Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


End Government Racism - Richard Prebble Speech

End Government Racism

Friday 31 Oct 2003 Richard Prebble Speeches -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

Speech by Hon Richard Prebble CBE
ACT Waikato Regional Conference
Quality Hotel, 100 Garnett Ave, Hamilton
Saturday 1 November 2003 10:00am

It is a pleasure to speak to the ACT Waikato Regional Conference. This years regional conferences have been the most successful in our party's history.

ACT's role is to be a leader. ACT produces fresh ideas to solve old problems.

As Labour would only consult with iwi on who owns the foreshore, ACT took the initiative and organized a Foreshore, Law, and Politics Conference, and invited experts, interest groups, Maori and the public.

As a result ACT alone has a clear, intellectually rigorous, positive workable solution to the foreshore issue. It's a straightforward property rights issue and the rule of law. § Appeal the Court of Appeal decision, which despite the removal of the Privy Council can still be done by joining the Marlborough Regional Council appeal. § Recognise that the Crown is everyone, Maori and non-Maori alike. § It's for the courts, not the government to determine any property claim.

ACT has looked in depth at the challenges facing New Zealand and then produced a policy solution.

Never doubt the influence that ACT has on our nation. It was ACT that pointed out that at the heart of the debate over hospital waiting lists, educational achievement and the sustainability of superannuation is the economy.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

To have first world services we need to have a first world economy. At one of our conferences it was ACT that first set the goal, of "10th by 2010" - getting New Zealand to 10th in the OECD by 2010. Two years later, Labour adopted the goal of getting New Zealand back to the top half of the OECD. Unfortunately Labour refuses to take the next step and adopt growth policies to achieve the target of getting New Zealand's standard of living up with Australia's, where we belong.

ACT has produced a workable plan to achieve the 6 per cent sustainable growth we need to become a first world nation in a generation.

To encourage investment growth and jobs we need lower taxes. § Adopt the McLeod Report with a 25-cent top rate of tax - ACT's tax plan would give this country lower taxes than Australia and tax relief for every worker.

We need a bonfire of red tape and regulation and a Regulation Responsibility Act.

We must have real welfare reform based on the principle of help for the vulnerable and a job for the able.

Nations that succeed in the global economy will be those who educate their people best. ACT's policy of school choice will lift education standards. Deborah Coddington's new book "Let Parent's Choose" is a manifesto to improve education standards.

A measure that would significantly improve the quality of life would be lower crime. ACT's solution is Zero Tolerance for Crime - a policy that could cut crime by half.

These policies are based around ACT's vision of a prosperous nation where citizens are free to make their own choices.

ACT is a true liberal party that says each individual citizen is important. We are all equal before the law. Each of us should take personal responsibility for our actions.

Which brings me to the theme of this conference. But before that - let me divert and comment on the National Leadership Change.

There have been some media commentators that have accused ACT of having promoted the leadership change in the National Party. An absurd statement. If that is so, how do the same commentators explain the election of Nick Smith, who is so politically wet that he is a river?

Where ACT has influenced the National caucus is that we have shown how clear strong policy positions expose Labours failure to solve issues.

Contrary to media, ACT has had a cordial working relationship with Bill English. He is a young man and I hope he realises that he has much still to offer this country.

ACT welcomes Don Brash's election because National has been divided for far too long - back to Jenny Shipley's time. If National unites under Brash then they will be a far more effective opposition and a viable alternative government.

I do believe that Don Brash can be Prime Minster in 18 months. I applaud statements that Brash has made.

First, recognising that under MMP National cannot win the next election alone. The alternative government to Labour will be a coalition. Second, Don Brash's recognition that the centre right must win the economic argument. The economy is the issue of every election.

Brash is one hundred percent correct when he points out to the voters that if this is as good as it gets, we will never catch up to Australia again.

Third, the move to select Nick smith was smart. Nick Smith is a rare National MP, one who holds a provincial seat; seats National must win to be government. It shows that National remains a centre party.

While leaders and leadership are important, leaders are not the party. National has not suddenly changed because the party has a new leader. Don Brash may prefer ACTs policies. I see he borrowed our language to describe himself as a `classical liberal'. He still has to persuade his caucus on every policy point.

Our media, television in particular, likes to describe politics in presidential terms. It is easier for them. But the reality is that New Zealand politics are Westminster Parliamentary. Every Prime Minister must get parliamentary majority on every issue.

Even Helen Clark cannot just implement what ever she wants. We all know that if it were left to Helen Clark who has never been a parent, then the anti-smacking legislation would already be law.

Most MPs are parents. We know that the United Nations is talking politically correct nonsense. It is going to be hard for Clark to pass this law.

So too with Don Brash.

To lower taxes, to cut red tape, he is going to need the help of a strong ACT party.

Even more he needs ACT's able and talented MPs. Don Brash needs our party's ability to analyse issues, come up with fresh ideas to old problems and produce practical positive solutions.

ACT is needed now more than ever.

New Zealand is at a turning point. As a nation we must choose between two paths - between equality before the law or be a country where your status is determined by your birth, by your race. We can either have no race-based law or we can have a Kiwi version of apartheid. We cannot follow both journeys.

Are we to be a nation where everyone is equal before the law? Where there is just one class of citizenship; a nation where regardless of race, religion, gender or politics, you are treated the same by the state. To me, equality of opportunity is a defining value of what it means to be a New Zealander.

I joined the Labour party because I thought that Labour stood against privilege and for equal opportunity. Equal opportunity is not everyone is equal. In a free society, some will take their opportunities and some will not. The important thing is that every one has a chance.

I want to live in a country where, to quote John Banks, "a son of a notorious safebreaker can become a successful businessman and the Minister of Police".

Labour no longer believes in equal opportunity. Now Labour is preaching the politics of making us all equal.

The government has never needed the revenue from the 39-cent tax rate; it is the politics of envy.

What is more dangerous, and has the ability to destroy this nation, is the politics of race. More and more government spending is based on race. § Today what course you can do at Waikato University is based not on your exam results but your race. § Today if you have heart disease your chances of having a heart operation depends not on your health but race. If you live in a high Polynesian region, then your local hospital receives more funding and the waiting lists are shorter. In Dunedin, heart patients who in the North Island would get an immediate operation are being sent home to die because they and their neighbours are white.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending is now race based.

Then we have the Treaty industry. More and more claims. The Treaty claims have moved from being genuine claims based on wrongful taking of property to claims based on race. § The idea that a race of people has a special partnership, a preferred status.

The absurdity of the partnership claim can be seen from practical examples.

Maori bring Waitangi Treaty claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. Who sits on the Tribunal?

The Chairman is a Maori. Often the ministerial officials negotiating on behalf of the Crown are Maori. There is nothing wrong with the fact that ministers, judges, lawyers and officials are Maori; indeed it's something to be proud of. What it shows is that the Crown is all of us, including Maori. It makes nonsense of the idea that a race of people can be a partner of the Crown.

The politics of race are the most explosive - even more than religion. In the human experience, most nations have failed to resolve racial issues.

Until modern times there has been only one example of overcoming the issues of race, and that was the decision of Rome to extend Roman citizenship to all nationalities and all races. A decision that enabled the Roman Empire to last 400 years.

We tend to forget how long that is. It's three times longer than the length of time New Zealand has existed. It's back to the reign of Elizabeth the First.

A Roman citizen, regardless of race, was equal before the law. The modern great example is the United States of America. America, the home of opportunity, is a nation built on the rule of law. The American Constitution is a great liberal charter that gives all citizens equal opportunity and makes America a land of opportunity.

Nations that have given privilege to some citizens based on race have not survived. The route Labour is taking us is one that will bring only discord.

In a multi-racial, multi-cultural country, politicians and political parties have a responsibility to be careful how they use race issues. ACT has done so. ACT is opposed to bigotry. We have, for example, never supported Winston Peters' xenophobic statements. ACT promotes equality before the law and one law for all because we want everyone to succeed.

I wish I could say the same of our critics who do not hesitate to use hate words to attack what we say.

I think it is the wish not to be labelled a racial bigot that has prevented MPs in all parties from debating these issues. I must warn this conference that those who have become wealthy from the racial grievance industry will attack us in the most personal way. It is not pleasant.

We must not be intimidated. I refuse to be. My own children are not white. This is their country. As a parent, I must make a stand. For the sake of my children I know we must challenge the Labour government's race policies. There is no such thing as positive discrimination. For every student who benefits from positive discrimination, there is a student who was discriminated against.

When you examine the racial quotas at the University, you quickly see the unfairness.

A student who is one 640th Maori, that is, one of his 16 great great grandparents was Maori, can claim that this should allow him into a course ahead of a student whose parents were drug-taking gang members. This case is real. The fingernail Maori has had every privilege, including private school education, yet is given preference over the son of a Skinhead, raised in a state house and attended a failure public school. Which student has had the tougher upbringing? Where is the fairness in discriminating against the working class student just because he is white?

Kings College, one of New Zealand's top schools, now has a Maori concert group. It's wonderful that Maori are doing so well, but it's wrong that these concert group members qualify for preferential entry into law school.

We must also make sure that we do not become a vehicle for the bigotry of the redneck.

ACT's values are the liberal values that our nation was built on. Our policies are best for all New Zealanders

It is ACT that wants to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, not the $6 million propaganda of the government.

The Treaty is a wonderful document and a great way to start a new nation.

There are just three clauses and just three principles: § Clause One establishes the concept that there is just one sovereignty. The Crown is all of us. There are not two partners but 4 million equal partners together. § Clause Two is the great ACT principle - the importance of private property. The state's role is not to take our property but to protect it. § Clause Three gives us all citizenship.

That's it.

There are no clauses in the Treaty declaring one race to be a partner. There is no clause requiring Maori spiritual values to be recognised but not the spiritual values of any other New Zealander - indeed most of the claims about the Treaty are myths.

What is in the Treaty - one sovereignty, property rights, equal citizenship - are all excellent principles that ACT and the vast majority of New Zealanders, both Maori and non-Maori strongly support.

So ACT is the Treaty party. There is nothing in the Treaty to say that the government in the 21st century can create Kiwi apartheid.

ACT proposes that there be no new Treaty claims. The Tribunal has been able to hear historic claims for 20 years. If you haven't filed a claim after 20 years it can't be a very pressing grievance. Everywhere else in our law there is a cut-off date for filing a claim. 20 years for Treaty claims seems pretty reasonable. ACT then proposes that the Tribunal be instructed to process in five years all existing claims and that the government make full, fair and final settlement and then the Treaty industry be abolished.

ACT goes further - ACT proposes that parliament then removes from the statute books all race based law.

Abolishing race based constituencies are a top priority.

This does not mean that Maori culture and language would be threatened.

ACT is a party of choice. If Maori and non-Maori parents want to send their children to Maori language schools, that in a free society is their right.

If viewers want to watch Maori TV, that is their right, but you and I should not be taxed to pay for it.

I feel very strongly about this. What sort of message are we sending when our government makes television a priority? Television is to brains what maggots are to meat.

Young people will not succeed through watching TV, whether in Maori or English, but through the conventional recipe for success, hard work, honesty and personal responsibility.

What sort of message are we sending young Maori?

I watched the Marae programme on TV last Sunday. They were filming the final of a Maori rhetoric competition. It was good to see young Maori speaking fluent Maori.

What was nonsense was what was being said; direct racial attacks on Pakeha; claims that Pakeha had destroyed Maori culture and brought with them disease.

The absurdity of the idea that New Zealand would have remained forever-isolated islands was not examined. The reality is that in an interconnected global world someone was going to bring diseases to this country. It is as silly as blaming the Chinese for SARS or the American Indians for Syphilis. Races are not responsible for disease. One contestant attacked what the churches had done to Maori, oblivious to the irony that he was a pupil of a Catholic Church school with a proud record of achievement for Maori students. It was left to a female contestant to challenge the concept that there could be no female Maori leaders, and to say that all cultures must grow and adapt.

I noticed every contestant called for the Treaty to be honoured, without saying what that meant. The Treaty has become a cargo cult with the idea that the rest of New Zealand owes Maori a living. Most, not all, called on the government to solve problems. One even asked for a Minister for Maori Youth claiming that the needs of Maori youth are different from Pakeha youth.

But if you are being told every day that Maori cannot succeed without special help, what do we expect?

Helen Clark and the Labour leadership do not believe that these race-based privileges will assist Maori. If they did, then Labour would have made reforming the Ministry of Maori Affairs its priority.

As soon as closing the gaps became unpopular, Helen Clark could not distance herself from the policies fast enough.

Did it stop the spending? Of course not. Over $700 million so far. It was left to Rodney Hide, an ACT MP, to expose the corruption and waste that is endemic in these programmes.

ACT has asked these questions because we do want Maori to succeed. Labour has these programmes just to win votes. Indeed Labour doesn't want Maori to succeed, to be independent, to stand on their own two feet, because they fear they would then become ACT voters.

I want to finish this speech with some very good news.

First, there are no gaps to close. Disparities in Maori education and economic performance are explained by factors like geography and education. The East Cape is a poor region.

Maori graduates earn more than non-Maori.

There have been hundreds of new businesses founded by Maori in the last decade. There have never been more Maori at university. There is a Maori renaissance going on today. Maori artists are reinterpreting what it means to be Maori, what it means to be a New Zealander.

Most Maori professionals are not in the Treaty industry. This new educated class rejects Labour's race stereotyping.

ACT's liberal policy has great appeal to the young Maori who are successful because of their own effort.

Labour's message is one of great pessimism that Maori cannot succeed because they are Maori.

ACT's message is one of great optimism and hope.

Everyone, regardless of race or circumstances in this country can succeed through hard work, thrift and personal responsibility.

ACT's message is why our Party is receiving such strong support from new New Zealanders. It's the reason why we are the Party for all classes, all races.

Our vision is that of Governor Hobson and the Chiefs who signed the Treaty - "Now we are one people".


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

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Scoop Post Election Podcast: The River Of Freedom Documentary Review

After recording a River of Freedom review the Scoop Political Podcast went into hibernation. Now with a new Government formed it’s time to dust off this forgotten silver and look at the impact this documentary, about the Wellington parliamentary protest of 2022, had on Election 23. Watched by potentially tens of thousands of voters in the weeks prior to the election River of Freedom was not likely to have won votes for the then Labour government. More

Gordon Campbell: On The Skewed Media Coverage Of Gaza

Now that he’s back as Foreign Minister, maybe Winston Peters should start reading the MFAT website which is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of how Kiwis alerted the rest of the world to the genocide in Rwanda. How times have changed ...

In 2023, the government is clutching its pearls because senior Labour MP Damien O’Connor has dared suggest that Gaza’s civilian population - already living under apartheid and subjected to sixteen years of an illegal embargo, and now being herded together and slaughtered indiscriminately amid the destruction of their homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals - are also victims of what amounts to genocide. More

ACT: Call To Abolish Human Rights Commission

“The Human Rights Commission’s appointment of a second Chief Executive is just the latest example of a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy serving itself at the expense of delivery for New Zealanders,” says ACT MP Todd Stephenson. More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.