.
Our organisation (Scott Higham)
The National Party has had a youth section since 1938. We are affectionately known as the “Young Nats”.
As a youth political organisation, Young Nationals is the largest of its kind in New Zealand – and always has been. Other parties have tried to set up something similar – but never have enjoyed the lasting presence we have.
Young Nats have been a strong lobby group inside the National Party. Often the more open minded and liberal views of the Young Nationals have been at odds with those of the Senior Party, which as you can imagine leads to interesting debates for everyone. I am proud to say that policy-wise, much of what Young Nationals were saying 10-15 years ago is now National Party policy, or was Government policy during the past 9 years when we held office. Its often remarked that our organisation is at least 5 years ahead of the party in terms of its thinking. And that’s something we are very proud of, and a responsibility we do not take lightly.
Young Nationals is a diverse and open organisation, much like the senior party. Our membership spans the country in branches and electorates. Each division has its own unique flavour, and collectively we are a much-rivalled force in New Zealand youth politics.
As a Young National member anyone can help contribute to the policy development process in the National Party. We actively lobby and cajole the party on issues that are relevant to New Zealanders and in particular young people. We have been active on issues such as Voluntary Student Association Membership, the environment, and liquor laws. The Young Nationals have often led the movement in party opinion in areas such as the Nuclear Free debate in NZ and economic reform.
At a National level the Young Nationals Executive has lead debate on the issues as well as provide the leadership and direction for the Divisional and branch structure, which Carl will briefly discuss for you.
Young Nationals and the Senior Party (Carl Bates)
Young Nationals also helps open a wide range of political careers. Of the current shadow cabinet, around half began their political careers in the Young Nationals.
Other former Young Nationals are high-ranking party officials and parliamentary employees.
During last years election campaign Young Nationals were heavily involved in all levels, from handing out leaflets on the streets, to telephone polling, to high-level vote strategy and financial assistance to our local candidates - and it was often said by members of the senior party that never before had they seen such a high level of campaigning by Young Nationals.
The fact that our party is now supported more by young people than ever before is testimony to this. Exit polling from the election showed that National drew its support from a wide base, especially, young working age New Zealanders.
The New Zealand Political Experience in 1999 (Daniel Gordon)
Let me move on now to some of the events of this last year, and how things shaped up from a National Party point of view.
On the 27th of November 1999, New Zealanders voted for a change in government.
In the 120-seat MMP parliament the result left National with 39 seats, the ACT party 9, and United 1. The centre-right held its vote relatively steadily.
On the Left, Labour have 49 seats, and the Alliance have 10. A break-away party, left of the Alliance – the Greens – have 7 seats. This gives the Labour-Alliance coalition a minority of 59 seats, but the Greens have indicated they will support the Government on confidence and supply votes.
Somewhere in the centre – or so he claims - is Winston Peters and his New Zealand First Party with 5 MPs. Winston has also indicated that he and his MPs will support Labour on issues of confidence and supply.
National had been in power for nine years and the left campaigned strongly on the notion “Its time for a Change”.
After you have been in Government for a prolonged period of time it is hard to sell to your constituency benefits of your policies that they now take for granted. We also had a media intent on installing a new government.
This is a message that you Liberals need to think carefully about as you approach your next election. The incumbent cannot necessarily set the agenda -- events can take over, and the time for a change mentality does not take long to set in. And the whining 'its all your fault' left wing are very good at capturing that middle 20% of voters who don't really have a great preference either way.
However, it is my view that our new left leaning Government is not going to be the most stable. They are reliant on the Greens for confidence and supply, and are a minority coalition without them.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The Green MPs are a diverse bunch -- they include veteran protestor Sue Bradford, who had to have her Parliamentary trespass order revoked once it became obvious she was going to be an MP -- a rastafarian dope-smoking justice spokesperson who thinks he is Gandhi.
So far the Greens have provided much entertainment. They have spoken out on everything. They don't like motorways, genetically modified food, or firewood.
So, yes, parliament is proving to be an interesting place. And its only been sitting for a week.
But let me just outline to you what it is that National has to worry about with a left leaning coalition that relies on a man who thinks he is Gandhi.
It is no secret that National has left the country in a very good shape. Lets see what we have done.
The Employment Contracts Act – This was passed by National in 1991 and has led to better workplace relations between employers and employees in New Zealand. It also gave New Zealand workers the choice to stay with a Union or opt for an individual contract with their employer. 75% of New Zealanders favoured the latter.
Just weeks into a left wing coalition and we have already seen pickets at one of the nations major ports, with union threats it could go nation-wide. It is important to note that Government MPs, even the Deputy PM supported the picket.
Why? Whether it was the pies or the showers that were too cold nobody knows, but yes the nation’s wharfies are at it again. And there is more of this to come I am afraid, with Labour promising to repeal the Employment Contracts Act and give more power to the unions, all because in their philosophical view Nationals legislation is evil and bad.
After all this evil legislation has only created 700 new jobs a week - and meant we have consistently had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the OECD.
National lowered taxes to real working New Zealanders. Labour have already raised the top tax rate to near 40%, which will no doubt see capital investment flee out of New Zealand before too long.
National also eliminated tariffs on vehicles and set a target of 2006 to remove all remaining tariffs. This gave consumers from all walks of life access to cheaper goods.
At the same time we also increased social spending. We reduced dependency on the state and saw unemployment reduced to 6.5% - consistently lower than the unemployment rate in Australia
In our time in Government we created on average 700 new jobs per week. Labour on the other hand lost 500 jobs a week in their last term. Although I don't think it will be quite so bad this time, as there are plenty of jobs in the promised 'Peoples Bank'. The Peoples Bank will have no bank fees, friendly staff, no queues and you will be able to talk to a real teller. Young Nationals are looking forward to the Peoples Bank, and we will be opening up an account as soon as we can.
And Carl here is going to pay no interest on his student loan when he goes to university this year. So we figure that Carl’s free loan, and no Bank fees at the Peoples Bank, we can invest more of Young Nationals money on the sharemarket.
Anyway, we also opened the accident compensation system, formerly a government run monopoly, to the private sector for competition. This has led to millions of dollars of savings in terms of compliance costs to businesses. Labour have just introduced legislation to restore the state-run monopoly. So not only will there be a Peoples Bank, Peoples Airport, and Peoples TV station, but also a Peoples Insurance Company.
Too bad that the New Zealand insurance industry has embraced this new found competition and delivered lower workplace accident insurance costs to businesses, no no Helen knows best - we will have a state run insurance company.
Our Party also took the bold step of finally settling Treaty grievances with Maori in New Zealand. This was not a popular choice but done because it was the right choice. It was not just about settling a grievance with cash – but for the Crown to acknowledge a wrongdoing - make a formal apology - and for both peoples in New Zealand to move on. I think to a large part this has been achieved – it is not perfect – but then we haven’t finished the task.
There is an unfair perception that New Zealand is tied up in political games. In fact, New Zealand is at a considerable legislative advantage to Australia. Our one chamber parliamentary system means that once a government is established we can move quickly. In Australia, the nature of seat allocation in the Senate and the Federal system appears to act as a considerable brake on the reform process. Now of course depending on which side of the political fence you sit on, this can be both a virtue and a vice.
A left leaning government that’s fond of Peoples Banks, Peoples TV stations, and Peoples Insurance Companies can do all of this and more. But it can also be undone very quickly should it all turn disastrous.
I note that the Australian government has recently experienced difficulty in passing the GST through the Senate. A problem such as this, in New Zealand would have been sorted out further back in the policy development process.
On the subject of GST I thought I would make a few comments given it is topical in this country at the moment.
New Zealand passed GST legislation to the surprise of all New Zealanders in 1986 in a package of reforms. This particular piece of legislation was passed and was up to that point unannounced and unexpected – I guess this can happen only when you have a single chamber and you don’t have the scrutiny of an upper house.
The reaction of the business community was not extreme and neither was the publics. The original rate was set at 10% and later raised to 12.5%. The acceptance of GST was I guess because it was regarded as fair and across the board.
To reflect on your GST. As it stands – with all the exceptions to where it will and will not apply – I do not think its effect will be as far reaching as it is intended. This will possibly inhibit the changes that your Government want to see happen to the tax law. The other thing your legislation will do is make it harder for business and increase compliance costs – something that I understand it was not supposed to do.
In any issue regarding tax – my view is keep it simple – otherwise there will be a backlash.
We have simplified our tax law and lowered the burden of compliance costs to New Zealand businesses.
Most surveys show that New Zealand has a simple tax system that works. And if we were still in government New Zealanders would pay less tax.
I am confident that with a high-taxing, high-spending Labour Green Alliance coalition, taxation is going to become a defining difference between them and us.
We promised continued tax cuts to middle income New Zealanders at this most recent election, and we will do so again. No country in the western world is raising income taxes right now, except us, and it is pleasing that in Australia there are moves to more direct taxes like GST - which National believes is a fairer and more effective taxation system.
I have been impressed at the courage of the Howard Liberal Government as it has developed the GST policy, and wish you all the best with its implementation this year.
2000 in New Zealand
So, what now? What about 2000 in New Zealand?
I would like to invite you all to visit NZ in 2000 - a lot of exciting things are happening - and it would most certainly be to your advantage to visit our wonderful Country at this time. Indeed even Young Nationals are hosting our annual policy conference in March this year.
Young Liberals who have attended in the past have made many new friends, and because everyone knows New Zealanders throw better parties than Australians, have had an excellent time.
Delegates, New Zealand did vote for a change last year. The New Zealand National Party will be back. We have a strong leader in Jenny Shipley who will ensure we are an effective but short term opposition.
Thank-you for the opportunity to address this conference today.
Daniel Gordon Youth Vice President NZ National Party NZ Chair Young Nationals Website: www.youngnats.org.nz