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.
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? 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.