Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

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


Winston Peters Speech: Realising Real Opportunities

Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First Leader

Member of Parliament for Northland
24 FEBRUARY 2016


Speech by the Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First and Member of Parliament for Northland

Agcarm conference 2016

Sudima Hotel,

18 Airpark Drive, Mangere,

Auckland Airport

9.15am, Wednesday, 24th February, 2016

Realising Real Opportunities

Thank you for your invitation to speak to the leaders of companies that help to keep New Zealand’s crops and animals growing.

Realising opportunities is the theme for today.

Instead of micro-segmentation of fringe issues, New Zealand First has stuck to its knitting and the issues that matter to Kaitaia and not just Kohimarama.

We know that for New Zealand to thrive we need all of our regions to prosper.

The present government is throwing the kitchen sink at Auckland. If reinforcing our biggest city was any measure for automatic success, then Auckland would utterly dominate not only New Zealand rugby and cricket, but all codes all of the time.

It doesn’t, which proves that economic development is more than some economic version of paint by numbers.

That is borne out in last Friday’s release of the government’s accounts.

The six months to December 2015 shows falling tax revenues and what government owes on our behalf – the gross debt – now over 35% of GDP. The biggest story is that the budget operating deficit is a whopping $1.9 billion – $709 million worse than forecast.

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.

So how real was last May’s chimeric Budget surplus? It matters because government is playing a fiscal game that affects all businesses and households alike.

Matters for your industry

Because we are a global leader in food production, but only a bit player in its myriad support industries New Zealand First is determined to grow the economy by adding farming support industries to New Zealand’s export arsenal. These include:

Seeds and genomics


Animal remedies & Crop protection



Precision agriculture and

Farm IT.

Sadly, we once had the opportunities, like PGG Wrightson Seeds, but lost them to foreign control along with Nufarm, LanzaTech and a list which seems to grow daily.

We need to keep and grow the industries we have an intuitive feel for.

New Zealand beyond 1080

It is no secret that New Zealand First does not like 1080, or Sodium Fluoroacetate, its proper name.

This does not mean we have donned tin-foil hats as our support of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Amendment Bill proves.

Being the Member of Parliament for Northland, the damage wrought by possums to our native forests is undeniable. As was the explosion in Bovine Tb when possum control funding was slashed in the late 1970s.

New Zealand is addicted to an imported chemical that is hardly new. For some seven decades, 1080 has been used here as the main tool against introduced pests like possums.

This is where your industry can help to realise opportunities.

Instead of being an importer of Tull’s technical grade 1080, New Zealand First wants New Zealand to become a global leader in the manufacture of clean-green agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines.

Meanwhile National continues to hunt for a magic bullet that has blown up in their faces, like the funding fails of Gameloft and CallActive.

Instead of desperately hunting for a Kiwi Apple, New Zealand First would prefer a number of Novartis-like Kiwi companies, being leaders in their field.

This is also how we would research, develop and deploy a replacement for 1080 and so phase out its use within New Zealand.

Much of our native flora is yet to be discovered. We could be sitting on pharmacological goldmines. Manuka honey proves that, but then again, a goldmine is only land unless you go prospecting.

Landcare Research estimates there are upwards of 24,000 different fungi species in New Zealand with barely one-third so far discovered. What we need to know is what is out there with application for pest control and crop protection?

This is the first major commitment by any major party to plan a move beyond 1080 without compromising pest control in the process.

There is also an opening for non-chemical control

Yet successive governments have been guilty of using poison as the easy go-to option.

New Zealand First believes that ground control can be as effective as aerial drops and in 1995, a Department of Conservation report said exactly that: “It appears that in the smaller control areas (<2000 ha), capable hunters can achieve effective control at costs comparable with current aerial operations”.

Sound pest control would turn a problem into an economic opportunity. More so in areas like Northland and the West Coast that share a similar possum scourge and employment challenge.

National’s recent Northland economic plan catalogues National’s less than stellar record there. The unemployment rate is 3 percent above the national average while nominal GDP per capita is 32 percent below the national average. No less than 20 percent of Northlanders live in deprived areas.

Ground control will help to form the world’s only “ethical eco-fur industry” within a global fur industry that’s worth US$40bn.

Time for a Think Big on Science

So how will we achieve the scientific breakthroughs we need, like an effective replacement for 1080?

The all-important how is provided for in New Zealand First’s policy to use R&D tax credits to lift private R&D from 0.6% of GDP, to around 2%. Combined with long protections for medicines and compounds developed and made here in New Zealand. New Zealand could become both a laboratory and a factory.

That in turn would attract the people we need, as opposed to the people who need us – which has sadly typified this governments ‘mass-migration as economic policy’ approach.

The government says it wants public spending on R&D to go from 0.8% of GDP, to an “aspirational goal’ of 1%. That is anaemic. New Zealand First believes government is not spending nearly enough on science with frozen budgets. Meanwhile it has completely botched up publicly funded research.

This now sees Invermay downgraded, huge disengagement at AgResearch and scientists being laid-off in order to employ administrators and marketers.

New Zealand First wants to lift public science investment to 2% of GDP within a decade, but not within the fragmented science ecosystem National has created.

We will be announcing further bold thinking on this mid-year, but to be globally competitive, we need more than crumbs or slogans.

We need to have the public and private sectors investing 4% of GDP into Research and Development.

Not long ago, the Brookings Institution found that 20% of all jobs required a high level of knowledge in a field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Encouragingly, half of all the jobs were available to non-degree holders. Yet what are we graduating? Photographers and communicators by the bucket load because too much tertiary education, like mass migration, has become about bums on seats.

We have traded in our number eight wire can-do attitude for the RMA

Much of New Zealand’s historic long term infrastructure would be impossible to build today because of the Resource Management Act. Sir Bob Jones had to fork out $4,500 for a resource consent and a cultural impact assessment after consulting with 13 iwi, all because a reinstated window looked over a designated heritage site!

RMA reform is a New Zealand First priority seen in the first two sentences from our manifesto:

“If New Zealand's economy is to reach its potential then it must have world leading planning and resource consent laws…the RMA clearly requires thorough revision to improve processes and procedures, reduce compliance costs, clarify expectations and responsibilities, and to facilitate progress and protection”.

Reform of the RMA has also been the Holy Grail for the National Party. Yet instead of Nick Smith being the living embodiment of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he is more like Don Quixote tilting at regional plans.

National has already altered the RMA to make iwi into consenting authorities.

The Joint Management Agreement between Ngati Porou and Gisborne District Council means that within five years, Ngati Porou will become a full consenting authority in its own right. Just last week Ngai Tahu got two guaranteed representatives on Environment Canterbury when it returns to partial democracy later this year.

And as you already know National’s Auckland Supercity legislation has unelected iwi representatives controlling and charging for processes as flimsy as the one that Sir Bob Jones ran into.

Like a crack in a dam, Minister Nick Smith’s new RMA bill will force every council to invite local iwi to discuss, agree and record ways in which tangata whenua, through iwi authorities, can participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans.

All of this is to happen within 30 days of a council being elected.

It is only the starting point because following Dr Smith’s recent consultation document on freshwater, National’s close ally, the Maori Party, responded like this:

“The chapter begins with the statement “No one owns the water”. Most people don’t understand what Treaty rights to water are or why they exist. It’s an unhelpful starting point for public discussion…The discussion document does acknowledge that the Waitangi Tribunal recognised that hapū and iwi do have proprietary rights to control access to and the use of local waterways”.

Think about what “control access to and the use of local water” actually means.

Dr Smith speaks with a forked tongue, for while he assures farmers, businesses and homeowners that he has their back, both he and Mr Key are caving into a huge shopping list from the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group. This includes:

Ownership of all Crown owned river & lakebeds and the water column.

Title in freshwater consistent with Waitangi Tribunal rulings

A $1b fund in to an Iwi approved entity to address capacity and capability including mechanisms to assist decision making, water quality and economic mechanisms

Most critically Sections 6 & 7 of the RMA will not change thanks to Mr Dunne and the Maori Party. So what exactly is National reforming again? And what have their platitudes on the RMA come to?

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to put New Zealand first and separatism is the opposite of what New Zealand First stands for.

In response to National’s alarming summersault New Zealand First will formally invite the Prime Minister to discuss real RMA reform that will include landowner compensation if councils continue to restrict property rights under the RMA.

Only then will New Zealand First put its 12 votes behind the reforms that Minister Adams advanced in 2013, minus of course, the separatism.

Our price for this support is the elimination of all the meaningless preferences being built into the RMA.

It’s not what we’re negotiating, it’s how we’re negotiating

Having great research and planning laws is not good enough, if trade policy subsequently sells Kiwi exporters down the river.

Only eight months ago, Federated Farmers and New Zealand’s Special Agriculture Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, Charles Atlas-like said the TPPA was going to be gold standard or bust.

So why is it in recent weeks we are seeing subsidised American milk powder being kicked in our faces? And what are the other so-called farming leaders doing about it?

In the 1980s and 1990s our farmers went cold turkey yet discovered there was Life after Subsidies.

Agricultural subsidies are the farming equivalent of crack cocaine.

Subsides lock in carbon inefficient production that damages the world’s climate. Subsidies are like a reverse Robin Hood – they take from the poorest through taxes in order to give to the richest. Subsidies aid conflict and causes advanced by terrorists because they lock developing nations into a poverty trap.

If there was ever a cause for us to galvanise the developing world behind us, it is subsidies. Yet our silence on this at the UN Security Council is deafening.

In Britain, their National Farmers’ Union admitted that European subsidies are worth £175 to £200 per hectare, or about $31,000 to $36,000 every year for the average British farm.

What does the TPPA do about the US$110bn worth of subsidies paid each year to American, Canadian, Mexican and Japanese farmers? Nothing. What will the more farcical European Union FTA do about €50bn in European subsidies? There’s not a mutter, not a murmur, not a syllable, not a sound. Nothing.

This is why we are underwhelmed by Mr Key’s claim, first that benefits would be $5b per annum by 2025, now drastically trimmed back by his officials to $2.7B by 2030.

That of course is the future value and being bright people you can work out that the present value is dramatically much less than that.

It gets worse.

Most of Mr Key’s $2.7bn gains “by 2030” aren’t even from what we physically export. If the TPP is ever “fully implemented” then total tariff and duty reductions will, with a fair wind someday amount to $608m.

While tariff reductions are good per se, they become 30 pieces of silver if the $260bn in competitor annual farm subsidies are made untouchable in the process. That elephant in the room is stacked against us and this government and its lackeys are doing nothing about it.

Remember, Mr Key also said that changing the flag would be worth billions to our economy which begs the question whose tail is he pulling now?

This is why we need a new direction on trade

We welcome trade agreements that are about trade and not old-fashioned protectionism. This includes the agreement that was almost concluded with Russia – the world’s number two dairy importer and number one beef importer.

Some say we cannot do it now because of Ukraine. Strange that, because in the first half of 2015, Ukraine of all countries, doubled its food exports to Russia.

While Mr Key calls on our exporters to show restraint from exploiting Europe’s problems, subsidised European producers have shown no such scruples by hopping into our markets with gusto.

Since the Russia embargo started, the EU has made significant export gains in the US (up 16%), China (up 33%), Korea (up 29%) and even Saudi Arabia (up 10%). And National’s Saudi bribe did not work.

New Zealand First is committed to rehabilitating the trade relationship with Russia, that Mr Key went out of his way to wreck.

And there is another imminent opportunity that could be with the United Kingdom.

On June 23, British voters will decide whether to remain in Europe, or to exit – the “Brexit” as it is called. The latest polls have the Leave-EU camp ahead by three-percent with London’s outgoing Mayor-come MP, Boris Johnson, endorsing an exit.

Meanwhile, National maintains the fiction of a European FTA.

New Zealand First believes our oldest and most successful trade agreement with Australia, CER, provides the ideal template for Closer Commonwealth Economic Relations, or CCER.

Mr Johnson has publicly backed calls for a bilateral mobility zone between the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Based on the highly successful Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, it shows the opportunity that is within our grasp.

Norway’s success proves Britain can easily flourish outside of the European Union. While Brexit is an opportunity for not just New Zealand businesses, products and people, it is an excellent opportunity to heal a rift dating back to 1973.

CCER also could become the model for high quality future agreements with Canada, South Africa and yes, may be in time, India too.

In summation

Mr Key has a botanically incorrect design on the logo he claims to be a flag. The Lockwood design, quite impossible to draw, is not a silver fern and even a colour-blind person can tell that.

In the words of David Ellison, whose ancestor helped to design the original rugby tour uniform, the Lockwood fern is: “a generic two-divisional plant fern that can be found on every continent.”

Worse, the way it is rendered onto a “flag” or lapel pin, makes it look more like a white feather rather than what our sporting teams proudly wear.

A white feather certainly sums up this government’s approach to mass immigration and questionable foreign investment.

In 1988, the late Prime Minister David Lange wrongly said: “Farming is a sunset industry and manufacturing and tourism will take its place.”

Some 28 years on that view defines the urban but not urbane National Party today.

Tourism is a good industry but it’s not the silver bullet this government and the Minister of Tourism constantly talk it up to be.

A record 3.1 million visitors came to New Zealand last year, but why overlook the record 2.4 million trips taken overseas by New Zealanders in the same period?

Tourism is a double-edged sword for while it brings dollars through the front door, almost as many slip right out the back door. It is full of overseas ownership too – the airlines, hotels, retail and ground transport to name just four areas.

This is arguably why record tourism is not reflected in tax revenues, which inconveniently, are falling.

Agriculture is New Zealand’s core competitive advantage and we need to harness our famous #8 wire creativity, commoditise it and then export it under free trade agreements that are worthy of the name.

Above all, it is time to put New Zealand First because if you want RMA reform, if you want a real research commitment and if you want trade agreements that are about trade, then you must try us.

It will be well worth your time.


© Scoop Media

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




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.