Maiden Speech: Scott Simpson

Speech – New Zealand National Party

Mr Speaker Congratulations on your re-election and also to your fellow presiding officers on their appointments to roles overseeing the smooth and efficient conduct of our proceedings during this 50th Parliament of New Zealand.
Scott Simpson
National MP for Coromandel
16 February 2011

Maiden Speech
(Check against delivery)

Mr Speaker
Congratulations on your re-election and also to your fellow presiding officers on their appointments to roles overseeing the smooth and efficient conduct of our proceedings during this 50th Parliament of New Zealand.

Sir, it is with a mixture of pride, awe and humility I rise to speak as the new MP for Coromandel.

I’m very conscious of the huge honour I have been given by my Party in being selected as a candidate…
and of the even greater honour granted to me by the people of Coromandel in electing me to be their voice,
their representative,
their face in this place.
I acknowledge a fellow contestant for the seat, Catherine Delahunty who sits in this House by virtue of the Green Party List.

Coromandel evokes in the minds of almost every New Zealander the very best images of the classic Kiwi summer.

Beautiful beaches, iconic bush and natural scenery second to none in our country.

Indeed the Peninsula proper is not only home to people who get to enjoy those gems on a daily basis…
it is also the favoured holiday destination for tens of thousands of visitors each year who now access and exit the area over our wonderful new Kopu bridge.

No longer are they subjected to long delays and frustrating traffic jams.
And in fact,
A story published locally last week commenting on how well the new bridge had coped with heavier than expected traffic flows during the long Waitangi weekend summed it up beautifully with the simple headline
“Thank you Mr Key”.

But the Coromandel electorate is more than just the Coromandel Peninsula.

It includes all the Hauraki Plains, our dairy heartland, through the scenic Karangahake gorge to Waihi and Waihi Beach and south to the jewel of the Western Bay of Plenty, Katikati.

It’s a diverse electorate, an electorate with a rich heritage and a bright future.

It’s an electorate mature in its demographic.

We have the highest number of people aged between 50 and 64 and the second highest number of people aged 64 plus of any electorate in New Zealand.

When added together those two age segments highlight a series of issues confronting us,
not least of which is how to encourage more younger people to make Coromandel their home and to raise their families in our part of paradise.

The answer Mr Speaker, lies in economic development, jobs and prosperity and I’m very pleased to be a member of a John Key led Government committed to encouraging economic growth for provincial and rural New Zealand.

I’m looking forward to supporting existing well established agricultural, fishing, tourism and manufacturing businesses and to encouraging the establishment of new innovative and exciting enterprises.

In particular, Sir, I’m looking forward to the new opportunities to be created by an expansion of our already excellent aqua- cultural sector that will bring further jobs and enterprise to our area.

Mr Speaker, my predecessor, Sandra Goudie, devoted herself unstintingly to the people of Coromandel.
Today, Sir, I pledge the same devotion in the hope the aspirations she and I both have for Coromandel can and will be continuously advanced both here in Parliament and within the wider community.

Mr Speaker, although most of my working life has been in commerce and business, for the last few years I’ve had the great privilege of being CEO of the greatest little charity in New Zealand,
Make-A-Wish.

It is a charity devoted to a simple mission of granting the one cherished wish of children and young people coping with life threating, sometimes terminal, medical conditions.

Let me assure members, there can be no greater joy than to work in a job where literally you are a professional wish granter on a daily basis.

It remains to be seen if I will be able to transfer that skillset to this workplace.

Granting wishes to very ill youngsters taught me many things, most I guess I already knew but the experiences certainly reinforced for me some simple life truths.

Life is not fair.

Bad stuff does happen.

Bad stuff happens irrespective of family circumstance, age, gender, wealth or location.

But Mr Speaker on the other hand,
Small things count.

Small gestures of kindness and goodwill have enormous power and magic not just for children and young people coping with dire medical conditions,
but for all people, all humans, all mankind.

These are things I hope never to forget during my time in this place.

Mr Speaker, 76 years ago, Sir, the National Party was formed by far sighted people with a far sighted national vision for a better New Zealand.

76 years ago New Zealand was a new pioneering nation still struggling to come to terms with the worst local and world economic depression ever known.
A country, Sir, still reeling from the human and emotional impacts of the Great War where the sacrifice of young New Zealand blood was greater than a new, developing nation found tolerable to bear.

Both my grandfathers served at Gallipoli – both eventually returned home although one was wounded at Gallipoli, patched up and then sent to fight on in France.

The plaques adorning this chamber stand as honourable tribute to that sacrifice and to subsequent further Kiwi sacrifice.

Silent but powerful reminders to each of us of the past high price paid by others for our freedom to be here today.
Many of those early National Party founders where the sons and daughters of immigrant pioneering families.

Like the tanagata whenua who arrived centuries earlier, they came with little in the way of personal possessions.
But they came Sir, with the greatest asset of all….

A gritty, stubborn and unshakable belief that through hard work, determination and passion…

Their dreams of a better life than the one they had left behind could be forged for their children and grandchildren in a new little country rich in natural resources,
blessed with a moderate climate and fertile soil.

Today Mr Speaker, we are all the beneficiaries of determination, hard work and foresight.

Each member of this House has progressed a journey to be here.

Some have been catapulted here almost unexpectedly here.
Others, like me, have watched the affairs of our parliament from the side-lines for years and many, like me, have been volunteer activists within our own Party organisational wings for far longer than we care to remember.

I’ve done so since school days.

Active participation in our democracy is important and although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs…. It will always be my advice to political friend or foe alike,
to get involved,
be active,
have your say and fight for what you believe in.

Doing so may not always result in the outcomes sought,
but doing so will mean you have the satisfaction of being a participant rather than a mere observer who simply has to live with the results destined by those who did choose to step up and get involved.

For me Mr Speaker, the game started early while still at school.

The year was 1975. Hard to believe I know. Rob Muldoon was barnstorming his way to a huge victory over Labour.
My hardworking parents were running the small seven day a week business they had established early in their married life.

We lived in Mt Eden…., the suburb not the prison.

It was my School Certificate year.

It was the Eden electorate.
Aussie Malcolm was the National candidate running against a first term Labour MP, Mike Moore.
Eden was the most marginal bell weather seat in New Zealand.

Aussie Malcolm ran under the provocative campaign slogan… “Malcolm will do Moore for Eden”.
The politics was intense, exciting and as it turned out for me, highly addictive.

I guess for a teenager in the 70s, given the range of possible addictions on offer, politics was at the lower end of the parental concern spectrum.

Aussie Malcolm went on to beat Mike Moore and the rest is as they say history.

Over the years I have developed an enormous regard for the army of ordinary Kiwis from all walks of life that make up the volunteer wing of the National Party.

No National MP sits in this House without the support, endorsement and backing of those people.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank all those people who have helped me along the way.

An embarrassingly large number are here in the gallery today along with friends and members of both my close and extended family.

Thank you for your on-going support, friendship and love.

Sir, my Coromandel team was during the campaign and remains so today, a truly outstanding team of people, too many to name individually but so ably led by Electorate Chairman, Ian McClean and Campaign Manager, Heather Tanner.

Thank you one and all.
Sir, for those of us interested in such things,
the Maiden speech of Sir Jack Marshall delivered in this House almost 65 years ago
is regarded as setting the bench mark in terms of defining what we these days label as ‘liberal conservatism’.

And it is to that subject I now turn for the principles he set out in that speech still hold true today.

Let me make it clear at the outset the concept of liberalism does not mean at all anything to do with the touchy feely, namby pamby, soft soap approach so often the political homeland of Parties on the left.

Rather, liberalism is an acknowledgement that as a citizen I have the right to live my life in my own way provided only that this does not interfere with the rights of others.

That I should be free to do as I wish, subject only to the rule of law.

The Hon Chris Finlayson teased out these concepts in his Maiden Speech.

He said and I agree entirely, that the left may have admitted that the right won the great economic debate of the 20th century and that socialism in its many and varied forms has failed, but the left still wants to regulate and control.
Their natural instinct remains one of ‘only we know best ‘.

For me Mr Speaker the contrast between that view and of National Party principles could not be more stark.

National Party principles are liberal principles.

A belief that personal effort and initiative should be rewarded.

A belief Sir, that individual responsibility and accountability for our own actions and inactions provide the foundation stones of our society.

A belief that it is individuals who are best placed to make decisions about their future not the State.
That a free, open and property owning democracy provides the best model for Government.

These Mr Speaker, are the values and principles the National Party was founded on 76 years ago and they relevant today as they ever were.

The principles on which our society is built, in spite of vocal minorities who work to make it not so, are principles of a liberal democracy.

But liberalism and democracy are two very different things

Democracy is a method for choosing and removing Governments.

Liberalism on the other hand is a doctrine about what society ought to be, about what Governments should or shouldn’t do…
and above all liberalism is a doctrine which defines limits to Government power.
I am convinced there is a common liberal thread, whether we choose to recognise it or not, that binds us together as a nation.

That common thread encompasses freedom of action and of individual rights, tempered by a willingness not to interfere with the rights of others whilst pursuing our own.

It encompasses a society of racial and religious tolerance

It encompasses equality of opportunity and equality before the law.

The suggestion that a liberal is someone who wants to liberalise everything is entirely wrong.
Merely recognising and respecting the ideas and opinions of others does not mean the same thing as accepting, embracing or adopting those ideas or opinions.

It is not a question of what we are prepared to tolerate as a society, but rather what we are prepared to defend as important and precious as a nation.

For me it is the defence of a relentlessly optimistic outlook for my electorate and our nation.

The defence of that gritty, stubborn and unshakeable belief that a brighter, more prosperous future lies ahead for our children and grandchildren…
if only we here today, in this place and of this generation have the personal and collective strength to step up and make it so.
For a little country with so much going for us we spend far too much time and energy focusing on the things that hold us back, on the road blocks and the reasons why things can’t be so.

The Hon Steven Joyce has highlighted this theme recently.

Well Mr Speaker, as I conclude this my first address in our House of Representatives…

Mark me down as one who stands firmly on the side of those that can do and will do.

Mark me down as a supporter of growth and opportunity.

Mark me down as a champion of individual rights over State rights, of freedom and tolerance but tempered at all times by the often forgotten important obligation of responsibility for actions and inactions.
Mark me down Mr Speaker, as a defender of our very best liberal democratic values and as a staunch advocate for volunteer political activism.

Mark me down Mr Speaker, as a new member who has come here now to be an active and energetic participant from within rather than a casual spectator from the side-lines.
Sir,
I am a fourth generation New Zealander of European dissent

My great grandparents arrived in Kuatounu on the Coromandel Peninsula in the mid-1800s.

I am the very proud father of Andrew and Ashleigh.

Mr Speaker, my name is Scott Simpson
I’m the National Party Member of Parliament for Coromandel reporting for duty.

ENDS

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