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A Glimpse of Hell - Newman Speech

A Glimpse of Hell

Monday, October 1 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Speeches -- Governance & Constitution

Speech to Upper South ACT Meeting, 6pm Monday, 01 October 2001 Cotswold Hotel, Christchurch

The events of September 11, gave us a glimpse of hell. None of us in our worst nightmares could have imagined the destruction of the World Trade Centre by civilian aircraft used as bombs. We will never forget witnessing the mass murder of more that 6000 innocent people from more than 60 countries.

While the full impacts of the terrorist attacks are yet unknown, we do know that they have severely undermined world economic and investor confidence. They have also shocked us into recognising what we suspected - the Prime Minister's smug isolationist view that New Zealand doesn't have any enemies is misguided.

Terrorism is the enemy of all free democracies. Terrorism is everywhere and nowhere. Terrorists come in any form, their weapons unconventional, from civilian aircraft to chemical and germ warfare, to nuclear bombs in suitcases.

And the question now on everyone's lips, given information from military intelligence that there are terrorist cells around the globe, is just how well prepared New Zealand is to combat terrorism.

I have today asked some parliamentary Questions about the supplies of antidotes to germ and chemical warfare as well as the contingency plans in the event of such attacks. New Zealanders deserve to know what safeguards and precautions are in place. I have also asked, in light of recent events whether the Prime Minister intends to revisit the Government's intention to disband the airstrike capability of the Airforce. There is still time to reverse that decision, but by Christmas it will be all over. At that stage if terrorist hijackers were on a kamikaze mission to a New Zealand target, we would be powerless to protect ourselves. That surely is a vulnerable and dangerous position for any isolated nation.

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In fact, this global war against terrorism, has served as a grim reminder to us all of the folly of not only allowing our armed forces to become run down, but also of having turned our back on ANZUS.

Since national defence is a core function of government, we should demand an appropriate response from our government ' greater investment in a balanced defence force of army, navy and airforce complete with airstrike capability. In addition, we need a commitment to actively rejoin ANZUS ' if they will have us ' and to rebuild relationships with our other western allies.

At times of crises, we all look for leadership. The American people have seen their President promise to take all reasonable steps to find the perpetrators and make them pay. He has modified his hard nosed "dead or alive" response, which threatened a global jihad, to a more courageous reserved approach involving hard-nosed diplomatic coercion, the international freezing of terrorists funds, and cast-iron economic sanctions of countries willingly sheltering terrorists. He has warned that the fight against terrorism will be long and hard.

Other nations rallied to the support of the United States. Nato and the European Union pledged solidarity. All over the globe international gatherings were postponed as world leaders opted to provided national leadership and support America..

Not so for our Prime Minister. She saw the terror unfolding and continued on to her meetings in Europe. She returned home when other leaders cancelled her visits.

In fact all in all the Government's response to the tragedy has been embarrassing: From the lack of leadership by our Prime Minister to the lack of support for President Bush. Proud and courageous New Zealanders are feeling ill at ease; in times of crisis we are a nation that traditionally help. We want to do more. The superb initiatives of caring Kiwis up and down the country who are reaching out to those suffering should make those in power hang their heads in shame.

In fact, that lack of leadership is damaging New Zealand on a daily basis. We are presently lurching from one ideologically-driven initiative to another, without a coherent plan. Like a cork bobbling on the water, we move wherever the Labour Party polls point.

No other socialist governments rule in this way. Most of them have a big picture that drives them. They ultimately want their countries to do better. Our government only had a series of disparate credit care promises and a commitment to buy power. ' 8000,000 beneficiaries and pensioners; 400,000 Maori and Pacific Islanders, and 250,000 students. Their goal is power at all cost, and that is where they differ so much from the ACT party. Because what we have is a plan to lift the country so that every New Zealander can look forward to a free and prosperous future ' like a rising tide, our goal is to lift ALL boats.

The first thing we must do is open our eyes to international best practice. An important lesson that we have all learnt from the events of the last month is that, just because we are small and isolated, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. We are now part of global world and those who dispute that, like the Green parties around the world, are dangerous. So, we must open our eyes and recognise that we are slipping backwards fast. From being on par with Ireland, Singapore, and Australia in 1990, we have been eclipsed. Australia is now 40% ahead.

We all know the result of our demise ' falling living standards, low wages, and more and more talented kiwis leaving our shores. And as the impact of the Governments agenda of higher taxes, a re regulated and strongly unionised workforce, the renationalisation of industries and a widespread increase in regulation hits. The situation can only get worse.

To go forward we need to follow the lead of countries like Ireland who have reduced their tax burdens to create jobs and growth. As an island nation that depends on global trade, we need to defend the free markets, against the onslaught of regulation, for it is competition and choice that drives innovation, quality and service to consumers not regulation. In fact, it has been said that regulation is for today's socialists what public ownership of the means of production and central planning were for them half a century ago.

According to Rupert Murdoch: "No-one talks about nationalising industries anymore. But then no one has to nationalise industries ' because the extraordinary growth of regulation has given effective control of them to the government without its having to assume the hassle of ownership. Socialism has effectively reinvented itself through regulation."

Low taxes drove the strategy used by the Governor of Ontario, Canada, Mike Harris, as he sought to raise living standards in his state. His programme of lowering taxes and reducing the red tape and bureaucracy that overburdened small business created incentives for investment and growth. His welfare reform programme helped thousands of beneficiaries to break out of the dependency trap and get a better life.

The Governor of Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson who is now in charge of social services in President Bush's Cabinet used the same formula ' tax cuts, the slashing of business compliance costs and welfare reform ' to transform a state overburdened with a dependency culture, to one that is so vibrant and successful that it is attracting back home, those who had left.

Welfare reform has to be a key focus for New Zealand as well. We presently have 400,000 adults dependent on welfare, some of whom have been there for over 20 years, with one in three children living in benefit-led families. To do better we need to adapt international best practice ' bring in time limits on welfare and ask all of those people who are able bodied engage in a full time programme of activity which will lead them to a job. Lets support them by including help with child care assistance if they need it, but for the sake of those children and for the future of our country, let's set a goal of breaking the cycle of dependency once and for all.

We must fix education. It is simply not good enough that our education standards have continued to fall. In today's workplace, unskilled labour is almost a thing of the past. We need skilled workers who are able to contribute to lifting the productivity of New Zealand business.

Funding students and giving parents the choice of where they send their children to school will break the state's monopoly in education, driving up standards and excellence. We also need to benchmark our educational institutions at every level, measuring both student and teacher performance, as well as giving institutions the freedom to pay their good teachers better.

We need a national commitment to the rule of law, to the sanctity of contact and to private property rights. The Employment Relations Act which prevents people from entering into a contract to work together, just so long as the don't jobs dry up or the relationship doesn't work out is now a significant barrier to employment. Employers worried about the future are often to afraid to hire. The Act needs to be replaced. The Resource Management Act, which has done more to destroy private property rights and to hold up progress than almost any other piece of legislation needs to be radically reformed. The renationalisation of ACC which saw the widespread demise of private contracts should be returned to a competitive market - back to what it was before the government re-nationalised it, because it was working. The government should approach the Kyoto protocol with extreme caution, in view of the significant erosion of private property rights that will ensue.

And finally, we need a government that will effectively protect us both in our homes and on the street, as well as internationally, with a tough approach to law and order and a strong commitment to defence.

If we adopted ACT's five step plan, as well as ensuring that the growing racial divide is closed through the full fair and final settlement of legitimate Treaty Claims and the repeal of legislation based on race, New Zealand would once again be on a path to freedom and prosperity we could again proudly look forward with pride to being a great place to work and a wonderful country in which to bring up our children.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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