Bishop’s Maiden

October 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Bishop was given the honour of leading off the Address in Reply debate on behalf of National, and I think almost everyone would agree he was an excellent pick.

Some extracts I particularly liked:

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy, and the law. My parents, John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon, are to blame. From dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during that momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose to talk about the weather, what is on TV, or something like that; his topic of choice was none other than this man called Sir Robert Muldoon. I have had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since. Growing up I would pepper dad for stories about his time as a journalist—about the night of the 1984 snap election, about the night of the Mount Erebus crash, about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try to save the ANZUS alliance. I drank it all in, and those stories and those lessons have shaped who I am today. From mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas, in current affairs, and in the world around me. Growing up, our household was one where everyone was expected to have a view and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed, both my parents were champion debaters, and mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for 4 years much later in life. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Championships have been held where we were this morning—the Legislative Council Chamber . There are now four alumni of the championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list, and I am sure that there will be many more in the years to come.

Chris is a formidable debater, and I expect he will become a strong presence in the House.

My dad’s side of the family—although, I should say, not necessarily my dad, whose politics I do not know—is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in South Otago. My poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for it until he retired, interrupted only by World War II, where he fought at Monte Cassino . Stewart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to national superannuation as “Rob’s lolly”.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition, and Labour voters to their toes. One great-grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151-day loyalty card during the 1951 strike. My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, a social activist, a director of CORSO, and an inveterate follower of politics. He was the sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981, as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the “Stop the Tour” movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested.

She happily did her 200 hours’ community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road in the Hutt, so I think I get my social liberalism and my reforming zeal from my grandparents, although, it is fair to say, not my Labour Party politics. I come to this House as a 31-year-old, a representative of Generation Y. Our generation does not remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine or needing permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine or any of the other absurdities of life in the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices in New Zealand were frozen by prime ministerial fiat. For our generation, inflation has always been low, we have always been nuclear-free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty settlement process has always been under way. New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born, and I have always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation and what its effects have been.

The post Muldoon generation do not understand why we have political parties that seem to paint the 1970s as the high point for New Zealand.

It intrigues me, for example, that although Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes and receive standing ovations at Labor conferences to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party. I think a significant portion of the left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, and in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation.

Sadly there seems to be not a Labour MP left in caucus, who defends the legacy of the 4th Labour Government.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969, for example, is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970 Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth Government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services in the Australian economy and he bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce. I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world, and, if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Indeed. You should have convictions and ideas when you enter Parliament, but you should also be able to change your mind to changing circumstances and superior arguments.

I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical annunciation of liberalism within the National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mount Victoria in 1947. I believe, as he did, that the conditions of a good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty. I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than Governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good Governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do and be more sceptical about the ability of the Government to solve social problems. I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

Lower taxes, less inefficient Government transfers, less corporate welfare, more trade liberalisation and less regulation would be a start.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find is deeply distasteful. I am proud of how far New Zealand has come in only one generation from an inward-looking, insular economy and society to one that is increasingly internationally connected and confident on the world stage. I believe that we can responsibly develop our natural resources and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand, both renewable and non-renewable, and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on Earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing out economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Yes, the economy and the environment are not in opposition. The cure to dirty rivers is not to shoot one in five dairy cows.

I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas, and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That is how marriage equality was achieved. It is how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It is how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy. Leaders in this Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument. One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same dispatch box that Lange stood at when he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when he was arguing. I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them—a credible, constructive, and committed argument. Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.” As long as I am an MP I will always try to present credible and constructive arguments and I will always be willing to have one.

Sadly the last Labour Government tried to close down much free speech with their Electoral Finance Bill. Today’s law is much better than what was proposed, but it is still too restrictive.

We are the first Government in a long time that has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems that have bedevilled New Zealand for too long such as a persistent underclass, welfare dependency, Māori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor-quality social housing. We are not doing this simply by throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable in our community is not, or should not be, measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with the problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right: “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results.”

This is I think a key difference between right and left. Many on the left do think it is the amount you spend that matters. National’s Better Public Services targets has for the first time incentivised the state to focus on outcomes, not outputs.

One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best—changing kids’ lives. Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It is simply wrong that the classic career pathway for teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration.

Absolutely. The most important reform this term I’d say.

When people look back on this passage in New Zealand’s history, it is my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State. This Government’s signal economic achievements are important, but I think and hope this Government will be known for much more than that.

The bigotry of low expectations is one I particularly dislike.

As I said, an excellent maiden speech. There have been and will be many other fine ones. I normally try to do a summary of each one, but as I am on holiday, I won’t have the time. But they are all on the parliamentary website.

I booked my holiday for October/November on the assumption that Winston would hold the balance of power and take six weeks to decide, ad hence I would get back just in time for the new Parliament. Pleased to say things moved faster than that, even if it means I have missed the first few weeks of the 51st Parliament.

However the Herald has very usefully done a summary of the maiden speeches to date.

Tags: ,

National Maiden Speeches

February 17th, 2012 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

New National MPs (apart form Mike Sabin who was last week) did their maiden speeches yesterdays. Transcripts are here. Extracts follow.

Mum had me, her only child, when she was 43. Never one to peak too early, she later learned to play golf—hitting a hole in one at the age of 72. Agnes was a remarkable and a determined woman who taught me many things, including the value of a strong ethic, the importance of trying your best if you want to achieve the things that matter, and never ever giving in on what you really believe in. In her later years she taught me how to live in the moment, which was perhaps one of her greatest gifts to me. David, the old man, had a sharp mind and a quick temper. He was very fond of a drink and an argument, and I learned early on to justify my point of view or keep quiet. These are skills I feel will come in very handy in this Chamber. Dad had falsified his age to enlist to fight in World War II . He was keen to serve his country, as his father Edward had before him at Gallipoli. I was raised to believe that in peacetime the highest form of public service is to be a member of Parliament. I know that they would all be very proud of me standing here today in this Chamber as the first politician in my family.

Hearing about the backgrounds and families of new MPs I find very interesting. It is all too easy to think of them as just politicians.

Given my green-fingered background and lifelong love of plants, I hope that my knowledge and skills may be helpful to shape our environmental and conservation goals. Producing and presenting the garden show gave me privileged access to people’s lives. Some of them were overwhelmed and daunted by the sheer scale of the planet’s problems, but personally I never doubted that saving the world starts in your own backyard. I share the views of many, that we are only the custodians of this land and the guardians, the kaitiaki, of our grandchildren’s heritage. We have to be vigilant and face up to our responsibilities and our woeful environmental record. Over many days, over many decades, we have let many too many introduced pests decimate our native plants. We have not treated our oceans and our waterways with the respect they deserve, and I want to be part of the Government that puts that right.

The term blue-green was invented for Maggie.

Ian McKelvie:

The Rangitīkei electorate—for those who need to know—contains 4.5 million sheep, 400,000 beef cattle, 175,000 dairy cows, and 63,000 people, of whom 28 percent are Māori. We are also the home to the North Island ski fields, Tongariro National Park, the home bases of the New Zealand Army at Linton and Waiōuru, the Air Force at Ōhākea, and New Zealand’s largest university in Massey. Our electorate contains the brainy part of Palmerston North, stretches over 300 kilometres north to Taumarunui, and contains some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery.

There’s a brainy part of Palmerston North?

I also urge you as a Parliament to give time and thought to our equine industry. We are good at horses. It is international in almost every sphere of equine activity, and it has great potential if nurtured in the correct manner. The horse, particularly through the racing and breeding industry, is a very large employer in this country, and I have yet to see a robot riding one—Mark Todd aside—or a computer mucking out a stable. Encouraging the equine sector to work with each other in a unified manner could boost this sector significantly as an export earner.

Maybe the Minister for Racing should be renamed the Minister for Horses? :-)

Mark Mitchell:

One of the first jobs we attended together put us head to head with an offender armed with a samurai sword, whose intent was to attack medical staff at Rotorua Hospital. During the arrest both Czar and I were stabbed—me through my right arm and Czar in the chest. We both recovered, although I never regained the full use of my arm. I thank the Hon Judith Collins for the leadership she provided in making sure our police officers were given every tactical advantage and option available. Had Tasers been around in my day, I would have had a much better tennis swing. One thing I could see early in my career was the amount of damage gangs and organised crime did to our communities. Whether they be the Mongrel Mob, Hell’s Angels, or Asian triads, they are parasites living off the back of our communities and a bunch of low-life cowards. Hunting in packs, they rob, steal, rape, murder, intimidate, assault, and generally terrorise anyone unlucky enough to get in their way. Many of the social issues we face today are connected either directly or indirectly to the gang culture. Our police service is now being led by leaders rather than managers, with morale the highest it has been for years and with the best police officers in the world, we are on the right side of the ledger in continuing to tackle gangs and organised crime.

I love an MP who tells it straight. And I agree that the Police are now being led by leaders, not managers. It is amazing what happens when the Commissioner requires everyone from Inspector level up to go out on the beat – no matter what job title they hold.

in 2003, I found myself in Iraq as part of a small team establishing a safety and security programme for the newly formed interim Government. It was a tough year for me, because it was the first time in my life I was exposed to the ugliness of corruption and extreme ideologies, in a country where there was very little regard for human life. The first election in Iraq had over 7,000 candidates for 235 parliamentary positions. Opposing candidates would dispose of each other with roadside bombs and hit squads. It helped me to put a little context around the teapot tapes last year.

Don’t go giving Trevor ideas.

I am proud that we led refugees out of Lebanon to safety when they were trapped in a war between Israel and Hezbollah, that we protected and supported scientists from the Hague to open and take evidence from mass graves in their case against Saddam Hussein, that we delivered food and medical supplies to flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan and ensured it got to the people who needed it, and that we were able to open up a supply chain to get food and medical supplies into Darfur and Mogadishu.

Mark has a wealth of interesting stories about his time overseas.

Simon O’Connor:

At the heart of our constitution sits the Crown. It is an ingenious, ever-evolving entity that plays a role in so many aspects of our country. It is a valuable guardian of our democracy, a symbol of our independence, and a sign of our political resourcefulness. I am pleased to acknowledge today the 60 years of service that the Queen of New Zealand has given to all Kiwis. It is my hope that in the years ahead New Zealand may make its own monarchy ever more distinct and an even more uniquely Kiwi institution. 

Well if we want our monarchy to be ever more distinct I say we dump Prince Charles, and offer the throne to Princess Madeleine of Sweden.

I suspect that most here today would agree that New Zealand is the greatest country on earth. But that is not to say it is a perfect nation. Again, I suspect that most here are cognisant of the many problems our society faces. Foremost among them is the scourge of violence in our society. If there is one general area to which I wish to apply my time and experience it is to ending, or at least greatly reducing, violence in our communities. Of course, there is no single solution, no quick fix. It is a perennial issue that has been grappled with by successive parliaments. I believe that this National-led Government is taking great steps in the right direction, but there is much work still to be done. Some is legislative, but the most difficult work is changing attitudes. I fear that New Zealand accepts violence too easily. Aggression is celebrated, verbal and emotional abuse is tolerated in public discourse, and people are willing to turn a blind eye towards those suffering at the hands of bullies. The prevalence of domestic violence, violence against children, the random acts of violence on our streets is a sad indictment of us all. I do not believe that is a simple matter to resolve this tragedy, but neither do I feel that it is hopeless.

Domestic violence and child abuse especially I find abhorent. While all violence is bad, I can at least understand why someone whacks someone they hate. But how people bash and kill those they profess to love is beyond me.

Scott Simpson:

For those interested in such things, the maiden speech of Sir Jack Marshall, delivered in this House 65 years ago is regarded as setting the benchmark in terms of defining what we these days label as “liberal conservatism”. And it is to that subject I now turn. Let me make it clear at the outset that 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 acknowledgment 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 own 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.

I love it when a National MP speaks about liberalism. Even better when they vote that way also :-)

The principles on which our society is built, in spite of vocal minorities who would work to make it not so, are principles are of liberal democracy. But liberalism and democracy are actually two 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, what Governments should or should not do, and above all liberalism is a doctrine that defines limits to Government power. I am convinced there is a common thread of liberalism through our nation whether we choose to recognise it or not. 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, one of equality of opportunity and equality before the law.

Limiting Government power is an issue dear to my heart.

Jian Yang:

When the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949 my grandfather lost all his property, was imprisoned, and lived in poverty for the rest of his life. In the first 30 years of the People’s Republic of China the Chinese Government launched one political movement after another, climaxing with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution beginning in 1966. The Revolution left behind millions of political victims, including my parents, who were sent to the countryside to be re-educated by peasants. In 1978, under the rule of Deng Xiaoping, China made the historic decision to reform and open up. Capitalism began to flourish.

And today we have a free trade agreement with China, but not the United States. Ironically should have one with Russia soon also.

 In 1994 I started my postgraduate study in Australia, and in 1999 I completed my PhD and began my work at the University of Auckland. My experiences reiterate the inescapable influence of politics on our lives, and greatly contrast the deep value placed on political rights and freedom that we enjoy in New Zealand. For this reason, I appreciate the National Party’s commitment to democratic principles, and individual freedom, and choice. Politics and economics are two areas difficult to differentiate.

Exactly. There is a reason that almost all communist economies are also dictatorships or one party states.

Many Chinese, including my family, gave up their Chinese citizenship and proudly became New Zealand citizens. We are Kiwis, although made in China. The Chinese immigrants do have a strong desire for recognition and integration, which is why they have been actively involved in philanthropy and politics. They have been generous in their donations to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. There were also a record number of Chinese candidates in the most recent general election. I feel truly honoured to be a National Party representative of the Chinese community. I hope to see more Chinese in Parliament, as the community is still under-represented. The rise of China has given New Zealand an ideal opportunity. China is now our second-largest trading partner. Our trade with East Asia, especially China, played a crucial role in our effort to deal with the global financial crisis in recent years. In this respect, Chinese residents’ connection with China is a great asset to New Zealand. The connection has generated many economic opportunities, and there is still a great potential. As a Chinese immigrant, I will act as a bridge between the Chinese community and our mainstream society. I will also endeavour to contribute to the strengthening of New Zealand’s relations with China.

Dr Yang is the only National MP I have yet to meet, but am looking forward to doing so.

Tags: ,

Greens maiden speeches

February 16th, 2012 at 4:36 pm by David Farrar

The maiden speeches of the new Green MPs are here.

Mojo Mathers:

I joined the Green Party and stood as a candidate for the first time in the 2005 general election. When I first stood I had no concept of what huge challenges lay ahead of me as a deaf candidate and activist. I just wanted to speak out in defence of our water and our environment and be heard. But I learnt the hard way that passion and knowledge were not enough. I had to find different ways of doing politics, ways of getting around the barriers posed by being deaf, ways that allowed me to participate and engage effectively. I started learning New Zealand Sign Language and using sign language interpreters when I spoke to submissions to the local city and regional councils. I am absolutely thrilled that there are New Zealand Sign Language interpreters in the gallery today, and I note that it is the first time in New Zealand that a maiden speech is being covered this way. I hope that this will be the start of greater recognition by Parliament of the status of New Zealand Sign as our third official language.

And Denise Roche:

 I set out on a journey that began as a union organiser, initially with the Theatrical Workers Union, hitching rides on trains in the guards’ van with my dad’s union mates and fighting for the rights of cinema workers around the northern part of our country. I have protested and picketed with the best. I can attest that love and politics can mix: my first date with my life partner, John, was at a union picket at the Devonport Docks.

Romance at union pickets. Not likely to happen at Ports of Auckland as the union blokes have managed to keep all but two women away from working there.

I can assure the House that even though I am the Greens’ gambling spokesperson, I am not an anti-gambling zealot, and I will prove that to you by selling you a raffle ticket during the dinner break. I am, however, deeply concerned with the harm caused by commercialised gambling, and especially by the blight on our communities caused by pokie machines. Kiwis know that these machines reap their profits from problem gambling. Kiwis know that they can harm whole communities, which is why whenever they have been asked if they want more pokies, people say no. The former Manukau City Council received over 6,000 submissions asking it to restrict pokies. Active, engaged citizens are saying no to pokies, and will be dismayed by the banana republic, back-room deal being done by the Government, where our laws are for sale, and where the Auckland casino, a monopoly provider, is to be expanded in return for a convention centre—or was that 30 pieces of silver. Commercial gambling is deeply regressive, and cynically exploitative. It is a transfer of wealth from the brown to the white, from the women to the men, and from the poor to the rich. Casinos are an engine of crime and inequality.

If that is NOT being an anti-gaming zealot, I’d hate to see what an actual anti-gaming zealot looks like!

Julie-Anne Genter:

I studied philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, to try to uncover the rational underpinnings of my political and ethical convictions. In my final year I took up French, in part due to a love of Voltaire and his pragmatic approach to humanism. Ten years ago I left the United States. I initially went to France to gain fluency in the language, but I stayed because I could not bear to return to a country engaged in the futile and destructive wars championed by George W Bush. After some time working and travelling in Europe I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to undertake postgraduate study at Sciences Po in Paris, where I was able to study economics and political theory. My questions about the places we live and the nature of our economy were slowly informed by my experiences, as well as by my studies. I eagerly delved deeper into new approaches to urban planning, transport, and resource management at the University of Auckland, and in my subsequent work as a transport consultant. Everyone one of us travels, most every day, and every one of us consumes goods that have been transported from further and further away. We are all very personally familiar with the annoyances and the injustices that inevitably occur when we are running late and need to get somewhere, but there is a much bigger picture. The places we live are fundamentally shaped by the transport system and policies put in place by the Government. In turn, this affects the money and time we must spend travelling, the quality of our air and water, the fact that nearly 40 percent of our energy use is for transport. We increasingly see that it affects our health, the value of our land, the cost of development, the affordability of housing—it even affects the amount of interaction we have with our neighbours. 

Jan Logie:

We are all beneficiaries and should be proud to be so. I am the beneficiary of years of support from family, friends, the State, not to mention the beneficiary of colonisation and at times the unemployment benefit. There should not be a stigma in accepting help when you need it. And there is benefit in sharing and helping others when they need it. Individualism locks in inequality and depression, and as a result we all lose out.

This qualifies for statements ever made I most disagree with.

There is a huge difference between individualism and being selfish. Often those who stick up for individualism are amongst the most generous helpers and supporters of others – when their help and support is given voluntarily.

Steffan Browning:

Forestry—foreign companies such as Tiong own or control the vast majority of logs or timber products going offshore, yet this Government seems hell bent on making it easier for them. One is letting them keep gassing our communities and the ozone layer with spent neurotoxic and carcinogenic, ozone-depleting methyl bromide from the log fumigations. Labour and National have both dodged forcing recapture of the invisible, odourless gas that cannot be tracked with confidence. Giving the industry 10 years latitude, while we increase our exports and fumigations, people are getting sick and dying—dying for whom? 

Eugenie Sage:

When I first walked on to Parliament’s grounds as a member of this House last November, I heard a tui, practising its scales below the Beehive. The tui’s chorus is sweeter than anything I might say in this Chamber, so I took its song as auspicious—a sign that if tui have come to Parliament, their oral petitions would encourage this House to give more serious attention to our wild landscapes and our indigenous plants and animals whose ancestry and tenure in those islands is so much longer than our own. Aotearoa’s 70 million years of geographic isolation from other parts of Gondwana produced some of the world’s oldest and most unusual life forms: trees such as the kahikatea, fruit basket of the forest, and animals such as the tuatara, the wētā, and the carnivorous land snails, Powelliphanta. We can and must invest more in safeguarding the first inhabitants of Aotearoa and the places where they live. We have no treaty with them, but they define who we are. They are what makes New Zealand so distinctive in the eyes of the world. 

Holly Walker:

Because I never met Rod I never got to tell him that he was partly responsible for the formation of my political consciousness. It was 1997 and I was sitting in a sweltering upstairs classroom at Hutt Valley High School watching a video in fourth form social studies about the 1981 Springbok Tour . Suddenly, there was young Rod, resplendent in his flouro vest and orange bike helmet—clashing spectacularly with his shaggy red hair and beard. He spoke earnestly into the camera about why he was putting his safety on the line to march in the front lines of the increasingly terrifying anti-apartheid protests. I was moved, fascinated, and, strangely, jealous. I went home and told my mum that I wished we had issues like that to protest about these days. She laughed and told me there were plenty. I started paying attention and realised she was right. So I have Rod to thank, in part, for setting me on the path to politics

I suspect Rod would find this the highest compliment.

With the fantastic education I received at public schools in the Hutt Valley, I grew up to win a Rhodes Scholarship and get elected to Parliament, aged 29. But, in the words of Russel Norman in his maiden statement to this House, these stories do not mean that a State house kid, or a public school kid, or a DPB mum can do anything. They mean that the State’s commitment of resources towards housing, education, and income support really does make a difference.

A fair point.

Tags: ,

Labour Maiden Speeches

February 15th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The draft transcripts of the four Labour maiden speeches is here. I used to e-mail MPs asking for a copy of their maiden speeches but now the draft transcripts are out in 150 minutes, I just wait for them.

First some extracts from Dunedin North MP David Clark:

Politicians do not exist to rubber-stamp what the electorate has already decided, but to articulate and share a vision of a better society. I will describe the better society to which I aspire. It has similarities with what founding members of the Labour Party described as an “applied Christianity”. It is a society where accident of birth does not dictate one’s station and prospects. It is a society where every citizen can get ahead by dint of hard work that builds on their natural endowment. It is one where all have free and equal access to high-quality education, a society where all have the ability to develop their talents sufficiently to ensure fulfilling and enriching lives. It is one in which choices are not driven by fear, but are afforded by opportunity, in which everyone has access to legal representation, regardless of their means. 

I agree with those sentiments, even though I suspect we disagree on how to achieve them.

I would describe how we might consider financial transactions taxes, gift and estate duties, and a capital gains tax in order to broaden our tax base.

Broadening the tax base is good, if it leads to lower rates. Not good if it leads to the state growing in size and crushing the private sector.

And I don’t support taxing people for dying, or gift duty which cost three times more to administer than revenue it took in.

A third reason that greater equality makes pragmatic sense relates to public investment. Infrastructure is an example—witness growth in China’s high-speed rail network. It is 12 times bigger than it was in 2008, four times larger than in any other country, and still growing at an astonishing rate. It is hard to imagine this happening in the USA today. Where a critical mass of the truly wealthy exert undue influence on the political process, investment in infrastructure, education, research, healthcare, and other matters related to the common good dwindles …

Oh nonsense. China is growing its rail network because it has 10% economic growth and the cost of labour is so low. To suggest that the USA is not growing its rail network at the same pace because of the wealthy is batty.

Andrew Little:

This year marks the centenary of one of the most bitter and violent industrial disputes in New Zealand’s history: the Waihī miners strike. It is an important part of the Labour story. A young Scottish union organiser was witness to that dispute and saw how workers who wanted nothing more than decent pay and a fair go were intimidated, divided, and—after a striking miner was beaten to death by those opposed to the strike—run out of town. Those dark events led to that organiser and many others realising that justice would be achieved only when working people reached beyond the workplace for influence and had a direct say on the laws and policies they were subject to. The union organiser was Peter Fraser, who later became a Labour Prime Minister.

I found the Waihi link to Peter Fraser quite interesting. Fraser is my favourite Labour PM.

New Plymouth is a great city with, I might add, a great mayor and I enjoyed campaigning there last year, although I remain intrigued by a question I was asked at one of the first meetings I held: what my position was on the merger of Air New Zealand and NAC. I said that Labour was taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Heh.

Megan Woods:

In my previous role at Plant and Food Research, I observed firsthand the real difference science and innovation can make. We need more businesses to access and utilise the exceptional knowledge that is being created in our Crown research institutes and universities. And we need a proper commitment to the fundamental research that underpins this. To improve this we must commit to adequately fund science and innovation to create jobs and lift wages. …

 I am a New Zealand historian by training who has worked in science and innovation. I am a former community board member who believes in the power of communities and the grassroots. I am a Christchurch native who grew up in the ravages of a user-pays world, who, despite being glued to the royal wedding in 1981 believes in the desirability and inevitability of our country becoming a republic in my lifetime, who celebrates the diversity of modern New Zealand. I am here because I have a strong belief in social justice. I am here because I believe that there are always real alternatives in working to ensure that hope, opportunity, and being all you can be, is not an accident of birth for the privileged few but the birthright of all New Zealanders.

And finally Rino Tirikatene:

Eighty years ago, in this room, maybe even in this chair, my grandfather Sir Eruera Tirikātene stood before this House as the member of Parliament for Southern Maori. Forty-five years ago, in this room, maybe even in this chair, my aunt Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan stood before this House as the member of Parliament for Southern Maori. Today, I stand before the House as the member of Parliament for Te Tai Tonga. At the time my grandfather rose to address the House for the first time, the Māori population numbered a mere 82,000. We were at that time a rural people, still recovering from the ravages of land sales and the scourge of introduced diseases. We existed at the very margin of the country’s economy. What income we were able to earn as unskilled labourers in the agriculture and forestry industries was supplemented by gardening and foraging. The land development assistance programme introduced by Sir Apirana Ngāta in the 1920s, which eventually gave rise to the Māori incorporations and trusts of today, was in its infancy and poverty was all pervasive, especially among those communities that had been left landless by confiscation and land sales. Statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi, the claims of Ngāi Tahu, Waikato, and Taranaki, and poverty were my grandfather’s main concerns.

We have made some progress since then.

[Today] more than 1 in every 2 Māori was living in a household with a combined income of more than $50,000, and well over 1 in every 3 in a household with a total income of $70,000 or more. What we are witnessing is the steady growth of a Māori middle class. On the collective front, we are witnessing the rise of the Māori economic authorities, Māori land trusts and incorporations, and iwi authorities.

And:

Life and prospects for Māori are so much better than they were 80 years ago, but Māori know better than anyone that much remains to be done. We are still overrepresented at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. We will, on average, die sooner than our Pākehā mates. We will, more so than our Pacific cousins, end up in prison, and, unlike any other group in Aotearoa – New Zealand, we now receive more in transfer payments than we pay in tax. Too many of use remain locked into a cycle of dependency and poverty.

I am glad he mentioned dependency as well as poverty. The two are linked.

Tags: , , , ,

Mike Sabin maiden speech

February 9th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

New Northland MP Mike Sabin has just given his maiden speech. Some extracts:

One of this nation’s finest leaders once said of leadership “having a vision is not enough.  Change comes through turning a vision into a reality.  It is easy to espouse worthy goals, value and policies, the hard part is the implementation.

Tragically, 10 years ago the architect of those words, Sir Peter Blake lost his life in the pursuit of turning his vision into a reality. 

The essence of the Blake ethos centred around the notion that it is your actions that define you, not your words, something that can be easily forgotten by the well intentioned in their pursuit of public service.

Simon Power said something similar in his valedictory. That the honour comes from doing things as an MP, not just being an MP.

At this stage Mr Speaker I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor Hon John Carter for the massive contribution he has made to the Party, to Northland and NZ. 

Of course “massive contribution” could also now describe his tab at Trader Jacks, but I’m sure the Cooks will be well served with him as High Commissioner, not only for his passion to make a difference, but for the range of new jokes he will be unleashing on an unsuspecting population.

Heh, so true. John had an endless supply of jokes. Some were even printable.

I am the eldest son of Lew and Merlene Sabin, with one brother and sister.  I’m the proud father of three amazing children; Brook, Darryl and Brenna. I am of mixed genealogy, like most; and am proudly of Tainui Whakapapa on my mother’s side.  It gives me a uniqueness in this world which I celebrate, but more so I celebrate that NZ is my home and that I am a New Zealander.

My early years were spent in Auckland before my family moved to Whangarei.  A product of WBHS, I followed my father’s footsteps in the Navy as a Seaman Officer, but before too long I found myself back in Northland dairy farming.  As a young father I was keen to join the Police, essentially to contribute to making the community a better place to bring up my children.

Navy farming and the Police. I like MPs who have had some real life experience.

My career in the police shadowed the introduction of Pure Methamphetamine (or P) into NZ, an area I developed and expertise in, but while working on squads running undercover and electronic surveillance operations I literally saw NZ explode from virtually no P problem to the worst in the world within 5 years.   

Our well-developed drug culture saw us primed for the only hard drug in the world that can be made on your kitchen bench from readily available retail chemicals.

Those 5 years have changed NZ forever and led me to the conclusion that the fight needed to go back to the top of the cliff.  Quite simply Mr Speaker I knew we wouldn’t win the war trying to heal the wounded.

This desire to find a better way gave rise to MethCon Group, a drug education and policy company I founded and operated from 2006.  The mission was simple; empower employers, students and community with education while looking for policy solutions to help provide government with better tools. …

Mr Speaker, while there are some who would say I am a one-trick-pony, here to further the anti-drug cause, far from it, my journey into politics has come about as an evolution of many professional experiences leading me to the conclusion that if one wants to support their community and nation to reach its real potential there is a need to be around the tables where the decisions that most affect our communities are being made.

The reality is Mr Speaker, my efforts with the P issue demonstrate more my on-going willingness to try to make a difference than my focus on that particular issue alone.  Much like my son, I just wanted to try and find solutions, while many others were finding ways to tolerate the problem.

And then more generally:

Personal responsibility, the very source from which self-respect springs is intrinsically related to the individual’s willingness to accept responsibility over one’s own life.  To do so is to give value, purpose and freedom to the soul.  To refuse it leaves a hole from which the spirit of the individual will slowly but surely drain.

Yet years of socialist ideology, welfarism which has evolved to provide perverse incentives to opt out and the insidious encroachment of government on the minds and lives of citizens has seen the notion of personal responsibility pilloried like it were the ramblings of capitalist zealots.

This country is Gods own yet we condemn many innocent children to abuse, neglect and homicide.  For a generation we have vainly sought solutions, largely ignoring the fact that we have created a culture which too easily traps parents in welfare, who often through no fault of their own, lack even the most basic of life skills and for whom personal responsibility is an unnecessary and irrelevant commodity surpassed by a sea of social agencies that seek to provide what they will now never have to.

Mr Speaker too often we have become consumed with addressing the symptoms of these very problems  while failing to challenge the cause of them, something that often requires courage and honesty in uncomfortable amounts, but nonetheless something in my view New Zealanders expect of its leaders.  To that end, I’d like to commend the work being done by the Minister of Social Development in this particular area.

Hear hear.

The full speech is after the break.

(more…)

Tags: ,

Maiden Speeches

February 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Thanks to the Whips Office for a schedule of maiden speeches. Generally maiden and valedictory speeches are amongst the best in Parliament as you get to hear what motivates MPs, and their backgrounds. One can tune into them on Parliament TV.

The schedule at present is:

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tracey Martin 4.30 pm
Andrew Williams 4.45 pm
Richard Prosser 5.00 pm
Brendan Horan 5.15 pm
Denis O’Rourke 5.30 pm
Asenati Lole-Taylor 5.45 pm

Thursday, 9 February 2011

Mike Sabin 5.45 pm

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Labour Party members (David Clark, Andrew Little, Rino Tirikatene, Megan Woods) from 5.00 pm to 6.00 pm

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Green Party members (Steffan Browning, Julie Anne Genter, Jan Logie, Mojo Mathers, Denise Roche, Eugenie Sage, Holly Walker) from 4.15 pm to 6.00 pm

Thursday, 16 February 2012

National Party members (Maggie Barry, Ian McKelvie, Mark Mitchell, Simon O’Connor, Scott Simpson, Jian Yang) from 4.00 pm

Tags: ,