NZ First campaign launch speech

Winston Peters launched NZ First into the election campaign with a speech in the weekend.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.

Interesting to see “It’s time for a change” in there. That’s similar to what Greens and Labour have been campaigning on (they say ‘change the government’ or ‘campaign for change’).

Full speech:


The regions – Together, for New Zealand

It has been an explosive week in politics.

A week that will go in the history books as the time two Prime Ministers covered up a crime and were party to a payout to buy off a witness.

We have heard the people of Clutha-Southland feel hurt, fragile and let down.

They have every right to be.
While The Barclay Debacle revealed the corrupt inner workings of the National Party machine, it told us also that National Party takes the regions for granted.

One television commentator said National could stand a blue sheep in Clutha-Southland and it would still win the electorate.
The sheep would also be more honest. On television yesterday Mr English said in excusing his behaviour, “I am not a lawyer”. He conveniently forgets the adage, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

This is a sad state of affairs.

“Defibulators” – for National

The National Party Cabinet are into spin, downright deceit and Fibs. As Mr English displayed alongside Paula Bennet and others, they simply can’t tell the truth. So as part of our Heath Policy this election we’re going to order up a whole lot of defibulators and send them to their offices. Every time they tell a lie this machine will give them a shock. It might be painful but that’s what it will take.

Men like Keith Holyoake must be rolling in their graves.
Not only that – National has no sound policies to progress all of New Zealand.

They have let the wealth get sucked out of our regions with little payback.
They have let much of our assets and land be sold off to foreign buyers.
They have under-funded regional roads and hospitals.
They have no coherent plan for our regions just as they have no coherent economic plan for this country.
And they’ve have turned their backs on our young people.

They’ve allowed the situation to descend to the point one economist has said some of our provincial centres are “zombie towns.”

We’ve got zombies alright – but they’re not in our provinces.
They’re in the Beehive.

It is the regions that produce by far most of our country’s wealth.

Our biggest export earners, the sectors that pay our way in the world, are tourism, dairying, meat, and forestry.

We have Queen Street farmers but what are they doing for the wealth of this country?

Within a few years experts tell us more than half of New Zealand’s population will live north of Taupo.

Thats because of a lack of political vision and a contempt for the real wealth creators of this country.

National is most at home when they are in Wellington, among all the shiny suits and bureaucrats, adjudicating on New Zealand from their ivory towers.

Mr English has just finished his speech to the National Party conference. Bereft of ideas and excuses, all he could promise after nine years of National was increased incomes and lower taxes by 2020. Surrounded by all manner of deficits, Canute like he promises surpluses and tax cuts.

The Regions and Reserve Bank Reform

Fundamental to a successful economy – and thriving regions over the long term – is an exchange rate that supports exporters and the regions.

Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.

We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters.

Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies

We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports

The Bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.

As a small open economy New Zealand is dependent on a competitive exchange rate.

NZ has a persistent and chronic balance of payments deficit – and this shows the New Zealand dollar does not reflect the underlying reality.

Risks abound in the global economy and New Zealand is highly exposed and vulnerable to any volatility.

NZ First is committed to reforming the Reserve Bank Act as a vital step in safeguarding our economic future –and the future heath of regional New Zealand.

The Regions and Small businesses

Small businesses are the engine room of New Zealand’s economy and are critically in regions such as Manawatu.

Ninety seven per cent of all businesses in New Zealand are small businesses. They employ over 2 million people and produce 27 per cent of GDP per year.

By helping more businesses become profitable, sustainable and competitive will ensure they are in the best position to hire new employees and create jobs.
To boost small businesses New Zealand First will in this Campaign, set out its policies, to really help them start and grow by:

•  A wage subsidy for small business that take on job seekers and provide work experience.

•  Real incentives for small businesses to help disengaged youth become work ready and support mature age job seekers back into work.

•  Immediate Tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000

•  Immediate Tax deduction for professional expenses when starting a business, and by

•  Streamlining business registration for those planning to start a business

• And we are going to get Nationals Ninny, Nosey Nannie state off your back.

Virtually overnight, New Zealand’s oldest licenced premises at Russel, The Duke of Marlbourgh Restaurant had to pull a burger that is a cornerstone of its menu –because it offended MPIs food preparation guidelines by the meat being “pink and raw”.

“Basically the Ministry is telling us how our customers need to eat their food”, said the good people at the Duke.

In Wellington now more tedious bureaucrat’s regimes of food preparation are being dreamt up requiring small businesses to pay thousands of dollar to comply or shut down.

You vote for New Zealand First and we’ll put a leg rope on them whilst reminding these bureaucrats who pays their wages.

The Regions and Student debt

Palmerston North is a university town.

Let’s face it there are a lot of hard-up students here, wondering how they’re going to get by with the weight of massive debts on their shoulders.
New Zealand First will get rid of the student loan for Kiwi students staying and working here in NZ after they finish their studies.

The only requirement is that they work for the same number of years as they have studied.

So three years in tertiary education requires three years in the workforce – five years tertiary means five years in the workforce.

But if they leave for a big OE, and decide to work overseas, they will have to pay back the cost of their tertiary education.

Where they have a current student debt then the system changes to our dollar for dollar policy.

For graduates with skills required in the regions, like teachers, nurses, doctors, police and other much needed regional skills, we plan to use a bonding system.

We will also introduce a universal student allowance.

These are our practical solutions to the huge debt students have to grapple with.

Our policies will also address many of the skills shortages we have in our regions.

The Regions and Infrastructure Deficits

If you were at the National Party conference you would have heard the sound of coughing and spluttering. That’s the sound of their Auckland delegates choking under the sheer weight of numbers due to a reckless and irresponsible open door immigration policy.
Billions are being spent to address Auckland’s chronically overloaded infrastructure.
Last weekend marked the official completion of the Waterview Motorway Tunnel in Auckland – the bill $1.4 billion.
The Auckland City Rail link is underway – there will not be any change out of $3 billion when that project is completed.
Yes Auckland’s infrastructure deficit is plain to see.
But what about regional New Zealand?
Regional infrastructure is the poor cousin – it is being overlooked and put at the end of the queue when it comes to funding.
And this is despite the massive growth of tourism – the costs of which fall primarily on regional NZ
The government boasts of a tourism bonanza, which is based in the Regions, and yet gives almost nothing back to the Regions to fund the cost of it.
We have 30,000 Kilometres of unsealed roads, single lanned bridges and a serious lack of toilets, parking and basic infrastructure.
In this campaign New Zealand First will detail how we are going to return the full GST from Tourists back to the regions in which they spent the money. The data, easily accessible which measures this spend already. You make the money here and you’re going to get your fair share back.
NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.
The Regions and Rail
Rail has a valuable role to play in the development of regional NZ.
But the National Government has run the railway network down to a neglected and parlous state.
NZ First will give rail a real role in regional NZ by properly investing in the rail system.
And we will stop the made conversation to diesel from electrification.
We will stop National’s Luddite behaviour.
Broadband
Regional NZ also has to deal with the unreliability of cellular services and patchy broadband.
This is another illustration of where the government’s heart lies and it’s not in rural and regional New Zealand.
Regional NZ needs massive infrastructure improvement – urgently.
That will take substantial investment and NZ First is committed to making that happen.

The Regions and Stopping the Selloff of our Country
New Zealand under the old parties has been a soft touch for foreign buyers.
The wealth generated in regional NZ is increasingly flowing into the pockets of overseas owners.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a facade – a token exercise intended to give the impression that someone actually takes the national interest into account before foreign buyers get the green light.
The losses of land into foreign ownership are staggering 460,000 hectares alone last year.
The deals invariably get the usual Overseas Investment Office rubber stamp.
There is no requirement on foreign buyers to invest locally in downstream production or new technology.
Under our policy the rules would be strict – there would need to be clear, unequivocal and quantifiable benefits to New Zealand before foreign ownership was allowed.
The Regions and Water
A few years ago the Manawatu River was rated the most polluted river in the Southern Hemisphere.
Three hundred rivers and streams across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand were assessed.
And clean, green NZ came up with the worst river of the lot.
Most of the Manawatu River’s was due to nitrogen runoff from farms; but treated sewage discharged by councils was also a major contributor.
No doubt councils and most farmers would accept such degradation of waterways around New Zealand is not acceptable.
New Zealand First is calling for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to be reviewed.
We cannot allow our rivers and waterways to descend to the level of cesspits.
New Zealand Frist would ensure that only the sustainable taking and use of water for commercial purposes is permitted by developing a national water use strategy.
Legislation must be in place to make sure that the granting of RMA consents is consistent with the proposed new national policy statement and the Strategy.
But we are going to properly finance rural New Zealand into environmental recovery because we are all in this together.

Royalties to the Regions

NZ First has a Royalties for the Regions Policy.
Under this policy, 25% of royalties collected by the government from enterprises such as mining, petroleum and water stay in the region of origin.

As an example, the government collects over $400 million in royalties.

Under our scheme over $100 million, year on year, would remain in the regions for investment.

That money would help to regenerate regional New Zealand.

It is demonstrably wrong that companies like Coca Cola, Suntory Holdings, Oravida, Fiji Water – can take our water for a pitiful token fee while they make millions of dollars from it.

National says no-one owns the water – so foreign companies can come in and take it.

Do you think that is right? No. And nor does New Zealand First.

National arrogance

As we said at the start, National have been a major disappointment, not just to the wider population of New Zealand but to their own faithful followers.

Arrogant National MPs –  Alfred Ngaro acting like a Mafiosi heavy telling the Salvation Army to shut up or else.

Nicky Wagner tweeting frivolously and insulting the disability community.

Simon Bridges blocking information being released on KiwiRail in reply to an OIA.

And now hush money and a prime minister donkey deep in a cover-up.

The true economic reality

In spite of all the pixie dust Mr English and his colleagues come up with, there is not a lot to be optimistic about.

The government says we have GDP growth rate of 2.8%.
But New Zealand’s population has been growing at 2% annually, mostly from overseas.

So, 2% has to be deducted from GDP numbers before any real growth can be claimed.

The real barometer of prosperity, GDP per person is pitiful – less than 1 per cent a year.

We have homelessness.
Growing inequality.
Thousands of young New Zealanders aimlessly going nowhere.

Record net immigration has now shot up to another record of more than 73,000.

And the government tells us they’re skilled workers and we need them.

Most of them aren’t skilled.

We have a director general of health who can’t get his sums right and a health minister who is so obsessed with taking a hatchet to health, he didn’t notice the funding blunders until it was too late.

Fourteen DHBs overpaid and six under-paid.

This is banana republic stuff.

95% of the NZ banking system is held overseas

NZ’s net debt to the rest of the world has soared up to $156 billion.

We have regions running on empty.

We have unacceptable delays from the Electricity Authority sorting out their pricing methodology creating uncertainty and preventing business owners investing in the regions.

Law and order has fallen apart in many provincial areas with fly-by policing and empty police stations.

These are facts.

The Regions and Personal Security

In the last eight or nine years new Zealanders have been told that crime is falling. It’s a lie of course hidden by the Governments catch and release policy – catch criminals but warn them and not charge them. That’s how National has got lower crime figures but their deceit has been exposed and they’re trying to cover it with and extra 880 police over the next four years. And that’s 1000 short of what’s needed.

New Zealand First will recruit 1800 extra front line police in the next three years. Just like we recruited 1000 front line police the last time we had the power to.

Restoring hope

New Zealand First wants to restore hope in our young people.
Hope so that a job is achievable for them.
Hope so that they can one day own a home of their own.
Hope so they don’t see despair, but a future for themselves, their families and their communities.

And hope in our regions and our whole country.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.

 

A wilful, wanton, weak, wobbly, and woeful Winston

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): [Interruption] No, these are not for you, Gerry. These are “tins”—t-i-n-s. There is no surplus. Any fool can see that. What we had today was a wilful, wanton, weak, wobbly, woeful Minister with a wilful, wanton, weak, wobbly, and woeful Budget, and they are going to lose the next election, big time.

The most worried people watching me right now are those good, hard-working, loyal National Party voters who know this will not cut it. Out there, in their homeland, and in the provinces and in the regions, there is nothing for them at all. Here was the claim by Mr Joyce—200,000 more jobs in the last 3 years. To get on that list you just have to work 1 hour a week. Who can possibly believe in that sort of hypocrisy? Then they talked about their growth rate. It is actually 2.8 percent, and if you take out the 2 percent of population growth, that is 0.8 percent, and that is down the bottom of the OECD. You cannot believe these people. I know those National Party supporters out there who remember the likes of Holyoake and Holland and all those other people, when they were a worthy party. These people and the whole show are just a bunch of useless, hopeless, lazy, idle, and, in the main, old, use-by-date, well-gone members of Parliament. And they have got something to do with tins; they have got a tin ear. They do not listen. They do not care, and this Budget showed it.

Budgets are meant to be about philosophy. They are meant to be want demarcates a party against all the others. They are meant to be about a plan—a vision—that every sporting and cultural and business enterprise knows you must have, except National came in today with no plan, no vision, no idea. It is just trying to hang on for 3 years so Gerry does not have to do any work and so that some of them do not have to go back to their tawdry, hopeless, former life, where they never had a real job in the first place. Those members do not know what is like to make a lot of money in business at all. They came here because they are political and business failures.

Hon Member: Ha!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh, do not laugh at me. I do. I have got a record of making some serious money when I had a practice in a law firm. Ha! More than anybody over there made, and I can prove that with the greatest of ease. But I gave up that life for the people and cause of this country, and I have never regretted it—never regretted it.

Did you like the way Steven Joyce reeled out billions and billions and billions of dollars all over 4 years? He never gave a comparison against 2008. He never gave a comparison against what they do in Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, and all the first world countries. No, he thought he could confuse people with big figures, and then the cacophony of clowns got up and what did they do? They clapped him. Unbelievable. I have never seen so many sheep going to the slaughter clapping their way to it—not one Judas goat; about 25 of them. All of the backbench—and they will not be here after the next election. They believe—and they said it again today—in globalisation. They believe in mass immigration.

The UK target is 65 million people. The UK target is net 100,000. New Zealand today has 4.7 million people. Our target? 72,000 as we speak, all cramming into Auckland, spilling over, and every social service is under massive stress with a housing criss that says today to a young student at university “When you leave, it is going to be three times as hard as your parents to get a house.” That is the legacy of this party. Oh, the Government members are not smiling now, are they? Oh, no. I can tell you at home they are all looking down at their noses. They are all fascinated by their correspondence. Some of them are reading the Budget again, trying to make head or tail of it because they can see it might have been the longest suicide note in history for them. That is what is going on here.

Let me tell you how bad these globalists are, because, you know, they do not pay attention to the rest of the world—whether it be Brexit, whether it be the United States, whether it be Australia. The Chinese Government recently is changing regulations to put capital gains taxes on properties held overseas and, guess what, just the other day Chinese investors were rushing to buy land in New Zealand. Two examples: Massey University sold land to Whyburn, which then onsold to a Chinese investor at a massive profit. They did not care what the profit was; they wanted to get that land in New Zealand and they got it. An Auckland golf course sold land to Mansons, which onsold to a Chinese investor at twice the market value. Just two examples. And we sold more land offshore last year—five times more than the previous year. These people are land agents for a foreign culture and for foreign economies, and the very last thing they will ever do is stand up for you.

When we sought to have a register of land and homes in this country so we might know what is going on, these people over here opposed it because they want you to be like their caucus. They want the mushroom principle. They want you in the dark permanently, and our job here is to shine some light on what is going on in this country.

That was a hopeless Budget speech—appalling—and then, to top it off, usually they go from the sublime to ridiculous, but it was ridiculous to pathetic. Up gets Bill English. When you see people standing in a certain way, you know, psychologically, how they are. When somebody goes like that, that means he is open to all sorts of attack because he knows he has got something to hide, and he did most of that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Well, you’re doing it now.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I am just showing—oh, for the benefit of “Simple Simon”—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —for the benefit of “Simple Simon” of Tauranga, I am showing those people there the way Bill English was standing. And do you know what he said? Do you know what he said? “You’re doing that now.” I mean, do these guys become Ministers in a raffle? It is unbelievable.

He claimed a surplus of $1.7 billion. He claimed a surplus of $1.7 billion. If I am looking at roading, that is $1.7 billion short already. If I am looking at railways, that is $1.7 billion short already. If I look at that Cullen fund, which the Government is not contributing to, that is $2 billion already. If I look at our hospital system, that is $1.7 billion to $2 billion already. And the Government claims a surplus whilst out there. When the struggle is real, it does nothing whatsoever, and that is the reason why it should lose.

It has forgotten what it stands for. That party used to be called the National Party with a capital “N”. Now it is the “International Party”—the puppets of every other society and all other people but ours. That is how bad those members are, and if they think they are going to win the next election—as Muhammad Ali would say, if they even dream they are going to win the next election, they should wake up and apologise. Unbelievable—unbelievable.

There is family poverty, mental health services are in disarray, the conservation estate and services are in dismay because the only work that is going in is if it can help tourists and to hell with New Zealanders and their legacy, social housing and motels—100,000 a night now—and science research and technology in is disarray. Were there any figures today about what it is going to be put into science technology as against GDP so we can have a comparison with Singapore and all the smart countries? No—no comparison at all. There is run away immigration, house price inflation going through the roof, infrastructure deficits in every town and city, and over the regions and provinces there is utter neglect—utter neglect. And the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, as I say, if we were contributing $2 billion a year, then there would be no surplus. We would be down $300 million today.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: So you borrow to save. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Borrow to save.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That is the truth. That is the truth. Unbelievable.

And here we go. Oh, here we go. The person shouting out here is a man called Gerry Brownlee. If you are down in Christchurch, you will know who he is, because down there they call him “Mr Useless”, “Mr Do Nothing”, “Mr Slow as You Go”, and National made him a foreign Minister. The most amazing thing about that is he does not even know where Canada is. The first thing he did was insult one of our old friends—unbelievable. And then he goes over to Australia, and I bet the Aussies thought “Good God! What’s coming here? What have we got here?”. And then he calls the foreign Minister the Prime Minister. Unbelievable. Not trained—been here for years. He has been here for years. Unbelievable.

The real figure New Zealanders wanted to know today was what our GDP growth per person is. When you know that, you will know whether we are going that way or that way. And why would anybody, with all those economists and all those high-paid people in Treasury, not tell you what the GDP per person growth rate is so you will know against the rest of the world how you are doing? Not a word, not a syllable, not a sound, not a mutter, not a murmur in this Budget because the Government believes in the Budget of mushrooms as a principle. Do not tell the New Zealanders anything!

Do not tell them, for example, that in most trades and most professions, if you are in Australia—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Funded on mushrooms.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Look, do not try to shout me down; I am having a conversation with real people. I am having a conversation with the people of New Zealand. I am not talking about people who spend all their time thinking about their next meal; I am talking about the people who are thinking about the next bill they have got to pay, because out there the struggle, Mr Brownlee, is real, and one party knows it and understands it and has answers for it.

Did the Government tell you how it is going to grow the economy? Did it tell you, for example, that manufacturing against GDP in this country is declining? Did it tell you that exporting as opposed to GDP is declining? Did it tell you, for example, some of the most amazing things in this Budget—and I will get around to it very shortly. But then it got on and said it is doing things for the Māori people. As though the Maori people are not like the rest of us. In this country we have got more red tape. Under the National Government we have got brown tape. That is what we have got: racism, separatism. But let me tell the Māori people out there—and there will be a lot watching right now, up there in Hokianga, in Kaitāia, because they would love to vote on our roll. They are not going to be voting for the National Party, but let me tell you this: after all the work that the Government said that it had given, and money that it has given to the Māori Housing Network—$14.4 million in 2015-16, $17.6 million in 2016-17, and more in this Budget—I want to ask those two members from the Māori Party here, who are here for the next 3 months, how many houses have they built?

Marama Fox: Hundreds.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: See what Marama Fox says? She opens her mouth, lets the wind blow her tongue around. But the answer out there, Marama, if you are concerned about this: they have built 11—11 houses. That is at $2.8 million a house, and they are not in Paritai Drive or Remuera. No, they are around the country. And they have consented 63 houses. That is, they have given them the consent. Now let me ask you: can you live in a consent? How many people do you know living in consents? This is a sham. It is separatism, racism, an endless campaign.

The people of this country in Māoridom—the followers would be legion, because the mass majority of Māori do not want your policies. The mass majority of Māori want a safe affordable house. They want a decent health system should they fall ill. They want an education system to give their children an escalator for progress in life. They want First World wages and First World jobs. Those four things are what Māoridom wants, and, come to think of it, that is what everyone wants, all around the world and in this country. One party alone understands that, and that is why the Māori will be lining up in their tens and tens of thousands in this campaign to back a party called New Zealand First.

But, of course, we are not separatist. We do not look at our race. We are not gender-biased. We do not look at people’s religion. We take on people because they have a thing called talent, and it starts at the top.

Let me just say, Mr Joyce got up and he said that all these people—1.3 million families—are going to be $26 better off. You know that famous line from The Shawshank Redemption, the movie? “The colossal”—I cannot say the next word. “The colossal [so-and-so] even managed to sound magnanimous.” Twenty-six dollars.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 2006, 2007, and 2008 we gave the minimum wage people $3 extra. We took it from $9 to $12 in 3 years flat. Multiply that by 40—how many extra dollars is that a week? Even Gerry should be able to work that out—even Gerry should be able to work that out. That is $26; we gave them over $120—if they are working Saturday as well, much more than that—per week. We did that 10 years ago. If you give us a chance, we will do it again. But we will make sure that business, because of sound tax policy, is able to pay for it. That is the difference.

You know, Mr Joyce talked about economic growth. He said the economy today—and I am glad he said it—is 14 percent larger than it was 5 years ago. We have looked behind the figures. Take out inflation, then that means it is 9 percent growth in 5 years—that means 1.8 percent per year. Now take out the population growth of 2 percent, and we are not even growing at 1 percent per year. Now more and more economists are beginning to understand that.

But we have got people like—somebody in the New Zealand Herald today, you know the kind who wrote this. He said the Government was swimming in money. Tell that to the people in mental health institutions or who are looking for a home, who are looking for a job—a decent job; some of them have got three jobs—who want to get rid of secondary tax and have a decent life. But here is the real rub, for the benefit of the Māori Party, and it is this—

Marama Fox: We’ll take it—$354 million.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —only yesterday—no, no, I saw you get up and clap. But only yesterday the overseas merchandise trade statistics came out, and they revealed the stunning success of National’s much-vaunted tiringly boastful export agenda. guess what has happened? In the 12 months to April this year the New Zealand merchandise exports grew by a staggering—listen to this—0.2 percent. Multiply that by 10—that is 2 percent growth for a decade. And the Government members get up here and say that they have got a plan. They are a joke. Underneath the hype and misinformation it is a fake Budget that delivers nothing meaningful for ordinary New Zealanders, and nothing to make our economy go faster. It does not tell New Zealanders how they compare with the rest of the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is an election on 27 September.

Carmel Sepuloni: 23rd.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On 23 September, sorry. On 23 September.

Hon Member: Get it right.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Ha, ha! That is how I know that they are listening. I was thinking about the day we are all going to be down here as a huge caucus, and I got a bit ahead of myself. I got a bit ahead of myself.

But there is an election on 23 September, and in that campaign, on that day, in that vote, in the 2 weeks beforehand, people are going to have a chance—whether they are going to vote for their province, their families, their communities, or for their politics. Right now all the signs are showing that New Zealanders realise that they better put their hands up for their provinces, for their regions, and for their communities. If they do not do that then nothing will help them now.

I have never seen such a disparity between the rich and the poor, now creeping into the middle-class, in all my life. The great dream of people like Holyoake and others, when that party was a proud party, was a property-owning democracy with the greatest level of egalitarian equality of any society on earth. Look at it now: divisions everywhere. Even now, in wealthy families, people who are poor because they are students—with no chance of ever buying a home unless mum and dad can give them $300,000 or $400,000 to get a start. How many families who thought they were comfortable can afford that? But National has no plan for housing. It is going to bring in the population of Rotorua every year for the next 10 years, but it will not build the infrastructure. If you look at the motorways in Auckland now on a Saturday morning, you will know what a catastrophe this all is.

This has been a day of bad and sad news. The people in this Parliament, watching on that TV station, and listening out there in New Zealand have had to put up with 45 minutes of sad, bad news. But I have got one piece of great news for everybody watching and listening today. I have got one piece of great news for everybody out there who is watching, and it is this: that was Steven Joyce’s first and last Budget.

Trump challenges Arab leaders on Muslim terrorism

On his visit to the Middle East Donald Trump has called for Arab leaders – he was speaking to the leaders of 55 Muslim majority countries in his visit to Saudi Arabia –  to deal with their “Islamist extremism” terrorism problem.

But Saudi (Sunni) King Salman introduced Trump’s speech by condemning Shi’ite Iran.

Reuters: Trump tells Middle East to ‘drive out’ Islamist extremists

U.S. President Donald Trump called on Arab leaders to do their fair share to “drive out” terrorism from their countries on Sunday in a speech that put the burden on the region to combat militant groups.

“America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them”.

“The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries and frankly for their families and for their children.”

“It’s a choice between two futures and its a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists.

“Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth”.

“Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land”.

Trump should get a lot of support in the Western world, and deserves praise for openly confronting extremist terrorism. But he may have dismayed some of the more radical anti-Muslim activists who campaign against the whole Islamic religion and all it’s followers.

Trump’s signature phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was not included in the speech, according to excerpts released in advance by the White House.

Instead, he used the term “Islamist extremism”, which refers to Islamism as political movement rather than Islam as a religion, a distinction that he had frequently criticized the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama for making.

Trump was speaking to a very different audience to when he was campaigning in the United States. Whether his Muslim audience takes on board and accepts his change of rhetoric is yet to be seen.

Introducing Trump, Saudi King Salman described their mutual foe Iran as the source of terrorism they must confront together.

“Our responsibility before God and our people and the whole world is to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism wherever they are … The Iranian regime represents the tip of the spear of global terrorism.”

Iran is a Shi’ite Muslim country. The groups that the United States has been fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York are mostly Sunni Muslims, and enemies of Iran.

That may not be such a good sign. Iran is not the only source or supporter or financier of terrorism. It’s highly ironic that the 911 terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia.

In general terms I think Trump has spoken some good words, but in the context of promoting peace and anti-extremism and anti-terrorism in Saudi Arabia associated with an attack on Iran and Shi’ite Muslims may divide and ignite rather than draw Muslim leaders together in a push for peace.


Gezza: “Donald Trump’s 30 minute speech to the Sunni Muslim World at the Gulf Cooperation Council. Imo, he has actually pulled off his first big act as a statesman.”
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-9DgFRuiFuI

Perhaps, but “to the Sunni Muslim World” may point to a potential problem.

Little speech: on Maori

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech in January Andrew Little didn’t mention Maori at all – see Maori 0f Little importance? – but since then Labour’s Maori MPs, candidates and votes have been talked about a lot.

In his Congress speech yesterday Little had to mention Maori, and he did.

And, get this, after the election, at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Māori.

We are going to have the largest representation of Māori MPs of any party, ever, in New Zealand politics.

It’s common for opposition parties to talk in positives in their speeches, like ‘the next Prime Minister’ and from his speech “to all of our dedicated activists and organisers who are going to sweep Labour to government on September 23rd“, and likewise, claiming “at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Māori” presumes all Labour’s electorate MPs will retain their seats and they will improve their share of the party vote. Neither are guaranteed.

Through all these policies and in every decision, Māori will be at the table.

If they have Maori party members and Maori MPs then yes, they will be at Labour’s policy table, but it doesn’t mean they will be influential. 1 in 4 is 25%, from from a majority vote.

Māori aspiration sits at the core of Labour’s vision for New Zealand.

That’s vague and means little in reality.

And that’s all on Maori in the speech. Nothing specific, no policies addressing Maori issues beyond “the Kiwi dream” generalities.

Two contentious Maori issues flared up last week, partnership schools and prisons. On schools:

Thank you for the policy you launched yesterday of health teams in all our schools, which is just one of the ways we’ll bring a fresh approach to our neglected mental health services.

On prisons – nothing.

On the Treaty of Waitangi – nothing.

If Little wants Maori voters to step up and tick Labour in September’s election then Labour may need to step up with some actual policies that will give them some incentive, and promises of policy rewards.

Andrew Little’s speech to Labour’s Congress

Andrew Little’s speech to Labour’s 2017 election  year Congress (in non-election years they have conferences).

Andrew Little speech to 2017 Congress

Delegates, we have four and a half months ahead of us, and a great opportunity to give this country a fresh approach:

  • to make sure everyone has a decent place to live;
  • for hospitals that can treat everyone who turns up for care;
  • to give hope to young people looking for work;
  • to make our rivers clean again and take real action on climate change and the environment.

Delegates, the next four and a half months are a fight for a better New Zealand, and for everyone in this magnificent country of ours.

Delegates, we can do this.  We must do this.

Thank you for devoting this weekend to the cause of Labour and contributing so much to this year’s election.

I acknowledge our President Nigel Haworth and our General Secretary and campaign manager Andrew Kirton. Thank you for the tremendous work you both do.

And, of course, I acknowledge my Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda, thank you for the support you give me. Thank you for your speech yesterday and the passion with which you advocate for our children and young people. Thank you for the policy you launched yesterday of health teams in all our schools, which is just one of the ways we’ll bring a fresh approach to our neglected mental health services.

To all our MPs and candidates for Parliament – thank you; thank you for putting yourselves forward, either again or for the first time.

And – most important of all – to all of our dedicated activists and organisers who are going to sweep Labour to government on September 23rd. Thank you.

I also want to take a moment to thank the Labour MPs who are retiring from Parliament. All have served our party and our country with distinction.

To Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe, Clayton Cosgrove, and Sue Moroney, thank you for your service to Labour and to New Zealand. We owe each of you an enormous debt.

I especially want to pay tribute to Annette King.

Thank you Annette, for everything you’ve done for everyone in this room, and for the people of New Zealand.

Annette has been our rock. She helped me lay the foundation for rebuilding the Party after the last election.

Thank you, Annette, for your lifetime of service to Labour. You are a titan of this great Labour movement.

Of course as current MPs retire, Labour has an impressive crop of new candidates ready to come to Parliament after the election. They’ll be fantastic MPs.

I’m especially proud of two things:

We’re going to bring at least nine new, amazingly talented women to Parliament as Labour MPs.

And, get this, after the election, at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Māori.

We are going to have the largest representation of Māori MPs of any party, ever, in New Zealand politics.

You know, it was such a nice feeling to be introduced by Leigh before. She has sustained and supported me in challenging roles over many years, and I am hugely grateful.

I couldn’t do this job without her.

Leigh and I have been together for nineteen wonderful years. She’s my soulmate, and we have a son who is our pride and joy.

We’ve lived the typical Kiwi story in many ways.

Leigh and I met just after I started working. We settled down, bought a house, started a family, and got married – which is a very 21st century order in which to do things.

Many of you will have a similar kind of story to tell.

That first house we bought in 2000 cost us $315,000. That wasn’t a small amount of money for us, but it was manageable.

It got us a nice, three-bedroom starter home, built on a hillside in Wellington.

And, like any good Wellington house, it was up about a thousand steps!

For Leigh and me, being able to buy that first house gave us a measure of financial security and certainty. More importantly, Ii It gave us a sense of our own place.

It was the house we brought our baby boy home to.

I remember that time vividly. Preparing the baby room. And putting this precious bundle of humanity in his cot for the first time. This tiny little thing, in this ocean of sheets.

Of course, Cam’s nearly 6 foot tall now. He doesn’t fit in the cot anymore!

The story of our first home is a story told by thousands of Kiwi families every day.

A place to call home.

A place to raise your children.

The Kiwi dream.

It’s the story Labour wants for every Kiwi family.

But let me tell you something. We bought that house in 2000 for $315,000. Now, it would cost around $830,000. It’s gone up by half a million dollars in 17 years.

Its value has nearly tripled.

But here’s the thing: Families’ incomes haven’t tripled since 2000. Nowhere near.

That’s why housing is getting further and further out of reach.

New Zealand’s housing crisis – yes, crisis – is not just about out of control prices. It’s about the insurmountable barrier that many first home buyers now face. It’s about the rapid increase in rent that tenants are seeing now.

It’s about the disruption it is causing to the education of thousands of children.

It’s about the fact that what is happening with housing is now the main cause of growing inequality and growing poverty in New Zealand today.

You know, I was out door knocking in Mt Roskill last year with Michael Wood. It was a typical Kiwi street, modest family homes – sports gear in the front lawns and washing lines out the back.

I knocked on one door, a typical house, and I realised very quickly there were three families living there. Not one family – three! It wasn’t a big home; it was a modest home. I was gobsmacked by that.

Then, the next door I knocked on, on the same street, had the same thing. Multiple families crammed into a house designed for only one.

And it wasn’t just one or two houses on the street, it was house after house, all with families packed in.

Delegates, that’s not the New Zealand we want.

We can do better.

As Jacinda and I travel the country doing public meetings, housing is the number one issue people raise with us, every single place we go.

You know, last Friday, I was in Hamilton with Nanaia Mahuta, Jamie Strange and Brooke Loader. I met a woman there called Shirley, and her daughter.

She lives on Jebson Place, an area that was once a thriving state house community. But, she told me, the current government has gradually emptied out all the other houses.

Her community is gone. She showed me what is left – a bunch of broken down buildings, a haven for crime.

Shirley couldn’t understand it. Why have they left those houses empty and rotting in the middle of the housing crisis? She told me she just wants her community back. She had tears in her eyes.

So, I told her why I was there that day. I was announcing that Labour will tear down all those abandoned old buildings. And in their place we are going to build a community of 100 affordable KiwiBuild and state houses – a place for families, once again.

Well, you should have seen Shirley’s face. She was beaming from ear to ear.

Security, community, hope. That’s the difference we will make up and down this country by building those homes.

You know, that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I come to work every day. I do it because when I meet people like Shirley, or the people crammed into houses down that street in Mt Roskill, or even look at my own son, Cam and his mates, and wonder what the future holds for them, I know we can and must do better.

And I’m damned well determined to do something about it.

New Zealand urgently needs some fresh thinking on housing.

Every Kiwi family should have a place that they can call home.

And everyone should have a shot at owning their own place.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

The first thing is we will build homes that families can afford to buy.

We will lead the largest house building programme since Michael Joseph Savage carried that dining table into 12 Fife Lane.

We’ll use the money we get from selling the first bunch of houses at cost to build more homes and sell them. And we will keep on doing that – build, sell, build, sell – helping more and more and more families buy a place of their own.

But… building houses is just part of the answer. The other part is dealing with those things that jack up prices and put homes out of reach for so many.

If we want to make sure all Kiwi families get a fair shot – that when it comes to buying a home they have a level playing field – we’ve got to get the speculators out of the way.

We can’t let our homes be gambling chips anymore.

So there are three things we’re going to do to level the playing field:

First, we’ll ban overseas speculators from buying existing houses. Simple as that. We’ll do that in our first hundred days.

Second, we’ll make speculators who flip houses within five years pay tax on their profits.

Third, today I’m announcing Labour will close the tax loophole that allows speculators to claim taxpayer subsidies for their property portfolio.

Right now, speculators can take losses from their rentals and offset that against their personal income. It allows them to avoid paying tax.

This loophole is effectively a hand-out from taxpayers to speculators. It gives them an unfair advantage over Kiwi families.

So I’ll tell you.

We will close the loophole. It is over.

Families don’t deserve to have the odds stacked against them by their own government. They deserve a fair shot. With Labour that’s what they’ll have.

Now, let me be clear. This isn’t about the mum and dad investor who has bought a rental as a long-term investment. The vast majority of them don’t use this loophole. Those that do will have time to adjust.

This policy is about the big speculators who purchase property after property. It’s about those big time speculators who are taking tens of thousands of dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies as they hoover up house after house.

I say to people who would defend these loopholes – how can we as a society possibly defend handing out subsidies to property speculators when most young couples can’t afford to buy their first home.

You ask me whose side I’m on? It’s families. It’s first home buyers.

Removing the speculators’ tax loophole will save taxpayers $150m a year once fully implemented.

Now, Grant, before you get too excited about Treasury getting that money – I’ve got plans for it!

Today, I’m also announcing Labour will invest those savings into grants for home insulation and heating.

Homeowners and landlords will be able to get up to $2,000 towards the cost of upgrading insulation to modern standards or installing heating.

Over a decade, we’ll help make 600,000 Kiwi homes warmer, drier, and healthier.

This is a perfect complement to my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill that requires all rentals to be up to a standard where they are fit to live in.

40,000 kids a year go into hospital in New Zealand for illnesses related to living in cold, damp, mouldy homes. We’ve got to change that. We can do better.

And Labour will.

That’s the fresh, new approach we’ll bring to housing.

We will build affordable homes.

We will level the playing field.

We’ll make our homes healthy, warm and dry.

You know, National’s had nine years to tackle the housing crisis. And they have failed at every step.

I’m telling you now, where they’ve failed, we will succeed.

Why have we made getting housing right such a priority?

Because it is absolutely essential to New Zealanders’ sense of security and stability.

Home is about “our place.” It’s a place of celebration; a place of refuge. A launching pad to face the day’s adventures and challenges. It’s our landing spot to rest and get ready for the next day. It’s where life is lived. Where futures are dreamed.

Without a place to call your own, it’s hard to have any of these things. To thrive, to prosper, to stand on our own two feet, every New Zealander needs to have a place they can call theirs.

It is Labour’s mission to restore the foundation stone to strong families and strong communities – decent housing.

I’ve focused on housing so far today, but the same values that make housing such a priority underpin everything else Labour does.

We are putting people first.

That’s why we’ll fund our health system so people get the care they need, and not just the care they can afford.

That’s why Labour is facing up to the crisis of neglect in mental health.

And that’s why we’re going to have an education system that has what it needs, and that prepares our young people for the future of work.

Labour has so many fresh ideas for New Zealand.

We’ll ensure the Government buys Kiwi-made to keep work here and invest in regional infrastructure.

We’ll get young people off the dole and into jobs improving their communities and the environment. I am committed to lifting wages and improving work rights, especially for lower income workers.

We’ll make our rivers cleaner and tackle climate change.

Through all these policies and in every decision, Māori will be at the table. Māori aspiration sits at the core of Labour’s vision for New Zealand.

Because we are a progressive party – we stand for a better future for each generation; we think ahead; we invest in the future.

We are a party of great passion – for our people, for ideas that make this a more perfect country.

You know, the election in September will be about who’ll invest in New Zealand’s future. It’s not about the lolly scramble we’re seeing in this year’s Budget.

This election will be about who has the vision, the guts, and the plan to build a better New Zealand that puts people first.

The answer is: Labour does.

Only Labour will build the houses.

Only Labour will reverse the health cuts and boost funding for GP visits and mental health.

And only Labour will make tertiary education and training fees free for three years.

In Labour, we have the vision, we have the guts, and the plan.

I’m here because I believe that all our people should have a fair shot at the Kiwi Dream.

I believe that, just as Norman Kirk said so memorably, we should all have “Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for”.

I’m here because I believe that a government that puts people first is at the heart of making that vision a reality.

I’m here to help build a better New Zealand.

But, before we get that opportunity to help build that better New Zealand, we’ve had to build a better Labour Party.

We’ve had to build a party that is ready to win, to govern, to lead.

As I look out at this Congress, today, I know we have achieved that.

We’ve done it by working together.

We have built a dynamic, modern party.

We have packed out halls and pubs around the country with ordinary Kiwis, keen to hear our vision. Keen to support our plan.

We have built a strong relationship with the Green Party to show that there is a stable alternative government, ready to go.

And because of all that, we’ve been winning. In the local elections. In Mount Roskill. In Mount Albert.

You know, by the time of the Mt Albert by-election, National had stopped even bothering to show up!

Our Party is in amazing shape.

We have a fantastic caucus, amazing new candidates, a huge army of volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of Kiwis signed up as supporters.

Labour is ready to win in 2017.

This election is ours to win. All over the country, people are telling me they’re ready for a change.

To make that happen, we need much more than politicians on a stage.

Ours is a community movement. It’s powered by people like you.

Mums and Dads.

Students and teachers.

Workers and families.

You and me.

Our movement wins when we bring thousands of committed people with us.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

New Zealanders have a clear choice at this election.

We can choose a tired government that has run its course.

Or we can choose a new, positive vision for a better New Zealand.

This isn’t going to be an easy fight. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be tough.

I’ve faced tough fights before, and this is one fight we simply have to win.

Here’s my message to New Zealanders this year:

It’s time for a fresh team with energy and passion.

It’s time for new ideas on housing.

It’s time to give hope to our young people.

Vote for a better New Zealand.

Vote Labour.

Delegates, let’s do it.

Valedictory Statement – David Cunliffe

Remember David Cunliffe? He was one of the better ministers for the Clark government, and later led Labour to a bad result in the 2014 election, failing popularity tests within his own part let alone with the public.

Last year he indicated he had a better job to go to and would leave Parliament as soon as he could without causing a by-election in his New Lynn electorate.

On Tuesday he gave his valedictory speech in Parliament. I guess he is not an MP soon, if not now.

VALEDICTORY STATEMENTS

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn):

Te papa pounamu

Aotearoa New Zealand

Karanga, karanga, karanga;

Ngā tupuna

Haere, haere, haere;

Te kāhui ora te korowai o tēnei Whare;

E tū, e tū, tū tahi tonu

Ki a koutou ōku hoa mahi ki Te Kāwanatanga;

Noho mai, noho mai, noho mai

Kia tau te rangimārie ki a tātou katoa;

Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea.

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

They say that giving a valedictory speech is a bit like being buried alive; it is intended to be permanent, it is usually followed by a wake, and you get to witness the eulogies. Having failed miserably to obey Holyoake’s advice to breathe through my nose on my way in here, his advice may be more useful on the way out. May I thank colleagues from all sides who have joined us today—yes, I really am going. To all of the friends and family who have joined us from New Lynn and all around New Zealand, it is profoundly moving to have you all here. Thank you so very much for attending.

I think our early lives frame why we are all here. My parents were from a politically mixed marriage. For years, they actually cancelled each other out at the polling booth and probably should have saved the petrol. My father, the Rev. Bill Cunliffe—the “Red Reverend”—was the son of railway workers and miners. He was the first in his family to go to university. Priests, poets, and politicians—the Cunliffes were always idealists.

My mother’s family were National-voting farming folk. They just got stuff done. My mother was one of four feisty daughters and ahead of her time. She nursed around the world for a decade, starting in post-war Africa. But despite my mother’s pleas to avoid politics at the breakfast table, ours was never a household short of opinions—it still is not, as I look to my sons—or, as an Anglican vicarage, was never short of opportunities to meet and help the needy.

As a kid, I helped my dad with Labour Party chook raffles at the Pleasant Point pub because he was chairman of the Point branch and on Sir Basil Arthur’s LEC. I was also caned in the third form for biffing a mate who called me a “Labour poof”, so I learned some of my politics by osmosis and some by more direct means. My childhood in small-town rural New Zealand was both idyllic and formative. From Te Aroha to Te Kūiti to Pleasant Point, afternoons were spent fishing, weekends playing rugby, and holidays farm labouring or rousying in a shearing gang. Those are things you can definitely find on my CV.

Politics, they say, is like malaria; once it is in your bloodstream, it is really hard to get rid of. I really caught the bug as a Foreign Service officer tramping Capitol Hill in Washington for the New Zealand Embassy. But it was not until I got back to New Zealand that I got to indulge it. In 1999, thanks to an amazing Titirangi campaign team, we turned a National-held marginal into a safe Labour seat. The campaign theme was so simple, I can still remember it: cops, docs, trees, jobs, and kids. Not a bad line if we are stuck for one in 2017.

About that time I featured in a Young Labour fund-raising calendar as a gladiator. Go figure. Marian Hobbs was a nun on a motorbike, and Trevor and Steve were the Blues Brothers because they were cool.

Hon Trevor Mallard: A long time ago.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It was a while ago. But, in any case, picture the class of ’99 washing into Parliament with huge energy. We actually staged a backbench revolt in the Finance and Expenditure Committee to hold up the demutualisation of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, preventing a hostile takeover by the ASX and demanding a proper regulatory framework that may have been good for economic sovereignty, but we got our ears boxed for our enthusiasm. Likewise, chairing the Commerce Committee in my first term, we did not sugar-coat too many pills after 9 long years of opposition. I must have mellowed with age, because the Regulations Review Committee, which I chaired this term, has never put anything to the vote, and I thank members on both sides of that committee for their collegiality and professionalism.

The years 1999 to 2000 saw business pushback against the Clark Government’s reforms. It was countered with our very own “smoked salmon offensive” of canapé and conversation. My small part in that was tragically outed when I erroneously emailed a plan to Jenny Shipley’s office. When it turned up on the 6 o’clock news, it took precisely 2 seconds for Prime Minister Helen Clark to ring me and share her views on the story with me. You know what I mean: “Yes, Helen.” Jonathan Hunt gave me two excellent pieces of advice that first term that stuck: never forget you are here only because you have Labour next to your name, and knock every door in your electorate in your first term, because once your constituents know that you are there for them, they will forgive your later time in Wellington. I have loved being a local MP. To the good people of New Lynn, thank you for letting me represent you. I hope I have done the job justice.

MPs come to Parliament not only to serve their district but also to contest ideas and policies. We are lucky that we have this institution, that we have the media to cover it, and that we have healthy debate. Since I first walked into this place, my political values have been grounded in a very simple belief: that all people are created equal and that, therefore, they all deserve equal opportunity, dignity, and respect; that markets make good servants but bad masters; and that it is the Government’s job to ensure that the economy serves our people and not the other way around.

In a small country, we are all in it together. If we do not educate all our young, who is going to pay for the superannuation and healthcare of tomorrow? If all our people do not have warm, dry homes, some of our kids will get sick and cannot learn, and if all people do not have jobs that pay a living wage, we will all be the poorer for it. Those are principles that we worked hard to deliver on in the fifth Labour Government, and the next Labour Government will too.

I was fortunate to cut my teeth in the Beehive with Sir Michael Cullen, surely one of New Zealand’s greatest finance Ministers, and under the leadership of Helen Clark. I always thought that to work with one of them would have been lucky; to work with a team of two was extraordinary. But it did not take me long to work out that the real job of an Associate Minister is photocopying, which is shorthand for doing anything else that senior Ministers either do not have the time or the inclination to do. So I got to ask State-owned enterprises why they were not writing bigger cheques to the Minister of Finance and to ask the IRD why the child support system pleased absolutely nobody. A highlight was making sandwiches with Trevor Mallard for that modern miracle, the State sector Budget round. Michael Cullen described the fiscal balance as the difference between two very large numbers that bounce around a lot—Grant is smiling; he knows—but balance them he did, with nine straight surpluses and KiwiSaver and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to boot. They have stood the test of time, and I believe they are crying out to be built upon.

In information and communications technology (ICT), I watched Hon Paul Swain get sliced and diced by the then monopoly Telecom after the 2001 Fletcher inquiry called time on that neo-Liberal version of The Emperor’s New Clothes known as “self-regulation”. It sounds a bit like self-flagellation, but less useful. When, after the 2005 election, Helen Clark asked me to take on the ICT portfolio, we started a broad-based stocktake review immediately, and after 6 months of research it was a compelling business case for pro-competitive regulation. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, we placed high security around all of the paperwork, but that did not stop a Beehive messenger slipping a copy of the Cabinet committee papers to someone from Telecom at a cycle club meeting. The resulting protest from Telecom was, however, too late; Cabinet had already approved the far-reaching package that unbundled and operationally separated Telecom and overhauled the regulator. Taking legal advice, we released the package that very day, and despite the short-term impact on share prices generated by the loss of monopoly rents, as predicted, investment in the sector doubled, retail prices fell, and broadband roll-out took off. The current Government has continued that work, and good on it. New Zealand is now amongst one of the best-served telecommunications markets in the world, and Kiwis really did get faster, cheaper broadband.

As immigration Minister, my focus was on protecting human rights and getting the skills we needed to move New Zealand forward. I learnt pretty quickly that moderate, skill-driven immigration helps build a modern, connected New Zealand. But too many people too quickly puts undue pressure on infrastructure and communities, all in the name of grabbing more GDP. No prizes for guessing which zone we are in now!

Inheriting the health portfolio a year before a general election was bound to be fun. In my first week, senior doctors were about to go on strike. The headlines screamed “system failure”. The strike was averted after a long liquid dinner in my Beehive office with the district health board and senior doctors’ representatives. The only condition was no one was allowed to leave until the deal was signed, which was actually at 5.30 the next morning.

Building on the work of previous Ministers, we accelerated universal bowel cancer screening—something that still has not happened; we integrated service planning for cardiology, health, IT, and other specialities; we boosted mental health funding, which still needs doing, and kept a strong focus on public health. I still believe that there is huge benefit in a free or low-cost, world-class health system that is nationally integrated and reaches right into communities.

Going into Opposition in 2008 was a shock for the Labour Party. The global financial crisis had made sure of it for our Government, and I think we had also lost connection with the people and some of our own members. It has been, as it is for most parties, a long, hard road back, but it does give you time to reflect on what really matters.

My time in several economic portfolios led me to some pretty straightforward conclusions. New Zealand, as Grant knows, does not save enough. What we do save, we invest in the wrong things. Without enough saving, investment is too costly and jobs are too few. KiwiSaver was a good start, but it needs a boost, and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund must be made sustainable. We invest less than half of the OECD average in research and development, and yet that smart stuff is what is going to win us markets and give our kids access to the global jobs of the future.

What capital we do have, we spend on the wrong things, like bidding each other’s house prices up. I remember my horror when I found the first family in Kelston living in a garage. We got the dad a job, the kids are now at medical school, but, tragically, you cannot find many garages to park a car in these days in South Auckland. New Zealand has become a speculator’s “pavlova paradise”: no capital gains tax, negative gearing, weak rules on foreign land bankers, and throw in tax loopholes big enough to drive an Apple through.

It is time we put our policies where our principles are, not only because a fair go is right but because the evidence is compelling: more equal societies do better economically too. In New Zealand, inequality is actually holding us back. It is crippling our ability to do well as a country. The poor are getting poorer, the middle is working harder just to stand still. With nearly all of the wealth created in the past decade attaching, on average, to the top 1 percent, a smaller and smaller share of national income is actually going to wage and salary earners. At some stage, hopefully soon, it has got to reach a tipping point. Notwithstanding that, as the late, great John Clarke said: “We don’t know how lucky we are.”—I think he said “Trev”.

This side of the House makes no apology for fighting inequality, investing in people and smarts, and celebrating all that is good in this beautiful, diverse, and innovative country, and much of that, thank goodness, we all share. That was the message I hoped would resonate with many New Zealanders during my short time as Leader of the Opposition, including some of the missing million who could not be bothered to turn out to vote at all because they could not see the point any more. I could write a book about the 2014 election campaign, but I do not think anyone would believe it, or possibly read it. But, in any case, that campaign was one of the most bizarre the country has ever seen. We had Kim Dotcom, Donghua Liu, and dirty politics coming out our ears, but what the Labour Party did not have enough of was time: time to heal our old wounds, time to raise the money, and time to build the systems to get our message through. Mike Moore once said that the easiest way to be wrong in politics is to be right too soon. I have no regrets for standing up for what I believe in, though I recognise that my delivery could at times have done with some work. And no, family violence is still not OK.

So it was a huge privilege to be able to lead the New Zealand Labour Party, and I am indebted to all who were part of that campaign. I want to commend my successor, Andrew Little, and his deputy, Jacinda Ardern, and all my colleagues, who are now building for the 2017 campaign that will give New Zealanders a real choice for a fresh start.

Progressive politics has been my passion for these last 18 years, but if politics is like malaria—a recurrent fever—I think I might be just about cured. I have done what I can, and the time really has come to move on. I thank members for coming along to make sure I really mean it, but, unlike David Lange, I am not even going to joke about changing my mind, because I am lucky enough—I mean this—to be able to change tacks in my own time, in my own direction, and without a by-election, because Labour did so well in the last two I just could not inflict another one on members opposite. [Interruption] Lighten up, I am going.

Mr Assistant Speaker, thank you for allowing the electorate offices of all our departing members to continue to serve needy constituencies through these short months of interregnum. They say—this is unfair—that politicians are a mile wide and a millimetre deep; that may be the Bellamy’s catering. I am, however, looking forward to returning to the private sector and getting stuck in to some deeper issues, consulting to businesses, iwi, and regions.

So I am moving on with a real sense of optimism and excitement and, of course, a huge deal of gratitude. It is not possible—we all know this—to commit to a life in politics without the generous and selfless support of family and of friends. There are so many people to thank, it is impossible to do justice to them all. For some, I will convey privately the gratitude that time and place does not allow me to do today. To my long-standing electorate agents Sue Hagen and Lusi Schwenke: you have been with me through virtually the whole of my time in politics, and you have been there through the tough times. I could not have wished for better support or better friends. Thank you.

To my talented researcher Kris Lal; my dedicated executive assistants Reremoana Fuli, Esther Robinson, David Hawkins, Paul Grant, Sue Piper, Gay Pledger, and others; to my former Labour Leader’s Office staff, including Karl Beckert, Wendy Brandon, Rob Carr, Simon Cunliffe, Carolyn Dick, Rob Egan, Chris Harrington, Neale Jones, Matt McCarten, Deborah Manning, Elizabeth Munday, Dinah Okeby, Bronwyn Presland, Bridget Service, and Clint Smith—not forgetting, in the whips’ office, Emma Williams and Peter Hoare and my former ministerial staff, some of whom are in the gallery today: thank you all so much for what you do for New Zealand, and thank you for what we did together.

To the Labour Party leadership, especially presidents Nigel Haworth and Moira Coatsworth, general secretaries Andrew Kirton and Tim Barnett, as well as the thousands of volunteers and members who give so selflessly to build a better New Zealand; to our affiliates in the union movement, especially my friends the late Helen Kelly and the late Peter Conway; to Sam Huggard and Jill Ovens and friends here today; and to Richard Wagstaff, Angus McConnell, Chris Flatt, Joe Fleetwood, Bill Newsom, Robert Reid, and many others: kia kaha, e hoa.

To the incredible New Lynn Labour electorate committee: to Greg and Jan Presland, Clare Hargraves, Raema Ingles, James Armstrong, Eanna Doyle, and Val Graham; Kirsten H and what’s-his-name, Don and Noreen Clark—[Interruption]—there is a reason for that—Val and Don Rogerson, Bruce and Trixie Harvey, David and Liz Craig, Dorothy and Alan McGray, Nissanka Kumarawansa, Ami and the late Savitri Chand, Susan Zhu, Vanessa King, Kaye Jones, Martin and Laurice Holland, and to my excellent intended successor for New Lynn, Dr Deborah Russell, and to the Socialist Speechwriter, thank you all.

To Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Jonathan Hunt, Perry Keenan, Sir Bob and Lady Harvey, Richard and Jackie Randerson, Rick Boven, Richard Zeckhauser, and Nitin Nohria: thank you all for your patience and guidance over the years. Thank you to the press gallery and the media for the important role that you continue to play. To all the parliamentary staff who keep us fed, watered, and safe: we could not do it—New Zealand could not do it—without you.

Finally, to my family, who have given the most over so many years, and especially to my two sons, William and Cameron, who are here today: I am so very proud of you guys. I love you very much, and I am looking forward to spending more time with you when I get home. You guys face a world that is more complex and more challenging than that inherited by those baby boomers, and us Gen-Xers, sitting in Parliament today. While our world is changing in fundamental ways, the values that guide us should not, because they are, ultimately, what make politics worth doing, not the rollercoaster of media attention or the greasy pole of competition. This is, ultimately, a service job, and that is what, for me at least, has made it such a privilege to be part of.

To all sides—all sides—of this special House and all who serve it, I wish you all well. I look forward now to just being a voter and a constituent from now on. Haere rā. [Applause]

Waiata

John Key’s valedictory speech

John Key gave his final speech in Parliament today.

Draft transcript:


VALEDICTORY STATEMENTS

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (National—Helensville): I rise to address this House for the very last time. It has been a huge privilege to have served the people of Helensville as their member of Parliament, and, of course, the people of New Zealand as their Prime Minister.

Even though it was 15 years ago—the time has passed—when I first came here, in many ways it feels not that long ago that I rose to speak for the very first time, with all the emotions this House can invoke: excitement, trepidation, fear, and hope. This place is like no other. It is all-consuming, life-changing, mostly powerful, occasionally trivial, but never boring. What happens here matters a great deal to the lives of millions of Kiwis, who every day trust us, as politicians, to get it right on their behalf. I came here on a different path from many who had come before me. I had not been a member of my party’s youth wing; in fact, I had not been that involved with the National Party at all prior to throwing my hat in the ring for the selection for the Helensville seat, although I had always been a National supporter, and proud of it. I had not come here from a life of politics and protest; in fact, I came here from Wall Street.

But long before Wall Street, my political views had been shaped by my Austrian Jewish mother, Ruth, who single-handedly raised me and my sisters in the now-infamous State house at 19 Hollyford Avenue, Christchurch. My mother was a no-nonsense woman who refused to take no for an answer. She would not accept failure. She was an immensely hard worker, firstly as a night porter in the Clarendon Hotel so she could earn money while our family slept. Then, for many years, she worked as a cleaner, and even in retirement, as a volunteer. She was often abrupt. While I was at high school, I had a weekend job in some stables. I remember coming home one day at the age of 15 to tell Mum I had this brilliant idea: I was leaving school to train racehorses. “No.”, she said. “Shall we talk about it?”, I enquired. “No.”, she said. “Not even the pros and cons?”, I suggested. “No,”—she said—”you’re going to university to study accounting.” That was it. To Mum, no meant no. I do not think she would have lasted very long in coalition Government, but that is by the by.

Not that she was always lost for words. One day, early on in my first job, I bounced a cheque. The bank manager aired a view on that, but he was a novice. He should have taken lessons from Mum. As I said, she was often abrupt, but that day she was in full flight. She had worked hard all of her adult life to make sure she paid her bills on time, and she expected her three children to do the same.

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates the lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook. Once, when I was about 12, I rather thoughtlessly asked my mother over dinner why everyone else had nicer things than we did—why they had a better house than we had, and how come they went on more holidays and to more exciting places. For a moment, Mum was quite taken aback. “I’m doing my best for you.”, she said. “I may not be able to give you what some other kids had, but I can give you my love, and I can give you determination. I can give you the belief that through your own actions and your own hard work you can make your life better.” I never forgot that night, and I never will, and, of course, she was right. Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed, which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents: that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities, and that you really can change your own life—not by wishing it was different, but by working to make it different.

I have brought to politics an unshakable belief that regardless of our circumstances most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled, and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else is the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen.

As I am sure all of us here can attest, life in Parliament is odd. Our job is a mix of community worker, public speaker, local advocate, legislator, and policy maker. We face a glaring spotlight, relentless scrutiny, and the possibility every 3 years of being turfed out regardless of how hard we have worked, and we all spend long and lonely nights away from our families, who in turn spend many nights without us.

I recall early on as an MP being asked to address a visiting class of 6- or 7-year-old children from Bill English’s electorate of Clutha-Southland. “What on earth should I tell them?”, I thought as I wandered down to meet them. Anyway, I babbled on for about 15 minutes about the importance of democracy and the place of Parliament in our society, and then I opened for questions. A little girl immediately put up her hand. “Excellent.”, I thought. “Yes, dear?”, I said. “Do you have a dog?”, she said. It was an early lesson in adjusting to my audience and to appreciate that people from Southland get to the point quickly.

When I first came here, like all of us, I was an eager backbencher with much to learn. I remember walking out of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee with Roger Sowry, who was an experienced MP, and so I started asking him a million questions. He gave me what I thought was great advice. “John,” he said, “every moment you get, go to the House and watch the politicians who are good in the Chamber—not necessarily the ones you agree with or whom you want to be friends with, but those who can move the place with the power of their argument. Don’t stay in your office or go drinking. You are here to learn.” It was good advice, and I followed it, so every chance I had I came down and watched Michael Cullen, Richard Prebble, Winston Peters, Rodney Hide, Bill English, Simon Power, and Gerry Brownlee. Roger also gave me another lesson in the peculiarities of the place when he added, in the very next breath: “And by the way, John, just because I talk to you, it doesn’t mean I like you.”

Working with constituents has been an important part of my life as an MP. One day a father wrote to me to say his son had gone off the rails and, among other things, had been stealing cars and racing them around the streets. The father was convinced that life in the military would sort out his son, but the army had declined to take up the opportunity of enlisting the boy, so the father wanted some help on how his son might reapply. My secretary got his request and wrote an email to me, pointing out in no uncertain terms that if the little toe-rag was not such a drop kick and stopped nicking other people’s property, the army might just consider his request. Except, in one of those instances we all fear, she accidentally hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”, and so sent her forthright views straight to the father.

I was at the time in the middle of being interviewed by Radio New Zealand when she realised her mistake and burst into my office, close to tears, with her mea culpa. At that point, I decided either I was calling the father or the press gallery was, and in all probability both of us were, so I had better get on with it. It is fair to say the conversation started a little frostily, but the upshot was that I wrote a few letters, and in the end the army took the boy on. The last I heard, he was doing pretty well. That experience also made me an early convert to the good that the Limited Service Volunteer schemes can do to help some kids get back on the rails and see that they have a useful future.

I became Prime Minister in 2008. It is an incredible privilege to lead your country, but when I arrived on the ninth floor, New Zealand was in recession, unemployment was rising, finance companies were falling over, and the global financial crisis (GFC) was hitting.

Early on, we decided to hold the Job Summit. For the first time, we got the Government, unions, and the private sector all together to nut out some solutions, and although the 9-day fortnight and various other policies were a more effective response to the GFC, the Job Summit became the birthplace of the successful national cycleway scheme. Who would have believed that someone who loves golf and who had not been on a bike since my last one was flogged from Jellie Park when I was 15 would, all of a sudden, become a national advocate for off-road cycling? It is fair to say the Minister of Finance was a tad sceptical that this was a good use of $50 million of taxpayer money, but I am proud to say that in January of this year alone, more than a million people had used the cycleways. They have become a great earner. And the good news is that even Bill English was converted once he realised you could get a trim soy latte in Dipton.

I am immensely proud of the achievements made by the Government that I led. Our economic reforms and the 90-day trial periods ensure that young, and sometimes marginalised, Kiwis get a shot at proving their worth to an employer. There is the huge investment in infrastructure and, in particular, the roll-out of ultrafast broadband, and our support of the film industry, without which The Hobbit movies would have been made in London.

I am proud to have led a Government that balanced the books and that gave parents better information about the progress their child was making. There are the vastly improved health services, ensuring children under the age of 13 can go to the doctor for free, and the fully funded Herceptin for women diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a Government that put more police on the street and lifted benefits in real terms for the first time in 43 years, an administration with the ambition to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, and one that advanced our trade agenda. I am also proud that so many Treaty settlements were completed, because apart from acknowledging past wrongs, they reflect the same aspirations we all share of improving our independence, creating opportunities, and providing our kids with a chance to better their lives.

In politics, disappointments are inevitable. It is futile to relitigate the flag debate here—well, I could start. However—

Grant Robertson: Go on.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —yeah, go on; give it a go—I will always hold the view that a fresh, new flag, without the Union Jack on it, would have been one more step towards New Zealand’s growing profile, reputation, and uniqueness on the world stage.

For the most part, as a liberal MP, I feel I got my voting record right, although I regret voting against civil unions. I was pleased that Louisa Wall’s bill for gay marriage was drawn, and I am glad I supported it. I regret the Trans-Pacific Partnership did not get over the line. Trade has helped lift millions of people in the world out of poverty. On a local level, we want Kiwi businesses, large or small, to have opportunities to compete with others from around the world on the same terms and for the same rewards. I hope that one day the Kermadecs will be an ocean sanctuary so that long after we are all gone, it remains pristine and untouched.

As Prime Minister, I got to travel to many interesting places and promote New Zealand’s case and profile with many world leaders. A perennial favourite for the media was the silly shirts of the ASEAN and APEC summits. Those outfits might be OK for Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama, but as recent photos of me in my togs in Hawaii can attest, I am neither. So, on many occasions, I felt responsible for mangling not only the local language but the national costume as well.

It is fair to say my natural enthusiasm means I have had a few problems with handshakes over the years. I would hate to think how many three-way handshake selfies I have done, but they sure make O-Week go quickly. The ASEAN summit features a rather odd, cross-handed handshake known as the ASEAN way. I remember, on one occasion, after a photo in front of the world’s media, the then Philippines leader, President Aquino, leaning over to me and saying: “John, if that’s the ASEAN way, I’d hate to see what the other way looks like.” I felt like replying: “Ring Richie McCaw.”

Getting to go to some of the most iconic places in the world as Prime Minister has left memories I will never forget, and getting to share them with Bronagh, Stephie, and Max made them even more special. From Balmoral to Chequers, we saw it all. I will never forget taking the kids, when they were quite young, to China. The last time I had been there was as a businessman, so when I went back as Prime Minister, I asked whether, over the weekend, I might go to a couple of places to allow the kids to see some of the most famous sites, like Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. Our Chinese hosts kindly agreed. As we were approaching both sites, I said to Max: “Best to stay close, or maybe even hold my hand, because there’ll be more people around you than you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” When we arrived, Max looked out of the car window, looked at me, and said: “Where is everyone?”. I took one look and realised that the entire Tiananmen Square had been emptied in the middle of the day so that my kids could get to see it, and when we arrived on the Wall, we were the only people on it for 5 miles in each direction. You sure get some cool photos when you are Prime Minister.

One time, I was at the Pacific Forum in the Marshall Islands, and when the summit finished, we had some downtime before leaving, so I hatched a plan to go tuna fishing. The trouble was I was due to get an important phone call from the then British Prime Minister, my friend David Cameron, about the atrocities taking place in Libya and to talk about why Britain was taking military action. “No worries,” someone said, “we have the satellite phone.” So we headed out to sea, and just as I had hooked a big one and was hauling it on board, the phone rang. I handed the rod to my diplomatic protection officer, who found some implement to finish off the tuna, which was flapping mightily in the boat. It is fair to say there was a huge amount of noise in the background, and Cameron, who was used to taking calls on secure phones and in a quiet office, said to me: “What the hell is going on there?”. “Oh,” I said, “don’t be alarmed. It’s just that we’re on a fishing boat about a mile out to sea in the Marshall Islands, and I’ve landed a big tuna.” There was this long silence, and then he wistfully said: “God, I wish I ran a small country.”

One of the unexpected parts of Government was dealing with tragedy and disaster. When the first Canterbury earthquake happened, I had just landed in Christchurch to see the damage for myself when I received a text from the department informing me that a skydiving plane had crashed at Fox Glacier, killing all nine people on board. That tragic and sudden loss of life put into perspective the terrible damage I was seeing around me in Christchurch. Bad as the earthquake had been, at least it had not claimed any lives.

That all changed on the afternoon of 22 February 2011. We felt that quake so strongly in the Beehive that we thought it must have been centred near us. But moments later, my Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, came in and said: “That wasn’t Wellington. That was Christchurch.” I arrived in Latimer Square to the sound of sirens blaring and the air full of smoke from the burning CTV building. The media were reporting 12 dead, but the police commander told me that the number was 65 and rising. “How sure are you?”, I asked him. “Very sure.”, he said. “We’ve counted at least 65 body bags, and they’re only the ones that we’ve managed to get to so far.” The Christchurch earthquakes really hit home to me. It was my home town, and the death toll was so high. Right then, New Zealand seemed a particularly vulnerable and fragile place.

Time and again we have seen the answer to nature’s devastation is people’s resolve. Standing behind Christchurch was hugely important for my Government and, indeed, for this Parliament as a whole. Gerry Brownlee deserves a lot of credit for dealing with the situation, which was without precedent. It was Gerry who knew we had to establish a red zone, buy the 10,000 homes we did, support the small businesses, and pass the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority legislation. In my view, Christchurch and New Zealand owe Gerry a huge debt of gratitude for putting in place the mechanisms that allowed New Zealand to literally save a city.

I will also never forget the Pike River mine disaster. As the full gravity of the situation became clear, I flew to Greymouth. The impact that event had, and continues to have, on the small community of the West Coast is profound. It also had a far-reaching impact on New Zealand’s workplace health and safety laws. No one should leave home to go to work and never return.

One thing that maybe is not well known is that 5 days after the initial explosion the Mines Rescue Trust had decided it was safe to re-enter the mine. That Wednesday, I was receiving regular briefings on the planned re-entry, so when the phone rang I thought it was to inform me they had gone in. Instead, I learnt that a massive explosion had occurred. Had those rescuers been in the mine, they too would have perished. Let me say to those families directly affected by the disaster that I sincerely wish you could have been provided with the closure you deserve, but I can honestly say I never, in my time as Prime Minister, saw a credible and safe plan to achieve that.

A responsible country must sometimes stand alongside others to try to create a less violent and more stable world, but the risks and costs can be high. As Prime Minister, I was ultimately responsible for committing New Zealand troops overseas. The burden of doing so weighs heavily on any leader, and no news grieved me more than the loss of our troops in the course of duty that happened in my time. My heart continues to go out to the Defence families for their sacrifice, and on this, my final day in this House, I want to again salute the bravery and commitment of those who have died serving their country in our national interests. New Zealanders can be rightfully proud of the men and women of our armed services. They are professional, dedicated, and highly regarded around the world.

In my time as Prime Minister, I had quite a lot to do with them, and in particular I want to thank the air force personnel who flew and supported the 757s, the King Airs, the Hercules, and the helicopters that took me safely around New Zealand and the world. In particular, I want to thank the crew that landed the 757 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the worst electrical storm I have ever seen. I owe you a beer.

The truth is that my confidence in the air force and the SAS grew so much that late last year I decided to tag along on an SAS training day to do a parachute jump from Whenuapai, in my electorate. Needless to say, my office was a touch nervous about the jump, and the kitchen cabinet did not find out until the day before. Anyway, I jumped from 12,000 feet, and sometime after 7 a.m., when I was on the ground again, I rang Bronagh, buzzing with excitement, to declare I was alive and well. I then texted Bill English. I kept it short. “I’m alive.”, I said. His reply was even shorter: “Bugger!”. One minute later, I got another text from him: “Going to give it another go?”. It was at that point I decided he was just a little bit more ambitious than he was letting on.

Bill—Prime Minister—can I acknowledge and thank you for a decade of service as the most loyal, capable, and perceptive deputy that a leader could ever have asked for. I believe you will prove to be a highly successful Prime Minister of this country, which you know and understand so well. Bronagh and I wish you and Mary all the very best.

To my former caucus and Cabinet colleagues, I am proud to have worked alongside each and every one of you. It has been an honour to lead you. You have been, and continue to be, an amazing, tight and loyal team, and every day your cohesion helps to provide New Zealand with great stability and a hugely competent Government.

Although I am trying not to single out individuals, I do have to mention Steven Joyce. Not only did he mastermind three election victories but throughout my entire time as Prime Minister he was a close adviser on almost everything that was going on. We constantly talked about the events of the day and how we should tackle and explain them. To our support partners—ACT, United Future, and the Māori Party—thank you for your crucial part in providing our country with strong, diverse, and stable government.

In my time, I was surrounded by hugely loyal, longstanding, and talented staff. There are just so many people to thank, so please forgive me for any omissions, but I am extremely grateful to all those who worked so hard, sometimes through nights that never ended. Wayne Eagleson, my Chief of Staff, for a decade—Wayne, your dedication, ability, and good sense under pressure are second to none. My press team, so ably led by Kevin Taylor, Kelly Boxhall, Sarah Aston, and Julie Ash, tried so hard to keep me out of trouble and only sometimes succeeded.

My policy advisers, including the most brilliant Grant Johnson, or “Boff” as we all know him, Paula Oliver, Phil de Joux, Sarah Boyle, Nicola Willis, Jane Fraser-Jones, Cameron Burroughs, James Christmas, Josh Cameron, and Craig Howard. The people who kept my life and travel organised, including Emma Holmes, Susan Tombleson, Rachel Beechan, Jane Nixon, Danny Coe, Laura Malcolm, Becky MacKay, and Libby O’Brien.

My electoral agents, without whose incredible commitment the people of Helensville would have suffered: Janelle Bayley, Heather Hitchings, Mel McDonald, and Jenny Collins. The party presidents I worked under: Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, and my electorate chairs Tom Grace, Steven McIlraith, and Stephen Franklin.

My Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, so ably led by Andrew Kibblewhite, and before him Sir Maartin Wevers. My tourism and intelligence officials, and my foreign policy advisers—all truly gifted: Tony Lynch, Ian King, and Taha McPherson.

I also want to thank you, Mr Speaker, and the Speakers who have preceded you, the VIP Transport Service, the wonderful Margaret Smith from Premier House, and all the other staff of the complex, who serve the people of New Zealand so well.

To the press gallery: a free press is essential for a democracy. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to your craft.

To the Diplomatic Protection Squad (DPS), whose tasks were many and varied—keeping me safe was the major one, but also finding the five things I left behind every day, including my wallet, was another. Maybe your role in our lives is best summed up by our son, Max, who said: “It seemed weird when they arrived, and it seems weirder now they’ve gone.” You guys were great. I lose a lot more golf balls now you are not around. But I am happy to say that not everything you did required 21st century policing. For example, the first death threat I got as Prime Minister, and I kid you not—one of those milestones that goes with the job—was from a not-very-bright guy who faxed it from his house, not realising his phone number was on the fax. I think my secretary had solved it before the DPS even got to her.

I leave having made some great friends in and out of this place, and many of them are here today. Thank you for being alongside me and keeping it real. And to Eric, Rhys, and David, thanks for getting my handicap down. I have been touched by the warmth and kindness many Kiwis showed me and my family while I was Prime Minister. It has been a privilege to have met so many of you.

Last but not least, to my family. To my sisters, Sue and Liz: thanks for all the encouragement, support, and laughs. Max and Stephie, I hope you know that I was proud of being the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, but Mum and I are prouder still of being your parents. Stephie, you have grown into a beautiful and talented young woman. May you always retain the passion to create the best you can. Max, you have had to grow up under a lot of pressure, in a harsh spotlight. But the world is your oyster. You are a fine young man. You have great insights. Always trust them.

Finally, Bronagh, when you said yes to marrying me, 32 years ago, I am guessing you did not think our family home would sometimes be surrounded by protesters and that we would have armed police in the living-room. When I came into Parliament, I was told that if you have a good marriage it will survive; if you do not, it will not last. Our marriage has not only survived but I think it has grown stronger over these amazing years. Your endless sacrifice, your willingness to let me follow my dreams, and your utter loyalty make any words I choose here hopelessly inadequate. I love you and I thank you.

And so, Mr Speaker, my time here is done. I take away many memories of this most remarkable place. I would like to think I leave having made a positive difference to the country, and that is satisfying. I have few regrets in my life, but one is that Mum did not live to see how it all turned out. I hope that she would have been proud. So that is it. It has been a privilege, an honour, and a blast. Goodbye, and good luck.

Waiata

Andrew Little’s ‘hard-hitting’ speech

Labour on Facebook have referred to Andrew Little’s speech in the General Debate yesterday in Parliament as ‘hard-hitting’.


ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. It is a great pleasure to speak at this particular point and ask the question that is on the lips of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders every day, and it is this: what is it about the housing crisis that this Government does not get?

Unlike the Minister of Finance, I get around a lot of New Zealand and a lot of places. Just in the last couple of weeks, hundreds of people turned out at Tauranga, and hundreds turned out at Whangarei—200 at Clyde last week alone. Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to, and everywhere I look, people are saying: “Why is it this Government does not get it about the housing crisis?”

Everyone is now affected by this Government’s neglect and negligence and dereliction when it comes to housing. It is not just about the out-of-control house prices in Auckland; it is also now about rents and rentals. It is not just rent in Auckland; it is rents right across the country, as people are finding. Hard-working New Zealanders are finding they cannot afford to pay their rent any more.

What a damning statistic—that we now find just 2 weeks ago that the average working family finds that what little pay increase it got last year was almost entirely eaten up in extra housing costs.

So New Zealand families last year were, on average, better off by—would you believe it—$2 a week. Just $2 a week, and that is before inflation. That is before the rising cost of food and other costs that households have to meet. No wonder we have people living no longer just in cars and garages but now in caravans.

And now it turns out that schools are so desperate they are going to teach kids in caravans. I do not what it is about this Government and caravans, and jamming people into places where they cannot live and cannot learn.

You know, this Government boasts that it is the social investment Government, and it says “We look at figures and we look at information and we have all the best data and we make a decision that answers the problem that we see.”

Well, what is it about the information about housing that this mob does not get? What is it about the one in five working New Zealanders who are now paying more than 50 percent of their take-home pay in accommodation that does not compel the Government to want to do something serious and meaningful about housing?

What is it about that figure about household incomes simply not keeping pace with the real rising cost of living that does not force it around that Cabinet table to say “You know what, Nick? You’ve got to do something else. You’ve got to do something better because what is happening now is not working.”?

What is it about 41,000 New Zealanders at least who do not even have a home they can call their own that does not make the Government want to do something different?

Well, Labour is going to come to the rescue. Labour has got the plan. Labour is here and we will build a hundred thousand affordable homes over 10 years, and we will build the workforce to go with it, and we will work with the landowners and the property developers, and whoever else we have to, with our affordable housing authority, and we build those homes.

We will get stuck into the speculators—the people who live overseas but want to own a home here because New Zealand is a fantastic place to own a home in even if you do not want to live in it. We are going to get stuck into them and we are going to do what many of our counterpart countries do around the world and say: “If you want to own a home here, you build a new home.”

And then we are going to go after those who get the tax break called negative gearing and we are going to say “You ain’t having that tax break any more.”

We are going to do something about that so that first-home owners, those struggling and striving to do what every New Zealander who has grown up believing they could do—that if they do the right things, work hard and save hard, they can buy their own home. They are going to get a look in, for once.

They are going to get a look in, because right now there is one party that is listening to New Zealanders right across the country. Whether it is Tauranga, Whangarei, Clive, the Botanical Gardens here in Wellington—everywhere I have gone there is one party that is listening to New Zealand, and it is the Labour Party.

New Zealanders are saying: “We want our dream back. We want our kids and our grandkids to have the opportunity that we had to own our own home, to have our own place, to put down our anchors, to have a place where we can raise our children with confidence, be part of strong communities, raise a strong family and live in a great prosperous, bounteous country that we are.”

That is the Kiwi Dream. It is the Labour dream, and we are putting it in place in September this year.

David Seymour’s conference speech

Live at 2 pm Saturday:

Targeting 5 MPs this election. They need four more candidates who appeal to voters first.

Criticises Labour, Greens, and NZ First in particular.

Too much negativity so far.

Coalition – a repeat of the status quo – is stable but unambitious.

“We need a National-ACT government with a much bigger dose of ACT”…”to keep the bad guys out”.

Wants to cut spending and taxes, a standard ACT act. “Nobody should pay more than 25% income tax…on income under a hundred thousand dollars”.

Replace the Resource Management Act in urban areas with something is fit for purpose.

Will force the Government to address the sustainability of National Super – from 2020 incrementally raise the age from 65 to 67 (a modest shift).

Address traffic congestion through ride sharing through phone apps and affordability.

Not surprisingly he is talking up Partnership Schools and cites as Iwi being the real driver.

ACT doesn’t resile from being ‘tough on crime’ but wants to get smarter on crime to help prisoners get off the criminal treadmill.

“Self improvement in prisons” – see ACT: reduced prison sentence for education

Seymour’s speech – 
http://www.act.org.nz/sites/default/files/civicrm/persist/contribute/files/ACT%20Conference%20Speech%20-%20David%20Seymour.pdf

 

 

Trump at the CIA

Donald Trump has spoken at the CIA, stirring up a lot of controversy, again. In particular he has launched another attack on media, as has his press secretary Sean Spicer.

They have blamed the media for misrepresenting his relationship with the CIA and the intelligence community.

And Spicer has also blasted the media for misreporting the size of the crowd at the inauguration – so  such for focussing on the important things.

Donald Trump speaks to about 400 employees at the CIA’s Headquarters in McLean, VA. He says he knows that most of them voted for him. Trump has been at odds with the intelligence comment over its findings that Russia tried to tamper with the US election.

How the hell does he know who voted for him from the CIA?

I haven’t had a chance to listen through it yet.

Fox News: Trump moves to ease intel community tensions with CIA visit

President Trump visited the CIA on Saturday in a conciliatory bid to end a feud with the intelligence community — a dispute he suggested was overblown by the media — while making clear one of his top priorities will be to destroy the “evil” Islamic State terror network.

“We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism, it has to be eradicated,” said Trump, on his first full day in the White House and his first official agency stop of his presidency. “This is evil. … We’re going to end it.”

The CIA, FBI and other agencies in the so-called U.S. intelligence community recently issued a report that stated Putin and Russia meddled in the race, though it found no evidence of vote tampering.

However, Trump last week suggested outgoing CIA Director John Brennan may have leaked an unofficial dossier on him containing embarrassing and highly suspect allegations, and compared the situation to living in “Nazi Germany.”

John Brennan has denied such accusations and said Trump lacks “a full understanding” of Russian capabilities and the actions the country is taking in the world.

“Nobody feels stronger about the intelligence community than Donald Trump,” the president said Saturday to loud applause. “I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody whom I respect more. We are going to start winning again.”

Trump suggested the news media, which he has repeatedly argued are dishonest and have treated him unfairly, overplayed his concerns about intelligence officials. He also accused the media of mischaracterizing the size of his inauguration crowds.

Business Insider: Ex-CIA director John Brennan: ‘Trump should be ashamed of himself’ over CIA remarks

Former CIA Director John Brennan said President Donald Trump “should be ashamed” for using a speech at the agency’s headquarters to boast about himself, his former deputy chief of staff said Saturday.

“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro said in a statement.

Trump had spoken to CIA employees earlier Saturday while standing in front of a wall honouring operatives who were killed in the line of duty. He pledged his support for the agency, “1,000%,” but also raged about the “dishonest media” and complained of coverage that showed underwhelming crowds during his inauguration on Friday.

“We had a massive field of people … Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump told the employees, although photos from the event show much sparser crowds than those that had attended former President Barack Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013.

“As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” he continued.

Fox News: Spicer accuses media of ‘false reporting’ in fiery briefing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer angrily accused the media Saturday of “false reporting” on the inauguration as part of what he called a “shameful” attempt to minimize enthusiasm for President Trump, beginning his tenure as the administration’s top spokesman on a combative note.

Spicer summoned the press to the briefing room at the end of Trump’s first full day in office to specifically condemn two pieces of reporting – a reporter’s erroneous claim, since retracted, that an MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office; and photos appearing to show light crowds at Friday’s inauguration.

Spicer called the former claim, made on Twitter, “irresponsible and reckless.”

He went on to say inauguration photos were framed to minimize their “enormous” support on the National Mall, while suggesting the reason crowds looked smaller was because floor covering used to protect the grass highlighted where people weren’t standing – and fences kept supporters from quickly accessing the scene.

Spicer also pushed back on what he called inaccurate crowd estimates, stressing, “No one had numbers,” since the National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall where spectators stand, no longer makes public an official crowd count.

Yet Spicer went on to put out their own estimate based on the capacity of certain spaces stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and declared: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

I’m sure that will be fact checked.

Trump made similar comments a couple hours earlier during a visit to the CIA headquarters, where he said reporting low-end crowd numbers was the media’s latest attempt to mistreat him, much like he suggested they did in exaggerating a rift between him and the U.S. intelligence community over Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

I think this is getting into dangerous territory, trying to discredit the media and effectively cut them out from any reporting of what he does, or at least to encourage his supporters to attack or ignore the media.

And control his own messages via alternate means.

More from McMullin:

Nothing says can be taken at face value. He consistently misrepresents and obscures truth on all topics he addresses.

Trump’s speech at CIA today was full of self-promotion and lies, ironically while he attacked the media for being “dishonest.

His attacks on the media are an attack on American democracy and we must not tolerate them.

His attacks are not routine disputes over bias, fairness or facts. They are intended to destroy the media’s ability to hold him accountable.

It hasn’t taken Trump and his administration to show how dangerous they could be.  I think this is seriously concerning.