Reply To The Prime Minister's Statement
Mr Speaker –
Sometimes we have the privilege of watching a great political event unfold.
Sometimes we hear a speaker inspire us with a great vision.
Sometimes a great leader shows us the way to a better and brighter future for our country.
Sadly - we’ve missed out on all three today.
The best part of the Prime Minister’s speech today was the part where - he sat down.
The rest of it consisted of the same old same old neo-liberal/free market pixie dust.
It sounded like he wrote it in the shower or in Antarctica or somewhere.
The philosophy behind it goes something like this:
1. Flog off the country to overseas investors.
2. Create a currency speculators paradise.
3. Change the labour laws again to kick the workers in the guts.
4. Cut government services.
5. Starve the regions.
6. Subsidise overseas businesses, like Warner Brothers, and ignore opportunities to keep New Zealand enterprises going back home.
7. And when in doubt build another motorway!!!
New Zealand’s great leaders were once people of vision.
They didn’t spend their lives gazing into a computer screen.
They surrounded themselves with like-minded individuals.
They wanted to make life better for their people.
Their vision was of an independent nation, making its own way in the world using New Zealand resources with educated and skilled people – who could expect some sort of fulfilment and satisfaction.
We led the world with our social justice – our care of the young and the old – and the guiding principle was that simple expression – “We have to give them a fair go”.
That noble concept of a fair go for all was the first casualty of the neoliberalism practised by the political Neanderthals who have polluted this country since 1984.
What we have now is a government that governs by photo opportunities, sound bites and spin doctoring.
And seldom in our history has a government assumed such an air of lofty arrogance in so short a time.
There is no engine room of ideas, policies, plans or perceptions.
The Prime Minister – who is supposed to be a smart guy – cannot understand the single biggest problem this country faces.
That is that we cannot earn enough money to make our way in the world because our currency is over-valued.
It is out of control and every exporter and manufacturer knows this.
The world’s best performing economies know this.
But here we have an original thinker in Steven Joyce proclaiming that “he feels the currency will come down a bit”.
He says it’s a fool’s paradise to intervene in the exchange rate.
Yeah right – look at these graphs.
They paint a stark picture.
Here is export profitability.
And here is the NZ dollar to US dollar exchange rate.
It is clear.
As the exchange rate goes up our earnings as a country go down.
Yet we have Mr Joyce dismissing leaders of the manufacturing and export sector who yesterday testified to the damage that a chronically overvalued dollar is causing.
Who has credibility? The serious people who are actually running business in a highly competitive world or a Minister out of ideas but who is too arrogant to consider he may be wrong.
We need policies for this decade, not policies stuck in the 1990s.
Where does the National party find these people?
We in New Zealand First will not accept defeat over this issue.
Mr Key and his colleagues are strangling our manufacturers and exporters.
Mr Key and his colleagues are sentencing them to commercial extinction with a massively overvalued dollar.
All manner of experts from the IMF downwards confirm this.
But no, the National Party know better.
For Mr Key’s Government is about working for currency speculators.
It is not working for real people.
This is a government of currency speculators by currency speculators for currency speculators.
Although our Reserve Bank Bill missed out by one vote – we will be resubmitting our Bill shortly because action on the dollar is imperative if we are to save what remains of our manufacturing base.
In the halcyon days of New Zealand’s economic prosperity our manufacturing was more than 30 per cent of our GDP.
Today it is less than 13 per cent and falling.
We know there are some nervous nellies amongst National backbenchers.
Some of them are from the regions that supply our export wealth – such as it is.
Talk to them about their regions. They know what’s happening.
Mr Speaker the countries that are doing well have a common theme and that is that they manage their economies.
They don’t allow the financial markets and the banks to take control of their economic destiny.
More than anyone else, Mr Key knows what caused the global financial crisis.
Or to be more accurate, the Western Financial Crisis.
Mr Key even knew some of the people involved because he used to work with them.
Mr Speaker we are not in Parliament just to point out the flaws in the government’s policies (or lack of them).
Nor are we here to heap scorn on those individuals who were obviously cut out for some other vocation than to persecute humanity as members of parliament.
We in New Zealand First promised to be constructive and we want to give the government some kind of guidance for the year ahead.
Current policies are stabbing the heart of the heartland.
Provincial regions create our wealth but this is not recognised by this government.
Some regions are in trouble.
Their government services are being cut back all the time.
And guess what? Mr Key is going to keep cutting!
There are rising unemployment, law and order problems and there is a lack of opportunity for youth in the regions.
The picture painted in the beehive is very different from the reality on the ground.
And what about the rail links?
The Napier-Gisborne line gone with the stroke of a pen for want of a few million dollars.
Mr Speaker – we are not here today to just criticise – even though it is justified.
We have ideas and we will work with the government to implement policies that train our young people and create jobs.
We have an overview.
We look at the big picture.
There has been a lot of talk about the sustainability of superannuation and coping with an ageing population.
Well, New Zealand First is not fooled on this issue, and we do have a plan.
We are going to release policies this year that cover all aspects of this demographic change.
We don’t see senior citizens as a problem.
We celebrate age and wisdom and might we say there should be a bit more of it around here for we are sick of inexperience learning on the job.
We value experience.
For example, would experience have landed us with the disaster that is Novopay?
Our policies include superannuation eligibility, health, power costs, eldercare and employment.
The present approach is too piecemeal.
We are confident the social/demographic change can be managed with the right attitude.
And a change in attitude is needed over immigration.
This is an on-going issue with further scams emerging all the time.
Christchurch is getting its own problems with underpaid immigrant workers being poured in illegally.
There is continued abuse of the student visa scheme.
The doors to our country are wide open and this is not acceptable.
And a warning to all members in this House.
A political bushfire will rage across the country this year over our beaches and seabed.
This season might be the last that Kiwis enjoy free access to their favourite beaches.
The Government is negotiating away control to Iwi groups under the guise of customary title.
This is a ticking time-bomb allowing iwi privatisation of beaches and seabed, at any time in the future.
We know of about 22 claims to 900 kilometres of coastline and about 4500 square kilometres of seabed – many in prime locations.
We are sure that many more claims are in the pipeline but there is a wall of silence despite the intense public interest.
And we will be vigilant with regard to the Constitutional Review which we know has a secret agenda to make the Treaty of Waitangi the cornerstone of our democracy.
And of course Whānau Ora will continue to appease the Maori Party but they are pakaru!
And what about housing?
The rental situation is overloaded.
Rents are sky high and getting worse.
There is not enough housing stock and Auckland is a property speculators’ paradise, including, now, many foreign speculators in housing real estate.
Mr Speaker there is another area where the government has its head firmly in the sand and that is the forthcoming diabetes problem.
The health system won’t be able to cope.
Something has to be done now.
We in New Zealand First don’t believe in totalitarian food control.
But we have to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt being devoured by Kiwis.
We will work with anyone prepared to grasp this nettle.
At the start of 2013 New Zealand is faced by a range of critical issues that I have outlined today.
A government that is incapable or unwilling to consider all options with the best interests of all New Zealanders at heart has no right to govern.
This is not a government for New Zealanders.
It is serving special interests, mainly in the world of big business.
Whether it be Warner Brothers, Sky City or China Southern Airlines the pattern is clear.
That pattern is backroom deals leading to special favours at great cost to the long term interests of ordinary Kiwis.
These were the people who asked New Zealand First to look after them.
And that is what we will be doing in 2013!