President's Speech to the ACT Conference
President's Speech to the ACT Conference
Garry Mallett Saturday, 25 March 2006 Speeches - Other
Garry Mallett's Presidential address to the ACT Annual Conference, 25 March 2006.
Thank you and thank all attendees. I look forward to speaking with a number of your over the next couple of days.
And I must thank all those who voted in the election - whether you voted for me or for John. Taking part in our election is a very important vote of support for our party.
And thank you John. You've been with the party from the start, have held numerous positions (probably more than you care to remember). You have been, and I'm sure will continue to be, a great servant and friend to our party and the principles we espouse.
That it was a very courteous election speaks highly to the civilised nature of both nominees.
I'm also pleased to acknowledge my colleagues on the board particularly those who are leaving. We've been through a rough and tumble period and come out of it still alive and kicking.
And I am absolutely delighted to acknowledge and thank our departing president. Catherine Judd. Catherine has done an outstanding job.
I suggest that there are very few who can present the ACT Values - 'Freedom, Choice and Responsibility' more passionately, more eloquently and quite as regally as Catherine.
Catherine's Presidential addresses have been a highlight of every ACT conference for the past five years. Go well my friend.
And there are two other people I want to acknowledge - our brave and hard-working MPs.
Heather and Rodney have an awesome task ahead of them. Being 2 of 121 MPs would be just too much an ask for most people - but I know that in Heather and Rodney ACT couldn't have more valiant representatives.
And I want to say a few words about Rodney.
If I have to single out any one person, it is Rodney who must feel he's carrying the weight of ACT - if not the country - on his shoulders. He is our leader. He's one of the best protagonists in the Parliament, he is the guardian of the Epsom electorate and he's an enormously energetic worker for ACT and for Freedom - but let's not forget that he's also a dad and a husband and I bet even he gets tired.
Yet despite all that - he never, ever gives up - there must have been times when it was very, very tempting to just pull up the covers and go back to sleep.
But just like the mythical character Atlas, he may misstep, he may stumble, but I know Rodney and he will not shrug. So please let's give him all the support, encouragement and respect he deserves.
Before I start on the substance of my talk - I want to say just how spoilt we've been in the past in the quality of our speakers. Catherine, Richard, Rodney, Sir Roger, Gerry and many, many more have given us rhetoric that soared. I warn you that my rhetoric does not soar - I don't think it crawls along the ground either - I simply hope that mine remains upright and on two feet.
I think it is always important to remind ourselves why we do it. Why do we fight?
All the time people ask me why do you do it? How can you put up with all the rubbish, the time commitment, the meetings?
Well I know for myself nothing crystalises that more than having children.
When I came into ACT I was foot-loose and fancy free - and not infrequently I was told by people, particularly those on the other side - in that annoying and condescending way - "just wait until you have a mortgage and a few more responsibilities, just wait until you have children, wait until you hit reality, then you'll change - then you'll realize."
Well I tell you - I'm there now. I'm in reality, I've got the mortgage and I've got the children - and I'm happy to tell you that those people were absolutely wrong.
Nothing could prove to me, in more concrete terms, the value, worth and potential of an individual life than having three children explode into your existence.
All of a sudden you see, in the most wonderful way, the importance of our values. Indeed the value of our values. And you try to share and teach those values to your children.
You absolutely want them to understand that actions have consequences.
Behave well and good things happen, behave poorly and life gets a little tougher.
You try very, very hard to teach them right from wrong. And, as they acquire that knowledge, bit-by-bit you allow them more freedom.
And going through this process (and I stress I've still a long way to go) you begin to realize that ACT's values of 'Freedom, Choice and Responsibility' reflect a view or a judgment of people and what you expect of them.
Our assessment of people is not arrived at by polling or focus groups. It is arrived at by observation and the study of human nature.
That sets you to thinking. What is it that is different between our view and the expectations of people from the left? And I reckon I've figured it out.
It's our confidence in people. The ACT party views individuals as competent, productive, capable of making their own decisions and able to learn from experience.
In other words capable and worthy of living their lives as they choose.
This is not the case with our mates on the left.
They live in a vastly different world. A world where people are lazy, dishonest, weak, incapable of making their own decisions, incapable of dealing with the consequences and incapable of learning from experience. A very dark view.
And if you look at the policies of our Government you'll see that they make sense if you take that dark view of mankind.
If you believe people are incapable of making their own decisions you'll intrude into the workplace and tell people how they must organize their employment relationships and productive activities.
You'll take money away from parents and tell them where they must send their children to school and you'll be very restrictive in what, and how, they are taught.
You'll interfere in the decisions people make over their health and retirement arrangements - in fact you'll take so much money off them in taxes that they will become utterly reliant on Government to organize, fund and provide those arrangements.
Rather than encourage families to work harder and more productively in order to get ahead - you'll make it easy and encourage them to sign up for welfare. In fact you'll spend millions of dollars taken from those same families to create and run TV ads imploring those families to sign- up for welfare.
You'll question the ability of parents to use appropriate discipline in the up-bringing of their children. Indeed, in an underhanded manner, you'll imply that every parent is potentially a child basher.
Because of the dark view they take of New Zealanders, this Government has done every one of these things I've mentioned.
And, to our credit, ACT has opposed them every step of the way.
And each time they do one of these things they reinforce the dark side.
Every time a child sees mum and dad getting ahead, not by their own efforts, but by signing up for welfare you strengthen that dark side.
Every time parents are unable to send their child to the school that teaches the values and skills that those parents deem best for that child you strengthen the dark side.
What these policies do is under cut the fundamental laws of cause and effect.