Kaitaia Grey Power, Friday 3 August, Golf Club, Takahe Road, Kaitaia
“The Political Circus Called Parliament”
It is a pleasure to be back in Kaitaia. The heart of the far north and because it’s an opportunity to thank you for the very strong support you gave New Zealand First at the last election.
Northland was very strong for us which is why we came here before the last election to remind Northlanders that there is at least one party that understood their economic and social plight.
This speech was intended to be about something entirely different.
We wanted to talk about lofty issues such as duty, loyalty, patriotism and the role of citizen versus government.
We were going to bemoan the gradual loss of state loyalty to citizens and the clear breaches of mutual obligations.
However events this week compel us to wonder out aloud about New Zealand’s own special blend of democracy.
In short – the title of my talk to you today in the winterless North, is simply about the political circus called Parliament.
Now it’s not often that we praise John Key but one of his statements this week was worthy of a gold medal in the somersault section of the Olympics.
This was in the capital’s newspaper, the Dominion Post on Wednesday. And I quote:
“When asked about his stance on the gay marriage bill before Parliament Mr Key was reported as saying he was ‘more than comfortable’ with sticking to his support for the bill, although it was not
impossible he could be swayed into voting against it.”
Now that is something that could be studied by political scientists for years to come.
Can someone tell me in this room what that actually means?
His position – whatever it really is - is a classic case of everything that increases the public contempt of the process of democracy in the House of Representatives.
His position actually is “I will vote for this unless I vote against it”.
Some people who populate the beltway on the way to Parliament would have you believe that gay marriage is the most pressing issue facing the country.
The fact is it would be hard pressed to reach the top of any list of critical priorities in order of importance.
Tell that to the children fossicking around in the rubbish bins.
Tell that to the families who can’t afford their power bills.
And tell that to the man or woman who lost their job last week.
The drawing of this private members bill from the ballot was a welcome diversion for the government.
The media went into a feeding frenzy without waiting for the Select Committee, submissions, deliberations, or reasoned debate in or outside of Parliament
The journalists descended on politicians like a swarm of locusts to get their opinions and find out how the MPs would vote.
They work in the belief that it is far more important to decide the issues of the day through media columns rather than in Parliament.
After all, journalists are far better placed to give their opinions and views on anything and everything.
Pity helps anyone who says – let us first hear what New Zealanders think on this or any issue.
The idea of reporting facts from Parliament has long gone.
If we look back over the last couple of weeks there are some really significant issues.
Let’s have a quick look at them:
The first is the issue of Maori water rights and the Waitangi Tribunal.
The situation is now a big mess.
Most of you will recall last year how we repeatedly warned that the sale of power generating state owned enterprises would create a nightmare over water rights.
We carefully explained that any government had no right to pass control over our streams, rivers, lakes and waterways to private or foreign interests.
Despite repeated efforts our warnings were brushed aside and now we have an unholy mess created by some very slippery dealings.
First of all, the Prime Minister said nobody owns the water.
Then he said if Maori went to the Waitangi Tribunal, the government could ignore its recommendations.
Then he said there was no chance of the sale of shares in the first SOE being delayed.
Then he gave the Maori Party an assurance over water rights for Maori.
Now he is taking the Waitangi Tribunal’s early recommendation into consideration.
He also says the asset sales programme will go ahead this year as planned.
It takes many years of wheeling and dealing to be able to take so many positions on one issue in over just two weeks!
And there is another serious matter here and that is all these deals are going on behind closed doors out of sight of public scrutiny.
If the Maori Party are happy about the deal he promised them in secret then it’s a safe bet to assume that the rest of the country will be very unhappy – non Maori and Maori alike.
This is the start of National’s secret water privatisation programme.
This is exactly what happened over the foreshore and seabed.
This is a double edged sword that threatens to cut everyone touched by it.
The government blundered ahead with its asset sales programme and never thought about the outcome.
This is what happens when you put a bunch of wheeler dealers in charge.
Now look at KiwiRail.
The railways system was sold by National in 1993 with a certain company called Fay Richwhite involved.
The rail system was asset stripped and run down the gurgler of privatisation and the Labour government had to buy back the shambles created and try to get the national rail system back on track. (no
You’ll notice if you listen to parliament National Ministers blaming Labour for the state of NZ Rail.
That is a serious exercise in deception given that it was National’s sale of NZ Rail on 20 July 1993 for a bargain basement price which first brought NZ Rail to its knees.
After less than four years of National back in power again they say this rail system is being restructured.
Hundreds of people are losing their jobs.
Track maintenance is being contracted out.
Locomotive and wagon manufacturing has been handed to China.
The imported junk is breaking down and wrecking our rail system recovery.
Sleepers imported from South America are rotting under the tracks.
Would you buy a used car from this government?
And wait there’s more!
There is a huge scandal breaking over the way the National Party handled the overseas student visa system.
It all started under the previous minister Jonathan Coleman in about August 2010.
You will notice that he is keeping his head down over this issue.
Well the story goes like this:
There is an indecent scramble to get quick money educating overseas students.
The export education sector leaned on Dr Coleman to hurry up the visa application process.
In turn, Dr Coleman leaned on the Immigration Service.
The Immigration Service has a special section based in Palmerston North to deal with these applications.
These government officials tried to keep track of the student visa applications and to check out the applicants.
This was not easy for the immigration officials.
The staff in Minister Coleman’s office started hassling these officials.
They bullied them into submission and tens of thousands of student visas were rubber stamped.
These people have flooded into New Zealand.
Some are genuine students but others are illegal immigrants, prostitutes, criminals, slave labourers and every other shonky trade you can think of.
This is an absolute scandal and outrage. So far about 250 of these illegals have been tracked down as a result of just 1800 applications randomly reviewed. That is a strike rate of 15% fraud.
Thousands more are still out there and they will never be caught.
This minister has now slipped out of the immigration portfolio and thinks he has escaped the consequences of his actions.
People like Coleman don’t give a damn about their country.
This government has a policy of doubling the multi-billion dollar export education industry over a three year period to a target of $5 billion in export education.
The benefits of that target are significantly illusory and National either does not know it or seeks to keep it quiet.
That is because for a significant proportion of overseas students up to 50% of their contribution to a New Zealand education is being swept in to the coffers of overseas education agents associated
with their applications.
That is a rip of both New Zealand’s education system and foreign students who think that is the norm for a tertiary education in New Zealand.
So both the National Government and these overseas agents regard access to our tertiary system as a cash cow.
There are grave dangers and rorts in this short sighted quick return policy and it is incredible that you have a government department and ministers either blithely ignorant of these facts or wantonly
prepared to condone them.
When an Asian education provider with a serious understanding of what is happening with Indian students informs New Zealand First with evidence of this we take notice.
The government’s first obligation is to educate and train New Zealanders – even if they head to Australia later on.
Second – the whole education system is cheapened and brought into disrepute by an industry prepared to go to any lengths with a minister prepared to go to any lengths to get bums on seats.
The trouble is they have no idea which bums were on the seats of the aeroplanes that came from China and India.
There is another National disgrace and that is the bribery of the Māori Party with the pork barrel called Whānau Ora.
This is a slush fund of about $174 million created by the Māori Party and the money has been taken from far more worthy social causes.
The money is being siphoned off for some very dubious causes – like family reunions, a rugby club and a family violence prevention scheme involving the Mongrel Mob in Dunedin.
The Mongrel Mob used Whanau Ora money to finance drug dealing.
This is another scandal that can be laid fairly and squarely at National and its shabby deal with the Māori Party.
In the Far North there are frightening social problems.
The biggest need in this area is jobs.
Māori do not need all this race based nonsense.
Their needs are the same as everyone else’s and employment is top of the list.
Add decent housing, good healthcare and education and training.
Ordinary Māori can see through the cultural posturing in the capital.
The Māori Party sits at the table of power on lower chairs waiting for some crumbs to fall off the tablecloth.
It was given this Whānau Ora fund and a pat on the head to be good and keep National in power.
New Zealand First has always believed the way forward for Māori was to be part of the system and to take a full part in it.
We will continue to point out the folly of the present policies – and the expense to taxpayers.
There are eight New Zealand First MPs back in Parliament.
We are giving the place a big shakeup and trying to get it to look at itself.
It was hard to believe what had happened in the three years of our absence.
Talk about the lunatics running the asylum!
The place was being transformed into some sort of dysfunctional state department from a television sitcom.
Democracy is not like that. It’s about people.
The people always have to come first and that is what is being ignored by this government and its cling-ons.
You can waffle on about macro-economics and select committee procedures but the real test of a parliament is what it achieves for the people.
All the people – not some special interest group - not some pressure group, not a team of lobbyists.
New Zealand First is for the people.
We always have been and we always will be.