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Peters: Hidden Agendas – Who Is Surprised!

30 August 2005

Hidden Agendas – Who Is Surprised!

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting in Christchurch, Tuesday 30 August 2005, Cashmere Club, Columbo Street, Christchurch, 12:30pm

Over the weekend there came a report which was truly disturbing. It referred to the lengths to which those with insidious agendas are prepared to go in order to thrust their views on an unsuspecting public.

If there is one thing the people of New Zealand will not tolerate – it is to be played the fool by those with hidden agendas.

It is why the public has tired of Labour – all the moral and social changes that were sprung on the public without warning.

Labour’s ambition of twisting traditional values to suit their warped agenda has not been well received by the public at large.

But they are not alone in their scheming intent and National has been exposed as the puppets of the far right many suspected they were.

We had always known Don Brash was just not his own man – but none of us knew the entire cadre of puppet masters who where operating behind the scenes.

It now seems it is a veritable whose who of the far right. National’s three “R’s” – no not those – but Ruth, Roger and Roger.

I mean everybody knew Ruth Richardson was there – but Roger Douglas, Michael Basset and even Rob McLeod too?

Even the disgraced Brian Nicole – who cost John Banks so much in his campaign – is part of the machinations.

It seems that Act’s backers have decided to shed that empty vessel and reincarnate themselves inside National.

Well New Zealanders now have reason to be afraid – very afraid.

These are not the type of people we want running the country.

We all witnessed the trail of destruction that occurred last time they were in charge.

From selling off every state asset in sight – through to record unemployment.

From every form of conceivable slash and burn policy through to dismantling our health and education sectors.

It now seems clear that National’s agenda all along had been to deceive the public of New Zealand with an artificial debate about tax cuts – while scheming to unload its secret agenda on an unsuspecting public.

I have seen it all before. When Labour after the 1984 election threw its manifesto into the rubbish bin and pulled out Roger Douglas’ secret agenda. And in 1990, when National went back on key election promises and Ruth Richardson pulled out her secret agenda. And again in 1997 when Shipley rolled Bolger and set out to govern alone.

The usual political whisperers were there then too – destructive, divisive and undisciplined.

Well all is now being revealed.

It was the politics of secret agenda that ensured many of us left National and Labour to fight a by-election and then form New Zealand First over 12 years ago.

Both National and Labour had lost their way – and New Zealanders needed a political force that would fight for them.

We were and still are that force.

And I make this unequivocal promise to you today – we will not be propping up any National or Labour secret agenda – not now, not ever.

It was intriguing that last week’s Business New Zealand forum decided that it was our skills shortage – as opposed to tax cuts or some other aspect of business – which was the most pressing matter for New Zealand business.

I say it was intriguing because they seemingly ignored the most obvious solution to their dilemma – higher wages.

You see the fundamental reason we lose so many skilled young people off shore is wages – not taxes.

They go abroad because they get paid more – much more - it is as simple as that.

To keep them we need to pay them more.

And it really doesn’t matter which occupation you are talking about.

From construction labourers though to doctors and nurses.

From business executives through to chefs.

The equation is the same – more pay overseas means they will go, and in ever-increasing numbers.

New Zealand workers have been failed by both the unions and the government when it comes to wages.

Workers have been played for fools by Labour’s union mates – who try to scare them with the prospect of a National government – but who do next to nothing to get higher wages. Is it not ironic that the Head of the CTU goes to Tonga to mediate a pay rise whilst back home does nothing to aid worker’s wages or business profits.

Labour lies of no money in the kitty for higher wages and yet the CTU says nothing.

Why do you think we have seen so many strikes over the past few weeks?

Some workers have woken up to the fact that Labour hasn’t been honest with them about the true financial situation.

New Zealand workers need a champion – and New Zealand First is putting its hand up to fight for higher wages.

And this is why both National’s and Labour’s packages fail.

You see under both – whatever your low hourly rate of pay was before the election, that is what it will be following the election.

In contrast, New Zealand First will be increasing wages and cutting business taxes – it is the only way for us to compete internationally.

We will lift the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Look at our healthcare sector – screaming out for higher wages because across the sector they get paid so much more off shore.

Let me tell you a story about a local woman here in Christchurch who is working in the elder care sector looking after our seniors.

She is 64 herself.

Do you know how much she gets paid to do this work?

$9.54 an hour.

That’s right – less than $10 an hour to provide care for those most in need.

Now here is what makes this worse.

Recently she had to borrow $3000 for a cataract operation – because she didn’t qualify to have it subsidised.

So here we have a hard working 64 year old woman, borrowing to get her eyes fixed so she can keep her job which pays $9.54 an hour.

That is disgraceful.

It is not an isolated case – tens of thousands of New Zealanders are in this situation.

Higher wages must be part of the plan to grow the economy.

Tax is also an important part of the economic equation. So let’s deal with it.

And for those in the media who have decided only two tax packages count this election – pay attention, there is a third alternative.

First, we will deal with the most pressing demand in our economy and on household budgets – the price of petrol.

Last week’s price rise highlights just how important this matter really is.

The cost is now just under $1.50 per litre.

New Zealand First will be taking GST, a tax on a tax, off petrol.

This will save the average motorist 17 cents a litre and nearly $10 every time they fill their tank.

For most families this alone is the equivalent of National’s tax cut – but at one-third the cost to the taxpayer.

Families and business need this type of tax break.

Now, perhaps the most important feature of this tax break is that it is not inflationary.

By reducing the price of petrol you actually lower inflation.

When that is stacked up against both Labour and National’s packages – it is a fundamentally important difference.

To improve the uptake of health insurance we will provide a tax rebate for those who do.

For businesses we have a comprehensive tax package.

We will lower the business rate to 30% – immediately.

Tax on new export earnings will be set at 20% – immediately.

To improve productivity we will provide a tax rebate for the uptake of Research and Development.

We will develop tax abatement schemes for both ‘value added’ and ‘start up’ businesses proposals.

Overseas corporates will be treated the same as NZ companies for tax purposes.

The practice, for example, of Australian banks rorting our tax system will end.

We will deal specifically with the failings, and unfairness, of the tax system on the racing and shipping industries.

We will establish a Tax Ombudsman to investigate tax complaints.

We must protect our investment in Air New Zealand by ensuring that accelerated depreciation regimes on aircraft and other tax incentives, which competitive airlines such as Singapore Airlines enjoy, are available to Air New Zealand.

As we said last week, if the economy is able to continue to deliver the kinds of government surpluses we have seen in the past three years – once we have met our obligations – then we will certainly consider income tax cuts.

The public has every right to ask why we have taken this approach.

Unlike others, we have not overreached ourselves with a “let’s spend the lot and even borrow“ to out-bid the other side

Labour and National have lost their credibility by trying to out-bid each other.

Both alternatives will be inflationary – interest rates will rise, and those with mortgages, those in business, and those trying to export will suffer.

We will not be caught up in these foolish games.

We have been fiscally responsible in ensuring that we have money for both the cuts and the spending we are promising.

Neither Labour or National will be forming a government in their own right following the election.

National’s perverse ambition of getting a majority simply won’t happen.

Labour is at least smart enough to realise this – although its priority of support and coalition options must be a huge concern for New Zealand.

Fruit loops, or lap dogs, are not the right mix for New Zealand’s long-term future.

Both will have to compromise – and both actually need reigning in for the good of the country.

We have seen through the media that National wants to know if we will support its tax package.

We are doing our costings but I note that even someone as dry as ex Treasury Head – Graham Scott, now of Act, doubts National can do it.

Like him, we ask these questions in return.

Just what will be cut from government services to pay for your tax cuts now? What, where, when, how and why?

We all saw what Douglas and Richardson did last time they were in power.

We have seen that most New Zealanders can expect to pay an extra $26 to go to the doctor – straight out of the Richardson-Shipley handbook.

Is this indicative of where these cuts will come from – National needs to answer now – for until they do we won’t be signing up to families paying more for doctors’ visits, and 180,000 New Zealanders wasting on hospital waiting lists.

So come clean on where the cuts will come from.

New Zealand’s health system is in crisis. 180,000 on hospital waiting lists, some waiting 10 years for cataract operations, mental health patients sleeping on floors in overcrowded accommodation, third world pharmaceuticals, and elder care workers on $9.54 an hour, are health issues that we are not going to let slide in this unseemly lolly scramble election. That this close to the election health is not an election issue shows how insensitive and unkind we could become. Well it is going to be an issue – New Zealand First guarantees that.

National has no costings on its health, police and transport policies, yet will be borrowing to pay for tax cuts.

That is also nuts and hypocrisy of the worst kind, given their recent rhetoric on fiscal prudence. We want to know how much, from where, and for how long.

National has reopened the spectre of further asset sales – another Douglas and Richardson-Shipley favourite.

All New Zealand is now paying the price of that failed experiment from the 1980s and 90s. 12 billion dollars, leaving our shores, in foreign ownership dividends every year.

We also have grave concerns about Labour’s continued slide toward making beneficiaries out of more and more New Zealanders – even some MPs qualify.

We say pay people more and they won’t need a benefit.

So let me be clear – when it comes to the economy New Zealanders do have an alternative to the two tired old parties.

New Zealand First has a plan for real growth, for export growth, for wage growth and to lift our living standards.

It is not based on foolish promises that will have to be compromised after the election, but on targeted relief where it is needed most.

And I make this point – not everybody likes what we have to say from time to time – but we are honest about it.

There are no secret puppet masters pulling our strings.

What you get is what you see.

That is why New Zealand first is your choice for change.

And why if you give your party vote to us it will be a change for the better.


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