SPEECH: Gisborne Needs An Election Every Two Months

Gisborne public meeting,
Gisborne Cosmopolitan Club,
Grey St,
Gisborne
12.30pm, 12th September, 2017

 

I want to recognise my fellow MPs, Fletcher Tabuteau and Clayton Mitchell, and the New Zealand First candidate for East Coast, Julian Tilley.

It will be obvious to you by now with the attention you are getting from the two old political parties that there’s first an election on and second, you’re in the regions.
If you look at some of things Gisborne needs, like road and rail infrastructure, then it is clear that the two old parties have long ago stopped listening.
All of the sudden they are darkening the skies to express their interest.
Gisborne has been left to battle on the best way it can under National.
After nine long years, voters here will be wondering what has National done for us.
The answer is, very little.
The present state of the Labour Party, which has come back from the dead in recent weeks, has not been due solely to a change of leader.
It has been due to nine years of tight monetarist policies that have choked vast sections of our society to breaking point.
The economy exists for people – Mums and Dads struggling to pay the bills; Seniors getting by on NZ Super; young students grappling with student loans; small business owners worrying about keeping their businesses afloat.
The economy doesn’t exist only so that figures look good on a balance sheet.
That might be the sole interest of bean counters like Bill English and Steven Joyce.
But a tight, narrow economy that leaves hundreds of thousands of people out in the cold; people who can’t get affordable homes, jobs, decent schools, or proper healthcare – is an economy that has failed its purpose.
In their desperation to hold onto power Bill English and National are now making promises.
Remarkably, with the whirl of a wand and some sprinkling of stardust, “Skinflint Bill” has found some money we didn’t think existed just to pay for these promises.
But why wasn’t that happening years ago?
Why didn’t National commit to a poverty target three years ago?
National has forgotten about ordinary hardworking New Zealanders.
And they have forgotten about Gisborne and all of regional New Zealand – that is until the last few weeks.

Forestry

Gisborne’s forestry sector is reported to be booming - upbeat and positive.
New Zealand First deals in realities.
We ask this question.
What happens when those vast volumes of raw logs being sent out of Gisborne are gone and bare stumps stretch out over hillsides as far as the eye can see - what happens then?
Is there sufficient replanting going on in your region?
Or is your forestry industry doomed to go from boom to bust?
New Zealand First is concerned so little add-on value is being taken care of here.
Your local leaders have pressured for wood processing facilities to be built in Gisborne.
Yet the fact is at present 90 percent of the logs being harvested are going out as raw logs with 80 percent straight to China.
A major issue for wood processors throughout New Zealand is that they can’t get their hands on the logs they want, because they are mainly being shipped overseas.
What’s going to happen here in Gisborne to change that?
At the beginning of this year then Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour would inject up to $20 million to enable the construction of a plant for prefabricated building materials here in Gisborne.
But what is the point of another processing plant if the supply of logs is not guaranteed and what is available now runs out because all of the forests have been cleaned out?

Ensuring continuity of supply

Unlike Labour, New Zealand has thought out our forestry policy.
Our policy will ensure continuity of supply for local processors, and it will keep forestry sustainable.
It will ensure that clear felling of young immature trees does not happen and that there is sufficient replanting.
This will be done with quotas under an annual allowable harvesting system and by exporters applying for permits on an annual basis.
We do not want your region to go from boom to bust with forestry.
Last year at the NZ Institute of Forestry Conference in Dunedin we announced that we would introduce a Bill to boost the forestry sector. 
At the heart of this was a pledge to introduce legislation to reinstate the New Zealand Forestry Service.
This plan is so good - the Labour Party swiped it a few days ago.

Labour steals policy

In Rotorua last week Jacinda Ardern cut and pasted our policy to re-establish a New Zealand Forest Service.
There is huge irony in this.
In 1989 Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party, abolished the former powerhouse NZ Forest Service, which had prospered from the days it was established in 1919.
Then Labour and National flogged off the forests.
The result of Labour and National’s combined policies is that forestry, our third biggest export earner, is now dominated by foreign-owned companies.
Eight of the top 10 major players in the industry are foreign owned and controlled.
New Zealand First says our forestry sector must work for the best interests of New Zealanders, not foreigners.
We will make sure it does.

Roading

With all the forestry boom Gisborne’s roads are struggling under the large number of log trucks that are operating.
Your local council cannot afford to pay for their upkeep and central government has been asked to step in.
It is estimated that $60 million will be needed to get these roads up to scratch.
You will be waiting a long time for National to front up with the money.
What is happening here is happening also in my electorate of Northland, and all over New Zealand
Roads are falling apart with more and more heavy trucks on them.
Rural roads have become especially bad because the National government removed the rural roading subsidy in 2009 on the basis that the money was to go to Roads of National Significance.
NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal rural roads, improve road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.
We want Gisborne to have a fully co-ordinated transportation strategy with road, rail and coastal shipping.

Rail

New Zealand First will also reopen the full Gisborne-Napier rail line, not just the section KiwiRail plans to reopen between Napier and Wairoa.
We made that commitment years ago when no other party would.
We didn’t wait till near election time.
The costs to do this are not high, around about what our highest paid CEO is getting per annum.

Regional Airports

Another example of the National’s government’s under-funding of regions is what is happening with regional airports.
This includes Gisborne.
The future of your airport is uncertain.
We can’t reasonably expect small airports around the country in places like Gisborne to meet huge costs.
Unlike big airports they don’t have large revenues to help pay for the things they need.
Every OECD country subsidises regional airports and air services, except New Zealand.
Even the USA, home of the “market”, knows and does that.
These countries know airports are crucial for communications, business development, air ambulances, and tourism and must be supported by central government.
New Zealand First recognises this.
We will provide much-needed funding for regional airports owned by local authorities to help pay for infrastructure improvements and to meet safety and amenity standards.

Stimulating the local economy

New Zealand First’s policies will reverse the serious neglect you have suffered under National.
Tourism is lifting your local economy.
In the year to July 2017 tourism brought in $138 million to Gisborne; of that $30m of it was from international visitors.
Under NZ First policy we will return the GST paid by international tourists in this region for tourism infrastructure and roads, and to stimulate job training and opportunities.

Also with our Royalties for the Regions policy, no less than 25 per cent of the royalties will go back to Gisborne.

Any water rights for exports in this region will pay serious royalties which will come back here.
New Zealand First will help exporters, farmers, and others by fixing the Reserve Bank Act.

• We will provide assistance for small businesses.
• One of the measures will be a wage subsidy for those who take on job seekers and provide work experience.
• We will provide immediate tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000.

Law and Order

We will boost police numbers to make sure your homes and businesses are safe.
Our 1800 more frontline police makes our promise on this realistic.

Conclusion

The big city politicians from the old parties might not be interested in you, but we are, and have been for a long time.
We’ll make sure that the voices of rural and provincial New Zealand are not drowned out and forgotten by the bellowing coming out of Auckland and Wellington.
New Zealand First will make sure your interests are as important as big city priorities.
Since we began our Campaign for the Regions, the old parties have begun to rediscover them.
But our sentiments about the regions are real, which is the reason why you need to buy some serious insurance in this campaign to turn political promises into reality.
All you have to do is to take out some insurance and party vote New Zealand First.


Note: Regional airports at risk are Kerikeri, Whangarei, Kaitaia, Gisborne, Chatham Islands, Hokitika, Masterton, Taupo, Timaru, Westport, Whakatane and Whanganui.