Campaign summary speechPrime Minister
Centra Hotel, Christchurch
On Saturday New Zealand must choose a Government for the new century.
The choice is clear. There are stark and striking differences. Builders or wreckers.
National is building a future for our country and our people.
One where we succeed because of our collective efforts - not pandering to favourites.
One that is international and future focussed - not looking inward and backward.
One where work increases, wages increase, disposable incomes increase. Where taxes and interest rates are low and opportunity abounds.
One where we can care for each other, but in doing so, encourage people to plan for the future - to be independent to be free and well equipped to make the right choices.
National can do this honestly, realistically and with credibility because we have the record, in contrast to Labour, and that matters.
Consider the striking differences.
National ends its last two years since I've been Prime Minister having come through serious droughts and the crippling Asian financial crisis, with an economy that's taking off.
* There's real job growth.
* There's real wage growth.
* There are tax reductions.
* There are expanding social services.
* There is reducing debt.
* There are balanced books.
Government spending is under control! Yes under control.
When Labour left office and Clark and Cullen were there:
* There was a bleak economic outlook.
* Labour had just put up GST and the economy stalled.
* There was no wage growth.
* Helen Clark was shutting hospitals and reducing health expenditure.
* We were not paying our way.
Government management and expenditure was out of control.
Cullen who wants to be Treasurer, and who was then Social Welfare Minister, had authorised $303 million of unappropriated expenditure in the hope that he could avoid electoral defeat.
The incoming Government had to clean up the mess - a serious mess of Labour's making - and lift New Zealand back to its current strong, position.
New Zealanders must remember Cullen's record! He was a hopeless manager. His management of the Welfare Vote makes a mockery of Helen Clark, and Cullen is beating his chest about public sector management and Ministerial performance and responsibility.
No Minister in my Government would ever get away with such shoddy management as Cullen and Labour are guilty of.
There are other striking differences.
Under National, we've got New Zealand working again. We've seen 285,000 new jobs established. Labour destroyed 80,000 jobs while in office.
Let's not go back.
National has achieved growth of 3% a year in the 1990s. Labour achieved virtually no growth from 1984 to 1990.
Let's not go back.
National's got interest rates down to the lowest levels since 1971. Families with mortgages benefit. Businesses benefit. Under Labour mortgage rates were at 20%.
No New Zealand family wants to go back to that.
But life isn't just about growth, debt, jobs and interest rates, though because of National's success in managing these, we have more to share as New Zealanders.
But we've also been able to leave more in New Zealanders' back pockets.
Especially those who need it most - families.
We've delivered tax cuts and tax credits. Low income families - say someone on $400 a week with three kids - is now $74 a week better off, that's over $3800 a year. For families that's worthwhile.
About 120,000 families get payments every fortnight straight from the IRD.
We have reduced taxes on low-income families to the point where, someone with three kids had to be earning about $31,000 a year before they pay any income tax.
Labour voted against these changes. They want to put taxes up.
They voted against those families getting tax cuts in 1996 and 1998, and they don't want them to get any more money next year.
National also forged ahead in health.
Since 1991 for every household in New Zealand we have increased spending on health services by $1265. Helen Clark reduced health spending per capita.
National has also forged ahead in Education.
For every household with children, spending on education has increased by $1080. Labour doesn't share that commitment. They left $600 million of school property maintenance to be addressed. National has delivered.
National understands New Zealanders worry about their security. We've put 900 more police on our streets. We've toughened the law.
Labour reduced police numbers and opposed every step of our tough criminal law changes. National's got crime coming down.
This is at the heart of making things better for people. Getting jobs, cutting taxes, lower interest rates, leaving more money in families' pockets and delivering better essential social services.
That's what we're going to keep doing.
Out on the campaign trail, New Zealanders make it clear they don't want to have to rely on the Government for things they can do themselves, they don't want the Government on their backs, and they don't want unions telling them how to work.
And that's what we're about in the National Party. We are out to make sure there's a way ahead for New Zealanders.
That's not about paying benefits. That's about making sure there are jobs and that people's pay isn't all taken back by the Government.
National knows people work hard for their money. We want them to be able to keep as much of it as possible.
We want them to spend it on their family the way they want, not the way the Government tells them to. We want to give New Zealanders the best possible chance to stand on their own feet.
And if you want the best possible chance to stand on your own feet, then I ask you to lift your eyes and look to what New Zealand offers.
New Zealand is poised to do well. National and New Zealanders together have got us to this point. Don't let's put this at risk. Unstable government could destroy our opportunity.
A vote for National with your party vote locks in the rewards for our efforts. A vote for any other party could destroy this.
Consider the options with National:
* 4% growth per annum in the next two years.
* 115,000 new jobs in the next three years, in addition to the 285,000 already created.
* Unemployment down to 5.8% by 2002, lower than Australia and most of the other leading economies.
* Further tax cuts for every New Zealander earning more than $200 a week, rewarding hard working middle New Zealand.
* Reducing the business rate of tax from 33 cents to 30 cents, to keep us competitive with Australia and to encourage businesses to invest and grow.
* Making the same reduction in our top rate of personal tax to help keep our brightest and best in New Zealand, and
* An absolute commitment to spend a dollar on high quality social services for every dollar we return by way of tax reductions, so we can share the success of a growing economy.
This outlook is not something to take for granted.
National has made New Zealand one of the best countries in the world to do business. No other party can guarantee you this. If Labour puts up personal and fringe benefit tax to 39 cents as they propose to do, it will slam the brakes on growth and jobs.
It they reverse ACC changes, they will put up the costs of doing business by $200 million and will put New Zealanders out of jobs. If they repeal the ECA, it will reduce jobs, not increase them.
I ask you. Do you think Labour, the Alliance and the Greens have any of the skills required to keep us one of the best countries to do business?
They offer you Jim Anderton as their business expert. The only experience he has of doing business is back in the days when tariffs and import licensing held businesses back. It's hardly surprising he wants to go back to tariffs; that's all he knows.
Frankly, when it comes to business, all that lot on the Left are good for is running a closed shop.
Over 40% of a likely Labour caucus have union backgrounds.
What will their contribution to our economic growth be? Repeal of the ECA, more union power, more industrial unrest, more union and Labour knows best. Don't let's go back to yesterday. New Zealanders have grown up and moved on.
National has plans for further job growth.
For our part we have a three-point plan to lift job growth even higher than the forecasts:
We will help bring down the cost of taking someone on. We have done this and will keep on at it. $200 million per year saved on the ACC alone is twice what Labour has to offer for industry development.
We will continue to encourage investment in New Zealand. We are doing this by getting our business tax and interest rates down; and
We will make sure New Zealanders have the skills businesses need. Our Bright Futures programme is investing $280 million over the next three years in better linking researcher, businesses and tertiary education. We are also setting standards in reading, writing and maths to make sure all of us can get a job and lifting adult literacy.
In the social areas we will continue to get the community and the government working together to strengthen families and break cycles of disadvantage.
In health we're building new hospitals and establishing a sound public health system, which does not want more changes. National won't mess around with the sector. We'll concentrate on delivering a modern health system with better front line services for patients.
An incoming National Government will put strong emphasis on gaining momentum in the economic and social areas.
* My first steps will be to lock in economic growth by cutting taxes for working New Zealanders. Tax cuts are at the heart of National's plans to help working families get ahead. Legislation we will pass before Christmas will mean that everyone earning more than $200 a week will pay less tax.
* We will swing into action with key elements of the Bright Future package. This will include the review of research and development and beginning a four-year programme for 4,500 scholarships jointly funded between Government and business for science and technology training.
* We will also ensure legislation is passed so that, from the next academic year, students do get a fairer student loans scheme.
* National will hold a referendum on MMP so New Zealanders can tell Parliament whether this is how they want to be governed. The last thing we need is a select committee of list MPs making a decision which is in their interests but which may not reflect the wishes of ordinary people.
* We are on target to reduce waiting times by June, to six months in five surgery specialities: cardiology; orthopaedics; gynaecology; ear nose and throat; and eyes.
* Over the next nine months Family Start - a new innovative programme for helping our most disadvantaged families - will be rolled out around the country.
* We will continue to bring Maori claims to settlement in a full and final way so all New Zealanders can look forward.
* We will continue to encourage people, and where necessary prompt them, as they move from welfare to work. National believes every job that pays more than welfare is a good job and we expect people to take up every opportunity.
This is a strong agenda for action. To get it in place we need stable government and the courage to take the steps that will help keep this country moving forward.
The last thing New Zealand now needs, or wants, is uncertainty, risk and change.
Let's stick with the policies that let the economy work.
Let's stick with some of the best social policies in the world.
Put aside the cons, the vote catching, the appeal to special interests.
Let New Zealanders have jobs.
Let working people keep their pay and have low taxes.
Let families have more money in their pockets.
Let interest rates stay low so families can buy their own homes.
Let schools meet the needs of parents and kids.
Let the health system get on with the job of delivering better services, and not have to face disruption.
New Zealand is a wonderfully successful country with brilliant and hard working people. It is not a bitter and twisted society as Helen Clark portrays.
While there are people who need our care and support, that occurs because we are successful wealth creators. It gives us the choices.
National is building a future for New Zealand. Others can destroy it.
I can offer you:
* Political stability.
* Political experience as Prime Minister.
* Decisive leadership when necessary.
* Sound economic management.
Don't take the risk of changing a winning formula. If you want the Governor General to invite me to form a Government that offers you this sort of New Zealand, give National your party vote on Saturday.
Remember a vote for any other party may install a Left wing Government.
Give National your party vote and secure a bright future for New Zealand.