Richard Lewis Speech To ‘NZ Forum On The Family’
THE FAMILY PARTY
STATEMENT FOR RELEASE
Richard Lewis Speech To ‘NZ Forum On The Family’
8 September 2008
Kia ora ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Family Party, I want to thank you for this opportunity to bring something of our message to you today.
It’s great to see so many people who share our passion. Particularly those grassroots organisations who have dedicated their lives to improving the position of New Zealand families.
By way of background, I’m married to Mandy and we are blessed with two children.
My father is of Ngati Awa and Ngati Kahungunu descent. On that note, I want to acknowledge Dr Pita Sharples from Kahungunu: tena koe.
As a young Maori boy my father was raised on a farm and schooled at Whakarewarewa, near Rotorua. My mother on the other hand was born in London and educated in a British school for girls.
So if I seem a little schizophrenic here today it’s because one half of me wants to read religiously from my notes while the other half would be more comfortable with a guitar and a few yarns.
My career background is primarily in the police where I served over a decade on the frontlines and in the CIB. My final role before leaving the police was as a sergeant in charge of an emergency response group here in South Auckland.
But today I am honoured to serve the Family Party as its leader. And I’m thankful to have this opportunity to share our message with you today.
The Family Party was created primarily for two reasons: To reinstate traditional family values and to put families first again in Parliament.
These statements obviously imply that traditional family values and the institution we call ‘family’ once had a place of respect and position in New Zealand politics, and that this is no longer the case.
I believe that is our current reality: evidenced by the fact that New Zealand’s oldest and largest political party thought it not important enough to attend today’s Forum on the Family.
Yesterday I thought about the policies I should present but realise they will be similar, if not the same, to many of the ideas you will hear from other speakers today. Since it is a family-focused forum.
For example, the Family Party is all for a lower and flatter tax structure that keeps more money in the home.
We support income splitting for married couples. We want to fix the smacking laws, repeal the prostitution act and get more cops on the frontlines. We want to confront the drug dealing epidemic and youth gangs and we’ve got a strategy to do it. We want sentencing to reflect the seriousness of crimes committed. New Zealand’s culture of ‘abortion on demand’ requires urgent attention. The Electoral Finance Act is a shambles and needs to be scrapped.
One of our more adventurous policies is axing GST on basic food-groups and fuel to help families through tough economic times. I see the Maori Party recently adopted this policy. It’s a shame they haven’t adopted our position on the anti-smacking issue too.
We’ve got a wide range of pro-family policies you can view if you feel so inclined on www.familyparty.org.nz
But with my remaining time allotment I want to get to the base-issue and the heart of why New Zealand needs the Family Party beyond 2008.
The single most important issue facing our nation today is ‘family breakdown.’
Family breakdown and more specifically, fatherlessness, is underneath the vast majority of social ills being manifest in our communities today.
Economy, education, health, welfare, justice, law and order, environment, government… all of these begin in the home. The health of our nation in my view, is the sum total of the families in it.
You could say ‘family breakdown’ is to the Family Party… what global-warming-theory is to the Greens.
The difference is, family breakdown’ is categorically man made.
And unlike New Zealand’s miniscule carbon emissions, (relative to population), we are a world-leader when it comes to family breakdown and fatherlessness.
Yet current politicians choose to ignore family breakdown and its roots. Their preference is to spend billions of dollars to achieve a status of ‘world leader’ on global warming. And they want you and I to pay for it.
‘Family breakdown’ on the other hand, is an ever-present reality that has arrived on all of our doorsteps.
Here in South Auckland we’re getting our fair share of attention with all manner of social dysfunctions of the worst kind. Murders, street prostitution, gang violence, poverty, robberies, home invasions, generational dependency. I’m sure you’re familiar with the stories.
As a former police officer who has served this community and seen the worst of it, I came to this realisation. Law and Order is not first a police issue… it is first a family issue. I believe the same applies across the board.
Identifying and acknowledging the problem means we can deal with it.
The good news ladies and gentlemen, is that unlike global warming, restoring strength to New Zealand families doesn’t necessarily have to cost any of us a single cent.
We don’t need any more surveys, studies or reports to tell us what the problems are. Save the money. Give it back in tax cuts or channel it to those on the coalface doing the real work.
Under the current regime we don’t even need a Families Commission to tell us families are important. Save the money. Give it back in tax cuts or channel it to those on the coalface doing the real work.
Nor do we need a Children’s Commission to tell us children are important. Save the money. Give it back in tax cuts or channel it to those on the coalface doing the real work.
Bringing meaningful change simply starts with Government changing its attitude and thinking towards families.
It’s a state of mind that understands if families are functional, healthy and prosperous, our nation will be too.
It’s an ethic that approaches policy on the basis of ‘what’s good for families is good for our country.’ It recognises that parents, not the state, are responsible for raising the next generation.
It recognises that families should be free to build their own economy, independent of, and without strings attached to the state.
It recognises that a wise government would protect and encourage the institution of marriage, which is the tried and proven stable basis for child-raising.
It recognises that the best Families Commission, the best Children’s Commission, indeed, the best form of Government, is actually the ‘family’ itself.
We’re talking about the traditional ‘values system’ that now more than ever, needs to be rekindled in New Zealand’s Parliament. I believe it can be because our forebears laid the foundations with families in mind.
We just have to extract the political deadwood and blow fresh life on the embers.
The alternative is more political correctness that suffocates families and the inherent potential of our children. The alternative means weaker families and bigger government. The alternative is a renegade generation that lacks identity and purpose.
To tackle family breakdown doesn’t have to cost us anything. But not to, will eventually cost us everything.
So again, this year we have a choice.
I want to touch in referendums. I understand the call for them. But they are not the ultimate answer. Referendums are a response to a Government that gets out of sync with the electorate.
How is it that the two major political parties could pass the anti-smacking bill against the overwhelming public majority? The answer ladies and gentlemen, is politics being put ahead of people through politicians who carry a different set of values to that of the electorate.
Doesn’t it make more sense to elect people who carry our values so that political decisions are more likely to harmonise with the people.
I do want to acknowledge the incredibly hard work undertaken by Larry Baldock and his team on the anti smacking petition.
As a side note, the anti-smacking debate continues to be misrepresented by those politicians responsible for pushing it through. Jeanette Fitzsimons said this morning that bashing a child was not a crime until Section 59 was repealed. This is simply not true. I can tell you that I have arrested parents for bashing their children and that happened well before Section 59 was repealed. Section 59 never protected child abusers.
Now touching quickly on our organisation, the Family Party is a Christian political vehicle that has a management board of wonderful people from a wide range of professional backgrounds and churches.
We have already announced a number of fantastic candidates and will be announcing more in the very near future, which is very heartening based on 11 months of building.
Our strategy to win seats in order to remove the 5% threshold is proving fruitful and we are well positioned with the election date announcement due any day now.
The final thought I want to put to you today is this: the thing most political parties have in common is that they pursue a healthy economy with the idea of contributing back to families.
The Family Party takes the opposite approach. We believe by pursuing healthy and prosperous families we’ll achieve much, much more for our nation and our economy.
The Family Party offers you that fresh approach and a dogged determination to stand up against the PC culture: to declare an end to over a decade’s worth of social experimentation on New Zealand families.
To come back to the basics: to reinstate traditional family values and put families first again in Parliament.
That’s exactly what New Zealand needs. And that's why the Family Party is the best choice for voters at this year's General Election.
Thank you for your time and your attention.