NZ NATIONAL PARTY 63rd ANNUAL CONFERENCEPrime Minister
My Values, National's Values, New Zealand's Values
Here's to winners!
Winners have goals. They're achievers. They do the work. They take the tough decisions. They know the satisfaction of having completed a task. They know how to plan ahead.
Winners are willing to take a stand.
National is a winner. We stand for something, not against everything.
All New Zealand can all be winners.
We have a great and historic opportunity ahead of us. I intend to take it.
To do that, we must all be brave. We must be audacious. We must tap every ounce of passion in this great party. And we must work day and night until election day.
We must utterly convince all New Zealanders that we're on the way to making a better tomorrow for everyone and that National is the only party that can deliver for them.
There's a contest on!
It's about leadership in what we value. It's about leadership in what we've achieved in nine successful years in government.
It's about leadership in our plans for the future.
These areas of leadership will be the defining areas of debate this year.
New Zealanders must make a choice - a positive future with us or the narrow, controlling, negative ideas of the others.
National's values are based on respect, commitment and responsibility. And, in a party that has regenerated itself, we cherish fresh ideas and innovation.
These are the core of our values.
We're loyal and passionate New Zealanders.
We value diversity in our people.
We believe in freedom and personal responsibility.
We're committed to delivering important key services to New Zealanders.
We respect the law; we expect it to state clearly what is right and wrong.
We're passionate about our unique environment and are determined to manage it well.
We strive to avoid unnecessary restrictions on people's lives and businesses.
We're outward-looking people who have strong and defining views about trade and foreign policy.
We want everyone to reach their full potential through a world-beating education system.
We value people who have great ideas and who take the risks to make them work for New Zealand.
We value families. We want to strengthen them because they're the most important and influential institution in society.
These are the values that drew me to the National Party.
These are the values at the heart of the future for our country.
These are the values of many New Zealand families, including my own.
New Zealanders want leadership that expresses strong, clear values confidently and decisively.
They value our economic leadership. They value our commitment to personal responsibility.
Our values are New Zealanders' values.
They don't want politically-correct hand-wringing.
Nine Successful Years
National's leadership in the 90s has created a new New Zealand. They've been nine demanding but successful years.
We succeeded economically and socially. We did what had to be done and we're proud of the results.
We are now a more self-assured New Zealand in every respect.
Our economy has grown by 22 percent in real terms.
We've created 600 jobs a week.
We've destroyed the scourge of inflation to make life better for families and businesses.
We've got interest rates down to their lowest in 30 years so businesses and families can plan ahead.
We've invigorated the way we do business in New Zealand, with competition in once-protected areas such as transport, electricity and ACC.
We've lowered taxes because New Zealanders deserve to keep the benefits of their hard work. The take-home pay for a couple with two children on $30,000 is up by $100 a week.
We've slashed public debt, so it is no longer a burden on future generations.
We've got the controlling hand of Wellington out of the way in many areas such as education and health, so people can set their own priorities.
We've invested in our children and our young people. There are 45 percent more young people in tertiary institutions than in 1990.
We've recognised the value of early childhood education. It is lifting the prospects of more than 160,000 children now.
We're spending 30 percent more on health, so 30,000 more New Zealanders are getting operations, and we're meeting areas of need such as free healthcare for under sixes.
We've provided free glasses for children of middle and low income families so all children can see to learn to read.
We've massively increased the range of services and support provided to older people who wish to remain in their homes.
We've significantly increased the amount people can retain if they go into long-term care.
We've increased the number of police on the street by almost 900 so New Zealanders can feel safe. We've finally turned the tide of crime. Over the last three years, the crime rate has dropped by 6 percent.
We've settled grievances between Maori and the Crown so we can look forward, not backwards.
We've made huge progress in conservation, saving indigenous species, opening marine reserves, clearing up polluted areas, extending national parks and preserving native bush, because that matters to New Zealanders.
We've provided stable and responsible government in a challenging MMP environment which has enabled New Zealand to recover well from the Asian crisis.
Our record has lifted New Zealanders' sights.
We have been bold. Much was expected. Much has been delivered.
Our plans for the future are also bold.
What We'll Fight to Retain
Leadership in modern politics is about what's valuable and important. We'll be bold about saying what we'll fight to retain.
We've made huge breakthroughs. New Zealanders don't want them reversed.
I want New Zealanders to know the key areas of difference so they can give us their party vote to retain them.
National is passionate about education. It unlocks the key to a child's future.
We've changed the culture in education. We've inspired far more New Zealand mums and dads to get their children to pre-school so they are ready to learn.
We've recognised the value of teachers, with equal pay for primary and secondary teachers with similar qualifications.
We've increased salaries for teachers and we've set standards, because they matter to children and parents alike. We're brave enough to believe in excellence.
We've allowed parents and teachers to set the priorities for their school within the framework of a modernised curriculum.
We've allowed schools to choose to have total control over their budgets. An increasing number are taking up that challenge because they value the freedom and the opportunities it provides.
We've introduced simple but important programmes to see that every child will be reading, writing and doing maths by age nine.
We've asked New Zealand mums and dads to help by spending more time being involved in their children's learning. We're partners with Duffy books to get books into every New Zealand home.
Today, parents, principals and teachers ? not Wellington-based unions ? are driving the education system based on children's needs.
It's a fundamental change.
Let's not throw all that away by returning to the mediocrity and fear of excellence that our opponents' policies represent.
They don't believe in quality and choice. They want to strengthen the control of Wellington bureaucrats and teacher unions.
National will fight to retain the gains because they mean so much for New Zealand parents and children.
Solving Problems Early
New Zealand families do a great job raising their children. Most succeed well without intervention from government, but some don't.
Sometimes the government needs to get involved.
We've put the people and resources at the top of the cliff.
We expect results.
Family Start is a wonderful example. It identifies at-risk families at the birth of the child. It provides an intensive service, tailor-made for the family's needs to help them to address their problems. It expects and delivers results.
We're also using early intervention in health, in social workers in schools and in prisons. And it's working.
Today people can be confident that families are receiving the support they require. This will make a massive difference in the future.
It requires government to dare to say some families need support and need to change.
Labour and Alliance call this important approach judgmental. We call it common sense.
Welfare that Works
New Zealanders believe in a decent, fair and responsive welfare system for people in need. They want hard work and initiative to be required and rewarded.
We believe we must encourage New Zealanders to strive for well-being and independence.
National has brought its values into to welfare. We want all New Zealanders to have a strong sense of self-respect and self-discipline, particularly toward work.
We've been at work on it throughout the 1990s. And we are delivering.
It's been dramatic work. It's been contentious work, but it's been right.
A job seeker in New Zealand today doesn't just get a welfare cheque thrust into their hand. They get supported financially, but they also get challenged to work for their own future.
Work-testing is unlocking new hope in people who have up until now been relegated to the queues. We sit down with job seekers and help them plan their lives. For some who have lost the work ethic we help them reconnect through community work.
There's a new attitude emerging. And there's been a transformation in our welfare agencies.
It is very symbolic that as we end 1999 the Department of Social Welfare will go out of existence.
Work and Income New Zealand now responds to New Zealanders' real needs. The Child Youth and Family Department is about to be established to help families do a good job with their children.
New Zealanders want social services to foster independence, not dependency, to create survivors, not victims.
National is committed to continue to walk beside those in need. And we'll expect them to use the taxpayers' assistance well.
To guide our priorities, we will establish by year's end a new Ministry of Social Policy to do policy work for government. Work and Income Service and the Child and Family Service will deliver services for the New Zealand people. This completes the picture.
The Social Welfare Department of yesterday is not part of tomorrow. That shift is a highly symbolic circuit breaker for New Zealand. From a half-empty glass to a half-full one.
Labour and Alliance have opposed this important change every step of the way. They are wrong!
New Zealanders want to reject the debilitating dependency culture. They want us to promote and reward independence. National has had the courage to make the change.
People looking for work want real jobs.
The new jobs we're creating don't just happen by accident.
While improved business conditions, lower interest rates and inflation have made a difference, the Employment Contracts Act has fundamentally changed the culture of the New Zealand workplace.
More full-time and part-time jobs have been created because of its flexibility.
Families like the flexibility of individual contracts as they balance work and family responsibilities.
People like closer relationships within their workplace, rather than relying on unionists from outside dictating terms and creating conflicts.
We're reducing the cost and ease of doing business across the board.
I warn New Zealanders that Labour and the Alliance promise to repeal the ECA and return us to a unionised workforce. They would lead New Zealand to more strikes, lost jobs, increased costs of doing business and less international competitiveness.
New Zealanders have always believed in the right to improve their lot through hard work.
National has encouraged everyone to do that.
National will fight to see that New Zealanders understand what's at stake here and seek their support.
Tax, Spending, Debt Repayment
Hard-working New Zealand families want to know the deal. National has been careful to deliver responsible and balanced policies.
As we reap the dividend of growth we'll do three things.
We'll continue to pay off our mortgage ? debt repayment gives future generations a fair chance.
We'll increase our spending on things that are important to New Zealanders like health, education, policing and research and science.
We'll share the growth dividend by providing tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders.
We'll do these things as surplus income allows. As we consider tax reductions they will always be balanced by an equal or greater commitment to spending increases in priority areas.
This approach is responsible. It rewards New Zealanders for their efforts. It meets New Zealanders' concerns.
Labour and Alliance are both committed to putting tax up and spending outrageous amounts of taxpayers' money.
They would harm New Zealand's international competitiveness. Businesses would leave. Bright young graduates would look elsewhere. Interest rates would rise, hurting families and businesses.
New Zealanders have a stark voting choice on tax and spending.
The Treasurer, Bill English, will lay out our plans and priorities tomorrow. The choice for New Zealanders will be significant.
Competition and Choice
National believes New Zealanders deserve the best the world can offer, at the best prices.
We need the wealth creators if we are to have prosperity and security as a people.
It comes down to what encourages people to invest and create jobs.
I'm proud of National's record of taking the hard calls, doing the work and delivering.
ACC has been our most recent success. Rather than a single State monopoly New Zealand now has clear rules and a number of companies competing for ACC cover.
The results are dramatic. Costs for New Zealand businesses, whether Government or private, have fallen dramatically.
Government agencies will save $52 million on ACC, which will allow that money to be spent on high quality public services. We want taxpayers' money going into things New Zealanders need.
New Zealanders care about things being run well. Business cares about getting costs down.
Labour and Alliance are promising to reverse these gains. They would deny taxpayers and business the savings.
They would deny the opportunity to put the savings we've made into health and education services.
National has shown leadership in this and other economic areas. We've set the agenda. We've delivered. New Zealanders won't vote to give this away.
Leadership is what New Zealanders are looking for in economic and in social areas.
New Zealanders have the right to safety. They worry about law and order. National Party people share their concerns.
We're interested in crime prevention, we've extended Safer Community Councils, we've increased police numbers.
We've also toughened traffic sentences so that serious repeat offenders, for example, now can instantly lose their car for 28 days rather than be a cost to Her Majesty's Service.
Since May, 2000 cars have been locked up, teaching people a lesson ? and making roads safer and saving the taxpayer court and jail costs.
We've also made it clear to judges we want them to give priority to the public's safety in some situations.
This was clear in Government's recent home invasion law where we increased sentences by five years over and above the norm if an offender committed a rape or murder after breaking into a New Zealander's home.
Labour, and in particular the Labour women, voted against this, just as they did on increasing rape sentences in the early 90s.
New Zealand women know that while Helen Clark and Phil Goff talk tough they won't act for women when they are given the opportunity.
Over the next five years, we've some important plans to keep crime coming down. We'll target the areas that are bucking the trend.
National has a terrific record on law and order. Let's not let the Opposition or the public forget it.
An Outward-Looking New Zealand
National people have never been afraid to say what they believe is right or wrong. We shown that in our attitudes to New Zealand and the world.
As Don McKinnon will show you tomorrow, we've been enormously active as peacekeepers in the last nine years in many parts of the world.
We are also courageous enough to be peacemakers when that's necessary.
National people are not the appeasers of this world. We are prepared to stand up and say when a Milosevic emerges that it's unacceptable and must be stopped. Not just for the sake of it, but for the sake of the things we believe in.
Tiny as we may be in world affairs, we believe New Zealand has a voice to be heard. That's why we're backing Don McKinnon so strongly in his bid to become Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Having New Zealanders in key world positions does heaps for our standing on the world stage.
Our attitude has won New Zealand enormous respect over the last nine years. It's given us an international standing far beyond our size.
Involvement in the wider world is not just a gesture for New Zealand. It is part of our survival.
We generate our wealth by trading with the world. That is why it is so vital that we're committed to efforts like APEC and Mike Moore's bid for the WTO job.
Every effort like that stands to open new doors for New Zealand exporters. That means more trade. It means more jobs.
National people genuinely want to improve New Zealanders' prosperity.
That's been the way throughout our history and it's the way now.
Our best prospects in the future will depend on exporting the brilliant innovations and ideas and products and services that New Zealanders can offer. Adding value in existing production and services. Establishing new high-value products and selling them well.
We need customers. We need to work with others to get better access to those customers and to bring down the barriers.
Forums like APEC and the WTO are vital for New Zealand.
We have won a great deal. Challenges remain. If we are challenged we will act to defend New Zealand's export rights to sell - just as we are now with the US on lamb.
In the interests of New Zealanders the direction must clearly still be forward and we're determined to be there.
Labour, on the other hand, reckons the steam has gone out of free trade. Alliance is downright opposed. Both would damage New Zealand's exports!
Hear what they are saying: they want a bunker mentality that would put up prices for New Zealanders. They don't want middle-income families getting cheaper clothes, cheaper cars, more choice.
Trade liberalisation does bring change but it's change for the better and will improve the lives of people in New Zealand and abroad.
We'll continue to fight for progress because free trade brings jobs and growth and prosperity. The National Party has always stood for those. We stand for them today.
Leadership is not only about being bold enough to fight to retain the gains, it's about having big plans for the future.
We've built a great platform. We're using it to move forward on every front.
We have the direction and the destination clearly in sight.
We've got a new generation of experienced Ministers who have programmes and plans under way that will take New Zealand forward over the next five years.
We're building a better New Zealand. Leveraging off our economic advantages in the tourism, agricultural and manufacturing and service sectors, but also adding the best of what a knowledge-based economy can bring.
We want to lift our sights to five percent growth a year. As we do so real incomes will increase, businesses will establish and expand in New Zealand. The tax take will increase, providing us with the choices we need.
Our good economic management will deliver. Our careful fiscal policy will be maintained. We'll pay attention to getting the operational parts of government services under control so compliance costs will be reduced.
We'll provide graduates with the skills and attributes to back themselves, business and New Zealand.
New Zealand will be a place where people have more choice, more opportunities ? where they want to live and stay.
One where we value ideas, creativity and a fresh, open outlook - where tall poppies flourish.
Some of the steps are already under way.
Wyatt Creech, our Deputy Prime Minister, is making real progress in renewed investment in New Zealand's health sector. Services are increasing, facilities are improving.
Bill English and the finance team are working to improve business conditions and to reduce costs. And we're planning to bring down tax rates at the right time to reward hard-working New Zealanders.
Max Bradford and Bill English will soon be making some exciting announcements as a result of our work from Five Steps Ahead forums and our rural tour. It's new work. It's important for business and jobs.
John Luxton, Bill Birch and David Carter are working with agricultural businesses as they forge strategic plans for the future. We all want to get off the treadmill of agricultural commodity trading into high returns from unique consumer products.
We intend to see earnings increased for New Zealand.
We intend to see farm gate returns improve for farming families. Good progress is being made, with announcements expected soon.
Lockwood Smith and Don McKinnon will work to lift the effectiveness of New Zealand's efforts in the world.
In trade and in world affairs, we will demand to be heard. Tourism, trade, foreign affairs, education services, immigration and our wider strategic interests are on the agenda for development in a new and exciting way as we present New Zealand Incorporated in the world.
Simon Upton will show our progress on the review of the Resource Management Act. Urban and rural businesses are worried about fairness and costs in this area. You'll see progress this week when the RMA amendment is introduced.
Very soon, Simon Upton will also lay down new rules for Crown entities to make rules clear to bring an end to surprises about pay and pay outs.
Maurice Williamson will work until we have agreement on how to fund and manage New Zealand's transport system. This work is important to big projects such as sorting out greater Auckland's traffic congestion, Transmission Gully in Wellington, the dual carriage Auckland to Wellington highway and many other important projects nation-wide.
A National incoming government will implement change once final agreements are reached.
Murray McCully will complete the complex ACC reforms and turn his attention to the issues surrounding the motor vehicle account.
The social policy Ministers, Roger Sowry, Nick Smith and Wyatt Creech are serious about strengthening families. Se we have initiatives such as:
Parental tax credit.
Expanding New Start and Family Start.
Working with Maori to bring down cot death rates.
Tony Ryall and Clem Simich will see that the new approach to policing focuses on crime reduction and catching offenders.
Sir Douglas Graham and Georgina te Heuheu will make more progress on Treaty settlement issues so that the majority of this work can be completed in our next term.
Marie Hasler will unveil our culture and heritage strategy which will put our unique stamp on securing and developing New Zealand's identity.
Nick Smith intends to give even more freedom to communities to manage their education systems, and he's working to get the best information technology into every New Zealand school by year's end.
Our children will have the best of modern facilities and the best qualified, paid and motivated teachers we can attract because it matters.
Max Bradford is working with the tertiary education sector to make it more in tune with the research, science and technology sector and the business sector to help New Zealand catch the next wave of growth.
We need to have the best ideas machine in the world, so we can help our productive and service sectors get the best possible ideas and turn them into high value products for New Zealand.
And expect further action in the labour market. We are still not satisfied we have removed all the barriers to increasing employment. An incoming National government will change the personal grievance provision, so there's less risk for employers when they create new jobs and give new workers a chance.
We'll also review the Employment Court to see that we're not inhibiting the labour market, while still protecting workers' rights.
As an incoming government we'll give New Zealanders a vote on whether we stick with MMP, change it or return to FPP. We need to settle this issue in the country's interests.
And much much more which you'll hear about over this weekend, coming weeks and during the campaign.
We're a party with a brilliant record. But we're also a party that has rejuvenated itself where others have failed to do so.
We've managed the complexity of minority government and despite the regular, empty predictions of government collapse, we have delivered major improvement in our programmes and renewed security, prosperity and growth for New Zealand.
New Zealanders overwhelmingly want the direction we're heading in.
The Choice Ahead
Our task now is to go out from this conference and make sure every voter knows the reality of the choice they must make about their future.
This really is a fork in the road election.
New Zealand can go forward to greater freedom and more choice. Or go back to big government, State control and Wellington knows best.
We can commit ourselves to a smarter, higher performing economy that will give every New Zealander the chance to be better off. Or settle for mediocre, low-growth second best.
We can let New Zealanders reap the benefits of recovery by lowering their taxes. Or allow them to take far more of New Zealanders' hard-earned income and spend it for them.
We can reap the benefits of flexibility and job growth that the Employment Contracts Act has created. Or return to union control and a stagnant job market.
We can cut businesses' costs through lower ACC charges that are already coming through. Or let the others nationalise workplace insurance, crowd out health insurance and increase costs for everyone.
We can respect the security of New Zealanders with a strong police force, effective laws and support for families in trouble. Or watch the others wring their hands and say criminals must be understood.
We can demand excellence in education and give every child the chance to make it. Or let the system sink to the lowest common denominator.
We can continue the momentum for freer, fairer trade. Or erect barriers that will deny New Zealanders their right to prosperity.
New Zealand can have its say on world issues, and stand up for what is right and wrong. Or retreat to isolationism and the cold shoulder treatment from international powers.
Ladies and gentlemen, there isn't a political organisation in the country as large as this. There isn't a political party that is as in-touch as we are with the New Zealand people.
Their hopes, their dreams, their concerns, those of the National Party.
We owe it to New Zealand to let the winners come through.
We've set the agenda.
Let's go out and win for New Zealand.
A better tomorrow begins today.