Speech – United Future NZ Party
It is a pleasure to have this chance to talk policy, ideas and vision for New Zealand with an audience of this country’s movers and shakers, or more aptly, thinkers and doers. I will talk about the general economic situation we face today and other …Hon Peter Dunne
Leader of UnitedFuture
Address to Deloitte-Business
Amora Hotel, Wellington
11.15am, Monday 31 October 2011
It is a pleasure to have this chance to talk policy, ideas and vision for New Zealand with an audience of this country’s movers and shakers, or more aptly, thinkers and doers.
I will talk about the general economic situation we face today and other issues of importance such as asset sales, tax and, of course, superannuation.
First, however, I would like to reassert something that is both obvious and crucial – but that we do need to bear in mind: New Zealand operates in an MMP environment.
From that not so startling fact, we can safely bet that the administration that emerges from next month’s election will be a coalition government of some description.
Even if the voters were to return a John Key-led National Party with the numbers to govern alone, he has by word and deed consistently indicated that he values coalition arrangements that bring other parties to the table.
He is a consensus politician with an encompassing view of what government can and should be and New Zealand is the better for it.
UnitedFuture has been a party to government in this current term, and the Prime Minister has specifically stated that he has valued our contribution and wants to work with us for the next three years.
And with achievements such as the:
• Families Commission
• Medicines New Zealand under which nearly 250,000 more Kiwis get access to medicines they need
• All donations to charity tax deductible
• Business tax reform
And in this term alone:
• Transmission Gully getting the go-ahead
• The Game Animal Council set to go
• Income Sharing legislation in legislative process
• Payroll Giving which has raised $3 million for charities in just 18 months (Telecom just signed up)
• Major personal tax cuts
• Gift Duty on the way out….
It is clear, I believe, from this list why UnitedFuture is taken seriously at the table of government.
We operate with National on a no surprises, good faith basis.
The arrangement has been smooth and honoured on both sides, without exception, on the issues we agree on and those we do not.
Something that I take personal pride in – and pride on behalf of UnitedFuture – is our hard-won reputation for being a serious and responsible party.
• And we certainly all have to be in the current global economic situation. There is no room for wacky politics and un-costed political wish lists.
• Some parties, it has to be said, have been slower than others to cotton on to that political reality.
• But a public that ‘gets it’ has demonstrated that it will not put up with old style pork barrel politics in these straitened times.
• The global economic outlook remains fraught, with the United States and the Eurozone hanging precariously on the edge of recession.
• The uncertainty has of course affected us here with our recent sovereign credit downgrades, and this illustrates why it is crucial that we as a nation work to reduce debt and particularly our dependence on foreign debt.
• Government has repeatedly stated its intention to reduce its expenditure.
• This makes sense because fiscal restraint supports growth by building confidence.
• Fiscal restraint and prudently managed debt gives the assurance that Government will not raise or impose further taxes so businesses can make plans for expansion and hire new staff.
• And of course it also helps to keep interest rates low, which is good for growth.
• So it has been and is imperative that the Government continues to act to make efficiency savings.
• As you know, Budget 2011 made adjustments to KiwiSaver, Working for Families and Student loans – three large government spending programmes.
• The Government’s priorities are focused firmly on setting the New Zealand economy on its feet again and making it stronger than before and these are some of the measures that Government is taking to build confidence and stimulate the economy.
• We have received some significant knocks over the past year but we have responded to them well.
• And from the successes we have had, you can see that the Government is supporting the business sector by providing an environment which creates jobs and wealth.
• From UnitedFuture’s perspective, the tax system should work in the interests of those raising families and it should empower family and community self-sufficiency rather than creating dependency.
• Our Income Sharing policy is consistent with that and it has been hugely well received by the public.
• It recognises that the spouse or partner who has chosen to work part-time or has opted out of the paid work force in order to raise their children is making a vital contribution to our society.
• Income Sharing means that each partner in a couple with children would be taxed on a half share of their combined income, resulting in a significant reduction in the total income tax paid by the family.
• Income Sharing recognises the costs of raising a family, and in particular, those situations where one parent is either a full-time carer for their children or works part-time.
• Since the government subsidises childcare for those returning to paid work, it should also acknowledge the contribution of those who have decided to forego their income, in whole or in part, to stay at home with their children.
• My bill is currently half-way through the legislative process.
• For those who would question its worth here are a few pertinent facts:
• 310,000 NZ families with children could benefit by up to $9,000 a year
• That’s two-thirds of all families and three-quarters of all children who can gain
• Businesses already do it – why not families?
• Income Sharing legislation now half way through Parliament – help us push it right through!
• It’s about fairness and choice
• Asset sales are on National’s agenda, but the jury is very much out on just how comfortable New Zealanders are with this policy.
• My take it on it is that Kiwis are not very comfortable at all with it – most certainly not with anything close to open slather.
• The many people who want John Key back in power for the next three years, want him in spite of asset sales and not because of them.
• I sense very strongly that New Zealanders do not want to give National a blank cheque on asset sales.
• Part of UnitedFuture’s role, therefore, as a support partner is to keep the government on a centre path and keep faith with middle New Zealand – no extremes!
• So we say there are three key assets that should never be sold – Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand and our water, and that we also need to keep New Zealand control of all our other assets.
• Why these three assets in particular?
• Firstly, Kiwibank is in every sense now a national institution and in a market full of Australian-owned banks, and a troubled globe, there is more than sentimental value at stake here.
• Secondly, Radio New Zealand. In an increasingly commercial media marketplace, it is more important than ever to have a voice that does not bend to the dollar, to ratings, to external forces.
• Thirdly – and something I feel particularly strongly about – is water. Do not wait until it is on the asset sales agenda. This must never happen.
• UnitedFuture will push hard to keep it that way on all three counts.
Last week, Labour had a Damascus-like conversion on the issue of superannuation eligibility.
• Sixty-seven, apparently, is the new sixty-five!
• Well – to be blunt – what nonsense!
• One can only hope that the array of senior Labour MPs who as recently as the last few weeks have been publicly ‘locking in’ 65 as the age at which Super should be collected, are now fully up with the Labour programme!
• What we have here is the same old parties having the same old debate between 65 and 67, but if you make KiwiSaver compulsory – and I am glad to see at least that Labour wants that – there simply is no 65 or 67 issue.
• Make KiwiSaver compulsory and you have a sustainable situation where you can then give New Zealanders full choice on when and how they retire with UnitedFuture’s Flexi-Super policy.
• Flex-Super would then allow people to take their superannuation at a reduced rate from 60, or at an enhanced rate each year they delay taking it up until 70, if they so choose.
• And ‘choose’ is the operative word.
• Neither National, having locked itself into an ill-judged, on-the-hoof prime ministerial promise that has left if hamstrung on Super and our evolving needs, nor Labour with its sudden flip-flop offer anything close to choice for New Zealanders.
• UnitedFuture alone among political parties offers innovative, yet fiscally responsible choice to Kiwis planning their retirement years.
• Dare I say it – common sense!
So there, ladies and gentlemen, are some of the issues and options, the choices and alternatives that we will bring to the table for the 2011 election.