Speech – New Zealand First Party
After listening to the Prime Minister and his ministers doing verbal backflips and somersaults in Parliament, being in the deep south is a welcome change. After many years in politics, and going through highs and lows (not synthetic or illegal), it …Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
7 May 2014
Grey Power AGM
Wednesday 7 May 2014, 2.30pm
Ascot Park Hotel, Invercargill
“It’s Time To Work For All New Zealanders”
“Clearly Minister Collins did not.”
Thank you for your invitation to join you at your annual convention.
After listening to the Prime Minister and his ministers doing verbal backflips and somersaults in Parliament, being in the deep south is a welcome change.
After many years in politics, and going through highs and lows (not synthetic or illegal), it still surprises me how quickly politicians become remote from reality.
Many MPs – particularly ministers – live in a synthetic world, surrounded by consultants and teams of advisors telling them what they want to hear.
They forget very quickly they are supposed to be acting in the interests of four and a half million people – even those people who voted against them.
The situation confronting politicians this week over the legal high debacle is a case in point.
There should be much more cooperation over issues affecting the common welfare.
Most MPs wanted synthetic highs banned.
New Zealand First MPs certainly did.
But we could not get a ban enforced by a majority of MPs so we ended up with a dogs’ breakfast legislation that really did nothing to protect the young and vulnerable.
It became tomorrow’s problem when community outrage demanded action today.
It is being sorted out this week but the episode shows how remote this Government is from the people.
Sadly National is running the country like its own private business.
As you’ve seen in recent weeks, the Government falls over backwards to help its cronies in business.
The National Party receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from these companies.
Many of these companies have links to the People’s Republic of China where there is a major clampdown on corruption.
When the new Chinese Premier took office he said corruption was the number one problem.
Just look at the care and attention certain companies get and by some strange coincidence they are big contributors to the National Party.
It’s clear the Prime Minister will not act against Minister Collins although her offence is much worse than that of Maurice Williamson, because she leads a strong faction of the National Party.
National is not one big happy family.
It’s highly factionalised – but a lot better, until now, at keeping a lid on disagreements.
Just imagine what the media would be saying if fifteen MPs jumped ship from another party!
But that’s the number of National MPs who are leaving.
The headlines would scream – crisis!
The foreign-owned media describe the flood of exits from National as “renewal”.
But if you look at the people who are leaving most are from the moderate group.
This means big changes ahead.
In some ways New Zealand is in a similar situation to 1998.
Remember, superannuation rates were cut from 65 percent of the average national wage to 60 percent in October of that year.
That’s what happened after Jenny Shipley took over from Jim Bolger as Prime Minister.
He had stuck to his word; she would not stick to hers.
She cut the pension with the same Finance Minister as today.
On the issue of superannuation another cabinet minister was waiting with her knife ready at the Prime Minister’s back. That Minister is Judith Collins.
Something is preventing Mr Key sacking Ms Collins because her offending is a lot worse than Williamsons’.
Williamson made one mistaken phone call, Minister Collins made numerous interventions all of which were outside the Cabinet rules.
Minister Collins is going on stress leave.
Why is she stressed?
Let’s explain. She used her position as a cabinet minister to help her husband’s company Oravida and she used taxpayer funds to do it.
The taxpayers funded her trip to China to speak about justice matters.
It is no coincidence. She went to China when Oravida was in big trouble because of the Fonterra botulism scare.
Every milk product company was in big trouble.
She turned up at Oravida and she had dinner at which a Chinese border official was present.
That’s the way they do business over there.
Ms Collins breached the Cabinet rules by mixing her husband’s business interests with her taxpayer funded trip.
Then she lied and covered up, over and over again.
Her husband’s company Oravida was going down the gurgler on this product after the scare in China.
All New Zealand milk product companies were in China.
But did the Minister spare a thought for them?
No – she did not!
Did she put New Zealand’s economic interests first?
No. She was ruthlessly saving just her husband’s company.
Without Oravida’s exports getting back into China, the company’s product was doomed.
As were the other companies. And this is the point; she never raised a finger to help any other Kiwi company but her husband’s.
She has the gall to stand up in Parliament, when questioned on her actions in China, and distance herself from his affairs.
She claimed she didn’t know her husband’s company was in trouble, or any other company for that matter.
Staggering! Unbelievable! A Cabinet Minister who did not know that our main export – milk products – to our main market – had ground to a halt?
That defence of ignorance is simply a naïve exercise in deceit.
Had Judith Collins put her personal interest aside for just one moment, and helped put together a rescue plan for all Kiwi companies, she might have an excuse.
Had she had luncheons and dinners with Chinese border officials to get all New Zealand exports back into full swing, she might have a defence for her breach of the Cabinet rules.
The Prime Minister has a big problem.
Ms Collins is a liability.
Superannuation has always been on your agenda for it is always under threat.
Many in National today were there in 1998 screaming for superannuation to be cut. They have not changed.
There is only one real barrier to National lowering the level of super.
That barrier is New Zealand First.
We are the only party that does not want to make wholesale changes to the pension received by New Zealanders.
Labour wants the age lifted to 67 and National is behind the scenes getting ready for some changes.
Have you noticed over the last two years how many “retirement experts” are being paraded in front of the media warning that super cannot be sustained?
In case you haven’t noticed, the campaign by the Financial Services Council to take over the retirement savings industry has reached fever pitch.
We know the reason for this and revealed the motives last year.
Over the next 30 years the companies who are members of the Financial Services Council will rake in more than $22 billion in profits from KiwiSaver management.
They sniff the huge profits that could come from the private management of retirement savings of New Zealanders.
And who is Chair of the Financial Services Council?
Jenny Shipley – the prime minister who slashed super in 1998 and who opposed our retirement savings plan of 1997.
Isn’t it strange that back in 1997 when we were campaigning for a long-term compulsory savings plan for all New Zealanders legions in politics came out to oppose it? Now these same people, if you wish to believe them, are for compulsory savings.
But you would be a forgiving person indeed if you thought that these companies have the retirement interests of New Zealanders at heart.
Look at their record and you know they are there just for the profits.
That is why New Zealand First will set up KiwiFund as a competitor to the private interests currently leeching retirement savings.
KiwiFund will be government-run and guaranteed.
It will be run like the world-class New Zealand super fund with a minimum of charges, and sound returns.
Who says there is pressure on super?
The real experts on superannuation know that it can be sustained if some simple changes are made, like who receives it and when.
Any foreseeable pressure is the fault of governments and their policy.
We can only describe successive governments’ attitude towards super as ‘stupid’.
Successive governments have cared more about wealthy foreigners than the entitlements of New Zealanders who have spent their lives here and paid taxation here.
There are two problems that affect the sustainability of New Zealand Super;
First: the increasing number of parent reunion migrants who get our full superannuation after only 10 years residency with no requirement to contribute to the economy.
There are over 60,000 people getting super this way and the numbers have been steadily increasing.
Many of this group are from China. But when anyone responsibly raises this issue he is slammed as racist – or xenophobic.
We are talking facts.
If, for example, a skilled worker from China comes here with his wife, the one child China regime means that four parents could land on our superannuation, health and welfare systems.
Last year the number of skilled migrants from China was matched by about double the number of people coming here under family reunion.
Parent migrants also go straight on to our health system the day they are granted residency.
But why should the New Zealand taxpayer provide the retirement home for elderly from countries which have no pension, health or aged care systems?
And why should such a careless policy drive up the average age of the New Zealand population and increase the demand for super.
The second serious problem is emerging across the Tasman and it involves huge numbers uncontrolled by immigration.
The TransTasman open door policy is a looming nightmare scenario for New Zealand taxpayers.
Expat Kiwis who come home to retire can receive our full superannuation the day they arrive at age 65, after years contributing to the Australian economy.
As Australia gradually raises their pension age to 70, under the current TransTasman reciprocal pension agreement, every expat Kiwi and Australian is entitled to retire in New Zealand on full NZ Super at 65 years.
They get this even if they have never lived or worked in New Zealand because years spent in Australia are treated as years spent in New Zealand.
This is a pretty good incentive for an early retirement between 65 and 70.
Add to that health and aged care.
And the cost to New Zealand taxpayers will be artificially much higher.
What will then happen to the level of superannuation payments – even for Kiwis?
No other country is as generous or naive as New Zealand when it comes to access to retirement super, and the obligation of looking after older people.
Unless we act the result will be cuts to superannuation.
New Zealand First’s plan
We have a plan to sort this problem out.
We have done the work on it and without going into all the detail today, it means paying superannuation based on years in New Zealand.
For example an immigrant who has been here ten years will receive a pension based on that period of residency.
This is only fair to taxpayers and New Zealand retirees who have been here for most of their lives.
We in New Zealand First still believe in a fair society.
We are committed to empowering senior citizens to remain independent for as long as they wish.
Our seniors must be treated with respect and not as a burden on society.
Remember New Zealand First repealed the surtax on superannuation, legislated for superannuation to be 66% of the net average wage, and introduced the SuperGold Card, with benefits and discounts for senior citizens.
We want to broaden the benefits that are available.
We will ensure that SuperGold Cardholders receive three free doctor’s visits a year.
We will promote a ten per cent discount on power bills for SuperGold Cardholders during winter months.
We will keep the age of eligibility for Superannuation at 65, non-contributory entitlement with no means-testing.
We will enforce national standards for rest homes and home care and ensure that sufficient resources go into programmes and research into the specific health needs of senior citizens.
And we will plan for the future of the eldercare sector and ensure that New Zealand is prepared to care for the older generation.
For the past thirty years the fair society we grew up in has been under sustained attack.
Many of our assets have been sold, much of our land has gone to foreign buyers, yet another sale confirmed this week – a $13 million purchase in Southland by Luxembourg interests, and we can only guess about the origins and interests of money from Luxembourg.
The current Government’s economic plan consists of creating a housing bubble in Auckland, the Christchurch rebuild, and sending milk powder to China.
And we now have an extremely wealthy group at the top of the heap and a huge number of people who are really struggling at the bottom.
There are not enough jobs for New Zealanders but the Government grants work permits to thousands of foreign students.
The unemployment rate of our own young people is up to 25 percent in some regions.
Surely our first obligation is to our own young people.
This election is crucial because of the huge challenges threatening our way of life.
There has to be a better way.
We must make a start on rebuilding our nation.
We simply cannot continue creating a wider gap between the haves and have nots.
With New Zealand First all New Zealanders will get a fair go.
When the election comes in September remember who has always been on your side.