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.