Grant Tyrrell Speech To Young Nationals Conference
Grant Tyrrell NZ Young Nationals Chair Speech to Young Nationals Conference
21 March 2002
Ambitious for New Zealand
Welcome to Young Nationals Conference 2002 - Ambitious for New Zealand. Today we begin the National Party conference round as we build up to Victory in 2002. Over the next few days we have the opportunity to reflect on how National and Bill English are ambitious for New Zealand. We have the opportunity to listen to, and question a fine line up of speakers - from the figurative new kid on the block John Key, to the wise heads of Jenny Shipley, Ruth Richardson and Roger Kerr. We have the incoming Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Prebble, whom I expect to be greatly entertaining. David Dickens, our own fine MPs, President and Director General round off the list.
We have the opportunity to focus on the campaign. It is no secret that we face a challenge but in no way is it insurmountable. Everyone in this room has a vital part to play in ensuring that a National lead government is back on the Treasury benches and that next year this conference is being held in the Government Caucus rooms.
Finally and most importantly everyone here has an opportunity to have their input into National's policy. Some has been released and much of it is about to be released. I suggest that you challenge the speakers, particularly our MPs over this weekend, it is your conference and in the National Party everybody has the opportunity for a say. I for one am looking forward to the remit discussions.
I referred to the conference theme - Ambitious for New Zealand. I would like to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts on this.
I guess every political party would claim to be ambitious for New Zealand, but National is the only Party that can deliver. Imagine Ms Clark on ambition for this country; "I am ambitious for NZ and have shown this by reducing growth from 4% to 2%, taxing wealth creators, under funding health, bringing the Treaty settlement process to a virtual standstill, selling our airforce and alienating our friends and neighbours - oh and New Zealand has even managed to lose the Rugby World Cup."
Very achievable goals but hardly ambitious.
National is the party of good governance, we listen to the electorate but we are not driven by polls. New Zealand troops are currently fighting in the war against terror, supporting the United States and our friends and allies - an obvious and proper decision. Yet if we cast our minds back to that horrible awakening on Wednesday September 12, we should remember that Helen Clark was continuing a trip to Italy. On her return she urged caution, refused to commit support to the US and had the gall to suggest that the United States should look at its foreign policy. On Sunday evening a poll was conducted, unsurprisingly New Zealanders were overwhelming in their support for the War on Terror. On Monday New Zealand finally joined the coalition.
This is no way to run a country.
National believes in settling historical grievances - Labour continues to subjugate Maori by leaving them in grievance mode, relying on hand-outs, not hand-ups. National has a fine record in settling past injustices and allowing Maori to move on. In the South Island for example Ngai Tahu has settled and is moving on in leaps and bounds - for the betterment of the whole iwi. Labour has done nothing - an Official Information Report shows that the Office of Treaty Settlements was not given enough money to operate - so the negotiations have stopped. It is little wonder that murmurings of discontent are becoming rumblings from all quarters of society.
Under Labour the Treaty process will meander on until such time as racial tensions in this country boil over. National is ambitious for Maori and for New Zealand as a whole, we will settle and we will do it promptly and fairly. To my mind this means that settlements must be completed by 2010. An arbitrary cut-off is not ideal but New Zealand's unique and wonderful culture is simple too important to allow the politics of division.
The New Zealand that we will grow up and work in - the New Zealand our children will grow up and work in - will be defined by the actions of today.
I doubt Labour's bill that will allow rapists out having served just a third of their sentence could be said to be ambitious. National is proposing a sentence where life means life for the very worst offenders in this country.
Auckland has a transport problem - so Labour taxes the regions and then in a fit of guilt spends the money on virtually anything except Auckland roading. National recognises the importance of Auckland to New Zealand and will fix the roading problems - without taxing all and sundry.
In defence Ms Clark is unable to shake off the shackles of her anti-American youth. When National left office New Zealand had a balanced defence force - we now have an armed police force. It is worth remembering that in going into East Timor we used elements of all three services and it was a mission of peacemaking. Anyone who tells you that peacekeeping is the sole role of the military is either deluded or Keith Locke. If the events subsequent to September 11 have shown anything it is that the world is becoming more dangerous, not less and that standing by international friends is more vital than ever.
I have just completed a tour of all major university campuses and I can tell you that defence was a major issue amongst students - second only to the perennial student loans and health.
New Zealand must pull her weight internationally. Contributions of Special Forces and intelligence are an important part of global security but relying on others to protect the freedoms we hold dear is unacceptable. On returning to power National must reinstate a air-strike force, most likely in conjunction with Australia, purchase a third frigate and repair our relations with Australia and the United States. I sometimes wonder if this Labour/Alliance government remembers that the real enemy is not the Whitehouse but the evil people who attack innocent civilian targets, including women and children.
Labour promised that it would reduce student debt when it came to power. In 1999 student unions campaigned on a figure of $3 billion debt. It is now well over $5 billion and is expected to be nearly $6 billion by the end of the year. Access to education is important but we must be certain that we are not educating for the sake of it. Student loans are now available for everything from bartending to latte making, security to science. National must not be afraid to focus on achievers and areas of critical importance. It is no secret that there is a shortage of science and engineering graduates, surely taxpayers money would be better focused on this area than, dare I say it, lawyers and accountants. Certainly a qualified engineer is more likely to contribute to the economy than a tertiary qualified coffee maker!
As Young Nationals we are all ambitious for New Zealand. We are prepared to stand up as Party activists and contribute to a better New Zealand. A New Zealand where crime is not tolerated but racial differences are. A New Zealand where success is rewarded, not taxed. A New Zealand that takes its international obligations seriously rather than free-load and pander to left-wing extremists.
Ladies and gentlemen we live in a great country and I am proud to be in a Party that is ambitious for its future.
Thank you and once again welcome to Conference 2002.