Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield (posted on Facebook):


On Tuesday last week we had the launch for the book Whale Oil by Margie Thomson. It was an incredible and humbling experience. About three hundred people turned up. My wife and kids attended and afterwards they talked about what an amazing night they had with other friends and family.

This weekend with the dust starting to settle I looked back at the week that followed the launch and I felt uncomfortable. It was a busy week with media appearances and messages of support, and naturally there was a big focus on the details of my protracted battle against Cameron Slater. What got me thinking, though, was a book review on Newsroom by Finlay Macdonald – not his words but the image at the top of the page: Cameron Slater knocked out in the first round of his boxing match with Jesse Rider. He looks broken. I needed to beat Cameron in court in order to win back my reputation. It was never my intention to break the man.

Cameron Slater has had his struggles in life. He’s had business failures. He struggled with mental illness; he lost his home. More recently he has had health issues. It follows that my mind takes me to a place of sympathy for Slater. He has a wife and kids just like me; he has tried to succeed, just like me. I feel increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the comments about him that are appearing online. I know what it’s like first hand to be ridiculed online, to be bullied and it affects more than just the individual. It flows through to that person’s friends and family.
Slater is not well. His attacks against me are not the actions of a right thinking individual. He needs help.
I’m concerned that some of the coverage given to the publication of Margie’s book gives the impression this book is a tit-for-tat exercise. It’s not, and that’s clear to anyone reading it. Yes, it’s the story of my long struggle to rescue my reputation and get justice, but
it’s about much more than a fight between two individuals. It is about our changing world and a system that needs to change so that our children are protected. It introduces readers to some incredible individuals and shows that even during the hardest of times good people will stand up and be counted. It’s about never giving up, and that sometimes the decision to fight can come from a place of love, compassion and family. Finally, it’s about people as a whole and how we choose to live not only on the internet but as a society.

The people who have read the book have all had the same reaction; a feeling of surprise. It follows that those same people have expressed to me what an important book this is and how much it impacted them as individuals.

I am now going to focus on my family, my health, my education and hopefully move past this. My story has been told.

I hope that people will move past attacking what can be only be described as a damaged individual. Let’s put him where he belongs, in the footnote of history, and move on to talking about the important issues he only symbolizes.

 

Ardern statement – Saturday morning

More from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (edited) on numbers of deaths, arrests and charges, gun control, ongoing investigations, and support for those affected:


Statement from Jacinda Ardern on Christchurch mass shooting – 9am 16 March

A total now of 49 people have been killed – work is under way to confirm their identities as quickly as possible.

41 people died at Deans Avenue Mosque, 7 at the Linwood Avenue Mosque – and 1 person has since died in hospital.

Over 40 people are being treated for injuries at Christchurch hospital – they have all been identified and those names have been shared with members of the community.

Two of those are in critical condition and this includes a 5-year-old child who has been transported today to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

Three people have been arrested in relation to this event.

One Australian citizen will appear in court today charged with murder.

This individual has travelled around the world with sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand. They were not a resident of Christchurch. In fact they were currently based in Dunedin.

Enquires are ongoing to establish whether the other two were directly involved with this incident.

The fourth person who was arrested yesterday was a member of the public who was in possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police. They have since been released.

None of those apprehended had a criminal history either here, or in Australia. As I said last night, they were not on any watch lists either here, or in Australia.

I want to be very clear that our intelligence community and police are focused on extremism of every kind.

Given global indicators around far right extremism, our intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in this area.

The individual charged with murder had not come to the attention of the intelligence community nor the police for extremism.

I have asked our agencies this morning to work swiftly on assessing whether there was any activity on social media or otherwise that should have triggered a response. That work is already under way.

“I want to speak specifically about the firearms used in this terrorist act.”

I’m advised that there were five guns used by the primary perpetrator. There were two semi-automatic weapons, and two shotguns. The offender was in possession of a gun licence.

I’m advised that this was acquired of November 2017.

A lever action firearm was also found.

While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.

There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017.

Now is the time for change.

Too late for change in this case, and it will take time to work out what sort of changes will be made, but change looks inevitable.

There are obviously questions being asked of how this person was able to enter the country and undertake this act of terror.

I have instructed ODESC to report to Cabinet on Monday on this sequence of events with a view to strengthening our systems on a range of fronts including but not limited to, firearms, border controls, enhanced information sharing with Australia and any practical reinforcement of our watch list processes.

“I want to come now to what people can expect over the course of the day and beyond.”

The safety of New Zealanders is our highest priority.

New Zealand Police remain on high alert.

Christchurch residents are strongly urged to stay home if possible and stay safe. Please monitor the Police website and social media for further information.

If you see something suspicious then call 111 immediately.

A number of events are being held across the country today and there will be an increased Police presence.

Police have additional patrols out on the streets of Christchurch to reassure the community.

They have flown in 45 additional police staff to Christchurch with a further 80 staff arriving today.

The additional police staffing includes public safety teams, detectives, tactical specialists and intelligence support.

Staff from other DHBs have offered support as required.

There will be additional support provided in Christchurch for mental health and psychosocial needs.

 

Police are aware of distressing material relating to this event being online and are reminding people it is an offence to distribute objectionable material.

To recap:

Police immediately secured the areas involved and ensured that people were kept safe, including schools and offices being locked down.

Police made arrests swiftly and a man will appear in court this morning.

Defence specialists quickly moved to assist police to make the improvised explosive devices safe.

I want to make special mention of those who are involved in parts of the operation involving disarming devices and undertaking the arrests themselves.

Many of you may have seen the footage of the arrest and I can only describe it as an act of bravery on behalf of all New Zealanders and an act that showed very little regard for their own personal safety.

I’m sure everyone in New Zealand wants to acknowledge the police and particularly the officer who made that arrest yesterday.

I also want to acknowledge ambulance staff who many will have seen acting swiftly under horrific conditions and all medical staff who continue to work with those who are injured.

NZ Defence Force at Burnham Camp yesterday were put on standby to assist police in Christchurch.

Mosques around the country were provided with advice from police to help keep them secure and advised to remain closed. This advice continues as does the police presence at mosques around the country.

The national threat level was raised to high, which triggers a number of actions to help keep people safe, such as increased aviation and border security.

A number of specialist family liaison staff were deployed.

Close liaison has been established with the Muslim community and other key people in Christchurch.

Police and the wider government will be working with leaders and members of the Islamic Community to provide assistance, reassurance and support.

MFAT are acting as a liaison point for foreign governments – consular representation for any foreign nations involved has been provided. At this stage I understand those involved include Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

MFAT staff are dealing with offers of assistance, and are receiving a significant number of condolence messages.

Deputy Commissioner Maori and Ethnic Services Wally Haumaha has travelled to Christchurch, alongside 15 additional ethnic liaison officers to support the community.

These specialists will work alongside local staff to support the families involved.

They are assisting to repatriate them with their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim beliefs, while taking into account these particular circumstances and obligations to the coroner.

“I want to finish by saying…”

…that while the nation grapples with a form of grief and anger that we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers.

After this media conference I will board a defence force plane and travel to Christchurch. I will have other political leaders with me including the Leader of the Opposition.

As is the entire nation, we are all unified in grieving together.


If anyone needs to speak to someone or if they are feeling distressed I encourage you to call or text 1737. There are extra staff available. That number is available to everyone.”

An 0800 number established to register missing persons – 0800 115019 – and a website, Restoring Family Links (RFL).

 

JLR: “…didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.”

Closely following being given a platform on Newshub Jami-Lee Ross has posted a lengthy statement, including an apology of sorts, on Facebook.

In  particular he seems to be working on getting some support from the Botany electorate of which he is now an independent MP who is unlikely to be re-elected.


Leaving bitterness and hatred behind

The last time I actively took part in public debate, over three months ago, I found myself at the apex of a mental health crisis that became a life and death situation. My absence from Parliament and the media since then has understandably raised questions. I hope to now answer some of them.

I’ve been to hell and back. I almost lost everything, including my own life. I just can’t be driven by hatred anymore, or the pursuit of getting even with Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett or anyone else in the National Party. Life is too short for that. My time and energy needs to be focussed on doing everything I can for my family, my constituents and my country.

If I could go back in time, my biggest wish is that I could have spared Lucy from this painful experience. She never deserved any of this, and politics is always harder on those loved ones in the background, than on the MPs themselves.

I can’t spare Lucy that pain or take back any hurt I have caused. But what I can do is dedicate myself for however long I have left in public life to making those around me proud of the good work that I can, and will, do.

My plea to the 70,000 people living in my electorate is that I hope they are willing to judge me on the decade and a half I have spent serving Botany and the wider Howick area, and not that one challenging and confusing month where things fell apart for a while.

I am still the same person that has always worked hard for them, that has never been afraid to speak up for them, or knock on their door and front up to them face to face. The only difference is that my life has been laid bare for all to see now, and I happen to be a flawed human being.

Last year showed me that I need to be a better husband, I need to be a better boss, and I needed to be honest with myself about my own mental health struggles a lot earlier. I have been working really hard on these things in the past few months.

Had I known at the start of last year what I know now, all this could have been different. I was recognising in myself early in the year that things weren’t right. I wasn’t feeling myself. I was privately becoming emotional over things I wouldn’t normally have. And I was hiding how I was really feeling from everyone around me.

I should have been honest with myself and asked for help earlier. It wasn’t until another National MP sent me that now infamous text message telling me to kill myself that I finally cracked and I sought help from an old friend and counsellor that worked with me when I was a teenager. He quickly realised that I was in need of actual medical assistance, and so I was being treated by a psychiatrist for the later part of last year.

The normal rules of politics say I should do everything I can to hide my own health. But it’s no secret I eventually end up being sectioned to Middlemore Hospital’s acute mental health facility in October. We don’t always see positive stories of the country’s mental health services, but I can’t speak more highly of the people working there.

I am so thankful for the amazing individuals that save lives through our mental health system. I am also grateful for the dedicated men and women that work in our emergency services. They displayed to me the kindness of human nature at a very difficult time when I was so emotionally distressed that I had tried to harm myself.

I hope to add my voice to those trying to educate New Zealanders, particularly young people, that it isn’t weak to speak up about how you are feeling. I’ve learnt the hard way that it is okay to not feel well, it’s okay to ask for help, and that there is usually a huge amount of kindness and compassion out there in the community.

I don’t have hatred or animosity towards Simon or Paula anymore for the way they treated me. At the time they were doing all they knew how to do with the skill set they have.

But I still take responsibility, because it wasn’t fair on them. It wasn’t fair on Simon and Paula for them to be put in a position where they had to choose between helping someone with a health issue, or to put that person under more pressure because it was the better political move to make.

I do want to say thank you to the people that tried to help. I have subsequently learnt that at least two of the four women in the October 18 Newsroom story first spoke to the National Party leadership because they were concerned about my health and wellbeing. They identified that I was struggling and they were doing what they thought was the right thing. I want to thank them for caring.

Should the National Party’s response have been to send them out to talk to the media? Probably not, but people don’t always do very rational things in the heat of a political crisis when they are under pressure.

I have received a personal apology from one of the women that was sent to the media by Paula. I am grateful for her apology, but I more feel sorry for her that she was put through that traumatic experience. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to have her boss request she hand over all her personal text messages. Then to also be asked to talk about her personal life so National could “combat” me during that week – it can’t have been easy.

I also know the National MP that sent me that text message has been suffering a lot of personal pain and family heartache in the last year. She was once my best friend in the caucus – there must have been a lot of personal stress in her life for her to end up sending me a late night text message inciting me to commit suicide.

We shouldn’t have hurt and betrayed innocent parties in the way we did. I obviously wish she hadn’t given an anonymous interview to the media, but I know how hard it can be when the leadership is pressuring you in to doing something.

One of the things that I have been coming to terms with is the comments in the second Newsroom story from some of my ex staff members and how they were so unhappy working for me. That was so terrible to hear. Clearly I was not a good boss, but worse than that I didn’t even realise. I never knew they felt that way. I didn’t realise that my actions were creating such an unpleasant workplace. How terrible is that?

I thought I was a good boss and that I had mostly good relationships with my staff. That clearly wasn’t the case and reading about how I made some of them feel was gutting. I am so ashamed about this and I have been working with my psychiatrist to make sure that never happens again.

I wondered why Parliamentary Services never brought this to my attention at the time, so I asked – turns out it’s because they had never received any formal complaints about me and never had need to investigate me like they have other MPs. But even so, people that worked for me have obviously felt hurt by the working environment I created, and for that I am sorry.

I do want to say though – while I have been a bad boss and I must do a lot better in that area – I was led to believe by the leadership that there were allegations of sexual harassment. I have never sexually harassed anyone, and never had any complaints made about me of that nature.

I know people are naturally wondering how Simon and I went from close friends to political adversaries. It’s true, less than a year ago I was doing everything I could to help him achieve all his own personal goals. And I was proud to be doing so. Somewhere along the way our friendship sadly deteriorated.

Simon has had nearly a year as leader and he’s tried his best. You can’t blame him for trying. But I was in his leadership team and I was one of about half a dozen that saw the full polling we were doing each week – the detailed polling report that the rest of the Caucus isn’t allowed to see. It didn’t matter how much we tried to do, each week Simon’s personal favourability kept going backwards further and further.

This was frustrating. And I was feeling frustrated because when I was questioning Simon’s personal polling and what we could do about it, more and more I felt squeezed out of the inner circle. Some leaders welcome those that challenge them, others close up and listen to the voices they like the sound of. I wasn’t one of those voices.

My mistake was I took my feelings and started sharing them with other MPs. And this was viewed, probably rightly, as me being disloyal. And Simon treated my dissenting voice as something he felt he needed to jump on. And he jumped pretty hard.

So when you saw me go on medical leave in early October that was actually me being pushed out for the rest of the year for disloyalty. And this is where my mental health struggles and my disagreements with Simon started to converge pretty heavily.

A colleague that’s still in the caucus and leadership team rightly observed that if you back a wounded animal into a corner they’ll either curl up and wet themselves, or they will bite back as hard as they can.

I clearly wasn’t thinking straight at the time. I clearly wasn’t coping. And I was in a sort of hate fuelled daze. And so when I was put under immense pressure, with my whole personal and professional life threatened, I decided to bite back as hard as I could. These weren’t the actions of someone in a good state of mind. But it’s where we got to, and the whole country was watching.

I’m happy to put my hand up and say I should have reached out for help a lot earlier. Maybe we could have avoided that whole saga had I done that. We probably could have avoided the collateral damage too.

I feel so sorry for people like Maureen Pugh, who is nothing but a lovely person, who had to hear what Simon thought of her in a taped conversation. That wasn’t nice. And those incredible public servants like Chris Finlayson and David Carter – they shouldn’t have had to hear me and Simon discussing their careers so flagrantly. They all deserved better.

I’m also sorry for the hurt I caused the good, hard working, National MPs, most of whom were my friends. What normal person goes and hurts the people they are closest to? These people weren’t just colleagues – they were my political family. My friends. There are some great people in that caucus and they deserve to have the chance to be back in government one day.

I’m deeply sorry for my actions that have hurt people. And I have a lot of repairing to do. But I also know I was put under enormous pressure too. When that PWC report was released to the media, I had only been told of it about an hour earlier. I hadn’t had a chance to read it, to understand it, or to seek advice on it. To this day the full report with the QC’s opinion hasn’t been released to me.

I didn’t know at the time that Simon and Paula talked to the media (because I hadn’t read the report) that it never actually identified wrong doing on my part. It never identified me as having done anything. What it did was draw together communications, which were unrelated, and formed a view that should never have been able to be formed, as well as saying that the evidence was not conclusive.

After everything that’s happened I struggle to feel any animosity towards him anymore, but I do wish Simon would have given me the opportunity, like I pleaded for, to at least read the report and talk to the Caucus before it was released publicly. I reckon we could have avoided this whole situation had he not refused my request for natural justice. But that’s all history.

My focus now is on the future, and being positive. My health is considerably better and I am working on greater resilience. I am still the MP for Botany and I owe it to many people to do good for them. I also think it is important not to run away from this difficult time. As the highest profile New Zealander in recent years to have attempted suicide and survive I want to use the platform I have as an MP to do what I can to help other New Zealanders like me who have had a temporary breakdown but remain good people.

I also want to go back to being the type of representative I was earlier in my career, free from political party posturing, to just speak up for the people that voted for me.

I wish as a National MP we had done more to cut red tape and regulation to fix the housing crisis that means young people can’t afford to buy a home. We should have put more in to the country’s underfunded health services and public transport systems. And we should have realised that we let the Auckland Council get out of control and that’s costing Aucklanders more and more each year.

These are the type of issues I want to get back to speaking up for on behalf of my constituents. We spend too much time in Wellington fighting with each other over petty things when we should be focussed on what will improves lives and what helps a family’s back pocket.

But as well as returning to being the best MP I can be for my community, I also need to be a better husband and father. In those dark moments when I felt there was no hope and no way forward – when my world had crashed down around me so much that I found myself standing on train tracks thinking I had no option but to end everyone’s pain – it was the vivid picture in my head of three year old Charlotte’s little happy face that stopped me from actually going through with doing something dumb.

No amount of political point scoring is worth hurting other people, or crushing the happy face of my little girl. We all got in to politics to try to make the world a better place for the boys and girls of the future. In October we forgot that. And we let many people down.

I am reminded at this time of a famous Mandela quote from his time leaving prison on Robben Island: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

I am still the same person that has been proud to work hard for Howick and Botany for a decade and a half. But I can admit, last year, I didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.


“that now infamous text message telling me to kill myself” – that’s his interpretation, but I think open to debate. The text said the MP wished he was dead. That, arguably, is not telling him what to do, it’s expressing a feeling.

There are a number of things he says that suggest mixed motives or intent, with some backhanded swipes.

Q&A – Ron Mark and the review of NZ defence policy

A new review of NZ’s defence policy says Great Power competition is back & turbulent times could be ahead. So what kind of Defence Force does NZ need? interviews today 9am TVNZ1

Minister of Defence: Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 Launched

The Policy Statement updates New Zealand’s strategic Defence policy settings to reflect the Coalition Government’s foreign policy and national security priorities.

The Policy Statement emphasises:

  • The importance of the Defence Force delivering value for New Zealand’s communities
  • New Zealand’s responsibilities as a Pacific nation
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change and protecting the natural environment
  • Maintaining the international rules-based order which is crucial to safeguarding and promoting New Zealand’s interests and wellbeing
  • The importance of contributing to New Zealand’s key security partnerships

“The Policy Statement sets out a challenging strategic environment for New Zealand, in which the international rules-based order is coming under pressure from a range of forces.  The effects of these forces are playing out across the globe, including in New Zealand’s neighbourhood, from Antarctica to the South Pacific.

“As a small state, New Zealand relies on the international rules-based order and multilateral approaches – alongside its international partnerships – to protect its interests and amplify its ability to be a positive global contributor.

“The Defence Force is a key tool with which the Government can help nations and communities.  Whether it be through responding to natural disasters, helping protect fisheries and natural resources, or at the sharper end, contributing to coalition and peace support operations.

“We will now turn our attention to reviewing the Defence Capability Plan.  This will build on the Strategic Policy Statement 2018 and determine the capabilities that the Defence Force will require to give effect to New Zealand’s updated defence policy settings. That review will be completed by the end of 2018,” says Ron Mark.

https://defence.govt.nz/publications/publication/strategic-defence-policy-statement-2018

Newsroom: Bold defence plan comes at a cost

Who would have thought such a small document could make such a big statement?

At a relatively slender 39 pages, the newly-released Strategic Defence Policy Statement packs a significant punch pound-for-pound in outlining the threats to New Zealand and the world.

It paints a bleak picture of “compounding challenges of a scope and magnitude not previously seen in our neighbourhood”.

Coalition politics are a very real consideration, with the Greens and (to a lesser extent) Labour historically critical of spending on defence instead of priorities closer to home.

That may explain the heavy emphasis on security issues related to climate change and the Pacific, providing a framework which the two left-wing parties may find more agreeable.

But that in itself raises the question of how much New Zealand can do: focusing more heavily on the Pacific while maintaining deployments in the Middle East and elsewhere will stretch the NZDF.

Whether it is stretched to breaking point may depend on how successfully Mark can argue his corner in future.

Mark gets a chance to argue his case to the public this morning on Q&A.

“New Zealanders want to know that Kiwis, when they’re placed in danger, have the right equipment to come home safely. That’s what NZers focus on, and I’m proud of them. I’m proud of this government for being bold enough”.

“When you have timidity in the ranks of cabinet, such as we’ve seen in the last nine years, you end up kicking a can down the road, and then aircraft are either grounded or, at worse, they fall out of the sky”.

Fortunately for Mark there are no Green MPs in Cabinet.

 

Police statement – Labour summer camp

Police are now investigating the allegations of sexual assault at the Labour summer camp:


Investigation commences into allegations about Young Labour summer camp

A police investigation has commenced into allegations regarding a Young Labour summer camp at Waihi in February.

The first step will be to assess information available to police to determine what is required from an investigation perspective.

The investigation will be overseen by Detective Superintendent Chris Page.

We continue to encourage anyone with information they wish to discuss with police, or matters they wish to report, to contact us.

Our priority is to ensure that anyone who wishes to speak with us can feel comfortable in doing so, and to ensure that appropriate support services are available.

We will not be publicly confirming any matters regarding those who may approach police, or complaints that may be received, to ensure that individuals can feel confident in speaking to us. We will also not discuss specific investigative steps which may be undertaken, or put a timeframe on the investigation.

Further information on NZ Police’s approach to investigating sexual assault can be found here: http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/sexual-assault

Statement from Andrew Little

Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

1 August 2017

Statement from Andrew Little

Today I have announced that I will step down as leader of the Labour Party.

I’m proud to have been leader of the Labour Party, and have given this position my absolute and unwavering dedication, just as I have done so for more than 25 years in the Labour movement.

While obviously this is a sad decision, I have been privileged to have led a united, talented team of Labour MPs, proud to have progressed the values and issues that New Zealanders care about and proud to stand with working New Zealanders.

I remain committed to the Labour cause of putting people first, lifting the rights of working New Zealanders and strengthening Kiwi families.

The Labour team of MPs and staff have worked incredibly hard during my leadership, however recent poll results have been disappointing.

As leader, I must take responsibility for these results. I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election.

I am determined to make sure that Labour fights this campaign with the greatest of resolve, because far too much is at stake for far too many New Zealanders.

New Zealand needs a Labour-led Government, and in order to achieve this Labour must fight without questions over its leadership.

The campaign is on a good footing, Labour’s caucus is united and the party is healthy.

My colleagues in the Labour Party caucus will elect a new leadership team this morning. I wish my successor all the very best in their new role, and offer my wholehearted support to them.

McCarten statement on interns

Matt McCarten has put out a statement on the interns on student visas issue:


In May this year my contract with the Labour Party ended and I left to run a programme called the Campaign for Change. The programme was supported by the Labour Party in Auckland, however I led and managed it.

This programme involved an international volunteer programme with a focus on voter enrolment, working with trade unions, student groups and churches.

Volunteers would also have the opportunity to work on local political campaigns, and a number of them did volunteer to help with Labour campaigns in Auckland.

The programme was extremely popular and quickly became oversubscribed. The scale of the programme is now greater than I can manage, and I am aware of issues that this has caused.

Earlier this week the Labour Party Head Office contacted me about these issues and requested to take the programme over so that it could resolve them. I have agreed to this and am no longer involved in the programme.

My intention from the start has been to give young people a positive experience in the New Zealand political system and I regret that the programme has not lived up to this promise for all volunteers.

I will be making no further comment.

That leaves a number of key questions unanswered.

NZ First response to PM’s statement

NZ First leader Winston Peters’ response to the Prime Minister’s statement.


Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): They say that body language is everything. I want to congratulate the gallery for staying awake and for their stamina. I want to say that the events thus far put me in mind of nothing so much as a guy stepping up to kick a ball 80 metres—80 metres—over the goal line to get a penalty to win the game. All his supporters and colleagues are sitting there breathless expecting that he might just get it over, except they know in their mind’s eye that he does not have a hope in Hades and nor have they. I have never seen so many nervous Nellies on the backbench. The only thing that the National Party backbench agree on is that despite its party’s blatant, awful economic and social mistakes, we are still somehow a country of opportunity. Do members know how it determines that? It determines that by looking at its front bench. Have a good look at this tired, old, uninspiring, visionless man in the main. Nick Smith makes me look young. It is unbelievable. They do not have any idea at all. They are just hanging on for dear life. Talk about unity! Eighteen members are going.

Ron Mark: How many?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Eighteen. That means that the Government must have chosen some bums the last time around—that is what that means.

Two things happened today: first, the Prime Minister put out a statement this morning; and, second, the Governor of the Reserve Bank said that he was going to join John Key and quit. That is what happened today. They know that the game is up for them.

It is time for some truth on our economy. This Government has a serious inability to address the problems that it and its policies have created. No amount of spin, hype, and grandiose talk will dispel the fact that as we go into the 2017 election, it is on a hiding to nothing. All Government members know it. They are trying every dirty little tactic behind closed doors. They are financing the Māori Party; they fund it. They are propping up the guy in Epsom. Now, I do not want to say these things, because they can be misconstrued. Have you ever seen cuckold politics? What is the other one? Ōhāriu. How can any self-respecting party—[Interruption] Oh, yes, the Maori Party—I know. Boy, is it big on tino rangatiratanga. Oh, is it big on that. Until it comes to standing on its own two feet and showing a bit of old-fashioned Māori tribal pride. [Interruption] Oh, no, no, no. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full! That is its policy. Talk about tino rangatiratanga. It would not understand the concept. To stand on one’s own feet, like this party is, the hope and salvation for this country is not easy. It’s not easy.

New Zealand is not an economic success story. Do members know what the old Māoris say about a hen making too much noise like a rooster? What do they say? What do the old Māoris say about a hen making the noise of a rooster? I cannot say that today. The fact of the matter is that this is not economic success. The rock star economy that Bill English constantly touts, as he did today, is a fiction. If we look at some of the facts, we will see how easily his plans are dispelled. If we strip out population growth, it is at a record high—almost four times that which saw Brexit in the United Kingdom, which saw Donald Trump win the election in the United States, and which saw a dramatic change in the Australian election last year as well. We are also seeing a dramatic change in Germany, France, and Italy. If we strip out this massive population growth, what do we have? We have a very boring economy performing below 1 percent growth. All the rest is immigration.

Therefore, New Zealand’s productivity performance is amongst the lowest in the OECD. How do I know that? Because in the old days a guy called John Key—no, not John; John would say anything. A guy called Bill English used to say things like that. If we strip out population growth, our GDP per capita is below the OECD average. With the export of goods and services and our total economic output around 30 percent by international standards, we are not an export-driven economy. This country is export-dependent for its survival and prosperity. It is amazing, you know; the Government used to have a target to increase the contribution of exports to the economy from 30 percent of GDP to 40 percent by 2025, and they have dropped it. They have dropped it. It has gone from their targeting. They know they cannot do that, and we have a staggering net liability internationally of $163 billion, and in the House today he releases a statement saying he is getting on top of debt. He is getting on top of debt, at $163 billion, and a chronic balance of payments deficit. There is no prospect of repaying our debt. What do you think a balance of payments deficit is? Well, for those untutored people over there, it is called debt. That is where we have got ourselves.

On jobs, well, they fling open the door for immigrants at record levels—a net influx of 70,000 a year—and unemployment is going back up. Another 10,000 unemployed were added to the jobless in the latest quarterly household figures released last week. Let me tell you about the deceit of those figures—and New Zealanders need to know that. You go, under the National Government, from being unemployed to employed if you get one hour’s work a week. Just one hour, or two hours, or five hours—they say now you are employed, you are off the unemployed statistics. It blows away the phony optimists who have been predicting the unemployment would be falling throughout 2017. The insanity of having record immigration whilst they have got almost 140,000—mainly New Zealanders but many of them are new immigrants—officially unemployed is obvious to all Kiwis now. Of course, the headline figures, the tip of the much bigger iceberg, are those who are in part-time work and cannot get nearly enough work to keep their families and themselves going.

The latest unemployment data confirms what New Zealanders have long suspected, and that is why the National Government is in trouble in 2017. As for their puppets, well, they are all going to go out. Their puppets have not got a hope in Hades. When they realise that their so-called guardsman is not up to it, then the public will send them on their way.

The real aim of open-door immigration policy is to suppress the wages of ordinary New Zealanders. The real objective of mass immigration, at almost four times the level of the UK—far greater than Australia and far greater than the USA—is to drive down wages and drive up competition. Migrants are soaking up entry-level and basic jobs around the country. Having Kiwis fearful of their jobs from new migrants desperate for work is a disgraceful unemployment policy, and that is why we are going to cream the floor with you in this campaign. That is why we are going to go around the country, pack the halls, and take you guys to the cleaners, because you do not deserve to survive, and you have not got the brains or the skills anyway.

Talk about the Green leader: the Green leader forgot the fact they are so bad at business, they gave South Canterbury Finance $800 million and did not cap their guarantee, so it blew out $800 million further—a blowout of $800 million. They gave Rio Tinto hundreds of millions. They gave Skycity Casino $42 million extra a year. They dish money out like an eight-armed octopus and then go down to Rātana as the Prime Minister did and say: “We have got no more money we cannot help you.” And what did the two Māori Party members say?

Hon Member: Oh yeah, is that right.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Is that right?

Hon Member: Nothing. They said nothing.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, they said: “Amen, brother.” They said: “Amen, Brother.” They were quite religious. Unbelievable—no wonder they are so desperate. And if you have got Tuku at the head of your party, you have got trouble. Ha, ha! You have got serious trouble.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, last week Bill English went to Auckland to a rotary club. They must have been desperate, because they invited him. There he gave a speech about the “state of the nation”. And guess what? In the city with the fourth worst housing crisis in the whole, wide world, he never mentioned the house price debacle. How do you like that? He goes to Auckland and talks about the state of the nation, and the number one thing glaring in his face is the housing crisis of Auckland, where your people cannot buy a house, where generations are being shut out, where they cannot now rent, where teachers are saying “Well, I might be qualified, but I’m getting out of here because I can’t afford to stay here and practice my profession. I’ve got to go somewhere else.”—he did not even mention the house price debacle. That’s an utter mess.

Marama Fox: Is that like when you go to Rātana and don’t mention the Treaty?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I want to tell that Māori Party member, who makes far too much noise, that 75,000 Māori just want a house—75,000 Māori want a house. I want every Māori out there looking for a house, looking for a chance to do what great parties once delivered, to know that we have got in this Parliament two Māori members trying to over-talk another one who is far more experienced than them, and that as far as these two members go, they would rather keep their ministerial home than get the Māori people a home. Yes—unbelievable. They would rather keep their ministerial home than give the Māori people a home. Seventy-five thousand—and just to make sure that 75,000 Māori cannot get a home, they back mass immigration. To make sure that Māori cannot get a job, they back mass immigration. In fact, do you know what that party said? They said we should not be criticising this mass immigration; we should be going to the airport to give them a pōwhiri. Now, a pōwhiri is a welcoming message.

That is how dysfunctional these sociology-trained academics in the Māori Party are. They are totally devoid of the condition, economic and social, of the people in places like Moerewa, Kawarau—all around the country. No, no—when I go down there and I say to the Māori people “Have you got a snapper from this Māori Party? You got one inch of land from this Māori Party? You got anything from this Māori Party? Do you know what Whānau Ora is doing for you? Is it uplifting your life?”, they say to me: “Brother, we don’t know what you’re talking about, because we’re getting nothing.” The sooner we get some real representation that understands the condition of Māori the same as the condition of Europeans in this country—people in this country want four things. They want First World housing that they can afford; they want a health system they can access, be it for their child or their grandmother or grandfather; and they want an education system that keeps the escalators going so that they can progress regardless of their race.

They want First World jobs and First World wages. That is what Māori want. Come to think of it, that is what everybody in this country wants and one party understands that and you are talking to it—only one party. We are going to shock you guys in this campaign and we are going to shock you guys as well. We are going to turn your polls into confetti. I would have thought from the Brexit campaign and the campaign in Australia and the campaign in the United States that you in the gallery might have learnt that your polls are dribble.

I thought you might have learnt it from the Northland by-election. The man over there said I did not have a dog show and we won over 17,412 and busted them in 4 weeks flat. Got you worried? Yes, I know your knees are knocking; they should be. That is going to be a very short ministerial post. Do not get too used to the cars. Do not get used to the house. Do not get too used to all of those places, because I will tell you something: it ain’t going to last much longer. When we get down there in the South Island and start spreading the word, it will be all over for you—it will be all over for you.

Jacqui Dean: You don’t even know where it is.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh, yes. Unlike your former leader, I live in my electorate. [Interruption] And they hate it. I know what they are saying up there. They are going around and saying: “He doesn’t even live up here.” Everybody in my village knows they are lying. They have seen me travelling those dusty roads, going over those single-lane bridges, trying to go out on the water to get my phone going because the Government are not delivering the services, speaking to people in Kerikeri because they have not got ultra-fast broadband like they were promised—Paula fooled us. No, they know all about it, and also they decided they are going to put a cop up. That is three in a row. How do you like that? Bit stupid are they not? But anyway, back to my point.

You know it became very clear today what Bill English intends to do. Do you know what he is going to do? He is going to blame the public service. He is going to go to all those desperate provinces, like the North, like Gisborne, like Rotorua, because they have got such a terrible collapsing environment there. The three mayors of these three areas are all saying that they are pushing for anti-poverty tools. They are asking for a chance to take over the agencies and help their local people, but they do not realise that it is not the agencies fault when they are massively underfunded.

And the Government’s clear and transparent line is that it is going to blame the agencies: “I know what we will do, we will tell the people of Rotorua and Northland and down the East Coast and Gisborne that their condition is brought about by the public service!” How do you like that? Unbelievable. They, the provinces—and the North is a good example of it—are in the top half of the export-earning electorates, and down at the bottom of everything else. Our job is to expose people who would keep them there, like the Māori Party, like the ACT Party, and like the party that has been around for so long it calls itself the National Party. It should be up for false pretences.

There is nothing national about the National Party. It is a globalist party. It is the party that believed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It is the party that when we said a year ago: “It’s dead on the water.”, it ignored us, and yet they are the first over there to talk to Donald Trump. What a joke that is. And the media write that they are going to get a free-trade agreement with the UK, with the EU, and with Donald Trump. Meanwhile they collapsed our chance of getting a decent deal with the second-biggest dairy and beef importer in the world, namely Russia. What a bunch of clowns in a diplomatic China shop. One disaster after another. What is Tim Groser doing in Washington? Pray tell me what is he doing but having a few red wines all the time? He has got no purpose to be there. Nobody is going to talk to him over there?

Ron Mark: TPPA’s dead.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: TPPA is dead on the water—dead on the water.

Ron Mark: He’s unemployed.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: He may as well be unemployed. Why do you not bring him home? And they say, of course, now and again “We’ll make more progress.” At least we can talk to them. At least we can talk to them.

Can I just say one thing on the Police: the National Party claimed for 8 long years that crime was falling. Every criminal lawyer in this country was saying “Look, they have got a catch and release policy.” Why they can say that is that they are catching people, but they are not charging them, they are warning them. And they kept it up for 8 long years under successive Ministers. This is how deceitful they were. They capped the Police numbers so the Police per thousand dropped dramatically.

We had hundreds of stations in this country with nobody on at night and nobody on at the weekend. People rang up Dunedin, as I did one time in Dunedin. I rang up Dunedin and guess what I got? I got Auckland: the Auckland Police station. And I thought—excuse the language—but if I have been on there for an hour, guess what Joe Bloggs is going to be put up with? But no, no, the Government kept it up and then it thought: “Hang on. New Zealand’s not falling for this. We’ll go and get some extra police people over the next 4 years.”, but 800 front-line men and women does not even cut it. That is not even half the number that is required—1,800 places to get back to where we were going in 2008, and he had the temerity to get up in Auckland and say that the security of the citizens on the streets is his number one priority.

That is what Bill English said. Well I can say, Bill, I do not think you are going to last very long. I think your campaign in 2017 is going to be about as successful as it was in 2002—as successful as it was in 2002. The only common thing between those two campaigns is one party was as ready in 2002 as we are going to be in 2017. That campaign, we started it with the polls saying we were on 1 percent and after 4 weeks flat we almost made 11 percent. That is about to happen again 2017. Then look at the political scenery at that point in time and stop writing this dribble about who was going to be the next Government. You are looking at it. You are looking at it.

I know, Gerry, being a patriot is sometimes—even he hopes it is going to happen. I know in his heart of hearts he wants to know that he can retire with somebody running the economy that can keep it going soundly. I know he knows what retirement looks like, but he wants to be able to know that we could even afford the parliamentary retirement fund. And the only chance of him getting that is if we make it. The only chance of him getting that is if we make it.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The member’s the only one left on it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, no, no.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: He’s got the gold-plated pocket. Oh yes, he has.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I walked out of Parliament on a matter of principle and sacrificed 35 percent of mine.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No one believes that.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I did.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No one believes that.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I did. These people do not remember that, but I do, because keeping our word and having integrity and principles is what one party is famous for. And again you are looking at it.

Can I just say in closing, we are looking forward to this campaign. When they announced that it was going to be on 23 September, it ticked every box of our planning, down to every branch of our candidates, the launch of our campaign—I cannot tell you where; but I know it is the most exciting news for you—and also our AGM and what city it is going to be in. So I can promise New Zealanders right now something very, very significant. I know things are difficult and troubled and I know it has been very hard for you, but hang on, because help is on its way.

Green response to PM’s statement

Green co-leader James Shaw’s response to the Prime Minister’s statement.


JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe.

I would actually like to start by congratulating the Prime Minister on his speech, which successfully disguised how dull the statement was that got distributed this morning. It contained a whole bunch more half measures and a sort of pointless tinkering around the edges that will not—will not—fix any of the long-term challenges that this country is facing, whether it is housing affordability, or whether it is homelessness, climate change, child poverty, and so on. He did say that he will encourage more oil exploration, but has he not noticed that all of the big oil companies are actually abandoning their explorations here in New Zealand? It is like he is a salesman of fax machines. Nobody is buying them any more. He says he is going to crack down on multinational tax evasion. Well, what has he been doing for the last 8 years? Tell me that. He is going to continue to flog his hyper-targeted vulnerable children’s strategy, ignoring all evidence that no dent is going to be made in child poverty until incomes start to rise.

Today’s statement to Parliament showed, if anything—like last week’s state of the nation speeches—one thing: we have got the vibe and they have got the shivers. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation—[Interruption] I am just getting warmed up, Todd. I am just getting warmed up. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation speeches last week showed that New Zealand has a well-organised, a stable, a ready, and an energised Government-in-waiting, a Government that has values and a vision—a vision of a country that is prosperous, that is inclusive, that is compassionate, that is innovative, and that is productive.

In his state of the nation speech, Mr English announced that if re-elected, this Government will make a commitment to having more police in New Zealand, thus matching other parties’ commitments to restoring vital public services that have been run down by his Government—that was it. Providing his assessment of the state of the nation and his vision for the country, the best that he could say was: “Me too.”

A day before that, he announced that on 23 September, the Government will change, and I would like to thank him for continuing his predecessor’s convention of announcing the election date early in the year. When the county does finally get a proper written constitution, I do hope that it will include a fixed election date. Christmas has a fixed date, and the turkeys did not have any say in it.

When he announced the election, the Prime Minister said that this election would be all about growth. He said it was going to be all about growth. Well, let me tell you what is growing. You have got growing greenhouse gas emissions. You have got growing water pollution. You have got growing endangered species lists. You have got a growing house price bubble. You have got a growing cost of living. You have got a growing dairy farm debt. You have got growing unemployment. You have got the kind of growth that, if it was growing on your body, your doctor would pack you off to a specialist pretty darn quick.

Under this National Government—

Hon Member: Probably that homeopathic stuff though.

JAMES SHAW: How’s it going?

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

JAMES SHAW: Are you having fun? Under this Government—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The level of interjection coming from my far right is now excessive. It will cease.

JAMES SHAW: Under this Government, we have growth without prosperity. I get irritable whenever anybody says in passing that National is somehow the “party of business”. A long time ago, I worked for one of the world’s largest accounting firms. I co-founded a small business, which is still growing strong today, and I have worked with people and with projects in about 30 different countries around the world. Can I tell you that nowhere before have I seen contracts that are as badly written as the ones that these guys write.

Last week we found out that they put $9 million into a fund and got bought out for $10.2 million, which sounds pretty good, because it means that they made a cool $1.2 million profit. Meanwhile, their business partner, US tech billionaire Peter Thiel, invested $7 million, which is $2 million less than the Government invested, and he made $23 million profit—minus a $1 million donation to charity—and Peter Thiel’s citizenship papers came with a $22 million upside. It is a bit of a surprise that Peter Thiel does not believe in Government, given how well he has done out of this one. He has actually done twice as well as that Saudi sheep farmer, who only got $11 million out of this Government, in return for, um, uh—oh, no, nothing at all. It was in return for nothing at all. Maybe we should have thrown citizenship papers in to sweeten the deal. That way, he and Peter Thiel could have cleared customs quickly together, and then caught a cab to SkyCity. Give me a break, “party of business”.

I do want to talk about some businesses that are doing some good in the world—businesses like Taupō Beef & Lamb, founded by Mike and Sharon Barton. It is one of the leading environmentally-friendly farms in the country. It is not only not polluting the water, it is actually cleaning up Lake Taupō while it does business. It is making a heck of a profit and it is struggling to meet demand. It is doing well by doing good.

Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder of Little Yellow Bird make organic-cotton fair-trade uniforms in India for clients here in New Zealand, but their business model actually supports girls from the Indian communities in which they work to stay in school, supports women to get trained for the workforce, and they extend microcredit loans for women to start businesses. Sam and Hannah are building a sustainable, ethical clothing brand that their customers here in New Zealand want to be a part of. They are doing well by doing good.

Eat My Lunch—set up by Lisa Wong and Michael Meredith—operates a “buy one, give one” business model, where the lunch that you buy yourself pays for another one for a hungry kid at school. It is supporting 40 schools with over 1,300 lunches every day. It is doing well by doing good.

Zealong Tea Estate, which converted a Waikato dairy farm into New Zealand’s organic tea producer, is selling tea to China at a huge premium—a premium that it can charge only as long as it can demonstrate that the tea is “100% Pure New Zealand”, organic, pesticide-free, and grown with pure water, clean air, and rich soil. It is doing well by doing good.

It is not just start-ups and entrepreneurs that are doing well by doing good. Airways Corporation has helped reduce carbon emissions from airlines by 37,000 tons every year. It estimates that that saves its customers $16,000 in fuel costs. It is doing well by doing good. Z Energy—currently the No. 1 retailer of concentrated dinosaur juice—has invested $21 million building the country’s largest biodiesel plant, turning the agriculture industry’s waste fat into low-carbon fuel. It is doing well by doing good. Interface is one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, making nylon carpet from discarded fishing nets that are clogging up the reefs and the ocean floors of the Philippines. It has actually doubled its revenues in the past 20 years through its mission of becoming the world’s first fully sustainable enterprise anywhere in the world and showing the world how it is done. They are doing by doing good. These are the innovators and the social entrepreneurs and the pioneers who are showing the way.

And, I hear my friends on the other side of the aisle saying in response to all of this: “Seeing as the private sector and the communities and the charities are doing so well all by themselves, why does the Government need to act? The invisible hand of the market seems to be doing just fine.” And if that were true—if the invisible hand of the market was resolving all of our challenges for it—why is it that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased 19 percent since 2008, which is when this Government came to office? Why is it that you still cannot swim in 62 percent of our rivers without the risk of catching some horrible disease? Why are people all over the country now worried that the 5,000 people who were poisoned in Havelock North represent some kind of canary in the mine, and maybe we cannot even trust the water that comes out of our taps anymore? Why is it that around a third of all plant and animal species in this country are at risk of extinction? Why is it that Auckland is the fourth most unaffordable city in the entire world to live in? Why is it, in a time of record low inflation, that living costs for families are higher than their ability to meet them? Why is it that kids are still hungry or living in cars?

Well, it is because those people—the innovators and the social entrepreneurs—do not have a Government that backs them or the future that they represent. The Prime Minister’s statement today once again shows that we have a Government that looks to the past. It looks to flog enough dead horses to fill an entire animal graveyard: more offshore oil exploration; new coalmines; high intensity, high pollution, low-value commodity agriculture—a Government that by its own admission has reached the limit of what it thinks that it can do to lift its own people out of poverty and into greater opportunity.

Just as there are businesses that are showing what leadership looks like, so too are other Governments around the world showing us what leadership can look like. Ireland will be the first country in the world to divest all public money from fossil fuels; National will not go there. Dutch trains will now be 100 percent powered by renewable wind energy. In New Zealand we are actually ditching electric and aiming for 100 percent diesel freight trains. Canada has put a $53 per tonne price on carbon emissions; National is too timid to go there and to put a proper price on pollution. The UK introduced a mere 5p charge on plastic bags and within 6 months there was an 85 percent drop in plastic bag use in the United Kingdom. The Japanese passed a recycling Act in 2001—16 years ago—that means that they now send only 5 percent of all waste to landfill. They actually recycle 98 percent of all their metals—metals that are valuable commodities in industry. New Zealand? Tumbleweed thing.

In Germany—the fourth largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world—you will not even be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car there after 2030. In the Netherlands and in Norway you will not be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car after 2025, which is only 8 years from now. And in New Zealand? In New Zealand, the National Government’s goal is to get nearly 2 percent of all vehicles to be electric by 2021—nearly 2 percent. Wow! Such vision. Many ambition. Very leadership.

As the former Saudi oil Minister once said, the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end before the world runs out of oil. But we have a Government that is stuck in the Stone Age: too timid, too ignorant, or too scared of the vested interests that it represents to put in place policies that have been proven to work in other countries—and, I might add, policies that were often put in place by conservative parties that are the brother and sister parties of this National Government and they are too scared to follow. The Prime Minister’s predecessor famously once said that at least when it came to climate change, New Zealand should not be a leader but a fast follower. This Government is not even following, let alone fast. Because it does not want New Zealanders to be leaders, other countries are taking advantage of what could be the greatest economic opportunity of a generation—the opportunity of a sustainable, smart, green economy that works for and includes everyone.

Kiwis want to be leaders. I am inspired by the huge crowd of people who came together to fund the purchase of Awaroa Beach and add it to our national parks. While we are on national parks, I am inspired by those who forced the Government to abandon its plans for mining in the most precious parks a few years back. As Ricky Baker’s buddy Hec said, New Zealand is majestical and New Zealanders want to keep it that way.

I am inspired by the people who forced the Government to accept even a handful more of those displaced shell-shocked refugees from Syria last year in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. I am inspired by those innovators and social entrepreneurs who are building a better world from the ground up. That is why we need to change the Government. New Zealanders deserve a government that backs them to be leaders. Today’s statement by the Prime Minister just shows how stuck in the past this Government is. It is time to change the Government, and change is coming.

Leader of the Opposition – reply to PM’s statement

Andrew Little in response to the Prime Minister’s statement:


ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): I move, That all the words after “That” be deleted and replaced with “this House expresses no confidence in this National-led Government because it is out of ideas and out of touch on the housing crisis, because it has cut health services that New Zealanders rely on, because it has underfunded education and undermined our children’s futures, and because New Zealanders are crying out for a leader who will stand up for all Kiwis.”

Suddenly I am looking forward to this general election campaign way more than I was a wee while ago. This is going to be a fantastic year. I begin by acknowledging you, Mr Speaker, and all my colleagues and saying welcome back after what was called, in the Prime Minister’s adjournment speech, “the summer recess”. He cannot even keep that promise.

We have turned up here, in the wake of our national day, Waitangi Day. How significant that the first debate in Parliament should come after that day, when we have so much to celebrate as a nation, in terms of our values—the values that have forged who we are, forged our identity as a people. This is a nation built on a covenant, based on mutual respect and understanding, on national unity, on openness, and shared prosperity. Because that is who we are. That is New Zealand—a new nation at the time of its founding, and whose newest settlers came here for a better life and to do things differently than in the countries they came from, back home.

For a long time we all know that that Treaty did not live up to the promises made of it and the expectations people had of it. But in 2017 we have much to take pride in—a sense of reconciliation, a sense of partial reinstatement and restoration, and a renaissance of Te Reo and Māoritanga; a recognition of Māori as our unique and distinctive element.

That is what yesterday was about, in celebrations right across the country. I saw it for myself when I visited Sydney on Saturday and saw the Sydney Waitangi festival, that Māori has gone international. I do not quite know what citizenship celebrations they were having in Santa Monica however, but I am sure we will hear from our resident citizen there about how he has championed the cause of New Zealand. But right now, right now, New Zealanders are very proud of our values and who we are.

But here is the thing—here is the thing. We expect, on our national day of celebration, that our country’s leaders will front up to the place that is the birthplace of our nation. But what we had was a leader who ran away—scared, afraid. He was afraid of a little bit of controversy, afraid of a little bit of argument, afraid of a little bit of debate. You see, as a nation grows and develops, no matter how young or old it is there are always points of debate and disagreement and argument. But right now we have a Prime Minister who is simply not up to engaging with New Zealanders on what we agree on and what we differ on—a Prime Minister who runs away from his own people. Well, that ain’t no leader. We might have a Prime Minister, but we do not have a leader.

Ever since the “sales and marketing division” resigned in December last year and it has been replaced by the “chief financial officer”, it has all gone downhill. We have had no vision, and New Zealanders are fast running out of hope. In a world where division and hatred and exclusion are growing in currency, we need to assert our values and what we stand for, which is a country that talks about openness and engagement and mutual respect—that is the New Zealand spirit. That is the New Zealand spirit. And we should do that not just because that is what the Treaty embodied and told us to do but because that is who we are as a people.

That failure of leadership comes as no surprise, because it did not start with the failure to turn up to a place where the Prime Minister might be confronted with people who disagree with him. It started with his failure to front up to people who are aggrieved because of the promise that was made to them that was breached—the Pike River families. At his first opportunity as Prime Minister to show leadership he failed to do it.

He had another opportunity, you see, because the thing that New Zealanders are most worried about now is whether or not that Kiwi Dream of homeownership is going to be made real for the generation that is coming through. He could have fronted up to his best mate, Nick Smith, and said “Nick, we might be good mates—it’s nothing personal, but you’ve fluffed it for so long it’s time for you to go. I’ll put someone else in who can do the job.”, but he wouldn’t even do that. It is not leadership. It is not leadership if you cannot turn up to your failing colleague and say “Mate, it’s time to move on.” He should have done that. He should have done that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: When the Prime Minister’s flagship announcement of a policy is something that we announced 6 months ago and is something directly contrary to what he signed off 9 months ago, that is not leadership; that is a failure of leadership. We all saw that in a time with a rising population and a rising crime rate, freezing police numbers was a failure. That was a failure—and they know it. They know it. They know he has failed. They know he got it wrong. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: He failed. He failed New Zealanders. To freeze police numbers when crime is going up and the population is going up and New Zealanders are crying out for safer communities, that is not leadership and that is yet another failure. That is yet another failure. Our nation faces great challenges. We face great challenges. There are 15,000 more people unemployed today than there were at this time last year. There are 90,000—90,000—young people not in work, education, or training—

Hon Annette King: It’s gone up.

ANDREW LITTLE: No hope—it has gone up. There were 70,000 this time last year. Households last year ran up an extra debt of $50 million a day. That is how households are getting by, because wages are not good enough. Wages are not good enough. And thousands of young New Zealanders are still not able to afford their first homes—not just in Auckland, but around the country. There are 40,000 people still homeless. School funding has been frozen, class sizes are getting bigger, and parents are having to dig deeper in their pockets. That is not a mark of success.

National members have had nearly 9 years in Government, and that is what they have to show for it. New Zealanders are demanding a change. There were 60,000 people last year alone who went to their doctors, were told they needed a specialist appointment at their hospital, and could not get one. The hospitals told them: “We can’t afford to fix you. We don’t have the money. The funding has been cut.” That is New Zealand today. That is the experience that too many New Zealanders have of their Government services today—it is wrong and it is going to stop in September this year.

It is time to have a Government that works for all New Zealanders. That is the difference between Labour and National and it is time to make that change. It is time to have a genuinely comprehensive housing package for all New Zealanders so that, once again, young New Zealanders can genuinely hope to own their own homes—at the moment, a forlorn hope for too many. We have got to get the offshore speculators out of our market. We are not alone in that. Six other countries party to an agreement that used to be called the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement—they have got it. But we signed our rights away under that agreement to legislate for it. Now we have got it back. Now New Zealanders have the opportunity to seize the chance to do what is right for the next generations. To pass that law that says—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

ANDREW LITTLE: —that if you want to live overseas—whether in Santa Monica or otherwise—and own a house here, then you have got to build a new house. What could be wrong with that? Give New Zealanders a chance. That is all we are saying. That is all we are saying. We will build more homes—100,000 more houses over 10 years; half of them in Auckland, because that is where the need is most desperate. Affordable homes, homes of a range of different sizes and types—that is what New Zealanders need. That is what young New Zealanders are looking for. That is what their parents and their grandparents talk to me about. They talk to me now and they say they cannot see how those generations coming after them can ever have the chance that they had, that they expected when they worked hard and saved hard to own their own home. That Government has sat on its hands year after year after year for the last 8 years and done nothing and ignored the plaintive cries of New Zealanders, and it is time to do something.

I make no apology about being passionate about the future of young New Zealanders and wanting to do the best for them, because they are sick and tired of a complacent, smug, out-of-touch Government that just will do nothing on the most important issue in New Zealand today. And it does not stop at housing—it does not stop at housing. We want to make sure that those people who have to rent have a decent chance of renting a safe, warm, dry home and have decent rights as renters, because that is what they need now too—that is what they need now too.

In education this Government is failing the next generation. It has frozen funding on schools—it somehow claims it is a good thing—and the schools are struggling. The schools are struggling to do the job that their parents expect of them. You know, we leave our kids in the charge of those schools. It is not too much to ask when we leave our kids in the school that the principals and the teachers will have the resources they need to do the job. But they do not have them and it is getting harder. They cannot send the kids on the field trips, they cannot put the gear in the classrooms that once up on a time they were able to do. Schools can go to their parents and say: “Listen, you know, we can do a little more here. We can look after your kids. We can put a bit more money in. You’ve got to dig deep though, and we will run more cake stalls and we will run more raffles. We just need a little bit of extra help.”

Well, I say this. I say this is the only party in the Commonwealth that has spent the last 2 years talking about the future of work and understanding that what it means is that what we do in education will define this country’s future for the next several generations, and that is vital. Parents and grandparents around New Zealand want to know that they have got an education Minister who cares about their future and we have got an education Minister in waiting who has got every reason to care about that future because in 4½ years’ time he is going to have a direct stake in it, because we want to see Charlie doing his best. We want to see Charlie doing his best and we want an education system that is going to be fit for Charlie.

What this Government has done to the future generations of this country is nothing short of criminal. It is freezing funding when work and work demands and skill needs and technology are changing so rapidly we need to be investing in schools and education and skills and skills acquisition and people and young people as much as we can, because that is what will give us opportunity in the future, that is what will give them a sense of security and hope for the future. But they have run it down and we know what the consequences of that will be: larger class sizes—you can see it happening now—and parents prevailed upon to give more and more and more. Well, there is only so long you can bleed the hard-working parents of this country before you actually have got to admit they got it wrong—they got it wrong. In the end it will come down to priorities. Which is the party that cares most about those things that build a foundation, that give our people hope, that give our people a chance. On housing and on education it is Labour.

Look at health. There has been $1.7 billion cut out of the health budget. And you know who is suffering? You know who pays the price of that? It is the 60,000 who go to their doctor and are told: “You need help. You need to go to the hospital. You need your colonoscopy to find out whether you’ve got bowel cancer. You need to get your hip done, because you can’t walk around much longer in that state, you’re going to put your back out.” And what happens? Those 60,000 New Zealanders last year turned up to their hospital and were told: “We can’t see you. We can’t see you because we can’t afford to see you. We want to see you, we’d like to help you, but we are starved of funds and we’re running a deficit and we can’t do it anymore.” That is what they are doing. That is what the hospitals are doing, and the people paying the price are the New Zealanders who live in chronic pain and chronic conditions and cannot get the care that they need. If is not them, it is in a country with the highest teen suicide rate in the developed world—it is the mental health services. They are the ones being starved as well. They are the ones being starved.

We can do better. We can do better than that. We can look after our people. We can provide a foundation that gives families and people a sense of certainty and security—and that the help will be there when they need it. Because that ain’t there any more. That Government has taken it away. Oh, Government members are very good at talking about how well they have done. They are very good at talking about their ambition and what they do for themselves and their mates, but for hard-working New Zealanders right around the country—the people who want a school for their kids that can just do the job and prepare them for success for the future, the people who just want the health care that they need to stop them being in chronic pain—they do not care about them. They are being written off. They are just a cost saving.

Well, we can do better. We have a plan for all of that. After our housing plan where we give people a sense of security and certainty and hope for the future in those young generations, that they can live the Kiwi Dream, we will get to work on education so we have an education system that is fit for purpose that will give our kids a chance of success for the future. And whether it is early childhood education, whether it is primary, whether it is secondary, or tertiary, we will have our 3 years’ free post-school education and training, because that is what we have to do to make sure that we have got the skills for the future. Every business I talk to knows that and understands it and cannot wait any longer for it. That is why we will do it. These opportunities face us in September. These choices will face New Zealanders in September.

In health we will start the long, hard, slow task of putting back together a health system that is there for people when they need it: for the elderly who cannot get their hip operations, their knee operations, their eye operations, ophthalmology—they have got to get help as well. We are going to give it to those people. You see, when they get that, when they get that health treatment it does not just give them back a quality of life; it means they can do stuff and they are not a burden on other parts of Government funded services. It just makes sense. That is why its needs to be done and that is why the next Labour-led Government is going to do that. That is why we are committed to doing that, because that is about making a positive difference for all New Zealanders.

In the end it comes down to this. What this country is crying out for after 8 years of not seeing much of it—any of it in the last 2 months—is a leader that cares about the people of this country and the chances and opportunities they have got. Right now we do not have that leader. We have had Punch and Judy, we have had dog and pony shows, and we have had all the entertainment, but right now 8½ years of Government have left 90,000 young New Zealanders with no hope, 60,000 New Zealanders with no health care, 40,000 New Zealanders without even a roof over their head, tens of thousands of New Zealanders on low incomes, and one in five wage and salary earners who are now paying more than half their take-home pay to pay the rent or the mortgage. That is not success. That is not success and we can do better.

A real leader gives all New Zealanders a sense of opportunity and a sense of hope. A real leader steps up to the hard questions; steps up to the New Zealanders who just want to ask questions at places like Waitangi; talks to people; debates, respects difference, and respects disagreement but comes up with solutions that are about building a nation that is there for all people; draws upon the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is about unity and mutual respect and building a nation of shared prosperity. We do not have that right now. Far too many New Zealanders are missing out, wanting more, and wanting better.

Well, this is their year. This is their year, and so many of them have spoken to me just over the holidays, just over the last weekend. The Kiwis I met in Sydney explained to me why it is that they were clear. There was the young family from Porirua who only went there 4 years ago. They only went 4 years ago, and they said the job opportunity, the level of pay, the school for their kids—it is more than what they could have expected back here. That is the sad story. They did not say it with any glee. They did not see it say it with any happiness. They have had to whānau and friends behind. And the truck driver who told me his base level of pay for driving the same hours, the same work, with the same skills as he did in New Zealand—$40,000 more there than he was getting here. That is the difference.

We are a great country. We are a great people. That is why we celebrate the day we did yesterday in the way that we did. We are never afraid of hard decisions. We are never afraid of rising to the challenges. But, as a country, we get to do that only when we have a leader prepared to step up and stand up and speak up for the things that matter and the people who matter.

September is fast approaching and New Zealanders will have a choice to make. Are we going to be that country that is prepared to rise to those challenges of the future? Are we prepared to pave the way and chart the course for the next generation? Are we prepared to have a leader who will do just that—engage with New Zealanders and restore their sense of hope again? That is the Labour Party. That is me. It is time for new leadership.