THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ADJOURNMENT DEBATEPrime Minister
I move, That this House do now adjourn until 26 October 1999.
Mr Speaker, today we end a historic session of this Parliament - our first MMP Parliament. It obviously has been New Zealand's biggest electoral change this century and has created a Parliament much larger and more diverse than ever before.
I believe most New Zealanders believe that the representation in this parliament is much enhanced. However the question of whether the governance of this nation has improved is still under question.
I am very proud that this Government has gone full term, and we have ensured the prosperity and security of New Zealand has improved.
But questions do remain over MMP and I want to repeat in this House this morning that National is committed to inviting all New Zealanders to debate this issue and vote on it to settle New Zealand's electoral questions once and for all, prior to the end of the next three year term.
Mr Speaker, this year has been an action packed one, whichever way you look at it.
We are recovering from the Asia crisis, we have also recovered from two very severe droughts.
And this, Mr Speaker, has been through the outstanding efforts of most New Zealanders driving their businesses forward and creating jobs. It's been because of their sheer stamina and determination and also their faith in New Zealand at large.
Mr Speaker, this Government is very proud of those with positive attitudes. Not the whingers on the other side of this House.
Mr Speaker, we applaud success. And I want to acknowledge the members on this side of the House who have spent every single waking hour in the recent months, and indeed the last three years, trying to see that New Zealand's prospects have been improved.
This morning, Mr Speaker, I want to remind the House of some of these successes.
Today, we do have competition in ACC and many, many employers have many hundreds of millions of dollars extra which they are now investing in new jobs to the benefit of all New Zealanders. Mr Speaker, this is a very significant step forward which we are determined not to see reversed.
Mr Speaker, we have also worked closely with stakeholders to improve New Zealand's roading network. I welcome the announcement last week of Transfund New Zealand where they say quite clearly, we have far more money that we can spend on roading projects and might I say I also welcome the Leader of the Opposition's recently found enthusiasm for roading reform, having opposed it for the last three years.
We've launched the Bright Future package that is going to assist New Zealanders to catch the next wave of growth.
And we have also had huge success in APEC, firmly putting its programme back on track. It will actually ensure a secure and freer trading system that will benefit New Zealanders and certainly will bring more jobs for the New Zealand people.
Mr Speaker, I want to note the bilateral progress in trading agreements as well. It is notable that we are now looking at a free trade agreement between Singapore and Chile, and also perhaps one that will include America and Australia.
Mr Speaker, the Opposition may bay but this Government has put its mind to creating real jobs and real opportunities and I note that this year there has been huge progress and it offers real hope for the future that this progress can be achieved. That is because of the relationships that Ministers have forged and it is because of the farsighted nature of this Government's programme.
Mr Speaker, we lobbied hard to put up Mike Moore, and I am personally thrilled that he now has one of the most internationally important jobs world wide.
We've also addressed the obstacles that we face swiftly, and I am pleased to say that [the] President [of the United States of America] did eat a large amount of lamb while he was in New Zealand and we will work through this dispute in the WTO concerning New Zealand's lamb trade.
We have also addressed the difficult issues of Producer Board reform, and again, against the baying Opposition who constantly want to lock people in their current circumstances, National has been prepared to ask people to look ahead and I am personally grateful to those in the agricultural community who picked up this challenge and I think you are going to make a profound difference in terms of the prosperity of the agricultural sector because of your willingness to work with the Government. Again I note that the Opposition opposed almost every single one of these measures.
Mr Speaker, we've taken vital decisions in relation to hospitals for Auckland and Wellington, [that] will be progressed in the next two or three years and thankfully these debates are now finally behind us.
We've invested in Family Start so that many more families are included and are helped to overcome their serious problems where they exist.
We've made real progress on Treaty claims. Mr Speaker, it is important that we try and heal the sores of the past in order to allow us to contemplate a far better future.
We've introduced many, many programmes that will enhance prospects for Maori, programmes in housing, programmes in education, programmes in fitness and leisure and also in business start-up programmes.
Mr Speaker, we have also been much, much tougher on criminals. We have set in place much longer sentences for home invasion, because New Zealanders will not tolerate the sanctity of their homes being undermined. And again I note Phil Goff interjecting. I am not surprised - he has opposed almost every single one of these measures in this Parliament that is trying to see that crime is brought down.
Mr Speaker I am very proud that as we meet in this House for the last time, we actually are presiding over a country where crime is coming down, and even as recently as this week we have taken further measures that will see the tapping of prisoners telephones, which again is expected to give a significant boost to the reduction of crime in New Zealand.
We've put more police on the streets and we have also got eight crack crime units that are dealing with the hot spots where crime is bucking the nationwide trend.
Mr Speaker, we have also had a concerted effort in the conservation area. There are now more marine reserves in place, we have ended the Buller overcut and put a sustainable forestry strategy in place.
Mr Speaker, I note in the House today that while the Labour Opposition are very pleased to deny people jobs on the West Coast and claim that they are 'green', they have not been prepared to see the Hauraki Marine Reserve put into the Auckland area, because there is such a population there. I say to the Opposition - you can't be green on the West Coast and then not be green in Auckland because of the population.
Mr Speaker, we have also had very good business conditions that have allowed people in business and people who want to own their own homes, to do well. And I remind this House that New Zealanders have enjoyed the lowest interest rates in 30 years and they care about that and they are grateful to the Government.
They have also received tax reductions so they have more money in their pockets and they are grateful for that.
Mr Speaker I am very proud of the forward momentum.
Mr Speaker, it is interesting that the Opposition are very reluctant to acknowledge this this morning.
Mr Speaker, as we end this session it is important to acknowledge those colleagues who will not be coming back.
I want to first mention Sir William Birch. He arrived in 1972 and since then he's had all sorts of names - Mr Fix It, Mr Think Big, the king of the Razor Gang and lots more that I won't repeat in this House this morning. I simply want to say to Bill Birch, he is going to be hard to replace. He has made an outstanding contribution to this country. I wish him very well.
There are many who speculate how long it will be before Bill picks up the phone to give us instructions. Mr Speakers, others speculate whether it will be just a matter of time, that we pick up the phone and ring him. But Sir William has made a notable contribution to New Zealand politics.
To Sir Douglas Graham, I simply say you will leave deep footprints that the sand, such that the tide will not erase them. No politician in this country has done more to settle Treaty of Waitangi grievances. I believe that future generations of both Maori and Pakeha will owe him a debt. He dared us to look back in order that we could look forward, and I wish he and Bev well. I know that many New Zealanders do at this time.
Mr Speaker, Denis Marshall, Joy Quigley, Peter Gresham and Roger Maxwell have all been highly valued and dedicated members of the National team. All of them go on to their retirement and their respective careers and I know the Parliamentary team on this side wishes them well in the future.
Parliament will certainly be less colourful without John Banks. He moved us yesterday, as he has often, with his clear views and passionate values. I say that there are not many people on this side of the House who have such conviction in terms of what the National Party stands for, and I know that John will continue to espouse these principles even long after he leaves this House.
To Christine Fletcher, she also has decided to take a career shift running the city of Auckland. She has been very individualistic within our caucus. I, Sir, can confirm that in this House today. Chris I wish you well in your chosen career.
Mr Speaker, we say farewell, too, to some of our partners in Government such as Jack Elder and Peter McCardle. In particular to Jack Elder, Mr Speaker, I wish him well in terms of the issues that face his family at this time, and also Peter McCardle for the work that he has done not only the National Party historically but also as an independent Member and Minister. They both have made valuable contributions.
Mr Speaker to people like Derek Quigley, who to put it mildly has had an extraordinary political career, I simply say goodbye. I do not agree with his home guard approach to defence but I do acknowledge that he has been diligent in the way in which he has put the case to this Parliament.
To Patricia Schnauer I say farewell and best wishes for the future. I am personally very sorry that Patricia has chosen to retire. In my opinion she has been one of the outstanding women members in this Parliament, and I wish you well for your future.
To Larry Sutherland, a fellow Cantabrian, I wish you well in your retirement. Larry is a person who has always worked hard for the people of Canterbury and I know that many of them will miss him.
To other Members who are retiring, I wish you well.
I also acknowledge Don McKinnon for while he is not making his valedictory in this Parliament because he has not yet resigned, it is our earnest hope that he does succeed in his campaign to become Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
That campaign is on track and I hope that at some stage in the future Members of this Parliament will be congratulating him on that success. He has been an outstanding Foreign Minister, and I have no doubt that if he does achieve this goal he will serve in that role with the same degree of outstanding success that we have come to know from him.
Mr Speakers, those that are not returning to this Parliament through electoral processes, again I wish you well.
In my experience people come to this Parliament with the best of intentions and we then go to the electorate to be judged - all of us in the next eight weeks have to talk about what we hope we can achieve and also what we have achieved for the people of New Zealand.
I want to thank those who worked with the Government this year - to people like Tau Henare and his team. Tau has made a difference to New Zealand politics and he will continue to do so in the future. To Richard Prebble and the ACT members, again you have attempted to keep us honest in your own way, and I acknowledge that they have been exciting discussions but worthwhile. Mr Speaker, to Peter Dunne and the United Team, again Peter I thank you for your diligence as a Member of Parliament and also your support for the Government. It has been valued and extremely worth while.
To Tuariki Delamere and also to Peter McCardle as independent Members, I thank you for your support, and also to Alamein Kopu. Alamein Kopu, Mr Speaker, came to this Parliament with an experience that none of us can match and I have, as I have come to know her, grown in my respect for her. Mr Speaker she has made a difference in this Parliament and she has spoken for a group of people who would otherwise not have been represented.
Mr Speaker, I want to conclude my comments this morning by thanking those in Parliament who make the system work.
Mr Speaker, thank you for your oversight of this House, [which] you've done with flair, generally with good temper, and I think in a very even handed way.
Mr Speaker, to The Clerk of the House and his officers, thank you for your wise counsel.
To the select committee staff who have worked so hard to get through the mountains of work, we again thank you for that.
To the Librarians, gardeners, the MPs' staff, messengers, catering staff, cleaners and many more who make the system work - again thank you for your service in what has been another long but important term in this Parliament.
Finally to the VIP drivers and to my personal staff and other Ministerial staff, again I thank you for your constant ability to serve the public interest. And my staff in particular I thank you for the long hours that you have been prepared to put in in support of myself and the Government.
I look to the press gallery and I thank those of you because you are in fact the public's eyes and ears on this institution. It's a weighty responsibility. Thank you to those of you who have faithfully reported the news rather than trying to create it.
Finally, Mr Speaker, to the Opposition. You have done your job well. You have opposed almost every good idea that has been brought to this Parliament, and I guess if you take that point of view then you have succeeded. But I heard someone recently Mr Speaker, describe the Opposition as a group of whingers and bingers. Mr Speaker, [they] have whinged about every single thing that has happened in this country to the point that [they] are part of the problem not part of the solution, and I as a remedy to that [they] have been prepared to try and buy [their] way into favour with anybody who has been prepared to listen. Mr Speaker, they don't like it. The Opposition as you would expect has been negative about most things, they are planning to spend up large on yesterday's ideas and I want them to know that we on this side intend to spend the next eight weeks blocking you as you attempt to take New Zealand backward.
Mr Speaker, this country has no desire to go backward. They want to go forward to prosperity and security. And this next eight weeks is a contest for the future of this country. It is a contest that we on this side intend to win.