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Speech by New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters

Speech – New Zealand Government

Stop Flim Flamming Country Folks You could be forgiven for feeling at times that you live in a country which is of two parts with one dominating, and the remainder being left far behind. Most New Zealanders in provincial New Zealand would agree …Stop Flim Flamming Country Folks

You could be forgiven for feeling at times that you live in a country which is of two parts – with one dominating, and the remainder being left far behind.

Most New Zealanders in provincial New Zealand would agree that their voices are not heard in this country, as they once were.
Their concerns; their problems; their issues are overshadowed by a King Kong-like behemoth.

Auckland has become King Kong gorilla bellowing demands and leaving the regions to survive as best they can. Auckland rules; Auckland dominates.
That is the perception and that is the reality.

Auckland’s problems have, as a result, become New Zealand’s problems to an ever increasing extent to the point where it is draining the rest of the country.
New Zealand has become a “them and us” place, Auckland being “us” and “them” – whoever lives north of Wellsford or south of the Bombay Hills.
The blinkered, lopsided view is reinforced by a national media that has become even more Auckland obsessed as personnel and resources are boosted there while cut in other parts of the country.

And some would have us believe, falsely, that what Auckland thinks; New Zealand thinks.
This could not be further from the truth.
We now have in this country, sadly, a so-called super city that has become a super mess that grows and rumbles on inexorably and a city council unable to cope.
The cost of Auckland’s housing has reached absurd levels crushing the hopes of countless young New Zealanders.

On page 20 of yesterday’s Northern Advocate, is a building photo under the heading “Government development projects are expected to deliver at least 10,000 houses by 2020 says Bill English.”

That number won’t even house the immigrants going to Auckland.

The massive infrastructure and transport problems of the city are so out of control they have become New Zealand’s problems as well, and New Zealand taxpayers are being asked to pay to fix them.
Provincial New Zealand dollars will have to fund Auckland’s $2.5 billion inner city rail link.

The plaintive appeals from Auckland for help are unending and becoming ever shriller as the super mess spreads.
Yet when we point out one of the major contributors to the mess we are labelled xenophobic or racist.
The contributor we refer to is the government’s deplorable open door immigration policy which is placing huge pressure on all infrastructure, including Auckland’s hospitals which have been inundated.

Every other political party has supported this level of immigration. One party has said all along it is madness and we have been proved to be right.

With about 120,000 immigrants, or net over 65,000, coming to this country, and those are the latest figures, and similar numbers forecast for the next three to four years, the associated problems are only going to worsen.
At the same time as Auckland bleats to an obliging government to settle its problems the rest of the country is ignored.
When it comes to Northland’s problems or the West Coast’s problems or Southland’s problems, the government doesn’t want to know, preferring propaganda over substance.

The government is going around the provinces holding meetings under the slogan “we’re listening”.
That’s the reason for the meetings – propaganda born of guilt.

In Taumarunui the other day locals told four MPs the government needed to give something back to rural New Zealand, to invest more in local communities.
Will that message get relayed back to Wellington?
Maybe.
Will the government listen?
Of course not.
The whole exercise is mere window dressing.
This government is deaf to the concerns of the provinces. To them, the Taumarunuis, the Westports, the Kaikohes of New Zealand don’t count. They think they can flim flam some country folk.

Huge chunk of wealth

As soon as provincial New Zealand speaks out the Capital Wellington money purses are slammed shut and the message fired back is – no they’re your problems; sort them out yourselves.

This ignores the fact that regions produce the major chunk of the wealth of this country. Northland is in the top half of export provinces. Southland, for example, has the highest exports per capita in this country.
But to the chagrin of Southland the wealth from these exports, the dollars they generate, gush out of the region.

Venture Southland has noted that every year Southland contributes $84 million more than it receives back in infrastructure funding in two important areas: roading and electricity.
And when Prime Range Meats, Chinese owned as it is, had a worker shut out, not one National South Island MP was available for comment or to go to the planned meeting.

That’s just Southland.

Like Northland, every provincial region of New Zealand has a similar story to tell.

Jobs on the West Coast of the South Island have shrivelled up in the past six years. The coal industry, the mainstay of the West Coast economy, has all but disappeared and with it hundreds of jobs. The famed West Coast coal miner is entering the history books while the region is left to battle on the best way it can.

The sad irony is the West Coast is rich in mineral wealth, rich in timber resources but if the Coasters want to start selective logging or anything else the liberals in the cities, more interested in protecting snails than people, start baying.

Snails have a better chance of survival on the West Coast or Northland than policemen and women.
The government’s freezing of the police budget since 2009 and the police’s obsession with centralising everything, stretching the thin blue line to the point of snapping means a policeman is a rare sight in our small rural towns.

You might catch a glimpse of them when they flash through on a highway patrol. But that’s about it: a glimpse of blue flashing through.

New Zealand First discovered that in April last year over four weeks Motueka did not have a single police officer on duty. And it is the same here in the North. But don’t blame the police. Blame the Police Minister who prefers propaganda to substance.

So what you might ask? Well Motueka has a population of over 7000 and the Motueka Ward area has an estimated population of around 11,000. Four weekends, no police and Nelson 46.5km away.

And if you ring up with a 111 call let’s hope you get a police operator who knows his or her geography and the difference between Timaru, Taipa, Tutukaka and Timbuktu.

Health services are also being centralised into the main centres.
This might keep a faceless Treasury accountant content but it is far better to treat people closer to their families and to have a local police officer stationed in a town who actually knows the criminals in the district.

Northland is still waiting

In Northland, National had a stranglehold for decades and did little.
But when the government’s wafer-thin majority was threatened they reverted to spin and promises.

Steven Joyce and other snake oil salesmen turned up in Northland and started making all sorts of promises – new bridges, new super highways, super-super-fast broadband rollout, taxpayer funded cell tower coverage – all promises made in a few days without any policy work behind them.
It was Steven Joyce in Wonderland and if you believed him he was taking you somewhere over the rainbow.

But we’re still waiting: Four new bridges, that’s all.
More hot air has been generated in Northland by National in the past 11 months than has been generated in the past 100 years.
Their latest plan contains lots of planning but little action in it.
They first announced a plan a year ago, then we had the by-election promises and then the 10-year plan, which they claim will add millions to the Northland economy.

Here is yesterday’s Northern Advocate, page 8, and an opinion piece by Steven Joyce, Minister of Economic Development, under the heading “Economic plan a golden opportunity”.

In a delightful parody, under it is a cartoon by Hubbard which puts it all into perspective. It shows a huge limo, with a state of the nation flag, and slogan on its side, “Auckland votes”, passing by an old jalopy up on blocks with a slogan “inequality”. But in this economic plan there is no Puhoi to Wellsford highway, no cell tower coverage, and of the 10 two lane bridges six are missing. Don’t you feel lucky if you are a Northlander because there are 1006 one-lane bridges to go?
As for dusty roads, with 80 or more logging trucks every day, they don’t get a mention.

Rail being culled

It’s time to stop the talk and the reports and start delivering – and one of these areas Northlanders want to see action on is rail.

The neglect of rail is becoming a national disgrace. With Ports of Auckland casting around to find a suitable site they continue to ignore that the deep water port at Marsden Point is the only obvious partner. Why not build a 20km rail link from the port to the main trunk line?
This is one of those situations that would work for both Northland and Auckland – for the benefit of both, not just one. So what’s stopping it? Answer: National. They plan to close the main line north down.
The decay in the line from Auckland to Whangarei and further north has been appalling and it’s deliberate.
We would be the only first world country allowing such gross mismanagement.
And up here, politically, what are we hearing from National Party MPs and the National Party itself, who have enjoyed Northland support all these years, again just a deafening silence. Even worse, they revert to deceit and personal attacks whenever they are questioned.
My warning to the National Party – if they even dream they are going to win with that approach they should wake up and apologise.
Only $210 million was set aside for rail in the national budget. Exporters in Hawke’s Bay and East Cape would have been boosted if a mere $6 million was spent to restore the Napier-Gisborne line but the government refused.

Then we have the Capital-Coast service between Wellington and Palmerston North threatened with closure which comes as another blow to Levin.

All of this deliberate degradation is happening because we have a ‘too bad-don’t care’ government that wants all freight handled by trucks on our roads.
In regard to air services, the government has just sat back and done nothing to offset the impact of Air New Zealand abandoning a number of regional services. Air New Zealand is majority taxpayer owned. It’s ours.

The company should be instructed that it has a duty to facilitate private air services to provincial centres which they have abandoned.

Rural roads neglected, bigger trucks on way

Another area being neglected by government is rural roads. All the government could give in the budget was $97 million. That’s just a drop in the bucket. Roads in regional New Zealand are under severe pressure with logging trucks, milk tankers and other heavy vehicles.
At the same time the government is considering allowing even bigger vehicles on our country’s roads placing even more pressure on already heavily stressed road infrastructure.

Regional NZ paying price of unwise foreign purchases

The government has supported and encouraged overseas buy ups of New Zealand companies but this policy is coming back to bite them – and again it’s regional New Zealand that is bearing the brunt.

Look at the disaster that unfolded in Invercargill when 130 employees were shut out of their jobs at Prime Range Meats.
In spite of constant appeals for some explanation the workers were ignored.
The promises the Chinese majority shareholder Lianhua Trading Group gave when they sought Overseas Investment Office approval to buy the company were never realized.
Promises and pledges were never met; never realized and simply never kept. The Overseas Investment Office knows this and that the government which allowed them here in the first place will do nothing.
As a Southland Times editorial stated the Chinese company’s behaviour showed the very worst fears New Zealanders hold about foreign ownership. Quote: “No sign of any sense of accountability. No sign of care. Now their name is mud.”

How many other foreign-owned companies in New Zealand are becoming mud in the eyes of New Zealanders?
Perhaps one of the greatest concerns is that our regions are suffering terribly under the severe downturn in the global dairy price with the government standing by indifferently.

That problem is being exacerbated because New Zealand has poor quality free trade agreements.

The government should be pursuing Russia as a trade partner because Russia is the world’s number two dairy importer.

But the prime minister is opposed. This is degraded policy at its very worst: Off the cuff, on a golf course in Hawaii.
There’s no background policy on it, no official government statement on it, just a flippant comment from the prime minister on which Fonterra and other similar companies have acted at huge cost to the New Zealand dairy farmer.
Because of his attitude, our farmers, and our regional economies, are left to pay the price for such dogmatism.

Policies fit for a turnaround

In contrast to National’s woeful neglect of our regions New Zealand First has a range of economic policies to strengthen and build diversified provincial economies.
We believe a fundamental change must be made to how provincial New Zealand is funded, recognising our contribution to New Zealand’s exports, be it tourism, dairy, forestry, meat or seafood.

Exports pay for imports not the other way around, that’s why we want the Reserve Bank Act reformed so that New Zealand’s currency settings reflect that New Zealand should be an export, production and more wealth, not a consumption and more debt, economy.

We would implement our Royalties for the Regions Policy. Under this policy, 25% of royalties collected by the government from enterprises such as mining, extraction, and petroleum stay in the region of origin. The revenue generated would be held in a special investment fund administered by the local regional authority and used for regional projects such as roading, building new health centres, improving water and sewer treatment plants.

As an example, in 2011 the government collected $383 million in royalties. Under our scheme $96 million annually would remain in the regions for investment. That money – nearly a hundred million would be used to regenerate regional New Zealand. This ensures the regions get a fair share of the wealth they generate. This is a key to our policy.

Let’s end the scenario which happens now in regions like Southland, as mentioned, that contributes $84 million more than it receives back in infrastructure funding in roading and electricity.

We would boost research and development to 2% of the GDP and have realistic policy that balances economic development with sound environmental protection. We are strongly committed to aquaculture and believe fish protein could be an economic game change although it won’t happen with the inordinate costs of establishment now.
We would stop the sale of our land to people who are not New Zealanders.
We would boost funding for regional roads and rail.

We would ensure key export industry sectors remain in New Zealand hands.
We would turn the immigration tap right down and, for the people we need, require many of them to live in the regions for five years before going to the big cities.
We have detailed regional development plans and unlike National’s talk and hope policy New Zealand First plans are based on fiscal and taxation policy changes to get substance to regional economic plans. When I asked Mr Joyce at his 58-point plan announcement whether there were going to be any fiscal or taxation changes to back up his plan he said no.

In yesterday’s Northern Advocate he said this, “the real test of the plan will be whether it attracts more private investment”. And that is it in a nutshell. He is saying to Northland you find the money for yourselves whilst I find the money for Auckland.

We would implement our community wage policy. We see it as a combination of the unemployment benefit and the minimum wage. It would be a change in approach, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done, like the rail line to Northport.

Under the community wage a person may work for several employers, including councils, doing specific jobs. It is a way to help people who have either never worked or have been unemployed a long time and are not used to working.

They may also lack life skills. This is vitally important to give New Zealanders who feel disengaged a chance. New Zealand First is here for those who have given up hope. We believe farming leaders must also help by employing locally rather than bringing in thousands of immigrants to work on farms.

The flag fiasco

In a few days’ time you will be voting in a flag referendum.

Every political party in parliament but one, has advocated a flag change.

Only New Zealand First saw through this sham from the start, refused to join the parliamentary committee on the flag change, and condemned it from the outset as a gross waste of money, a rejection of New Zealand’s history and a distraction from serious social and economic concerns.

The two options are our present flag designed in 1902, and which the Australians copied, and a so-called “silver fern”, option which is not a silver fern. A colour blind person can surely see that even if some of our All Blacks can’t.

But the real point is that surely only New Zealand citizens should be allowed to vote in the flag referendum.
It is the right and duty of every eligible New Zealand citizen to vote but restrictions should be placed on those people with residency status who have chosen to remain citizens of another country and never our country.

“This is not discrimination. Why should thousands of immigrants who have come here in recent years be involved in making a decision that goes, in the words of the flag committee, “to the very heart of who we are and what we are as a nation”?

And why for that matter

You will not find any other country that would allow outsiders to make a decision about their national identity and it certainly should not happen here.

Mr Key and his government are playing fast and loose over the flag referendum, using well over $26 million in a wasted last minute sales pitch that cheapens the issue and treats the flag like a supermarket special.

New Zealand citizens have every right to be aggrieved over the Prime Minister’s rebranding fetish and they should insist, as citizens, that only they have the right to make the final decision.

Even if you are for the flag change, surely you can see that allowing anyone to vote is not right.

Conclusion

In conclusion, New Zealand First has the policies to get regional New Zealand back on its feet. Unlike the government, we believe in our provinces and the industries and people that drive it.

Unlike the government we know it is provincial New Zealand that grows our greatest wealth.

Unlike the government we are sick of provincial people being taken for granted.

Unlike the government we are going to make sure that in Wellington they start listening and acting.

No longer are the regions going to accept any more flim flam from Wellington or Parnell.

We’ll end the obsession with Auckland and the other stupidity where demand totally outstrips supply of all infrastructure, housing, education, health, and transport. An obsession which sees a greater population than Nelson each year flooding to Auckland, thereby ensuring that the demand against supply mismatch gets ever worse.

Only one party foresaw this development and set its sights against it. That party is the party speaking to you today.

We’ll get the gorilla off provincial New Zealand’s back – give Auckland a chance to breathe, and get regeneration and prosperity back to the regions.

ENDS

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