SPEECH EXCERPTS FROM HOKITIKA: Policies For Westland Not Wellington
Campaign for Regions Tour Hokitika speech
Hokitika – Westland RSA
24 Sewell Street
10am, 7 July, 2017
Excerpts from speech
Thank you to your Mayor, Bruce Smith, for organising this meeting.
We spoke earlier in the year at Parliament about roads and the needs of Westland.
I promised to come here and I have.
New Zealand First is pleased to announce Jackie Farrelly as our West Coast – Tasman Candidate for 2017 General Election.
Jackie has been a business owner in Greymouth for 15 years, so brings a wealth of knowledge about the challenges of running a retail and training enterprise.
New Zealand First recognises that the climate for businesses, and small business in particular, is not the most encouraging and we have policies to assist owners to get ahead.
After all, small business is the lifeblood of regional New Zealand and it has taken a hammering in recent decades.
It has been greatly enjoyable driving into Hokitika, a town steeped in history and which has gained new fame as a result of Eleanor Catton’s Booker prizewinning novel, The Luminaries.
We set out on our Campaign for the Regions Tour from Whangarei a week ago today.
We wanted to touch base with the people in provincial New Zealand.
They have become the forgotten people in New Zealand.
This has been shown here how hard you had to fight to get help with the massive numbers of tourists coming here.
The government loves the money tourism brings but they are tight in giving the money back.
In the year to May 2016, international tourists spent $270.6 million on the West Coast.
Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Bruce Bay, Okarito, Dillman’s Dam and Franz Josef have been placed under huge pressure.
The government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide some assistance but it still would not match the amount of GST they have taken out of Westland.
GST BACK TO WESTLAND
The government takes the wealth out of this region.
Not just tourism but mining and dairying.
You shouldn’t be going cap in hand to government for money.
New Zealand First says money taken out of here in GST has to come back here.
This money could be used for tourism infrastructure as well as roads and to stimulate job training and opportunities.
The government took in total $1.5b in GST from international visitors to New Zealand in the year to March 2016, and $950m the year before.
Yet little has gone to councils that desperately need money for toilets, sewerage schemes and local road improvements to cope with tourist numbers.
This has to end.
Fundamental to a successful economy – and thriving regions such as Westland over the long term - is an exchange rate that supports exporters and the regions.
Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.
We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters.
Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies.
We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports.
The Bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.
FOREIGN LAND BUYERS
New Zealand under the old parties has been a soft touch for foreign buyers.
The wealth generated in regional NZ is increasingly flowing into the pockets of overseas owners.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a facade - a token exercise intended to give the impression that someone actually takes the national interest into account before foreign buyers get the green light.
The losses of land into foreign ownership are staggering 460,000 hectares alone last year.
The deals invariably get the usual Overseas Investment Office rubber stamp.
There is no requirement on foreign buyers to invest locally in downstream production or new technology.
Under our policy the rules would be strict - there would need to be clear, unequivocal and quantifiable benefits to New Zealand before foreign ownership was allowed.
ROYALTIES TO THE REGIONS
NZ First has a Royalties for the Regions Policy.
Under this policy, 25% of royalties collected by the government from enterprises such as mining, petroleum and water stay in the region of origin.
As an example, the government collects over $400 million in royalties.
Under our scheme over $100 million, year on year, would remain in the regions for investment.
That money would help to regenerate regional New Zealand.
It is demonstrably wrong that companies like Coca Cola, Suntory Holdings, Oravida, Fiji Water – can take our water for a pitiful token fee while they make millions of dollars from it.
National says no-one owns the water – so foreign companies can come in and take it.
Do you think that is right? No. And nor does New Zealand First.
The way things are in New Zealand today, those at the top seem to get rewarded.
Those down below have to do the best they can with crumbs.
Why is that your largest employer, Westland Milk Products, despite recording a $14.5 million after-tax loss for 2015-16, handed out generous bonuses to its staff because of what it described as a good performance the year before?
A chief executive, now no longer with the company, received a bonus of $290,000.
His total remuneration for 2015-16 was $1.06m compared to $770,000 the year before.
The company said in a statement that the bonus reflected the fact "Westland performed better than competitive benchmarks".
Why is it that people who appear to be under-performing are paid as though they are performing brilliantly?
Now there is talk of staff cuts.
There has developed in New Zealand this culture that those at the top deserve to be richly rewarded, even when they are failing.
They know what is best.
It’s the same in Wellington.
No-one in National listens as immigration gets out of control placing massive pressures on our infrastructure, denying young New Zealanders jobs, clogging up our hospitals and motorways.
New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.
When we do well in this upcoming election, you will do well.
You will not be ignored or forgotten.
You will not have to fight tooth and claw to get your message heard in Wellington.
New Zealand First believes this country needs leadership that fosters success in Westland and in all our regions.
Together we can do it.