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Imitation Without Admission - Winston Peters

7.30pm on Monday, 21 June 2004

21 June 2004

An address by the Rt Hon Winston Peters to the Mosgiel Rotary Club
Wingatui Racecourse, Mosgiel

“Imitation Without Admission”

Over the past few weeks some fascinating options have been thrown into the political mix in the lead up to the 2005 elections.

Some are far fetched and others downright foolish, but they are what keeps politics interesting.

For those who are serious followers of New Zealand politics and not given to flights of fancy, adventures of imagination, or poll driven fruitcakes, one simple fact stands out.

In 2005 New Zealand First will help form the next government – whatever its political complexion.

And the entire country will have a better government because of that.

New Zealand First provides an insurance policy against the return of unbridled power and political extremes.

You may ask yourself - what political contingencies do New Zealanders need insurance against?

Well we are already beginning to see the parties of the extreme left and right manoeuvring to present themselves as the coalition partners - 15 months out from the next election.

We have Act’s new leader saying that a 20 cent flat tax rate will be the price of coalition with National – what he won’t tell you are all the hospitals, schools and other social services he will shut down to achieve it.

On the other side we have the extraordinary situation of the Greens selling out all their bottom lines in order to get under the cabinet table.

In the midst of all this activity has been “Mr Commonsense” so worried that he’ll miss out next time that he has abandoned commonsense and launched into a petty exchange with the Greens and Act.

And of course there is the new Maori party – the party which doesn’t know its left from its right, which supports dope smoking and yet claims to want to help Maori.

It is little wonder that the public gets more than a little cynical with politics.

It must confront on the one hand parties of the left, who are happy to put the interests of some international cause or institution ahead of those of their country.

On the other, it must deal with parties of the right who pander to their corporate paymasters and who have their own brand of infatuation with globalisation.

It is no coincidence that neither Labour nor National has any real interest in the extent of foreign ownership in New Zealand.

In many respects, Labour and National present the public with Hobson’s choice – that is - no real choice at all.

What they offer are two camps of zealots –although most of the zealotry goes on behind closed doors - carefully hidden from the public gaze.

Next year - we cannot expect that either Labour or National will suddenly transform themselves into parties that actually act for ordinary New Zealanders.

That place falls to New Zealand First and the challenge we face is to forge an effective government from the cards the electorate deals.

The electorate understands this – it dealt us a strong hand in 2002 and will undoubtedly deal us an even stronger one in 2005.

While other parties seem more intent on outlining their coalition options, New Zealand First has chosen to talk to New Zealanders about what matters to them.

So what does New Zealand First really offer:

First: Authenticity
We are who we claim to be.

New Zealand First is not beholden to anyone other than the citizens of New Zealand.

It’s a wonderful asset having such independence.

Unlike the others parties we can come to an issue with clean hands and an open mind – ready to weigh the pros and cons and reach a decision in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

Second: Commitment to Democracy

New Zealand First is an up-front and committed Parliamentary player.

We have already demonstrated just how effective a new party can be in making MMP work.

We have worked with the current government on several occasions – most notably on fixing up their misguided foreshore and seabed legislation – but we have also never shied away from criticising them for their policy failings.

This is something the new leader of National will have to get used to.

Just because we share the Opposition benches it does not mean everyone is going to sit around holding hands and playing nice.
New Zealand First is just as committed to highlighting National’s inadequacies as we are to showing up Labour’s.

Indeed this is why the voters placed us there. One of our roles is to curtail their extremes – and it is a role, which we do not shy away from.

Third: Identity

It is a curious reflection on our times that there is only one political party that is not afraid to defend New Zealand’s identity – and will unhesitatingly put this nation’s interests first ahead of anywhere else.

New Zealand First is an unashamedly nationalist party.

We stand alone as the only party that calls for New Zealand ownership of key assets and infrastructure.

New Zealanders are rightly concerned with the stability of our society.

There are many apparent threats to our way of life from open door immigration policies, through to a growing obsession with the fundamentalism which has sprung up around the Treaty of Waitangi and to the disturbing increase in lawlessness in our society.

Despite all these problems, a clear New Zealand culture is emerging in our nation and it is a culture we ought to be proud of.

The glue that binds us is centred on our democratic heritage – our belief in the rule of law – freedom of speech – and our keen sense of fairness and tolerance of others.

There is no need to apologise for what this country stands for, despite the conviction of some in the so-called elite that we need to be ashamed of our past.

We should be acknowledging the great legacy we have been left by those who made this country – people of all races and backgrounds working together to a great purpose.

They believed in the future of New Zealand – and we still do!

The public has legitimate concerns over the influx of immigrants – the dramatic changes in the ethnic mix – culture – and the other aspects of national identity – and the mindless, unthinking way change is inflicted on our society.

In their contempt for the past, Labour and National have swept away many of the old landmarks – often selling them off to overseas investors – and have dismantled much that was valued and cherished by New Zealanders.

The public are also right to be sceptical about the unqualified enthusiasm by Labour and National for globalisation.

The innate common sense of ordinary kiwis tells them that the political establishment of the Left and Right can no longer be trusted to represent their interests.

Hence they see the need for an insurance policy – a party that will curb the excesses of the old and domineering parties.

Fourth: A Clear Stand

In the last election people knew exactly what our policy positions were.

We had clear – sharp – well-considered - and appealing policy.

And the voters responded in kind with significant support.

In next year’s election you will see plenty of blue water between New Zealand First and the other parties.

It is curious is it not that on several policy fronts both Labour and National have moved in the direction we were advocating at the last election. But the real issue is - do they mean it?

Indeed Brash’s much-lauded Owera speech was based so closely on New Zealand First policy that if it were academic work he would probably have been found guilty of plagiarism.

And we now see Labour moving – very slowly I might add – in the direction of New Zealand First policy on immigration.

They will not acknowledge this, but the discerning public and commentator know it.

In our view, one of the areas in which New Zealand is currently suffering is the poverty of aspirations.

For National and Labour it’s all about power, the baubles of office, managing the process – and scoring political points off each other.

Is that the best political leadership New Zealand can expect?

Looking at the two tired old parties there is an almost total absence of ambition in their thinking about New Zealand’s future.

In the last year Ireland, a similarly populated country to New Zealand achieved exports of just under $159 billion whilst we in comparison managed only $29 billion. Every New Zealander, man, woman and child per capita exports under $8,000. In contrast every Singaporean per capita achieves $65,000 of exports. These figures are cause for grave alarm and explain how our economic malaise besets our social conditions in New Zealand - why we cannot afford a first class medical system any longer, or a comparative degree of educational excellence any more, or finance adequate law enforcement agencies or first world per capita earnings.

Why is the right to be able to walk down the streets of our towns and cities in safety regarded as outlandish?

Why must we accept that our health and education systems are destined to degrade?

Why can’t this country set its sights on becoming the Switzerland of the South Pacific?

A nation where excellence is a national virtue – not something imported from elsewhere. Where high achievers are the norm not the exception.

When did this county give up on reaching upwards?
New Zealand is a land of abundant opportunity and energy – let’s stop accepting that we are some sort of impoverished backwater and that anything is good enough - and deal vigorously with the challenges we face.

In coalition we will be right behind policies that promote the best in this county.

We will be signalling that “near enough being good enough” simply won’t cut it any longer – we must aspire to excellence. The policies underpinning what we stand for are on our website and I invite you to read them.

As we move towards the election we will be talking about the longer-term future of New Zealand in a purposeful and positive way.

And yes we are going to say to New Zealand – let’s start to dream again.

Fifth: Putting New Zealand First

One thing the electorate can unequivocally count on with us is this:

First and last we are for New Zealand.

And if that position offends some bureaucrat in a UN agency or the political correctness industry in this country – then too bad!

On matters that affect the lives of New Zealanders such as:

Immigration, the Treaty, crime and punishment, our position is in line with the thinking of the New Zealand public.

On the issues that matter we are the mainstream party.

This will come as a surprise to Labour, but New Zealanders have little appetite for left wing dogma and the social extremism where Helen always knows best.

Similarly they have no of affection for that high priest of monetarism - Don Brash.

They call economics the dismal science - but Dr Brash brings a whole new meaning to the word dismal! As we progress toward the 2005 election more and more New Zealanders will wake up to the fact that the Neo-Liberal Policies of the far right, first tried by Roger Douglas and then Ruth Richardson, were not successful and yet those policies are exactly what Don Brash stands for – in some vain hope that if we but just carry on then somehow, someday, things might turn out alright. They haven’t and they won’t.

In 2002 New Zealand First campaigned on fixing up three things in government, or opposition. The Waitangi gravy train, law and order and immigration.

What is becoming increasingly obvious is that Dr Brash has played his one trump card – one which he had to borrow from us. He is about to try another card. Again one which he seeks to borrow from us – law and order. But National’s track record on these issues belie their insincerity.

For instance, just last week National was decrying the 20% aquaculture quota to Maori announced by Labour. Strange that, because it was National that set this policy in place in October 1992. Only one Parliamentarian opposed it and the following day he was expelled from the National Caucus because of it. So where is the track record and where is the sincerity? I went on to fight a by-election and help form a new party. National gave Doug Graham a knighthood for it.

For politics is about the record - not what politicians’ say but what their record is.

The bottom line for 2005 is this:

The public knows from bitter experience that left unchecked, Labour and National will both pass laws and implement policy contrary to the interests of most New Zealanders.

Anyone who doubts that should try and explain the difference between Labour’s asset sales policy and National’s. And who can forget National when last in office selling Contact Energy and restructuring an energy industry mess. Certainly no one in Otago will be able to forget it.

And that is why New Zealand First is the insurance policy that will ensure the people get a government that will serve their interests.

Nothing short of that will be acceptable.


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