Richard Lewis: Speech to Family Party Conference
Family Party Conference
17 May 2008
Nga Tapuwae Community Centre
Buckland Rd, Mangere
Speech to a full house at the Family Party Conference – Mangere
Talofa, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Talofa lava, Bula vinaka, Kia ora and warm Pacific greetings,
On behalf of the Family Party, I sincerely thank each and every one of you for being here today.
I’m the first to admit that there are more appealing things to do on a Saturday morning. I’m also mindful how important ‘time’ is when it comes to things that really matter, such as our families, our children and for many here today, our grandchildren.
But I, like many of you, have come to understand just how much power Government has over our lives through politicians who at the end of the day are ordinary people just like you and I.
Yet while politicians are ordinary people, they possess an ‘extraordinary power.’ That is the power to govern our lives.
So I commend you for being here today. Because that tells me you care. You care about how politicians and parties handle the power we give them. You care about the decisions they make for our families and our communities. You care about the future for our children.
More importantly, you are prepared to use your votes wisely. So that after this year’s Election, we can go to sleep at night knowing our families, our children and our communities are in safe hands.
I want to put it to you this morning, that if the most important thing to you is your family and the wellbeing of your children, then the Family Party has the safest pair of hands on the field.
Of that I am convinced, because the Family Party exists for the express purpose of putting your family first in Parliament.
Can I go a step further and say that there is no more important issue in 2008 then the health and wellbeing of New Zealand families.
FAMILY PARTY VISION
If families are functioning well, the whole of society benefits.
Strong families are the natural antidote for the vast majority of today’s social ills.
Here in South Auckland, crime is the number one issue. As a former South Auckland police sergeant who has dealt with my share of serious crime, I say that crime is NOT first a police issue – it is FIRST a FAMILY issue. Because respect for self, other people and property, doesn’t begin in the community - It begins in the home.
Many people are concerned about our economy and rightly so. They say if we have a healthy economy we can do more for families. But I say if we have healthy families we can do more for our economy.
This is the major point of difference between the Family Party and any other party. Our vision for out country is inextricably linked to our vision for New Zealand families. Strong and prosperous families create a strong and prosperous nation.
Under today’s Labour party, our nation has drifted perilously away from the values upon which we were founded. Values that dare I say, are indeed Christian. The Labour our forefathers supported would not have legalised prostitution or conceived the Civil Union Act, anti-smacking laws or abortions on demand.
Whether that shift has been by intention or by mistake, today it doesn’t matter.
What matters most is that we return to the traditions of family and community, compassion and justice, and a healthy balance of rights and responsibilities.
So in a nutshell, the Family Party is New Zealand’s ‘family values’ party that will strive to put families first.
For the sake of time, I only intend to touch on four policies today.
Our plan is to have a broad policy package for the Election and we are well down the track to achieving that. But for today, we have chosen four specific policies that we believe are timely and good for New Zealand families.
GST OFF BASIC FOOD GROUPS
Here in the heart of Mangere and South Auckland, we know first hand that families are struggling to make ends meet. This financial hardship is being felt across the board.
Taxes, Interest rates and the costs of living have shot up while the take home pay packet has shrunk.
The debate as to why and who is to blame for such hardship is being fought between the two parties most responsible. Whatever political points there are to be won or lost, the losers in real terms are everyday New Zealand families.
I tell you who the losers haven’t been. Those in Government who’ve enjoyed healthy pay rises, staff and resources to burn, a flash new fleet of BMW’s and world trips. No, the Beehive is full of honey.
Unfortunately however, the ‘blame game’ will make no difference on the dinner table, or the power bill, or the mortgage or the cost of running the family car.
Nor will it help children deprived of basic nutritional necessities like milk, fruit and vegetables.
Nor will it help the mum who is forced to ration disposable nappies for her baby.
Nor will it help Nana shivering through a cold winter’s night because she can’t afford the heating.
Nor will it help the first-homebuyer whose mortgage is eating most of their income.
Nor will it help the kids forced to walk to school in the rain because the family car is on empty.
I’ve got a problem with the idea of a family, a solo mum or an elderly widow at the checkout counter, forced to remove items from their shopping trolley because they can no longer afford them. And we are not talking about luxuries here. We are talking about the basics.
It’s not right that in a nation like ours, our own should be doing it so hard.
The Family Party supports meaningful tax cuts, which we believe are long overdue. We favour a lower and flatter tax structure that encourages and rewards hard work.
This Election, both major parties are promising tax cuts. National because they want to, Labour because they have to. The final composition of those tax cuts is yet to be known. And we cannot take it for granted that whatever is promised will be delivered.
You might remember that last Election, Labour promised a tax cut enough to purchase that packet of chewing gum. But chewing gum is not what our children need. They need fruit and vegetables. They need heating at night. They need the family car. They need the security of being raised in their own home. They need parents who are not stressed out because they can’t pay the bills.
I doubt tax cuts of real consequence will be delivered this year. And if they are, you can rest assured that what is given with one hand will be taken from you somehow, somewhere, with the other. This is the nature of our current Government.
But neither can we rule out the Government administering a cash injection into the backside of the New Zealand voter, enough to inoculate us till after Election Day.
Labour is quick to espouse their Working for Families formula as the benchmark of generosity towards families. But I tell you this. Working for Families is the largest welfare trap that has ever been set by a Government for its people.
Why? Because a whole generation of families are building their lives around income that is rightfully theirs, but comes via the hand of the state. This is fundamentally wrong. It sends a message to the next generation that their future livelihood depends on the state.
The Family Party believes that families should be free to build their own economy independent of the state. Our goal must be to see income that rightfully belongs to the earner, channelled directly into the household - independent of, and without strings attached to the state.
However today, I want to deal with the realities facing today’s families.
The Family Party believes that the fairest and most meaningful approach Government could take towards families, and particularly children and our elderly, is to axe GST on some basic living necessities.
To that end, the
Family Party proposes axing GST on:
Basic (primary staple) food groups,
Infant and elderly necessities
And off the excise duty on fuel
Axing GST off rates and off the excise duty on fuel is ‘a must’ because the Family Party believes a tax on top of a tax is fundamentally unfair.
Every single New Zealander will benefit from this policy. Children will benefit. Our elderly will benefit. Middle to low-income earners will benefit and so will beneficiaries. Every single individual who passes through the checkout counter at the local supermarket will benefit.
Now, I am fully aware of the criticisms levelled at this policy by the major parties and others who say it would complicate our tax system.
It is interesting to me then, that Government dumps this idea straight into the too hard basket. Yet on the other hand, they are in the process of introducing a highly complex system of carbon taxes on top of New Zealand families and businesses that will only foster further hardship.
From the Government’s perspective, the other downside to axing 12.5% of basic necessities means it will lose whatever revenue it would have generated from families at the checkout counter. For example, the Government takes $51 million off families through GST on fruit and vegetables.
But does that really compare with the incredible gains that can be made in the overall health of our children, today and in the future, through proper nutrition and ensuring our babies have clean nappies and formula?
Does 12.5% off basic necessities really compare to the prevention of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease that is rife in both our child and adult populations?
Does 12.5% off basic necessities really matter if it means grandparents can keep the heating on through winter months and enjoy a quality of life befitting of our elders and our kaumatua?
Does 12.5% off basic necessities really matter when families thrive because the mortgage payments are met with enough disposable income to save, invest, upgrade or simply, enjoy life?
Of course it doesn’t matter. What matters, is that we put New Zealand families first. And the overall benefits, particularly for our children, simply cannot be measured.
To give you some idea of the cost of poor health in our population, in 2001 the annual cost attributed to obesity alone was $247.1 million. This figure excludes downstream costs of chronic diseases that result from obesity. For example, the annual cost of diabetes alone has been estimated at $280 million. The cost of coronary artery disease in the early 1990s was estimated at $306 - $467 million.
A pro-family Government would view that figure of $51 million not collected on fruit and vegetables as a direct investment into the health and wellbeing of today’s children, who are tomorrow’s adult population. Compare that against the massive current and future financial burden on a health system borne out of malnutrition and I think the prevention benefits are self-evident.
On a final note, why is it that 43,000 New Zealanders head to Australia every year and 1 in 10 are seriously thinking about it? Did you know Australian families don’t pay GST on basic food groups? It was obviously not too complicated for their Government. Or maybe unlike ours, they’ve got their priorities right.
In terms of practical application, GST off rates, household energy and off the excise duty on fuel is readily definable. There would however need to be debate on defining basic food-group criteria that would be GST exempt, such as fruit and vegetables, cheese and milk.
The Family Party would expect the wider community and the appropriate groups such as the Public Health Association to contribute towards this discussion. We also have the benefit of learning from countries like Australia (and others) in developing our own model.
This policy puts families first. It is fair, it is timely and it is right.
CARBON TAX & KYOTO LIABILITY
I would now like to turn your attention towards the pending Emissions Trading Scheme currently advancing through Parliament. This scheme is intended to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions by forcing businesses to pay for every tonne of carbon they emit. It is more severe than any other scheme in the world, including Europe.
As I have already stated, the Family Party favours tax cuts and believes the sooner they come, the better. However, we are greatly concerned that the benefit of any tax cuts will soon be lost through new additional costs being imposed on New Zealand families and businesses based on global warming.
For the record, The Family Party cares deeply about our environment. We are particularly passionate about ensuring that the environment our children stand to inherit is safe, healthy and productive.
But as I’ve said, the Family Party is very concerned at the cost of taxing New Zealand families and businesses through schemes aimed to combat global warming.
I am not saying that climate change is not real or important, but I am saying that New Zealand families and businesses are the ones who will foot the bill. So if we are going to foot the bill, we need to know exactly what it is we are paying for, why we are paying for it, and what we will get for it.
The Government, I believe, has NOT satisfactorily answered these questions.
Firstly, it stands to reason that the climate does change and is changing. Global warming and cooling is a past, present and future reality. The one constant in life is change.
The real issue is whether you and I are responsible for global warming. If so, what if anything, can or should be done about it and whether global warming is in fact detrimental to the human race.
The majority view among climate scientists at this time is that temperatures are increasing, and humans are causing at least part of this rise in temperatures. There are also scientists who disagree.
There is much debate about what we should do about these rising temperatures. Some say we should reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at great expense in the hope of reducing global warming. Others say this is a waste of money, as we cannot hope to stop global warming, and we should instead invest our money elsewhere.
I would like to draw your attention to a weighty recommendation on global warming made to the Secretary General of the United Nations just before Christmas last year. The recommendation was signed by 100 reputable scientists from around the world and was titled, “UN climate conference taking the world in entirely the wrong direction.”
By way of summary, their recommendation stated, “Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems.”
New Zealand has its fair share of real and pressing problems that I believe our Government ought to be more concerned with. But for some reason, global warming is more titillating to their political senses.
I understand that New Zealand is responsible for only 0.2% of global emissions. Which means, in real terms, our part in the overall equation of global warming theory is less than miniscule. Now compare that to a country like the US, which is the largest single emitter of GHG in the world, and yet is NOT Kyoto compliant.
So is it any wonder that an increasing number of New Zealanders, myself included, are becoming very uncomfortable with the idea of cumbersome costs being imposed on New Zealand’s economy in the name of global warming.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t play our part to minimise greenhouse gas emissions in the name of global sustainability. But whatever that contribution is, should be weighed against the real cost and real benefits first to New Zealanders and our economy.
In terms of real cost, the Institute of Economic Research has estimated the carbon-emissions trading scheme will result in extra costs to households of $600 a year by 2012, rising to between $3000 and $5000 a year by 2025 (depending on the international carbon price).
Who in this room can afford to fork out somewhere between $600 and $5000 a year to pay for that?
Moreover, based on the Governments own predictions of $50 per tonne for carbon dioxide, petrol prices will rise by 12.2 cents a litre, and electricity by 20 percent.
Once agriculture is brought into the scheme, farmers will be effectively taxed on the methane produced by their livestock with devastating costs – a 12 percent reduction in the payout for dairy, a 21 percent reduction for beef, a 39 percent reduction for sheep, and a 43 percent reduction for venison. And any increase in the cost to farmers will increase food prices.
It also stands to reason that New Zealand businesses will be significantly disadvantaged against their offshore competitors that are not subject to the same climate compliance policies. Not only that, we will be less competitive within our own country against imported goods produced in places like Asia that don’t have climate compliance obligations.
The inevitable outcome, as the experience of the European Union shows, is that local businesses will either fold up or relocate to non-compliant countries.
Earlier this week the owners of the Tiwai Pt Aluminium smelter said the Government's emissions trading scheme puts the smelter on the path to closure, which would cost thousands of jobs and more than $1 billion a year in exports. They told our MP’s New Zealand would not remain a cost-competitive place to manufacture.
When has any Government disadvantaged its own producers against importers? It’s completely senseless. Our Government must protect the interests of our own businesses first.
There is also the not-so-small matter of New Zealand’s current Kyoto liability that stands at about one billion dollars, probably more.
What would we get for all this expense? Well, according to Greenpeace, no benefit at all. Their latest report states that the government's emissions trading scheme would have no environmental benefit whatsoever.
So I ask you. Are you convinced that trying to stop global warming is the best use of our money? I’m not.
Is this penalty on New Zealand families and businesses fair in the context of New Zealand’s emissions measuring a measly 0.2 percent of global emissions? I don’t think so.
And do the significant costs about to be imposed on New Zealand families and businesses justify the end, whatever that may be? I don’t think so.
So then, the Family Party is calling on the Government to STOP and fully re-evaluate its position before imposing carbon taxes and emission trading borne out of global warming theory.
Until then, the Family Party opposes any form of tax being imposed on New Zealand families or businesses to combat global warming. The Family Party would however support alternative measures to minimise carbon emissions, such as more efficient production methods.
The Family Party also calls for a complete withdrawal from our current costly Kyoto obligations.
The Family Party believes that BEFORE Government makes any further commitments to combat global warming, a Royal Commission of Enquiry should be established to take a fresh look at the evidence on both sides of the debate to determine whether Global Warming theory is in fact real, and if so, what action, if any, would be reasonable to take under New Zealand’s unique circumstances.
We can do our part on the global stage and we should. But in doing so, we must not sacrifice the livelihood and future prosperity of New Zealand families and businesses.
GANGS AND DRUG DEALING
I now want to change the topic completely to an issue that is a very real and pressing problem in our communities.
It is the drug dealing epidemic and the corresponding gang culture in New Zealand.
I want to be clear on this. The Family Party will spare no expense to eradicate the presence and distribution of P and other controlled drugs in our communities.
The victims of drug abuse are not only our most vulnerable, innocent and young. They are also the privileged and educated. P is no respecter of persons or social status.
It will devour whoever is foolish or naive enough to indulge in it.
What New Zealanders need to understand is that those responsible for dealing drugs in our communities are very well organised, well structured and from their perspective - here to stay.
In fact, many are so well organised and entrepreneurial you could be forgiven for thinking they are a product of Auckland’s successful business incubator, aptly named the “Icehouse”!
The police call it “organised crime”. The community call them “gangs.”
There’s no question that gangs offer their members a sense of identity, belonging and purpose. These are basic intrinsic needs that for many gang members were desperately sought but rarely met in the family home. And so the gang culture is oftentimes, the next best thing.
This is why the Family Party stands first for policies that will strengthen the core family-unit to meet the inherent needs of every child. The benefits of strong, enduring, functional families cannot be underestimated and are something of an insurance policy against children seeking kinship through the gang culture.
When these intrinsic needs are found within a ‘gang’ context, it is a powerful enduring dynamic that is very difficult to break.
This is evidenced through the generational continuance of gangs in New Zealand and the emergence of new ones that have outlasted Governments, Police Commissioners and their strategies.
For as much attention Government and the Police have given to gangs, they remain strong, well organised, and ever present in our communities, whether we see them or not.
If we are to effectively address the issue of gangs in New Zealand, I believe the populist method of talking tough and directly targeting gangs will only strengthen their resolve and increase gang appeal.
We must remember that these individuals are more often than not, the victims of abuse, severe in many cases, and have had to master the art of self-preservation. So the idea of being targeted not just as individuals but as a corporate band of brothers will only validate and strengthen their resolve through a strong sense of corporate victimisation.
So any Government or law enforcement agency that thinks it can break gangs down by confronting them directly is on a hiding to nothing.
Banning gang patches and colours from being worn in public might help the community feel safer. But it won’t make an iota of difference in the war on gangs.
No, if we want to bring the gang culture down in our country, the Family Party proposes a broad three-fold approach.
1. The first is in depriving gangs of as many future ‘prospects’ as possible by building strong functional families through family-friendly policies. This approach minimises the likelihood of young people seeking out gangs to meet basic needs not being met in the home, such as identity, self-worth, belonging and purpose.
2. The second is in targeting NOT the gangs, but the business that effectively binds gangs and their members together. And that is the business of drug dealing.
South Auckland’s Killer Beez were merely a front for a drug-dealing arm of a larger, more organised and disciplined established gang. Their anti-social antics may have been attractive to young wannabe gangsters, but such bravado will not have found favour with the hand that feeds them because they have been exposed for what they really are, which is drug dealers.
By targeting the activity of drug dealing, we expose their soft underbelly – their lifeline and source of existence. Drug dealing needs to be targeted at street level and up through the layers of organised crime hierarchy.
Therefore, the Family Party will give priority to channelling additional staff and resources towards police drug squads. Priority must also be given towards intelligence gathering and inter-agency cooperation. The Family Party would support increased powers of surveillance, search and seizure where drug dealing is believed to be occurring.
Police need to be able to fund informants and offer meaningful incentives for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of drug dealers at every level, thus creating insecurity within the organised crime community.
To that end, The Family Party will look at ways to attract former Detectives and senior investigators back into the ranks to fight this war against drugs. They will be experienced in the field of organised crime, seeking out and handling informants and following investigations through to a positive end.
Consideration will also be given to undercover operations that have proven to be invaluable in the fight against organised crime. However, the Family Party is also very aware of the inherent risks and dangers posed to undercover operatives and desires far greater on-going support for agents after termination of assignments.
3. The third approach is in a justice system that measures out sentences appropriate to the heinous crime of drug dealing and possession for supply. The message that needs to go out to every drug dealer in our country is that New Zealand no longer tolerates drug dealing in our communities. We will defend our families and our children at all costs.
The penalty for dealing Class A controlled drugs is life imprisonment. The Family Party believes that life, in this case, should be LIFE.
The Family Party would support investment into a
streamlined judicial process (Court system) to deal
specifically with drug trials through to completion, which
is the current bottleneck in the system.
Eradicating drugs and drug dealers from our communities puts families and children first.
REPEAL PROSTITUTION LAW REFORM ACT
Drug abuse and organised crime invariably go hand in hand with one other community vice, which is prostitution.
This leads to the final policy I will touch on today.
The Family Party proposes a total repeal of the Prostitution Law Reform Act that was passed into law by a single vote.
In South Auckland, we have seen firsthand the damaging effects of this law. Earlier this year teenage girls were caught in a South Auckland underage prostitution operation. These girls were being pimped out by gang members who offered them accommodation and drugs in return for sex.
The two-week operation saw 25 arrests on charges including engaging in sexual activity with teenage girls. It also saw 16 young people, including a 15-year-old boy and girls as young as 13 - being removed from the streets.
The officer in charge said that police had known anecdotally that underage prostitution was alive and well through some historic sexual abuse investigations. One of those cases involved the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old prostitute.
I detest the fact that Government has validated prostitution through law and sent a message to young people that prostitution is a valid lifestyle choice.
The question we must all ask ourselves is whether prostitution is a choice we want made available to our sons and daughters – grandsons and granddaughters. Any parent in their right mind would say no. So why then has the Labour-led Government sought to normalise prostitution through law?
This law was is for families and children. It hurts our communities.
This law must be changed.
By repealing the Prostitution Law Reform Act, we achieve three main objectives:
1. We send a clear message to children and young people in our communities that prostitution is incredibly damaging and therefore, not supported through law.
2. We restore order and peace to public places that have become hotspots for street prostitution. This not only applies to the activity of prostitution, but the associated crimes of drug use, drug dealing, and violence and disorderly behaviour that occurs in and around brothels and street prostitution.
3. We take away the cover of organised crime that thrives behind brothels and pimping.
Repealing the Prostitution Law Reform Act puts families and children first.
VOTING THIS ELECTION
In concluding, I want to tell you HOW you can help the Family Party get into Parliament.
Did you know right here in Mangere, this Election, you can have two MP’s in Parliament?
That’s right, if you vote wisely, you can have two local MP’s. Two is better than one! Who doesn’t want double for their money?
Labour’s man, Mr Sio ranks highly on his Party List so he doesn’t need your vote. In fact, he’s in Parliament right now and he didn’t need your vote to get there. In other words, a vote for Mr Sio is a wasted vote.
But if you are smart, you will vote for Galumalemana Jerry FILIPAINA to get yourself a second MP in Parliament. That’s right; you will have two MP’s at your beck and call day and night right here in Mangere.
Now Jerry isn’t the kind of bloke who will blow his own trumpet. So I’ll do that for him. The great thing about Galumalemana Jerry FILIPAINA is that he was raised in Mangere. He went to school in Mangere. He played rugby league in Mangere. He lives in Mangere. Jerry is a good man. He is an honest man and he has a big heart for his people.
So it makes complete sense that you would VOTE for your local man Jerry FILIPAINA as your local MP. Leave the bloke from Otara to ride in on Labour’s list.
In fact, if Mr Sio really cared about Mangere, he would also want the families of Mangere to have two local MP’s. It would be a selfish man who hogged both votes for himself - thus denying the people of Mangere two MP’s.
So then, if Mr Sio is not a selfish individual, and if he cares about Mangere (and I’m sure he does), he would also vote for Jerry FILIPAINA. And Mangere gets two local MP’s for the price of one. That ladies and gentlemen, is there for the taking for the people of Mangere at this Election.
So make it work for you Mangere. Make it work. Paul Adams and I will be taking the same message to our electorates, Paul in East Coast and myself in Manukau.
And for every PARTY VOTE you give to the Family Party, well that is extra Family Party MP’s in Parliament standing up for your family. Why? Because winning a seat effectively removes the 5-percept threshold.
That’s how you can get the Family Party into Parliament.
There’s no question: the Family Party is the genuine contender against Labour in Mangere and South Auckland this election. We are the only alternative for those who want to see traditional family values reinstated in Parliament.
We will stand a strong Party List and there is every possibility of standing candidates in other electorates too.
But for now – I sincerely ask you to get behind the Family Party and our candidates.
And can I leave you with this thought. Remember that this election your children can’t vote - but they will have to live with yours. So please put them first and vote THE FAMILY PARTY.
Thank you and God bless.