Key’s first speech as Leader

John Key has delivered his first speech as Party Leader. It’s a very good introduction to the new Leader and what his beliefs are. I recommend people read the entire speech, but below anyway are the parts that struck me the most:

You may know that before entering politics I had a career in international finance. That career was sufficiently successful that from time to time the media likes to question me about what I might be “worth”.

Such questions imply that in the totality of my life, my investments are the most important assets I have accrued. How wrong that is. As a husband and father, the things I value most in life are not anything you’ll see listed on the Stock Exchange.

I support families. In modern New Zealand they come in many shapes and sizes, so let me tell you that I for one will not pre-judge the construction of them. They are in my view the most important institution in our society, and any government I have the privilege of leading will do what it can to support them.

My father died when I was a young child. I do not remember him.I was raised, along with my sisters, by my mother, in a state house in Christchurch. Back then I thought I was poor and, by most standards, we were. As I grew up, though, I recognised that what my mother gave to my sisters and I was far more valuable than money.

She instilled in us the desire to improve ourselves by our own hard work, the confidence that we were able to do it, and the hope that it was possible to do so. She instilled in me an ethic of hard work and determination and a genuine belief that “you get out of life what you put into it”.

There will always be a social welfare system in New Zealand because you can measure a society by how it looks after its most vulnerable. Once, I was one of them. I will never turn my back on that.

Yet, also, you can measure a society by how many vulnerable people it creates – people who are able to work, and able to take responsibility for their own lives and their children’s lives, yet end up depending long-term on the State.

The government, of course, has an important role to play in the modern economy. But the appropriate role for the government is in the background, not in the foreground. We need to improve the regulatory and institutional conditions under which firms operate, and then step back and let them establish, grow, export and hire staff.

I am by nature an optimistic person. I am, after all, a Blues supporter. [DPF – heh]

If you are looking for a guide to my political philosophy then I suggest you look no further than the core values and principles of the Party.

Personal freedom, individual responsibility, a competitive economy, and support for families and communities are the very principles under which the party was formed 70 years ago, and they are as relevant today as they were then.

The National Party will always believe in one standard of citizenship and I want to make this very clear to you today.Yet within that standard of citizenship we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand.

Maori are the tangata whenua of this country, and we have nothing to fear by acknowledging that. It is part of what makes New Zealand unique. I welcome the Maori renaissance, and some of the great initiatives like the kohanga reo movement which have come from Maori, for Maori.

It is a mystery to me why the political Left acts as if it has a monopoly on environmental policies, when it is obvious to anyone who cares to look that all of us, across the political spectrum, with the exception perhaps of the Greens, have taken too long to put the protection of our environment at the forefront of our thinking.

That needs to change. In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps.

I hope this gives you a brief overview of some of the core principles that motivate me as Leader of the National Party.

There is much, much more to come, and I relish the challenge of building the policies and vision that will help create for New Zealand a more dynamic future.

Again I think it was a very good speech. It set out some differences between National and Labour, yet very nicely got away good messages on welfare, education, family and ethnic diversity and the environment.

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