Anderton Speech No time is more important than now
Jim Anderton Speech to Thrive Wellington Conference - No time is more important than now
Thank you Paula Gillon for your introduction. Thank you for your welcome. I have stood many times at the shoulder of people in this room.
Many times I have stood alongside of my parliamentary colleague, Matt Robson. I am proud to say I serve along side him still.
Many more people in this room have stood with us over many years along the way.
In all those years…No time is more important than now.
We have never held our vision of New Zealand so close within our reach. Everything we have worked for and everything we have achieved is in balance.
Our challenge is to ensure the work we have done inside the coalition government over the last four years is cemented in. If we can do that, we can shape the new century.
If we can achieve another three years in government we could truly shape the next fifty to a hundred years – just as the first Liberal and Labour governments did last century.
It’s time for some reckoning.
We should first record our successes.
When many of us here left the Labour Party of Prebble and company, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent and on its way to above ten percent.
New Zealand’s assets were being sold to any old bidder, with little or no strategic foresight.
The regions of New Zealand were being abandoned and were in serious decline.
Everyone of us here can take our share of the credit for pushing the pendulum back in favour of reason and compassion.
We didn’t just stop the mindless asset sales.
Where there was market failure we showed our mettle and how practical we are prepared to be.
That is why the coalition government invested in the national airline.
We’ve shown that if the market fails to deliver, we are prepared to invest in railway tracks.
And we have our Kiwi Bank.
Unemployment is at its lowest level at any time since 1987 and the regions of our country are in positive growth mode.
Every region of New Zealand is in positive growth mode.
Delegates, we have made a difference.
We need to be courageous – both in our vision and our acceptance of political and economic reality.
Courageous enough to admit a few things have changed since we started out.
Progressives – with a small p – spent twenty-five years out of government in New Zealand before the end of the century.
When we talk about the future, it has to begin with where we are.
We can’t let ourselves get caught on the thorns of ideology.
In education and health care, we should acknowledge some things that work.
Many of the private training providers, for example, do a good job.
Many small private community health care providers do a good job.
If they do well, we should say so, and thank them.
We can acknowledge the truth and place our focus squarely on our priorities.
We judge every health and education policy by the single test of ‘does it improve access to high quality services for everyone?’
We are against the student loans scheme, for example, because a lifetime of debt makes education less accessible – and more of a disincentive.
We have to be flexible enough to adapt to changing times and still maintain the principles that bind us.
Our reckoning includes the political vehicles we have tried to get started to promote progressive politics.
We have always been progressives.
We have worked with allies where we could find them to best advance the principles we believe in.
If we are honest about the vehicles we tried to get going over time, we have to admit they were never as robust as they needed to be for the tempestuous journey on which we set out.
Our campaigns under First Past the Post – and our campaigns under MMP - were always put together in opposition to what was being done.
First it was Opposition to what was being done by Douglas and Prebble in the name of the Labour Party.
Later it was opposition to the same policies, but by then being implemented by National-led governments in the 1990s.
Opposition is a powerful, emotive motivator of people. But on its own it is purely reactive or reactionary. Opposition alone is not good enough for the people we care about.
Eternal opposition is not enough to sustain a political movement.
Now, at last, we are coming home. Now, at last, we have built a party on positive foundations. Now, at last, we welcome aboard new progressive people, drawn by a positive message.
We are Progressives.
We are members of a party that cares about New Zealanders.
Our top priority is full employment. In shorthand: We are the Jobs Party.
I am proud we have created jobs around New Zealand. In the eighties we were outraged when unemployment reached the levels in the eighties it is actually at today!
We Progressives remain outraged by unemployment. We will be outraged by unemployment until we have jobs for all who seek work.
We work with industry to create jobs.
For Progressives, a just society realises the potential and dignity of every individual.
We can't realise our potential in our society unless we have meaningful jobs for all who can work.
And if we want jobs, we need successful businesses, profitable businesses. So we Progressives are pro-business. The more creative our businesses are, the more jobs there will be.
The more global New Zealand business is in its reach and aspiration, the more sustainable and the more fulfilling will be the jobs they create.
Jobs in flourishing communities nourish our young. Jobs provide the means for our best and brightest to fashion a future here. Jobs empower people.
We embrace our connections to the world, connections that fuel good jobs. We value our artists, our designers, our film-makers, our musicians. Their creativity symbolises our talents. Their creativity tells the story of who we are.
Our unique identity, our unique talents and our creativity are vital to jobs and rising incomes for all New Zealanders.
We are confident in ourselves, so we don’t fear outsiders. We are confident in New Zealanders, so we don’t need to keep everyone else out.
After all, all of us – or our forebears – came to New Zealand from somewhere else. We welcome new New Zealanders. We can learn from others.
We are confident that our talents, our lifestyle and our stories are good enough to not only survive – but to flourish. This is what it means to be confident of ourselves and our nation.
Progressives in government set up a design strategy that will take New Zealand design to the world.
Progressives in government set up a music industry export group, to take the sound of New Zealand to the world.
Progressives in government helped the film industry make movies here and take our stories to the world.
Progressives are the party of New Zealand’s living and changing culture.
No one has ambitions for New Zealand culture higher than ours. No one is as confident in New Zealand as we are.
Progressives are the pioneers of New Zealand cultural aspirations.
Design and creativity is good for New Zealand. It is good for industry, good for jobs and good for working people. Creativity goes hand in hand with higher product values and higher rewards for producing those products.
We need to challenge reactionaries who want to ban logos and oppose business creativity. We need to challenge reactionaries who so lack confidence in New Zealand that they want a fortress built around our country.
They don’t have confidence in New Zealand; we do. We need to celebrate ideas, design and creativity. They mean jobs, economic security and a foundation for our social and cultural security.
Progressives will win the battle of ideas because we are right.
National and Act have foolishly locked themselves into the idea of ‘markets good, everything else bad.’
It’s not ‘freedom’ that they like about ‘free markets’; it is the market’s tendency to allocate wealth to those who already have it.
Progressives stand fundamentally against this unfairness. We all have a role in contributing to economic and social development.
Progressives value everyone for what they have and what they contribute, instead of crushing some for what they lack.
That is the driving fundamental value of progressive politics that defines us.
Neither ‘something for nothing’ nor ‘every person for himself or herself’.
The core of what Progressives believe in is that we ask New Zealanders to give more and we offer the opportunity for doing better.
There must be a place somewhere in the hearts of New Zealanders for that philosophy and for that constructive path to a better future for our children’s children.
We will work with our Labour partners on the centre left to achieve our ambitions. We acknowledge the good work of our parliamentary colleagues in the Labour Party.
These days, the Labour Party has transformed itself into a party of good and competent managers. In our partnership with Labour we have put together the best government of New Zealand in a generation.
Progressives can take our share of the credit for all this government does.
Ask yourself why this government is different to the last Majority Labour government of New Zealand.
Ask yourself why it is different to Labour governments such as Tony Blair’s in Britain.
It is partly because ours is a coalition government.
Ours is a government where ideas are challenged and debated long before they become public.
Our Progressive stamp is equally on everything the coalition government does.
Our role is to be champions for our ideas, to push our ambitions onto the agenda and to the top of the priorities of the coalition.
Our role is to make up the vision deficit in New Zealand.
Vision is not a euphemistic buzzword for another upheaval.
It is a description of how we want New Zealand to be.
It is a confident belief in how good New Zealand can be.
The more people we can inspire, the more we can do for New Zealand.
We need to grow our share of the vote.
Labour and the Progressives need to achieve enough votes between us to form the next government
If the Greens want to take on the responsibilities of government, they will have to back down.
We need to prepare for the possibility they may not.
The United party has given support to this government.
But we need to be realistic.
United is a centre-right party and it will need to prove its centrist credentials at the first opportunity.
It will give its backing to National and Act if it is in a position to do so and it is proud to say so.
Imagine what that would be like.
Don Brash, Richard Prebble and Rodney Hide running the finance portfolio between them – with New Zealand First.
They would take us back to the failed policies of the eighties and nineties.
Back to the mass job losses, the greed, the short-sighted ideology and the scams.
National and Act would abandon the regions and be proud of doing so.
There will be no more regional partnerships in a National-Act government.
They governed on the basis that economic decline is inevitable in small communities and in government they would do so again.
We say that just as small communities are to New Zealand, New Zealand is to the world.
You cannot have a strong New Zealand economy or society when you have weak regions.
We don’t respond to regions with hand-outs, as though struggling towns were an endangered species needing to be hand-nurtured.
We respond with a proactive partnership between industry, central government, and local communities.
Where National and Act leave communities to be crushed, we build on the strengths of each region.
We must never forget the sun coming out with the dawn of a new New Zealand century.
We must never forget how good it feels to be proud of New Zealand again.
New Zealand must never again flinch from seeking our place in the first rank of nations.
National and Act would give up.
We oppose them, and Progressives need to expose them.
It is our job to challenge them, because no one else will.
When you poll as high as Labour is, you don’t risk offending people by attacking the opposition much of the time.
But we saw at the last election how vulnerable that makes Labour and this coalition.
United Future and New Zealand First are not going to attack the reactionary ideas of National and Act.
And the Greens are too busy attacking the government.
Progressives have to stop the centre-right.
Progressives have to stop those parties seeking to take centre-left votes and turn them into seats for the right.
We will challenge them by being positive about New Zealand.
They don’t believe in a great future for New Zealand.
We will challenge them by being pro-jobs.
They destroyed jobs.
We will challenge them by being flexible and pragmatic.
They are rigid and ideological.
Our first question needs to be, always, ‘does it work?’
We will challenge the reactionary parties by having great new ideas.
New ideas like the balance between work and life.
Progressives were the first party to make the balance between work and life a central, Cornerstone Commitment.
We have already achieved our commitment to set up a government study of the balance between work and life and it is at work now.
Progressives are the party that believes in New Zealanders’ work-life balance.
We have a commitment to helping families achieve more balance through four weeks minimum paid annual leave for all workers.
Matt Robson has a bill for four weeks leave before Parliament now.
We have had a very positive public response to it.
Working people are asking, ‘Why is it that the richest need more leave but we need less?’
I am confident that, sooner or later, Matt Robson’s Bill is going to be passed.
We are the party of progressive new ideas.
It was us that came up with a ministry of economic development to work with regions and industry.
Our economic development ideas are important for Maori too.
It’s time to confront a few truths in the debate about Maori development.
The first truth is that there are legitimate Treaty claims, and justice requires that we deal with them justly and speedily, graciously and respectfully.
That is fair-minded and most New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori, are fair-minded.
But we need to be honest in our expectations.
When Maori came forward with claims for Treaty justice, those claims were about respect and dignity.
Above all, Maori wanted recognition for the fact that injustices had occurred.
Recognition of injustice must be part of the Treaty settlement process,
But if we settled every Treaty claim tomorrow, no one seriously believes Maori economic development would be secured.
The debate New Zealand needs to have is about Maori economic development.
It is about the future of all of us.
It is about how we can unleash the true potential of Maori.
That is our hidden economic weapon.
Nowhere else in the world is home to Maori.
Nowhere else in the world can succesfully commerialise our Pacific influences the way we can.
We need to recognise justice and at the same time we need to focus on tomorrow.
We need more growth industry, and less grievance industry.
Maori are going to play a much larger role in New Zealand as a matter of population fact.
We need the economic performance of those communities to be the best it can possibly be.
That is why the Progressives are the party of Maori economic development.
We are the party of new ideas about safer communities.
We are anti-drugs.
If we want safer communities, we need to be serious about drug and alcohol abuse
I want all our young people to be everything they possibly can be and to achieve their full potential.
I want them in jobs, training or education, not on the dole.
Alcohol and drug abuse limit their potential.
We are getting methamphetamine off the streets.
We won’t vote to decriminalise cannabis.
We are making it harder for teens to get drunk because we are committed to safer communities.
We are the party of early intervention to reduce re-offending and turn people away from a life of crime.
If you want to halve crime, halve the unemployment rate.
If you want to reduce crime, intervene with at-risk families when they need help.
If you want to turn very young kids away from a life of crime, be there when they need help.
An intervention with an angry and defiant five year old has a seventy per cent chance of success – and costs $5000 dollars.
The same intervention with a twenty year old costs $25,000 and has a twenty percent chance of success.
Progressives are the party of safer communities.
We are the party with well-thought out new ideas.
It will take hard work to harvest our ideas from the vines on which they’ve ripened.
It will take work in every Progressive electorate branch.
It will take commitment from every able-bodied member.
It will take passion and commitment and inspiration.
It will take a positive attitude and a belief that we are right.
We can inspire New Zealanders.
We can inspire New Zealand by being single-mindedly for jobs as our top priority.
We can inspire New Zealanders by being caring toward our fellow New Zealanders.
We can inspire New Zealanders by being progressive, pragmatic and positive.
We are the party of New Zealand culture, of New Zealand design, music and film.
We are the party that recognises the balance between work and life.
We are the party of safer communities, free of drugs, intervening early to turn our young away from a life of crime.
We are the party that stands unflinching against the failed policies of National and Act, which fail too many New Zealanders and which therefore fail New Zealand.
We are the party that provides Labour with enough votes to secure a majority for a progressive government.
I call on New Zealanders everywhere to give more for New Zealand.
I call on Progressives to pledge ourselves as a party to offer New Zealand the opportunity for doing better.
I offer my personal pledge to do more.
I know you will fight with me.
I know you will be positive with me.
Martin Luther King Jr once told us:
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.”
“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now, in the unfolding of life and history.”
“There is such a thing as being too late.”
Delegates…it is not yet too late for New Zealand.
But our time has come.
Our time for a clear vision.
Our time for hard work.
Our time to realise our political destiny.
Delegates, join with me now…and let’s realise our future.