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Speech: Goff - The countdown to stopping asset sales

Labour Leader
Sunday 20 November, 2011 SPEECH

I want to start by thanking every one for coming out today.

To all our MPs, candidates, volunteers and supporters:

You’ve worked hard over the past month.

Working late, giving up your weekends and dedicating every spare moment.

Thank you.

But we still have a lot to do. The most important time is ahead of us.

The countdown to election day has begun.

We have to use every minute between now and then to save our precious public assets from the auction block

The clock is ticking.

We are six days and four hours out from the close of the polls and I want you to join me in one last big push to save our assets.

Six days to save our precious dams, generators, mines and Air New Zealand.

Six days of relentless campaigning to stop New Zealand going down a path of no return.

When we wake up on Sunday morning it must be to a New Zealand we own – not one that is about to be sold to the highest bidder.

On Saturday New Zealanders go to the polls with the clearest choice they’ve had in a generation.

A choice between keeping our assets or selling them for a quick buck.

Between our plan that lifts thousands of children out of poverty and into opportunity and one that says those kids don’t matter.

Between our plan that converts the youth dole to apprenticeships or leaving our teenagers rotting on the dole.

Between a fair wage and a decent standard of living for all or tax cuts for the wealthy.

Between our plan that pays off our debt and leaves us better off or one that sells the house just to pay the mortgage.

A plan that faces up to the tough decisions or one that tries to pull the wool over your eyes.

That’s what’s at stake on Election Day.

It’s a serious choice about the issues New Zealanders face every day.

About whether families can put food on the table, pay the power bill and give their kids the start in life they deserve.

It’s about what sort of country we want to live, work, and raise a family in.

It’s about what we leave for the next generation.

It’s about whether we spend the next 3 years building the foundation for a better life for our children and grandchildren.

Or whether we spend it just muddling through.

We are facing some tough problems.

The world economy is in turmoil and New Zealand won’t be immune. That’s why we have to make changes now.

Unemployment has increased 50 per cent over the past 3 years.

Prices have risen four times faster than incomes and we have over 200,000 of our kids trapped in poverty.

Our credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in 13 years.

More New Zealanders than ever are leaving for Australia because the wage gap is becoming as wide as the ditch.

Our debt burden has soared while John Key’s Government borrowed billions to give the biggest tax cuts to those who don’t need them.

We haven’t saved enough and our ageing population is set to cost us more if we don’t take action now.

We can’t hope to deal with these issues if we don’t face up to them.

We have to take the tough decisions for tomorrow not what’s easy today.

This is the country that nurtured me and gave me opportunities.

This is the country where I raised my family with the hope for a better life for them and for all of us.

I want my children’s future and grandchildren’s future to be here too.

I want to make sure New Zealand offers as much to them as it has to me.

We owe it to future generations to leave New Zealand a better place.

We owe it to them to save the assets our forefathers built.

Many of you know my wife Mary, well its personal for her too because her dad came back from the war and helped to build the dams on the Waikato River – the very dams that John Key wants to sell to foreign banks.

That’s what I am fighting for.

My plan provides long term solutions to our long term problems – not short term fixes that just won’t deliver.

This election isn’t about the next 3 or 4 years.

We have to lift our sights beyond the short-term election driven timetable.

New Zealanders are smart and they can tell when something seems too good to be true.

That’s why I have been upfront with voters and told them that we have to make changes now to guarantee New Zealand Super in the years to come.

We have to gradually increase the age of eligibility for New Zealand Super to 67.

There is no way around it. We are living longer. The number of people aged over 65 will double by 2050 and the cost of New Zealand Super and health care will more than double.

It’s no good burying your head in the sand and pretending it’s not happening. Or leaving the problem for someone else to fix when it’s much worse.

New Zealanders need the truth – not a promise put on the never-never.

We also need to make KiwiSaver universal so we lift our nation’s saving rates and provide a nest egg over and above New Zealand Super for everyone.

These policies won’t please everyone BUT they are the right thing to do.

New Zealanders expect and deserve the truth – we can’t keep going on as we are.

We have to make changes now so we live within our means.

That is why I have put forward a bold plan that will put New Zealand on a better footing for the long-term.

I’ve clearly laid out how we will get the government books back into shape.

By introducing a capital gains tax – excluding the family home - we will raise $26 billion so we pay off the debt and make sure everyone pays their fair share.

As a nation we carry too much debt and invest too much in property.

By putting a capital gains tax in place we’ve faced up to that fact and tackled one of the most controversial policies in modern times.

We will also increase the top tax rate so that those earning over $150,000 – the top 2 per cent, who got huge tax cuts - give some of that back.

But here’s the best part of my plan – we can pay back the debt and still keep our assets.

We will also create more jobs by getting businesses to grow and encouraging innovation.

We will encourage more investment in businesses by increasing our national savings and putting the right incentives in place.

We’ll reward those businesses who develop new products, and create new jobs, through a Research and Development tax credit.

I’ll support the job-rich export sector by making changes to monetary policy to ensure that rewards for hard work aren’t eroded by a volatile NZ dollar.

We’ll tackle the ticking time bomb of youth unemployment by converting dole payments into a subsidy to get our young people into apprenticeships and training.

We want all of our kids to get the best possible start in life.

That is why we have led the charge to tackle child poverty with a bold agenda for change.

Over 200,000 New Zealand kids living in poverty is a moral and economic failure.

We’ll fix that.

We’ll also tackle the rising cost of living because too many families are struggling to pay the bills.

Our package makes the first $5,000 everyone earns tax free. For many families – including superannuitants - that’s an extra $1000 in their pockets a year.

We’ll make it easier and more affordable to make healthy choices by taking the GST off fresh fruit and vegetables.

And to ensure that everyone gets a living wage we’ll raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

It’s overdue and we’ll make it happen in our first year.

Yet of all our policies one stands above all others.

There are two simple words that have defined this election campaign.

Asset sales.

Labour’s position is crystal clear – New Zealand is not for sale.


Labour will keep our assets and the dividends they return every year.

Make no mistake, these assets will be sold unless Labour leads the next Government.

Only a vote for Labour can stop it.

Only a vote for Labour can save Air New Zealand, the wind farms in Makara, the hydro dams on the Waikato and Waitaki, the coal mines on the West Coast, and Kiwibank.

My first act as Prime Minister will be to call an immediate halt to all work on asset sales.

I’ll call the officials into my office and deliver the message personally.

I’ll then tell the Australian bankers that they won’t be lining their pockets with their $100 million commission for selling off our assets.

These assets aren’t just a line on a balance sheet.

They aren’t just numbers that can be moved around a spreadsheet.

They’re a part of the New Zealand landscape. They are ours. Our sweat helped build them and our taxes paid for them.

Selling these great public assets would dishonour the memory of those who built them.

Our assets are also our financial security in these times of uncertainty.

We are billions of dollars in debt. We need these assets to get us out of the hole.

Selling them may give us a short-term sugar hit but does nothing to prepare us for the future.

We’ve seen it before. It simply doesn’t work. It’s just dumb to sell them.

Ownership will end up in foreign hands and the profits will flow out of this country.

By keeping the assets we can use the dividends they return every year. It will help pay back the debt and build New Zealand’s future.

Let me be crystal clear.

Only a Labour Government can save our assets from being flogged off to foreign owners.

We have just six days to get that message out.

That is the message that I will carry to every New Zealander I meet.

This is a fight I will not let go. It’s the issue I won’t give up.

This is my pledge to you today.

I will travel across the country to spread this message.

I will look people in the eye and tell them that only a vote for Labour can stop the asset sales.

I will work harder this week than I ever have.

I will not rest because this is our last chance to save our assets.

I’ll fight until midnight Friday because there is no going back.

Until then, there is everything to fight for.

I can’t do it alone.

I need your support.

I need you to join me in our fight to protect our assets.

Tell your friends, your family, your colleagues – the countdown has started.

We have just six days to carry this message to every New Zealander.

I know we can do it.

With your support, I know we will do it.

Thank you very much.

© Scoop Media

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