Speech by New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters: Answers - Not Rhetoric

12 April 2017

Speech by New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters
Grey Power Upper Hutt,
Hapai Club Hall,
879-881 Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt,
1.30pm, April 12, 2017

“Anywhere – or Somewhere People”


Thank you for inviting me here today.

New Zealand First acknowledges the recent passing of Max Becker – president and stalwart of Upper Hutt Grey Power for 15 years.

And our condolences to his wife, Sally, herself a great servant of Grey Power.

During his time as president Max made a point in election year to have the leaders of the political parties, address Upper Hutt Grey Power.

He told an Upper Hutt Leader reporter: “We want answers, not just election rhetoric.”

And that is why New Zealand First is here today with answers not rhetoric.

Managing the New Zealand economy

Now to economic matters.

The Prime Minister Bill English has been crowing about having a supposed operating surplus of $1.145 billion for the last seven months to January.

It’s just rhetoric that Max referred to.

There’s no substance to Mr English’s surplus claims.

You cannot have real GDP growth when that growth relies on consumerism borne of huge population growth caused by mass immigration.

You cannot have a real surplus whilst making massive cuts to essential services everywhere.

All over the country there are headlines of deficits, social and economic, while the same media carry the budget surplus propaganda sometimes on the same page and in the same news bulletin.

Mr English’s surplus is bogus made possible only by National:
• Slashing funding to health by $1.76 billion since they came to office;
• Freezing police budgets since 2009;
• Keeping education funding frozen and then cutting it each year from 2011 to 2014;
• Providing DoC with $53 million less funding each year from 2008 until 2015;
These are just some examples.
Cuts and frozen budgets have placed schools, hospitals and government departments under massive pressures.
Shuffle the figures around, cut this, cut that and you can conjure up a surplus.

Current Account deficit
The National government boasts about New Zealand’s GDP growth rate of 2.8%.
But New Zealand’s population has been growing at 2% annually, mostly from overseas. So, 2% has to be deducted from GDP numbers before any real growth can be claimed.
Without this adjustment, the numbers are totally deceptive. One figure the Government never mentions is the current account deficit which is for the year end June 2016 was $7.4 billion.
And behind that number is New Zealand’s net international investment position – what we owe the rest of the world and what it owes us.
That is a negative $163 billion dollars.
The true situation
The true state of our society can be seen all around us.
That tells a different story to Bill English’s surplus “spin” and rhetoric.
The real situation is one of overcrowding - stress – pressure – largely stagnant incomes and a housing crisis
Behind the boast that “NZ has the third highest growth rate in the OECD” ordinary New Zealanders see:
• Stagnant incomes and more and more workers in casual and low paid jobs.
• A housing crisis in Auckland that has spread to the regions and that is turning young Kiwis into renters for life.
• Hospital and medical services under intense pressure and surgery waiting lists that are growing longer.
• Overcrowded and understaffed schools.
• Overloaded roading and public transport infrastructure swamped by population growth.
• A growing gap between rich and poor that is getting worse and with levels of homelessness and child poverty rising.
• 91,000 young New Zealanders who are not in training or education.
• Immigration at ridiculous levels – 71,000 net a year settling here permanently a year.
• Major law and order problems with insufficient police and crime rampant in some of our towns.

Crime is an issue here in Upper Hutt.
The police might argue they do drive-through patrols from Lower Hutt – but that is not good enough.
Upper Hutt needs a far greater police presence and a 24-hour police station and today’s police announcement has left you out again.
The public should feel safe in their own homes.
Paula Bennett is doing a poor job as Police Minister.
She was taken to task in Thames recently over escalating crime.
She would face the same hostility in numerous other towns if she went to them.
New Zealand First has said time and again that police are completely under-resourced.
We will train 1800 new officers as soon as possible and make sure some of them are based in places like Thames and Upper Hutt.
NZ Super
In recent times every Phil, Dave and Bill have had their say on NZ Super.
The rhetoric has been a flood.
No wonder people are confused.
National and Labour are like weathercocks.
Last election, in 2014, Labour said they wanted to bump the retirement age up to 67.
This election Labour has done a somersault.
They’re back to 65 for the retirement age.
Before the last election National said they wouldn’t touch NZ Super. Now National has flip flopped as well.
They want the age up to 67 ___ by 2040.
These two parties have swapped positions.
Like weathercocks blown by the winds of public opinion.
Their excuse is in the words of an old poem:

“If I change with all the winds that blow,
It’s only because they made me so.”

New Zealand First does not spin with every wind of public opinion.
We are steadfast.
We will not compromise our position on NZ Super.
All manner of doomsayers and profiteers want superannuation privatised for their own egregious, self-serving benefit.
Challenge them when they say NZ Super is unaffordable.
Don’t let these people get away with lying to you, because lying they are.
It is affordable.
Unlike other parties, New Zealand First doesn’t move the goalposts and play loose and free with NZ Super putting uncertainty and concern in people’s minds.
We don’t make U-turns.
We don’t tell voters one thing and later on say, “circumstances have changed so we’ve changed our mind.”
New Zealand First has always stood for Super at 65, at no less than 66 per cent of the net average weekly wage, universal, without means testing.

National, Labour - Track Record
Look at the long line of back-flips by National and Labour over NZ Super.
In 1984 Labour promised no change to superannuation. A year later they imposed a surtax.
In 1990 National promised to remove the surtax. But they didn’t. They increased it to 92 cents.
Labour announced they would lift the age of entitlement to 65 and National followed up, not over 20 years as they promised but over eight years.
In 1996 National promised to maintain NZ Super and then after breaking the coalition deal with NZ First in 1998, cut super from 65 per cent of the net average wage to 60 percent.
NZ First post 2005 set super at 66 per cent of the net average weekly wage and then brought in the Gold Card to make that 66 per cent go further.
In 2008 National promised not to change superannuation settings.
First they stopped government contributions into the NZ Superannuation Fund, or Cullen Fund,
And second, then started taxing the Fund.
If National had kept contributing $2 billion a year to the Cullen Fund it would now be worth $50 billion, instead of $33 billion.

Record of Other Parties Speaks for Itself

The records on NZ Super by National and Labour, as well as United Future, the Maori Party and Green Party who have also questioned the affordability of NZ Super, speak for themselves.
They’re all over the place – changing with the wind.

NZ Super facts

Here are the facts on NZ Super:
Currently, the cost of NZ Super is around 5% of GDP – a level that compares very well with many OECD countries
Treasury’s long term fiscal forecast puts the cost of NZ Super at 7.2% of GDP by 2045.
Even by 2060 Treasury estimates NZ Super will still be just under 8% of GDP.
And those are gross figures.
As NZ Super is taxed, the actual net cost to the taxpayers is significantly less, at around 3.8 percent.
The fact that NZ Super is taxed is being deliberately ignored.  
NZ Super as a percentage of GDP will stay the same even with an ageing population through New Zealand’s doubling its GDP by 2050.
But this can only happen if the population is not artificially inflated by mass immigration.
We cannot continue to take in net 70,000 new immigrants a year.
Compare the UK government’s net immigration target. For a country of 65 million people the UK target is 100,000 net. Our small country’s target is well beyond 70,000 already.
The other parties position on immigration is maniacal, ludicrous and socially in sane.
And alongside that we have brought in over 87,000 elderly immigrants in the past 15 years who now receive NZ Super whether or not they have paid taxes, after being her just 10 years.
New Zealand First is also committed to changing Section 70 of the Social Security Act.
This affects a specific group of people who are entitled to an overseas state pension.
As a result of section 70, around 70,000 people receiving NZ Super have some level of deduction made. It is an anomaly and unfair to those affected.
NZ First is committed to ending this anomaly.

Increased Productivity - Essential
The main key to superannuation is increasing the country’s economic productivity.
New Zealand has huge untapped economic potential.
Even with highly conservative 2.5 per cent economic growth our GDP will exceed $500 billion by 2050.
As an economic commentator in the NZ Herald (John Gascoigne, March 16, 2017) stated:
“New Zealand’s world leading national superannuation scheme which provides all New Zealanders with retirement income security must be left intact.
“The real imperative is national wealth creation.”
New Zealand First agrees. 

Anywhere People - Somewhere People
We live in a rapidly changing world.
At present the search is on to explain the schism/popular discontent that is sweeping the Western world.
In his book; The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics:  British writer and commentator David Goodhart offers an answer.
His view is that in Western societies the politics of left and right are no longer meaningful to many people.
The establishment parties of left and right are losing their grip.
The impact of the economic and cultural openness of globalisation has had consequences for people in different ways; there have been winners and losers.
The faultline Goodhart sees is now between different values.
Goodhart suggests that two significant groups can be distinguished on the basis of their values.
There are the “Somewhere People”. People who see themselves as having ties and allegiance to a specific community, town, city, and country and a smaller but still very significant group whom he terms “Anywhere people”.
‘Anywhere’ people tend to be socially and geographically mobile with transferable skills and often university educated and affluent.
In short, ‘Anywhere’ people can be seen as being in tune with globalisation, while ‘Somewhere’ people struggle to see the benefits.
Of course these categories are inevitably broad generalisations and cannot be treated as rigid and fixed.
At times we all have a foot in both camps because of the nature of modern society.
But the idea of ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Anywhere’ people does help to understand what is happening in contemporary politics and why, internationally, modern democracies are in such upheaval.
‘Somewhere’ people place great importance on having a basic level of affinity and identity with others in society.
In short, they want a sense of belonging and they see the downside and damage of globalisation. 
Recent political events overseas can be seen as a backlash by the ‘Somewhere” people against being marginalised, ignored and taken for granted.
Mass immigration has generated discontent among those with ‘somewhere’ values.
Social cohesion has weakened under the influx of large-scale immigration. This is a serious issue which the pro-immigration, pro-globalisation people from the rest of Parliament conveniently gloss over.
‘Somewhere’ people are also more aware of the costs of large scale immigration – because they have to bear these costs in the form of housing shortages, competition for jobs, and downward pressure on wages as well as the declining quality of health and education services.
These costs, which are real, are underplayed and dismissed by establishment parties who share the fiction that immigration is all benefit and bonanza.
In contrast ‘Anywhere’ people tend to be relaxed about large scale immigration because they do not experience the costs directly and see pay-offs and opportunities for themselves in highly open societies.
It is an intriguing question we can all ask ourselves?
To what extent am I a “Somewhere’ or an ‘Anywhere” person? And in what ways?
New Zealand First has no doubt where we stand.
We stand for “Somewhere People” their values and their loyalties – and for our country, New Zealand.
What is obvious is that we have an ‘anywhere’ government that cannot wait to flog off our country and dish out citizenship as if it were confetti.
When was the last time this National government actually took an unequivocal stand putting New Zealand’s interests first ahead of foreign investors and overseas corporates?
No – we cannot think of any instance either!
This year’s election will be pivotal for the future of New Zealand.


New Zealand First is a party which stands for equal opportunity for all.

We are a party which believes in looking after our citizens first, young, old, and in between.

We are not into spin or rhetoric.

We are working for the best interests of New Zealanders first and foremost – and we tell things as they are.