Metiria Turei address to Green Party policy conference

Speech – Green Party

Tēnēi te mihi ki te whare e whakawhaiti nei i te tangata, Tuturu Pumau, e tū… e tū… e tū… EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVARY AT 1PM, 19 FEBRUARY 2012

Metiria Turei keynote address to Green Party policy conference

Te Hotu Manawa o Rangitaane, Palmerston North, 19 February 2012

The rise of the user pays parliament

Mihi

Tēnēi te mihi ki te whare e whakawhaiti nei i te tangata, Tuturu Pumau, e tū… e tū… e tū…

He mihi hoki au ki te marae e takato rā, Te Hotu Manawa o Rangitaane o Mana watū, takato mai rā… takato mai rā… takato mai rā…

Ki ngā iwi katoa o tēnēi rohe, Ngāti Rangitāne o Manawatū, Ngāti Raukawa me ngā hapu katoa, kei te mihi nunui ki a koutou mō tō koutou manaakitanga ki a mātou te Roopu Kākāriki i tēnēi wiki.

E rere haere ana ōku mihi ki te awa e kōpikopiko haere ana, arā te awa o Manawatū.

Election success

Kia ora koutou katoa . It is fantastic to be talking to you from Palmerston North, the city in which I was born and raised.

So what better place, in my humble opinion, for us to gather as a party and celebrate our incredible success at the 2011 election.

We are back bigger, stronger and fiercer than ever.

This election cemented our place as the third party of New Zealand. We are a party with long term prospects, a distinct world view and genuine mass support.

We have survived leadership changes and the retirement of all of our original Green MPs, and we are still here and stronger than ever.

250,000 New Zealanders gave us their Party Vote, that is 90,000 more people supporting good green change.

We also staked our space in the Maori seats where the Green vote increased by 147%, Thank you Jack, Dora and Mikaere.

And here in Palmy, 54% more people voted Green last year. Thank you Maree, Jack and Jeanette.

You all did a brilliant job, with passion and strategy, discipline and focus, principle and pragmatism.

You made a beautiful thing.

Our political priorities – Kids Rivers Jobs

Last year we said that we would put jobs, rivers and kids at the front of the political agenda for the election.

Those issues remain our focus for this term of parliament.

It was a promise we made to the country to fight all attempts to injure our whānau and degrade our beautiful home. And it is a promise we will keep.

Just this week the Salvation Army released their State of the Nation report showing no progress in reducing child poverty in the last year.

1 in 6 Pākehā, 1 in 4 Pacific, and 1 in 3 Māori children are now likely to live in poverty.

Kiwi’s desperately need good jobs, but this Government continues to oversee a backwards looking economy in which job loss continues unabated.

John Key has announced that there will be further job losses in the public sector and there is no plan for modern green jobs in the private sector.

And as Mike Joy described last night, it is delusional to think that our rivers and lakes can survive without the cessation of pollution and land degradation. We need to act now.

Jobs, rivers and kids will remain our priorities because we cannot build a fairer and more sustainable New Zealand without addressing these issues.

Our new green team

The parliamentary term is only a few weeks old and already your new Green MPs are getting stuck in.

Holly Walker went to Whangarei to support Jazmine Heka, the 16 year old who has started a Children Against Poverty campaign.

Jan Logie challenged government policy that traps women and children in poverty by failing to properly support sole parents going into study.

Eugenie Sage is touring NZ lakes and rivers talking with the communities who fight to protect them.

Steffan Browning is unravelling the shortcomings of the Food Bill, meeting with growers, food sellers, officials and the Minister to improve it.

Denise Roche proudly supported the workers at the ports of Auckland who are fighting for their jobs as well as working to protect precious jobs in the state sector.

Julie Anne Genter is touring the country to promote smart green transport, exposing the Governments senseless endless motorway building.

Mojo Mathers is blazing a trail for all New Zealanders. She leads the battle to make sure every New Zealander has access to our parliament and the right to participate. Her battle is being played out over her individual needs, but the real issue is that all hearing impaired people will be better off when she wins her battle with the Speaker. Her success will force a major shift in the way people with disabilities are treated by their parliament.

I was deeply moved by the seven maiden speeches we heard last week, they made me very proud to be Green.

Along with Kevin, Catherine, Kennedy, Gareth and Dave, Russel and I know we have the perfect team ready for the challenges of this parliamentary term.

The Greens role in opposition

While the election result was the best ever for the Greens, it was not quite enough for us to change the Government.

So over the next three years we will be an effective and progressive opposition. This is the time for us to prepare to take Government in 2014.

We are ambitious to be in Government and we are ready.

This election does not represent a high water mark for Green support. It is just the beginning. We will get bigger and stronger.

Being in opposition, being the true opposition, is about more than just shouting. We have a responsibility to make progress on our priorities. And we do that in different ways.

We are the voice of the voiceless. The enemies of greed, cruelty and wickedness. The makers of change.

And being all these things gets us to our goal.

It is our goal to make good green change.

It is our goal is to remove this Government; to replace it with one of our own construction.

We present a genuine challenge to irrational political ideology. We are a threat to those who love power, for powers sake.

National and Labour

National are no doubt relieved that they do not rely on us to govern, given their pursuit of such a destructive economic, social and environmental agenda. But 2014 presents real problems for them.

Their support parties are declining, their choices narrowing. The one man bands of ACT and United are yesterday’s parties and reveals the weakness of the Government’s support arrangements.

Labour too, undergoing its own reforms, knows that the best chance of a progressive government in 2014 includes us. They too are wary of our increasing size and political power.

Because New Zealand politics is changing.

We offer progressive 21st century values of fairness and sustainability. These are the true values of New Zealanders. No other political party can credibly speak to those values.

We are not the benefactors of Labour or National voters shifting to the Greens. We are our own political force that generates support in our own right.

We are not Labours little brother.

This is not about tuakana-teina.

This is a relationship of equals.

We will be a sizable part of a future progressive government, an equal player.

But we can effect change now too. So, we have a responsibility to engage constructively with both parties over the coming term.

And we will. Because that is how we are. Constructive.

We have agreed to continue with the memorandum of understanding with the National Government and to work together to find further areas of common ground. We will work where we can for green change.

Last term we made more than 100,000 Kiwi homes warmer and drier. Our programme to identify toxic sites is already paying off. We have built cycle transport networks and are working to improve pest control on the conservation estate.

We are engaging with National in a practical and principled way.

We are working in a similar way with Labour.

We talk with Labour about areas of agreement and disagreement. Where we agree, like with the Inquiry into the wellbeing of Māori Children or the Citizens Initiated Referendum into asset sales, we work closely together.

Where we disagree, we will talk with them about it and voice our critique. And there are real and quite fundamental areas of difference, such as their continued pursuit of economic growth in the face of declining natural resources and climate change. Or their pursuit of free trade agreements that undermine New Zealand land, assets and jobs.

But making change means looking for common ground. We take that challenge seriously.

User Pays Parliament

I have told you how we will be the makers of change. Now I want to talk about the wickedness.

This government’s agenda is a threat to our kids, it is a threat to our environment and it is a threat to people’s jobs.

National are deliberately strangling the state and carving out its services to the private sector to make money out of social issues.

The degree of corporate welfare and largesse is astounding, especially when contrasted with their penny pinching towards those who need genuine support.

You can be sure of a Government hand-out if you are a movie studio, a profitable casino or an irrigation company.

But if you are a sole parent on the DPB trying to get a degree but needing just a little bit of help to cover childcare, like Tania Wysocki who went public with her case this week, then don’t expect anything.

The privatisation of the state for the profit of corporations can be seen across the board – they include:

– privatised ACC to benefit Australian insurance companies,

– private prisons to be run by multi-national corporations with dodgy human rights and employment records,

– charter schools run by companies who won’t have to follow basic educational standards,

– carving off more Work and Income job services to private companies to make money out of beneficiaries.

The list goes on.

In all of these areas there is no evidence that these changes will benefit the public but it is very clear that they will benefit the bottom lines of corporations.

The National Government has shown that it is more beholden to the profits of some hand picked companies than the interests of the New Zealand people.

And for a Government that claims to be allergic to picking winners they sure showed some preferences when they changed our labour laws to suit Warner Brothers, selling New Zealanders job security.

And now they are selling our gambling law to a casino.

The National Government is doing a deal with Sky City, that in exchange for Sky City building a convention centre, the Government will change the gambling laws to allow for even more pokie machines. Sky City has offered to pay $350 million for its construction and in return has asked for an extension to its licence to 2021 and to have more pokie machines and gaming tables.

There has been no clearer example of the Government selling the legislature to corporate entities.

John Key has opened up the New Zealand Parliament with a big banner “Open for business – New Zealand Cheap as Chips”.

It’s what you get with a dealer for a Prime Minister.

A genuinely user pays Parliament.

He sold workers law for $670 million.

He’s selling gambling laws for $350 million.

It’s getting cheaper.

And in the process he is selling out lives.

This week Sky City has reported record profits of $78.8 million.

And where does this meteoric profit come from?

One in six New Zealanders whose family has gone without something they needed or a bill has gone unpaid because of gambling.

The more than 74,000 New Zealanders who suffer from poor mental health because of gambling.

The 10,000 New Zealanders who are engaged in illegal activities because of their gambling addiction

And the social cost, the cost to the public purse? Up to $1 billion annually in bankruptcies, arrests, incarcerations, unemployment, divorce, poor physical and mental health, loss of educational opportunity and suicide.

As Denise Roche said in her maiden speech about commercial gambling, “It is a transfer of wealth from the brown to the white, from the women to the men, from the poor to the rich. Casinos are an engine of crime and inequality.”

But why should the National Government care about New Zealanders health, their families, children, jobs, businesses, their wellbeing?

This is crony politics at its worse, this is selling our law to the highest bidder, this is undermining our democracy, this compromises New Zealand’s reputation for honest politics.

In this term we have to stop John Key selling New Zealand.

We have to stop our marine environment being sold to deep sea oil drillers and other frackers.

We have to stop our profitable energy companies being sold, stripping Māori of their treaty rights in the process.

We have to stop our prime agricultural land being sold to overseas corporations.

This National Government is not just selling your silver, they are selling everything.

Conclusion

A wise man once said there is no point showing someone the cliff edge without showing them the path down.

People look to the Greens for solutions the old parties failed to deliver.

We are a movement whose time has come.

We have pragmatic, principled solutions to address inequality, child poverty and to look after and protect the environment of our beautiful country.

We will protect New Zealand’s assets, our land and our public services from corporate exploitation.

We will not sell the New Zealand legislature.

We will invest in green jobs and in sustainable energy systems to start the vital move to a green economy.

We will invest in affordable housing, quality public education and welfare with dignity so our children will have what they need to take the opportunities that a compassionate economy can provide.

And by honestly acknowledging our history of colonisation, and putting Te Tiriti o Waitangi at the heart of our constitutional state, we will take the steps to real restitution and genuine justice.

I believe that Aotearoa can be a proud leader of the global green transition. It is our history and can be our future. We can change our society and our world.

Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi Without foresight or vision the people will be lost (Kingi Tawhiao Potatau te Wherowhero).

We must unify and lead.

Kia ora whanau, keep up the good work.

ENDS

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