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Slater Speech To Wellington Regional Nats Conf.

John Slater Speech To Wellington Regional Nats Conf

9.05am, Sunday 30th April 2000




The New Zealand National Party has come a long way since 1936.

Some things never change

A 1952 remit at dominion conference reads "that we oppose the imposition of import controls or excessive tariffs to protect uneconomic industries in New Zealand" (Waipa)

"that consideration be given to the abolishing of compulsory unionism" (Karori)

"that membership of a union should be the responsibility of the union concerned and not the responsibility of the employer" (Rangitikei)

In 1951 there was a motion "that the Government be requested to take early action to return to private enterprise those sections of the economy that have been nationalised under the Labour Government" (Wellington Central)

At the 1954 conference there was a proposal "that the National Party include in its 1954 policy a declaration that it intends to charge an economic rent for all state houses" (Ponsonby)

But some things do change

A 1952 remit at dominion conference reads "that under no circumstances should New Zealand lose control of her own currency by joining the international monetary fund" (North Dunedin)

In 1953 a remit from Invercargill stated, "that the Minister be asked to take immediate steps to have the quality of coal delivered to households improved."

And on behalf of the junior section of division, St Albans proposed in 1954 "that in the interests of road safety the Government be recommended to legislate to the effect that where there are no footpaths pedestrians be required to walk on the right hand side of the road".

Here's one from 1955 dominion conference. It's a remit from Rotorua. "that the government be asked to consider re-licensing barmaids".

Another remit from 1955 (it must have been a good year) from the South Auckland divisional womens section "that it be a recommendation that the law be amended to prohibit women drinking in hotel bars".

In 1952 Otaki electorate proposed "that flogging be re-instituted as a form of punishment for certain crimes". And Bay of Plenty proposed "that pensioners' money be paid by cheque or into a bank account, thus avoiding queuing up for payment as at present".

These examples from the past, serve to remind us of a very important point.

There is a wide, and ever widening gap between the two largest parties in the Parliament.

Sometimes we forget that we are the second largest party in parliament.

We should remind ourselves of that a little more often.

The New Zealand National Party has developed and progressed and matured through the years, with the country it serves.

We are still looking forward in the search for polices which will enhance the life of New Zealanders, while still encouraging them to be independent and entrepreneurial.

If there is one thing that I would like to convince you of today, it is that the New Zealand National Party must not only remain really strong through the next few years, it must increase in strength.

It is not just a matter of regaining government for the sake of it.

It's not just for the sake of believing that National's always right.

It is a matter of ideological belief.

Oh yes, the Labour Party have always decried us for being ideologically driven, as if it were a bad thing to believe in something.

I've always thought that it was a bit rich coming from them.

Well of course we are ideologically driven.

We have to believe in something if we are to drive anything.

And if ideological means wanting New Zealanders to be independent of government interference, then yes, we're ideological.

If being ideological means that we want business to do well and to make its own decisions, then yes we are ideological.

If being ideological means that we want to lower the taxes of individual New Zealanders, so that they themselves can do best with the money they earn, then yes, we're ideologically driven.

But there's one sure thing about the National Party, it is not being driven by the unions or any other single group.

The Labour/Alliance minority Government has abandoned bulk-funding in schools. Why?

Not because its bulk funding is bad for schools, but because the teachers' unions don't want it.

The government is introducing new labour law. Why?

Not because the Employment Contracts Act wasn't working, but because the unions want to build their strength to control workers and workplaces.

The New Zealand National Party is not owned by anybody except its members and supporters.

You don't need to belong to any special interest group to belong to our party.

The Labour/Alliance minority Government is owned by the unions.

That's why it is imperative that all of us here, put some good old fashioned zeal into the New Zealand of tomorrow.

We have to work hard at convincing the electorate of New Zealand that our party is the one that supports policies that will ultimately benefit all New Zealanders, not just particular interest groups.

The Labour/Alliance minority Government says it knows best what's good for us.

They have made some major decisions without consultation.

They want to tell you which TV programmes to watch.

They want to tell you which advertisements you mustn't watch.

They have denigrated those people who have been traditionally honoured by knighthoods and damehoods and called that tradition "quaint" and "colonial".

Their Employment Relations Act is going to be draconian in the extreme, and they won't even reveal who formulated it.

They have reversed the ACC reforms in the face of major opposition.

Surely, it should be the people of New Zealand telling the Government what they want. Not the other way round.

We must continually be alert to the reality that our opponents will say and do anything if they think there is a vote in it for them.

It's up to each one of us to rebut the accusations and ensure that those arguments do not get a foothold in public opinion.

One of the original objectives adopted by the National Party at its inception was to formulate and carry out policies designed to benefit the community as a whole, irrespective of sectional interests: particularly to bring about co-operation between country and city interests and between employers and employees.

What we have to do over the next year is to consolidate and develop an invincible team.

Some of you might wonder why we have decided to start calling the various sections of the National Party, "regions" instead of "divisions"

It's quite simple.

The word divisions is in itself divisive.

Let's show New Zealand that we have a unity of purpose without factions or divisions.

Regional structures are set up for the purpose of bringing the National team together throughout New Zealand.

We are led by the woman who was New Zealand's first woman Prime Minister.

What an accomplishment that was.

Jenny Shipley is a dynamic leader who exhibits the rare gift of balancing the tough decisions with dignity and grace Jenny Shipley has shown great leadership with her management of the National minority Government.

She has shown great leadership again in guiding the National team in Opposition, and setting the finest example to her colleagues.

She works tirelessly for the National Party, promoting our policies and loyally supporting all of us.

Thank you Jenny, for your leadership and for your example.

Thank you also Burton for your unfailing support.

I want to thank our paid teams who work in those regional offices.

They're dedicated and concerned for the Party and their stewardship to us is admirable.

Over the years, the workings of the regional offices and HQ have been trimmed and streamlined until we have a devoted team, working together to oust this Labour/Alliance minority Government.

It is really encouraging to see the strength of this Party.

I have been heartened to see, that since the election, the Party organisation has remained stalwart and is re-invigorating itself for the very important fight ahead.

It is more important than ever that we in the New Zealand National Party remain strong.

The differences between the Government of the right and the present Government of the left are as obvious as blue from red.

And I hope you won't think it too melodramatic of me, when I say I felt my anger rising as we again remembered last week, those valiant New Zealanders who died on foreign soil, many years ago.

They died, that we would be free to live our lives in a secure peace that is uniquely New Zealand.

I get angry because i know that my grandfather didn't lose the use of a leg at Gallipoli to see the youth of New Zealand burdened with crippling taxes.

He didn't return to New Zealand a cripple to see our security thrown away in the breaking of one contract.

He learned the lesson only too well that soldiers can not attack without adequate air cover.

And he didn't believe that New Zealand would never have an enemy that could invade our shores.

I feel strongly that we should be strong in our defence of this nation and I know there are many of you who would agree with me, that it is important for us to remain strong, so that our security does not become diminished.

The New Zealand National Party is unique in the history of democratic political parties because of its very high voluntary membership.

The National Party historically is the best-organised and most successful broad-based democratic party in the world.

We have maintained this membership for 64 years.

Only last week at the Liberal Party convention in Melbourne, Australian Prime Minister John Howard asked us "do you still have that broad-based membership in NZ?"

There was more than a hint of envy in his question.

It's a proud tradition

We have been able to send parliamentarians to Wellington who have governed for the national interest.

For New Zealand's best interests, and we should take great pride in that.

In the past 50 years, we have been Government for 38 of them.

Our record is certainly something to be proud of.

We will from time to time, lose elections.

These losses will be for varying reasons, and we can at any time point the finger and blame individuals, or policies, or the media, or the organisation.

But let us, instead, this year following a loss at the ballot box, look to the future and move forward and progress into the next election with a new confidence in what we stand for and what we want to achieve for New Zealand.

When you look at the history of this party, make sure that you look at the successes

We can be proud in the knowledge that the National Government left a soundly based economy which was beginning to strengthen after the years of cleaning up the mess of socialism which Helen Clark is so keen to champion.

It's now called social democracy. Whatever that may mean?

Tony Blair's Labour Party says social democracy is lower taxes.

Helen Clark's Labour Party says social democracy puts taxes up.

The Labour Party claims that social democracy is the third way.

Well I say it's the wrong way.

For the past 15 years this country has been moving to an environment of more freedoms, more choices for individuals, more flexibility for workers.

If you haven't ever experienced the controlling fanaticism of the socialists and the unions in the work place, in the schoolyard, in the street, it will come as a shock when those freedoms are lost because of arbitrary government ideology and decisions without consultation.

Ask the people of the West Coast how they feel.

Ask the teachers working in bulk funded schools how they feel.

Ask those workers who have contracted happily with their employers how they feel.

Ask them what the loss of their choices means to them.

This is the Party that values the virtues of individual freedom.

And we have to work harder than ever to convince New Zealanders that the Labour/Alliance minority Government will not be good for New Zealand as a whole.

It's easy to promise the world to every minority interest group when you have a strong economy.

We could have done that too.

But we have to ensure that they don't leave New Zealand in such a mess that we have to make ourselves unpopular again in order to clean up the mess.

Now is not the time for us to take that "lange" cup of tea.

Now is not the time to hole up in our electorates and wait for the next election.

Now is the time for us to work really hard and increase our membership and strengthen our organisation and networks.

Work together with your electorates.

Work together socially and administratively to get the maximum benefit for our Party.

A time in Opposition gives us some breathing space.

It gives us a chance to forge stronger bonds with our parliamentarians and to heighten the profiles of our candidates.

We can catch our breath after the very volatile and onerous responsibilities with which our Government has had to deal over the past nine years.

We can take the time to develop forward-looking policies that will define us as the party of sensible and progressive government for all New Zealanders.

We can allow time to implement systems and structures that will enhance our communication and membership.

We can support our MPs in raising their profiles in their electorates.

We can ensure that we maintain visual presence in our electorates.

Make sure you're visible at the stock sales, the school fairs, the local fundraisers and the sports fields.

You will be surprised to find how interested people are in getting National back into office.

I wouldn't mind a dollar for everyone who has come up to me since the election and said "you guys have got to get back". We've got to get rid of the Labour/Alliance minority Government.

For everyone who says that to you, ask them what they're offering to do to make it happen.

Gather them into our team.

We must be united and we must start telling our neighbours, our friends, the men and women in the street.

It's about time we got passionate.

Be proud of what you believe in.

It is important for a political party to treasure its history.

I'm saying to you National Party friends, really treasure it. In the rugby vernacular - use it or lose it.

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