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The heart of a new government

Jim Anderton MP Sun Oct 17 1999

Jim Anderton
MPThe heart of a new government

Jim Anderton MP

Leader of the Alliance

Leader's Address

Alliance 1999 election campaign opening.

Sunday, 17 October 1999

Check against delivery

Friends and colleagues,

This is the first of 41 days.

The beginning of the first week of six to election day.

This is the first day of an historic election campaign. A campaign which will see the Alliance and our people-centred policies in a new government.

We'll get there with strength of numbers to get on with the job of rebuilding our country.

We'll restore it to its once proud place as one of the leaders of the world's nations. In social equality. In progressive economic development. In quality of life for all our citizens.

This afternoon you have been listening to the strongest team in Parliament.

Sandra Lee, deputy leader of the Alliance, who has been at my side in parliament for six years. Valiant, dependable...and ready to show this country what she can do on the Treasury benches.

Matt Robson, who has won the respect of friends and opponents for his cool advocacy of human rights and democracy.

John Wright, whose commonsense and compassion as leader of the Democrats has brought that political movement - started in the '50s - closer to government than it has ever been.

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Phillida Bunkle, who is about to do to Richard Prebble in Wellington Central - one way or another - what Sandra Lee did to him in Auckland Central. Richard Prebble said he would save rail. When Phillida Bunkle says she will save the public hospital system - she really means it.

Laila Harré has waged one of the most successful campaigns ever by a first-term MP in her battle for paid parental leave.

Everyone who gets a golden handshake must lie awake at night at the thought of Grant Gillon.

Liz Gordon, is the only education spokesperson for any party who has stood up for a free, high quality public education system.

You've also seen some of the strongest candidates any party has on its list: People like Willie Jackson and Kevin Campbell who are here in Auckland.

From Tricia Cutforth in the North to Mark Ryan and Stephanie de Ruyter in Dunedin and Invercargill.

This is a talented and inspirational team.

We are on our way to government.

Helen Clark has said that the Alliance will only have as much influence as the strength of our party vote gives us in parliament and in coalition with Labour.

That's OK with me because that is a challenge to the Alliance and to the people of New Zealand.

It's a challenge to give the Alliance the strongest possible party vote - because no one else will deliver full employment, free education and health care, better and cheaper housing, and better incomes for superannuitants, beneficiaries and low income earners.

On Friday night I watched from the stands at Ericsson Stadium as the kiwis downed Australia in the rugby league tri-series - just!

Outside here, a few miles away on the sparkling waters of the Waitemata harbour, New Zealand sailors are preparing to defend the America's Cup. The might of world yachting is here to compete. And all of them acknowledge that the New Zealanders are the ones to beat.

Across the other side of the world, our All Blacks are surging towards supremacy at the rugby world cup. And most of them are South Islanders!!

In eleven weeks the first sunrise of the new millenium will shine on New Zealand before it shines anywhere in the world.

This is a great time to be a New Zealander.

The hallmark of the country our forebears built was equality. That birthright has been turned on its head.

Our time has come to regain the social, economic and political destiny New Zealanders have as our heritage.

New Zealanders want change.

The economic experiment is over.

New Zealanders want change because the economic experiment of the last fifteen years has failed by its own terms.

They said we would have permanent economic growth. They failed. The average income of each New Zealander has steadily fallen as a percentage of the average income in other developed countries. For three out of six quarters since Mrs Shipley became prime minister, the economy has actually shrunk!

They said that we had to cut, slash, deregulate and privatise because our overseas debt was so serious. In 1984, little Olivia owed $5000 overseas. Now she is 17 and owes $28,000...and she hasn't even got a student loan yet. When the Muldoon government was thrown out, we owed the equivalent of 145% of our export earnings overseas. Now it's 350% and going up every week. Our current account deficit is the worst in the developed world.

I am appalled that the debt crisis facing New Zealand is not looming larger in this election. It is so serious that I predict, no matter who forms the next government, our credit rating will be down-graded after the election. Interest rates will rise.

The National Party is claiming interest rates are low. Yet we have one of the highest real interest rates in the developed world.

Developed countries with lower interest rates on government bonds than New Zealand include Japan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Britain, the US, Hong Kong and Australia.

They said there was no alternative if we wanted to reduce unemployment. Now, 210,000 New Zealanders are jobless. When the National Party says it is trying to create jobs, consider this: The Treasury forecasts that if National stays in office we will have the same level of unemployment for the next fifty years.

They said that there would be fewer New Zealanders on welfare benefits. They have doubled the numbers on welfare benefits since 1984.

The only way to get numbers on welfare benefits down is to invest in new, high-quality jobs.

They said their health reforms would fix the hospital system and shorten waiting lists. 190,000 New Zealanders are now waiting for treatment or assessment in public hospitals.

Regional areas of New Zealand are losing services. Hospitals, schools, banks, post offices, petrol stations.

New Zealand cannot afford another three years of this.

You cannot take the risk of another three years of cuts.

If New Zealand wakes up on November 28 and finds they have done it again and put National, Act and Winston Peters back into government this is what it will mean:

Rising student fees and student debt.

Rising overseas debt.

Rising interest rates.

Rising hospital waiting lists.

Cuts to superannuation.

More job losses. More services disappearing from our towns and cities.

You cannot afford another three years of this. You cannot take the risk of another three years of National, Act and New Zealand First.

Their policies have had fifteen years. They haven't delivered.

Their time is up.

The Alliance is the only party that has consistently argued that there is another way. For fifteen years National, Labour, Act and NZ First have all told New Zealanders, 'There is no alternative'.

Only the Alliance has consistently offered that real alternative.

Our role in government will be to advocate for a new direction. The more strength the Alliance has in a new government, the more our presence will reflect New Zealanders' desire for change.

The other parties are struggling with the idea of social welfare. The Alliance is committed to the idea of social security.

Social security means security in jobs, health care, education, housing, retirement.

If you have security in your life, in your job, your home, your future, you don't need welfare.

Social security means better opportunities for New Zealanders.

Our young people should have the opportunity to work in high-quality, high-skill jobs.

Too many young New Zealanders are getting a headstone for their 21st birthday. We have the highest rate of youth suicide in the world. We are building more prisons to lock up more of our young. The best way to reduce reduce the tragedies of youth suicide and prevalence of crime is to reduce unemployment.

New Zealanders know that.

The Alliance is the only party committed to full employment.

The Alliance will invest in job-rich new industries. We'll create better opportunities for our young and reshape our economy with dynamic high-technology industries of the future, especially in our struggling regions. Firms like Tait Electronics or CWF Hamilton, each employing hundreds of people and exporting hundreds of millions of dollars a year of state of the art manufactured products.

I want to be Minister of Economic Development and Employment and take responsibility for creating thriving new industries through partnership between government and the private sector.

80,000 more New Zealanders will have jobs than under National's economic policies.

Young workers who need the opportunity to develop their skills in the workplace will have an apprenticeship scheme. No one under twenty will be on the dole. The Alliance will ensure that every young person has the opportunity to train or receive education. Our young are going to be preparing for a better life, not biding their time until something comes along - usually an unemployment benefit.

We'll invest in jobs instead of welfare. A working population provides revenue for the government instead of costing it money in benefits. We'll have the resources we need to build a better education system.

31,000 more New Zealanders will have the advantages and opportunities of a tertiary education because we are going to remove the barriers. That is how many people are being denied the chance to of a higher education because of fees, the debt burden and the absence of allowances.

The Alliance will remove tertiary fees and get rid of interest charges on all student loans. And we'll provide a universal allowance for study at the same level as the other parties pay young people to languish on the dole.

Many of our best and brightest have left this country to escape their student debts.

They will begin to come home. They will help to build a stronger New Zealand.

New Zealand once invested more than virtually any other country in our primary and secondary education systems. Now we are 96th in the world.

If we want to give everyone in this country the chance to aspire to be anything they want, we must invest in education, and we must invest in jobs.

The Alliance is not just talking about more jobs. We're talking about better jobs. The Alliance is going to modernise New Zealand's workplaces.

An extra week of minimum annual holidays.

Twelve weeks paid parental leave.

Pay equity.

An increase of 50 cents an hour in the minimum wage.

Ordinary working New Zealanders are going to be better off.

Health care, housing and security in retirement are fundamental concerns of any family or individual.

It's time New Zealand had a government that aspired to making them better.

Better health care. No one will miss out on medical care because they can't afford it. The Alliance will make visits to the doctor and medical prescriptions free.

You'll get treatment when you need it. We're going to bring public hospital waiting lists down. The Alliance will invest in the public hospital system instead of spending $112 million a year on the Health Funding Authority and $200 million on private hospitals.

The Alliance will build new state houses and introduce income-related rents.

Young families will have a better opportunity to buy their first home, because we'll provide financial assistance for first home buyers.

Superannuitants will get an extra $20 a week. We will save the NZ Super scheme.

Beneficiaries have had virtually nothing from two rounds of tax cuts. They need relief. The Alliance will boost the incomes of all beneficiaries by $20 a week.

Communities need basic services, like banks. They've been disappearing because our financial system has been swallowed up almost entirely by foreign owners. We will use the branch network of NZ Post to open a kiwi bank. 'Our Bank' means lower interest rates, lower bank fees and less bank branch closures.

The Alliance will stop selling New Zealand's strategic assets. $126 billion of New Zealand is now foreign owned and the foreign owners are taking profits out of the country at the rate of $21 million a day.

The Alliance will protect your health and the environment from the risks of genetic engineering. Only the Alliance has consistently voted in parliament for labelling of all genetically engineered foods, and for a moratorium on field trials and the commercial release of genetically engineered crops while an inquiry is held. The Alliance has the best Green member of parliament - Phillida Bunkle.

The Alliance is the only party with a serious prospect of being represented in a new government that has an unequivocal stance on genetic engineering. If you want to be sure that there is a strong voice against genetic engineering in the new government, you have to give your party vote to the Alliance.

We are in an MMP environment where parties share power.

I know we cannot deliver everything.

But the more support we get with your party vote, the more strength we will have to deliver for you on new jobs, free health care, removing the student debt burden, paid parental leave, an extra weeks annual holidays, a genetic engineering moratorium.

No one who earns less than $60,000 a year will pay more income tax under the Alliance. 95% of all income earners will not pay more tax.

Australia has a Liberal Party government. And when it introduces GST there, the top tax rate will be 47 cents in the dollar on incomes over $60,000 a year. That is a much higher tax rate at a significantly lower threshold than the Alliance is advocating. Yet Australia's economic performance is far out-stripping New Zealand's. It is growing faster, it has less debt, a similar rate of unemployment, lower interest rates and inflation of 1.1%.

National and Act cannot say they won't increase taxes on those earning under $60,000. Because if there is a National-Act govenrment they won't call their new user charges tax, but they amount to the same thing. And they will apply to you.

National and Act will make you pay more for health care. You can't take the risk that an Act-National government will force you to buy health insurance to pay for your health care.

National and Act will increase tertiary fees. You can't take the risk that more young New Zealanders will miss out on a higher education because they couldn't afford it. You can't take the risk that more of our best and brightest will leave this country to escape their student debt burden.

National and Act will sell more of your assets and let foreign owners take over more of our country.

Last year, the Treasury spent $61.5 million of your money on consultants. That's over half its total spending for the year. $47 million of that went to consultants advising on asset sales. Our assets. Like Contact Energy and Auckland Airport.

National and Act have had their chance.

So has Winston Peters.

When Winston Peters was Treasurer of this country for two years he approved the sale of 166,800 hectares of land and $11.7 billion of New Zealand assets to foreign owners.

New Zealanders cannot take the risk of Winston Peters again.

I'm going to read you a quote from the Dominion of the second of September this year.

'New Zealand First leader Winston Peters denied yesterday saying his party was more likely to form a coalition with Labour than National, then admitted saying it but denied meaning it.'

New Zealand First is a joke.

The coice at this election is between a new government of Alliance and Labour, or the same old, tired, failed policies of National and Act.

The first act of an Alliance-Labour government will be a new electoral law requiring any MP who leaves their party during the term of parliament to resign from parliament. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. Just the law.

The time has come to restore some integrity to the political process.

Politicians have never been more unpopular.

It's not surprising that the public is becoming exasperated.

There is only one realistic way that we can restore the public's confidence in our democratic institutions.

It is to elect a government that truly governs in the interests of ordinary New Zealanders.

It is almost a quarter of a century since there was a government and political leadership that cared about and had an indentity with ordinary New Zealanders. The government of Norm Kirk and Bill Rowling. The Alliance is ready and willing to pick up that heritage and restore that legacy.

It's been said that I've been tough on Alliance MPs in parliament. And I probably have. And there's a good reason. If it's hard for MPs even opposition in parliament, how much harder is it for those we represent in the real world outside?

I have a message for our dedicated and talented candidates who are part of the team I hope to lead into government. I will demand the highest standards and I will expect you to rise to the challenge of political leadership and representation.

I can promise you that if you and I meet that challenge you will be remembered with gratitude and affection by a New Zealand people starved of leadership, vision and integrity.

The Alliance has a clear vision of the sort of New Zealand we want this country to be.

It is a vision first and foremost of a sovereign nation. New Zealanders setting our own agendas and making our own decisions with our own interests in mind.

It's a New Zealand in which no one is excluded from the rights of citizenship. Decent housing. A full education. Medical care when it is needed. Security in retirement.

It will be a democratic New Zealand, in real ways in everyone's daily lives. Decisions will be made at the local level by the whole community in the interests of all New Zealanders. The people who represent you at the local level will be elected by you, not appointed by remote Ministers in Wellington.

The New Zealand we stand for is one in which all New Zealanders know who we are, and are proud of being that. In which we express the unique things about being a New Zealander. Where we are comfortable inside our own skin and we can laugh at ourselves if we want to. The New Zealand of Murray Ball's Footrot Flats and Fred Dagg. And also the New Zealand of Norman Kirk, of Ed Hillary, of Colonel William Malone. Of the peacemakers Te Whiti and Wiremu Tamehana.

The New Zealand we envisage is a New Zealand where we can live harmoniously in partnership with one another. We've made significant progress in realising the promise of the Treaty of Waitangi. But however far we've come, there's a long way to go before we arrive at settlements we can all live with. It's important we should get it right.

New Zealanders of this generation are ancestors of our future generations.

Our achievements will determine the shape of our economy, our society and our nation for the next hundred years and beyond.

It's time we began to shape it the right way.

November 27 1999, the last election of the millenium seems to me to be a good time to start.

Let's get started on change.

Let's get started on putting more money in the pockets of ordinary New Zealanders.

Let's win for our young people. For the opportunities and advantages that more jobs and free access to education will give them.

Let's win for the families of today and the generations of the future.

This is our time.

Let's go and win our country back.

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