Dr Shane Reti’s maiden speech

November 1, 2014

National’s Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti delivered his maiden speech this week:

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka, ka tangi hoki ahau, tihei mauriora

Te whare e tu nei

Te marae e takoto nei, tena korua

To tatou mate. Haere e nga mate. Haere ki te kainga tuturu o to tatou matua I te rangi.

Haere, haere, haere.

Ko te kaupapa mo tenei ra, tena koe.

Ko te wairua o tenei whare, tena koe.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora mai tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, may I first acknowledge you with greetings from the North, and from my electorate team led by Murray Broadbelt, and mentors Shirley Faber, Stephanie MacMillan, and my campaign and executive teams. We congratulate you in your role as Speaker.

To my esteemed colleagues, I greet you with the proverb “He waka eke noa”. Together we are in this one canoe, without exception.

To gathered guests and family, I acknowledge and thank you for the service you do me today. That I may make you proud, that we may make you proud. Nga mihi ki a koutou.

Mr Speaker, I stand today as a humble servant from humble beginnings.

The Whangarei electorate has never had a Maori MP. From Murray Smith, to John Elliot, to John Banks, to Phil Heatley, the baton has been passed and now rests in my care and protection.

To this end, and on behalf of the electorate, I would like to thank Hon Phil Heatley for many years of dedication not just to this electorate, but to other ministerial portfolios also.

Mr Speaker, it has been commented to me that from the North to this House, one Shane leaves and another Shane arrives.

This is of course reference to Shane Jones, my whanaunga and fine member of New Zealand First … ah … Labour.

We do have some similarities.

It is true, that Shane was a New Zealand Harkness fellow to Harvard just as I was several years later. I believe his academic appointment was to Kennedy School of Government, and mine was to Harvard Medical School. I will talk more on this later.

I speak today Mr Speaker as the last of the newbies in this National Government. The beginner, the learner, the minnow.

And here in this moment, right now, I claim no honorifics, no title, just Shane, a Maori boy from Northland, and Mr Speaker, when my time and season concludes, from the dust I come and to the dust I will return.

My background is simple.

I was born into a state house, the eldest of five children in a working class Maori family.

My parents believed that further education and hard work was the way to success.

And yet, what further education meant wasn’t exactly clear to them, because they had never experienced it themselves.

Mum left in the fifth form and went to work as a clerk at State Advances. Her people landed in Horeke in the Hokianga in the early 1800s, and are now resting in the cemetery opposite Rawene hospital.

Dad left in the fourth form to return to the family farm in Kawhia. Dad is from a family of 14 brothers and sisters to the same mother and same father. Grandma Irina Whawhakia Paki, descendant of Puoaka Paki, Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, and Granddad Tom Reti, son of Hemi and Tete Paoro, from Waikare in the Bay of Islands, Ngati Wai.

Times were tough for my grandparents.

Every time Grandma was in labour, she would hop on the horse (no saddle – bare back), and ride down the hill, across the beach, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly who was the midwife. A journey of significant time and distance, with all 14 children.

But if the tide was in, Mr Speaker, it was down the hill, swim the horse, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly.

As soon as he got in from the farm, Granddad Tom would follow, on the horse, down the hill, across the beach, and up the valley, and then, when he got close to Aunty Polly’s house, Aunty Polly would come out and say, “Tom, this is women’s work, go home.”

Mr Speaker, like many in the House today, my grandparents created endeavour through endurement, and success through sacrifice. This is also the story that I will tell.

It is actually not so much about me, Mr Speaker, I am but the instrument in this mortal existence, but it is a story that at its conclusion, talks to hard work, education, and the unbridled privilege of serving your fellow man.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, it is my belief that there are several sentinel events in a lifetime. Some have a few, some have many. Sentinel events are events that shape our lives, and but for a different path, a different outcome ensues.

Two diametric sentinel events happened in my teenage years and shaped my life. The first was institutional racism.

In my student years, I would usually study during the day, and at night, commercial clean with dad, vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, and dusting blinds.

One year, I asked the administrator if I could sit, not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply, “No Shane, you’re a Maori boy, you’ll do five.”

My internal response was a call to arms “right, I will show you”, and my external response was to win the English prize that year.

No, not for me six subjects, I was still only allowed to sit five, but many years later, when I was promoted to Assistant Professor at Harvard, well, I think I’d made my point.

Mr Speaker I won, but many Maori don’t.

And Mr Speaker, the educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bounded by the preconceptions of others.

Their dreams too must be allowed to soar to the heavens,

on shards of resolve,

to the heights resounding,

“e tangi e, e tangi e, e tangi e”.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I was blessed with a second sentinel event in my teens.

In my sixth form year, Hamilton Rotary Club, district 993, broadcast across the Hamilton high schools that they will support one student to America the following year. Many apply, and yet for some reason, they chose me.

You have to imagine Mr Speaker, that in those times, working class Maori were not the normal Rotary mix. Yet, they chose me.

No one in my family had ever had a passport, few had been on a plane, and none had been overseas. And yet they chose me.

Mr Speaker, I went to Idaho in the intermountain west of America. My five host families were a retail manager, two multimillionaires, and two bankers. Can you imagine the contrast? From working class Maori, to a host father who flew me in his private plane on the weekends to his condo in Sun Valley.

These people were well educated, they worked hard, and success had come their way. There it was right there – education and hard work.  My parents had already planted the seed of belief and now I saw it in action, I was living it, I got it, and I went on to apply it.

Mr Speaker, this is a story of opportunities. Windows of opportunities that in a lifetime may open for just the briefest of moments, and then close again, sometimes for ever.

Our task Mr Speaker is to create opportunities for those that follow, that as we pass the baton to them, we have created a world better than how we found it. A footprint that the next tide will gently wash over, and shape to its new resolve.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I have had three careers.

My first career is as a doctor serving the people of Whangarei for 20 years.

During this time, in my clinical hands, I was truly privileged to care for many good people, and I thank them for enriching my life.

At the same time, I was appointed to Northland DHB for three consecutive terms, and I would like to acknowledge DHB chair Lynette Stewart, who is here today, and whose wisdom and counsel has always been sound.

National literary awards also followed for research published in the national and international scientific community.

I guess somewhere in there, I also found time to qualify to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, receive a QSM, and have three children under three.

To our children, Justin, Melissa, and Angela, thank you for permissioning me to undertake this body of work, and to Christine, whose warm embracing support of family also brings me to this point.

But Mr Speaker, what I most learnt from this, my first career, was to be a good listener. When you partner with people and guide them through the peaks and troughs of their life you get to be a good listener.

And you know Mr Speaker, there is a parallel with serving constituents, and it is this:

What people want Mr Speaker is:

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker my second career is in America where I worked for seven years until recently.

I was selected as New Zealand Harkness Fellow to Harvard. My academic appointment was to Harvard Medical School. My operational appointment was to Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston.

It is in the Harvard environment, Sir, that I cut my international credentials and developed foreign affairs and trade expertise.

In the scientific space of Harvard I found a fertile environment where any innovation, any new thinking that I wanted to dream, I could actually bring to life.

As an informatician, I worked with data, ciphers, and encryption, and became a Beacheads Middle East advisor, out of the Dubai consulate.

For sharing their knowledge so generously, I wish to give particular thanks to my operational team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. You took up the Kiwiness, took up the Maori, and in return opened up new personal experiences to me such as the Jewish Seder.

I carry the best of you all with me, and so with deep gratitude I acknowledge Harvard professors: Professor Tom DelBanco, Professor Warner Slack, Associate Professor Charles Safran, Associate Professor Tony Kaldany, and Assistant Professor Henry Feldman.

Mr Speaker, it was always my intention to bring the best of the Harvard environment home to New Zealand.

I was always on loan from my people, I was always coming home, and I bring these learnings with me into the science, technology, and R&D space, and I proudly attest: “It is cool to be a geek.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, my third career is here and now.

As the MP for Whangarei, I will advocate strongly for the needs of the electorate, and I thank and honour the mandate they have given me and a National Government.

Our needs are best met by economic development, which includes attention to transport, local government reform, and Treaty settlements.

Economic development which creates sustainable disposable income, also creates options, and these options, I believe, will improve the metrics by which we define a good life.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I feel responsibilities to my electorate in Whangarei, to my regional neighbours in Northland, and to every single citizen of this nation.

At a national level then, I embrace working with my colleagues here in the House, as we advance a New Zealand in prosperity, equity, and freedom.

Mr Speaker, I would like to extend one dimension of freedom to a discussion on data ownership, a conversation that is heard in the international community, and one that we may have here also.

In the complex balance between freedom of expression and privacy, who owns the data Mr Speaker?

What data? Well, as we seek to share medical records online through electronic tools such as personal health records, who owns the data? The patient, the doctor, the funder?

When a loved one, say a child, chronicles their life story on Facebook, and that child unexpectedly and tragically passes away, who owns that precious story? Without passwords the parents will struggle to reclaim the digital expression of that child. Who owns the data?

Mr Speaker, this discussion may be better framed not around ownership, but stewardship, and Mr Speaker, New Zealand is already strong in this domain. We are already stewards, of the land through DOC, stewards of our costal treasures through kaitiaki stewardship, and stewards of the next generation through love. It is but a small step to be stewards of our data also.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, ka mutu.

I have been blessed to be mentored and guided by many strong people in my life.

To those at governance tables, trade delegations, embassies and consulates, I watched, I learnt, and I am an amalgam of the best of what you all brought to the table and shared, and for these gifts I thank you.

To Yvonne, who guides and lights the way forward. I thank you.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to acknowledge my parents, Ray and Robyn, who are here today and thank them.

My parents, who, when faced with a child with endless energy, still decided to keep me alive.

And so Mr Speaker:

May your tenure sir be blessed.

May this House be great.

And may we be one people.

Thank you.

 


Homeopathy vs ebola?

October 31, 2014

Understatement of the year:

Green MP Steffan Browning says giving his support to a call for the World Health Organisation to deploy homeopathic remedies to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was ‘probably pretty unwise’.

Just a little unwise?

Mr Browning this week signed a petition started by Australian Fran Sheffield which calls on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “End the suffering of the Ebola crisis. Test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.” . . .

Asked whether he thought homeopathy could cure Ebola, Mr Browning said: “It’s not for me to go down that track at all.

The World Health Organisation, world health authorities are doing that.”

“They will be considering I hope absolutely every possible options to this very concerning disease.”

Asked whether that should include homeopathy, he said “Why not?”

“Internationally homeopathy is considered in some places.. I am not an expert but I assume they will look at that as much as a number of other options.” . .

You don’t have to be an expert to know this:
Embedded image permalink


Flexibility not to be feared

October 31, 2014

Employment reforms which passed into law yesterday are part of  National’s plan to create a fairer, more flexible labour market that helps lift earnings and create more jobs.

They are necessary reforms for:

1. More flexible work arrangements

Our employment law reforms will extend the rights of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements, including from the start of their employment. Current legislation only provides this option for those with caregiving responsibilities.

The law needs to reflect the diversity of different people’s employment needs in the modern, fast-changing economy in which we live. We believe all employees and employers should be able to agree on flexible work practices that suit both parties.

2. More jobs

Lowering compliance costs for small-to-medium sized businesses helps them to focus on expanding their business and creating more jobs. Last year 83,000 more jobs were added to the New Zealand economy, our unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries, and we have raised the minimum wage every year we’ve been in office. We need to keep building that momentum to help even more Kiwis into work.

3. More choice for employees

A return to good faith bargaining during employment negotiations will help prevent unnecessary, fruitless, and protracted collective bargaining that can create uncertainty for employees and employers. Our changes will give new employees more choice by no longer being forced to take union terms and conditions for their first 30 days of employment.

4. A stronger economy and higher incomes

Requiring parties to provide notice of a strike or lock-out will mean both employees and employers aren’t able to unduly disrupt the running of a business.

Enabling employees and employers to agree on flexible arrangements that work for both parties will help to lift productivity, growth, and incomes.

5. Protecting fairness at work

We’re maintaining the key protections for employees at work. Contrary to the politically-motivated claims of opponents, relaxing the current over-prescriptive and often unworkable provisions around rest and meal breaks does not override any requirements for breaks to be provided. We’ll also place clearer expectations on the Employment Relations Authority to ensure rights are upheld and timely resolution of disputes.

The opposition and unions are doing their best to show that workers should fear the changes. On the contrary they should celebrate the flexibility.

It is possible that a few employers will use changes to exploit staff.

That is always a risk but it’s not a reason to handicap the majority of employers and their staff with inflexible rules which add costs and hamper productivity.


Parmjeet Parmar’s maiden speech

October 29, 2014

National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Esteemed guests and colleagues, friends and family.  I will start by offering my congratulations to the Prime Minister and the National team for securing a historic win and a well-deserved third term. And may I also congratulate all new Ministers and MPs, And, Mr Speaker, you on your re-election.

It truly is an honour and a privilege to be part of this high performing team and to serve my fellow New Zealanders. I would like to especially thank our leader, the Rt Hon John Key for being a source of inspiration to me, and many other New Zealanders.

I would like to acknowledge the National Party leadership team, especially President Peter Goodfellow, board members Alastair Bell and Malcolm Plimmer, Northern regional chair Andrew Hunt and former regional chair Alan Towers.

Thank you to Hon Paula Bennett, Hon Maurice Williamson, Belinda Milnes and Ele Ludemann for their encouragement and support.

To my campaign chair and team especially Diana Freeman, Gavin Logan and Rita Ven Pelt – thank you. A special thanks to our volunteers and the Young Nats – you all are amazing individuals. And I’m also thankful for the tremendous welcome that I received from the community.

As my colleagues will agree, none of this would have been possible without the support of my family. My husband Ravinder Parmar has given unwavering support, and thanks to our boys Jagmeet, who turned 18 a week before the election and voted the first time, and Abhijeet, who is 12 and very eager to become a teenager!

Earlier this year I was chosen by the party as the candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate, and I am extremely proud to have repaid their faith in me by winning the critical party vote in Mt Roskill.

Now, I am a list MP who has the privilege of looking after the Mt Roskill electorate. About 39 per cent of the residents in Mt Roskill are of Asian ethnicity – which is more than three times the national average of 11.8 per cent.

Just under half of the people in Mt Roskill in 2013 – were born overseas, and I am one of them. 

Mt Roskill reflects the growing diversity of our country, and it is clear that the National Party reflects that diversity. Mt Roskill is comprised of small businesses, professionals and hardworking people looking to get ahead in life. I can assure them that my values, and those of the National Party align with their goals and aspirations.

Mr Speaker, I was born in India, one of four sisters to very hard working parents.

My father, Sham Jaswal – is now retired after proudly serving in the Indian Air Force for 38 years. As you would expect, our home environment mirrored the morals, virtues and also the discipline of the armed forces. Actually, I am grateful to my dad for that.

My mother, Kuldeep Jaswal, looked after the family, and I spent my early years traveling with my parents from one Air Force base to another.

Those early years of changing schools every three to four years and moving between different Air Force bases in different states of India helped me learn about different cultures and lifestyles and also taught me how to make friends quickly. I remember it being a very busy time.

Mr Speaker, both of my parents worked hard to raise us, and to provide for us. And like many of my colleagues, education was extremely important in my family.

I remember during my final years at school the exciting new field of biochemistry becoming a proper subject and a popular topic of discussion at school, which attracted me to study biochemistry.

I left school wanting to become a scientist to find cures for deadly diseases so I completed a BSc chemistry and MSc from the University of Poona, India. During this time studying biochemistry, I realised the importance of gene cloning strategies to identify the cause or causes of diseases and I decided to do my PhD in this field.

But then, as is traditional in my culture, I married Ravinder in an arranged marriage, and came to this amazing country to join him and start a new life with him in New Zealand.

On arriving here in 1995 and settling into life in Auckland, I wanted to continue my education at the University of Auckland.

I was lucky enough to find Associate Professor Nigel Birch at the University of Auckland to supervise my PhD – he is one of New Zealand’s great scientists and he played an important role in making me a scientist.

To be technical for a minute, for my PhD I investigated a possible role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth by its over-and under-expression in two types of cell lines.

Neuroserpin is a serine protease inhibitor predominantly expressed in neuronal cells during the late stages of neurogenesis and in the adult brain during synaptic plasticity.

The result of my research suggested a new role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth in-vitro, and my published papers highlighted the physiological importance of neuroserpin with emphasis on its role in neurite outgrowth, neurite regeneration and maintenance in the nervous system.

Simplified, my work looked at if it was possible to use it to re-establish connections in the brain.

My post-doctoral work built further on this research, and then later moving into researching on retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes progressive vision loss.

By this time while working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland I felt it was time to put my training into a more practical realm and decided to move into the commercial sector.

After spending some time in the scientific commercial sector I decided to use my skills to move into business and joined my husband to start up natural health products manufacturing within our existing facility that was being run by Ravinder to make confectionery and chocolate products.

My days in business were focused on product development, improving efficiencies and productivity, and providing that best possible work environment for our staff.

My time in my manufacturing business gave me an in depth understanding of our local and international markets, our food manufacturing sector, our regulations, and how we compare with international markets and how manufacturing in New Zealand is distinctive from other countries.

Our local innovation keeps us one step ahead in the business world. We Kiwis are innovative people and full of ideas to start businesses. While owning and running a business is stressful, busy and often intense, it is also rewarding. I am eager to work for our dynamic business owners so their hard work pays off and that their great responsibility is recognised.

Like my family, I have always believed in hard work.

Monday to Friday I was a scientist and then later a business woman, and in the weekends I worked as a broadcaster for 16 years on an Indian radio station in Auckland plus of course my role on the Families Commission and the Film and Video Labelling Body.

Somehow I managed to fit in raising our two boys, and putting in more than a decade working in the community especially in the field of domestic violence.

My values of strong caring families and communities, personal responsibility and equal citizenship and opportunities mirror that of the National Party.

During my time in this hallowed precinct, I am eager to make a positive difference in a number of areas.

Firstly, science and innovation, and in particular the conversion of science to business. We are producing very highly skilled scientists and I do not want New Zealand to be just a breeding ground for good scientists. We need to provide opportunities for them to explore their scientific vision in our homeland to attract more interest and retain that pride of good work.

We need to supercharge the activation of the amazing research that is currently underway in New Zealand institutions, and apply it to our businesses, our industries and our products. I believe there are huge potential advantages just waiting for New Zealand to seize them.

I am passionate about enabling and encouraging business.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses are small businesses.

If big corporates are doing well or otherwise we hear about it, but small businesses don’t often make the news, even though they make up a significant part of our economy.  They provide a career for those who value economic independence, they supply components and services to large companies and they contribute to innovation and invention – something that all economies require.

But behind every small business are a group of really hard working people in different industry sectors, and I think they need attention so they can keep making the contribution they are to our economy. I believe there is a lot more that needs to be done to help them thrive. I respect and admire courage of all business people out there and those entrepreneurs who are starting up new companies.

I believe in family values and in the need to mount a coordinated effort to stamp out domestic violence and build resilience and respect in family relationships.

For many years I have worked in this sector and have seen the impact of family violence on family members, communities and in the long run on societies. We cannot afford to skirt around this issue if we want to increase the quality of life for New Zealand families.

Plus it makes fiscal sense – family violence has been estimated to cost the equivalent of Canterbury earthquakes on our economy every year. Equally as important though, is the significant negative impact domestic violence has on children’s wellbeing, psychologically and socially.

As an advocate for gender equality I also believe in merit. I am a proud member of a party, and a caucus, that does not believe in a quota system for women. I am here purely on merit and I would not have it any other way. I think many other Kiwi women feel this way.

Equally, while I am proud of my Indian heritage, NZ is the only place I call home. I do not consider myself as just an ethnic MP. I consider myself to be an MP who brings many perspectives and experiences along with my ethnicity, which I will apply to the serious and important work of an MP in this House.

Mr Speaker, with a multi professional background as a scientist, business woman, community advocate, broadcaster, and mother and wife with strong family values I have come to the House determined to make a positive difference in the scientific world, business world and our communities.

I hope to use my professional background and my scientific background to simultaneously bring imagination and patience to my work here, as having learned that as a scientist that sometimes it takes multiple approaches to get an outcome.

As a business woman I bring the energy, drive and eagerness that is needed in a business person in order to see growth.

And as a community advocate that has worked in the heart wrenching field of domestic violence; I bring appreciation of the effort and hardships of our communities.

I am truly grateful to all the experiences in my life that gave me this opportunity to evolve into the person I am today.

Since becoming a New Zealander I have had 20 years of opportunities and I believe now, it is my turn to give back.

It’s a privilege and honour to be a member of a team that is working for New Zealand, the team led by Rt Hon John Key.

Thank you Mr Speaker.


Chris Bishop’s maiden speech

October 28, 2014

National MP Chris Bishop led the address and reply debate with his maiden speech:

I move, that a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

Mr Speaker, can I first congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker. I am sure you will continue to discharge the responsibilities of the office with skill and care. Can I also congratulate Deputy Speaker Hon Chester Borrows, and Assistant Speakers Lindsay Tisch and my opponent in the Hutt – my friend, the Hon Trevor Mallard.

It is an honour and privilege to have been elected as a Member of Parliament. I am here because the National Party has placed its faith in me to be an effective list MP. And ultimately of course I am here because over one million New Zealanders voted for National in the recent election. I thank the party, and I thank New Zealand, for honouring me with this important job.

I also thank the people of Hutt South. Lower Hutt was where I was born and raised and I am happy to be living there again.

I am proud to say I am from “the Hutt”, an area with which I have a long family connection.

On my mother’s side of the family I am descended from seven Dixon siblings that arrived on ships at Petone beach between 1838 and 1856. Edward Dixon was one of them and every summer when I go to the Basin Reserve I sit beneath his memorial clock in the old grandstand. My great, great Grandfather Joe Dixon walked the Hutt Road before it even existed and as a lay preacher held services on Petone Beach, a stone’s throw from where I now live.

From the days of Oswald Mazengarb QC’s famous report into delinquent youths at milk bars in the 1950s, Lower Hutt, I think it is fair to say, has had a somewhat mixed reputation. Stereotypes are hard to break, but let me say this: the Hutt is a wonderful place. We have fantastic high-tech businesses at the forefront of the new economy, excellent community facilities, a wonderful natural environment right on our doorstep, and most of all, we have innovative and spirited people.

I believe the Hutt Valley’s best days are ahead of it and I am looking forward to serving the people of the Hutt – from Wainuiomata to the Western Hills – as a list MP based in the area.

While I am saying thanks, I would like to put on the record my thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today: my family, who have loved and supported me in ways too numerous to detail; my friends; my campaign committee in Hutt South, who ran such a high-energy campaign; the National Party leadership in particular Malcolm Plimmer, Glenda Hughes, and Roger Bridge; and the Young Nats who make it so much easier to stand by the side of the road at 6.30am doing human hoardings in the cold because of their infectious enthusiasm. Most importantly I want to thank my partner and campaign manager Jenna, who has been the rock in my life for the past six years.

As some members know, I have been lucky enough to work in roles behind the scenes for this government. I have worked directly for two very different, but exceptional Ministers: Hon Gerry Brownlee and Hon Steven Joyce.

It is a privilege, although I have to say somewhat surreal, to be joining them in a caucus led by a man I also greatly admire, the Rt Hon John Key. Thank you, Gerry and Steven, for your friendship, guidance, and wisdom. If I achieve half as much in politics as you have I will be doing pretty well.

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy and the law. My parents – John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon – are to blame. From Dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during the momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose the weather, or what was on TV tonight, something like that. His topic of choice was none other than “this man called Sir Robert Muldoon”, and I’ve had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since.

Growing up I would pepper Dad for stories about his time as a journalist – about the night of the snap election; the night of the Mt Erebus crash; about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try and save ANZUS. I drank it all in, and those stories and their lessons have shaped who I am today.

From Mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas; in current affairs; and the world around me. Our household growing up was one where everyone was expected to have a view; and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed both my parents were champion debaters, and Mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for four years much later. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Champs has been held where we were this morning, in the Legislative Council Chamber.

There are now four alumni of the Championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list. I am sure there will be many more in the years to come.

My Dad’s side of the family – although not necessarily my Dad, whose politics I have never known – is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in south Otago. My Poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for them until he retired, interrupted only by World War Two where he fought at Monte Cassino.  Stuart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to National Superannuation as Rob’s lolly.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition and Labour voters to their toes. One great grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151 day loyalty card during the 1951 strike.

My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, director of CORSO, a social activist, and an inveterate follower of politics. The sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My Nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981 as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the Stop the Tour movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested. She happily did her 200 hours community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road.

I think I get my social liberalism and reforming zeal from my grandparents – although I think it’s fair to say I didn’t inherit the Labour Party politics.

I come to this House as a 31-year-old – a representative of generation Y. Our generation doesn’t remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine, or permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine, or any of the other absurdities of the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices were frozen by Prime Ministerial fiat.

For our generation, inflation has always been low. We’ve always been nuclear free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty Settlement process has always been underway.

New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born. I’ve always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation, and what its effects have been. For example, it intrigues me that while Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes, and receive standing ovations at Labor Party conferences still to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party.

I think it a significant portion of the Left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 80s and early 90s. And in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation. The battles of the 1980s are still being fought. That’s a shame.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so, with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969 is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970, Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services, and bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce.

I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world – and if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Mr Speaker, I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical enunciation of liberalism within National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mt Victoria in 1947.

I believe, as he did, that “the conditions of the good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty”.

I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do, and be more sceptical about the ability of government to solve social problems.

I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive, market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find deeply distasteful. I am proud of how New Zealand in only one generation has changed from an inward looking, insular economy and society, to one that is internationally connected and confident on the world stage.

I believe we can responsibly develop our natural resources, and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand – both renewable and non-renewable – and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing our economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Mr Speaker, I come to this House with a long history in debating at school and university. I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental, sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That’s how marriage equality was achieved. It’s how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It’s how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy and opened ourselves to the world. Because leaders in our Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument.

One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same despatch box that Lange stood at where he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when arguing.

Mr Speaker, I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the Member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them – a credible, constructive, and committed argument… Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.”

As long as I am an MP I will always try and present credible and constructive arguments – and I’ll always be willing to have one.

I am proud to be joining a government that is demonstrably making a difference for New Zealanders. I agree with the Prime Minister – we are on the cusp of something special as a nation. This National Government has an historic opportunity to be the kind of long-term government that doesn’t just administer the status quo, but one that can, through incremental, constant economic reform deliver ever growing living standards for all New Zealanders.

We have the economic opportunities right in front of us – globalisation, a rapidly growing Asian middle class, and technology ending the tyranny of distance. We have the right leadership through John Key, Bill English, and his Cabinet team. And we have the right policy framework in place: smaller government through better government, openness to foreign capital and labour, a tax system that rewards hard work and enterprise, and a growing culture of innovation. Most importantly, this government has a fundamental belief in the power of the New Zealand individual and civil society.

This is a government that is governing with a hard head and a soft heart. We are the first government in a long time which has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems which have bedevilled New Zealand for too long, such as a persistent underclass; welfare dependency, Maori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor quality social housing.

We are not doing this by simply throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable is not, or should not, be measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with a problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right – “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results”.

This is a results-driven government. Across the fields of welfare, housing, and education we are driving through quite remarkable and transformative change that is delivering results for the most needy in our society.

There is still more extremely important work to do. One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best – changing kids’ lives.  Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It’s simply wrong that the classic career pathway for good teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration. I am proud to be part of a government that is changing that.

Mr Speaker, when people look back on this passage of New Zealand’s history, it’s my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the Fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State.

This government’s signalled economic achievements are important, but I think and hope that this government will be known for much more than that.

In closing Mr Speaker let me just say finally that I come to this House with the desire to serve. To represent the people of the Hutt Valley, to apply my mind to the challenges facing New Zealand now and in the future, and to work hard each and every day for and on behalf of New Zealanders. Much faith has been placed in me by many people. Mr Speaker I intend to work hard to repay that faith.

 


Barbara Kuriger’s maiden speech

October 28, 2014

National’s Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger delivered her maiden speech last week:

Tena tatou katoa, te paremata hou
te kaikorero tena koe
te pirimia tena koe
Ko nga mea nui, nga wai, te whenua me nga tangata katoa o aotearoa
Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Party President, Mr Peter Goodfellow.

And welcome to my guests in the Gallery.

My husband Louis, you’ve been a fantastic support and friend to me. We will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary 12 days from now at an electorate event in Otorohanga, which in itself indicates the level of support you have given me during the campaign.

Craig, Rachel and Tony, dad and I are very proud of you all, and I appreciate that you have all made it here for  this special occasion.  Tony, I know you are watching.  I want to mention your partners Kenneth and Zoe at home, and our four special grandchildren Zak, Max, Aislinn, and Theo.

Mum and dad, Leo and Leonie, thank you for coming.  I would also like to acknowledge my grandmother Joan Jeffries in Opunake, who recently turned 98.

Peter Goodfellow, Peter Osborne, Leveson Gower, and National HQ staffers, Young Nats, and party members; from selection to election you have all welcomed me and supported me in my quest to become a Member of Parliament. Together we asked lots of questions and took good advice, and here we are. Thank you.

I was brought up on a Taranaki Dairy Farm and I had one goal – never to marry a Dairy Farmer.  Louis, I’m very pleased I did because I learned the ropes, developed a passion and enjoyed my time on the farm, raising our family and developing an award-winning business which continues today.

This led to many of my industry roles, the longest of which I completed last week at DairyNZ.  I would like to especially acknowledge DairyNZ Chair, friend, and colleague – John Luxton, who is in the House.  John, you and I were elected to the Board on the same day in 2003. Over the past 11 years I have learned a lot from you, and respect the wisdom and knowledge you impart.

I’ve served on a range of boards over the past few years.  Primary Industry Training Organisation, Taratahi, and Dairy Training have provided me with the skills needed for the training industry. I was a NZ Young Farmers’ Board Member, where I suspect I own the honour of being the only grannie to have been a board member. As an Industry Partner to this group I was able to enjoy working with young people having their first board experience, who I know will feature in many areas of leadership in New Zealand over the next 30 years.

In 2006, I was fortunate to travel as an Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust Scholar on a food and agribusiness market experience to China, Japan, US, and Europe looking at supply chains and customers. This experience really highlighted the fact that New Zealand is favoured for its exports, indicating New Zealand’s standout place in the international trading arena.

In 2012, the Dairy Women’s Network awarded me the Inaugural Dairy Woman of the Year, which was one of my proudest moments to date.  It was not a one person accolade, as it was a result of all the experiences I have had to this point in my life, and of all the people who I have met. The information learned on this course and friendships formed emphasises the rural and regional woman that I am, always looking to the future for ways the primary industry sector can grow. I was also a board member of the Venture Taranaki Trust. In recognition of my governance roles, I was recently awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Directors.

Taranaki-King Country is a large electorate, which extends from Waingaro right down to Toko on the border of Stratford, thus including Waipa and parts of Waikato.  Upon selection, one of my new constituents offered to buy this Naki girl a Waikato Rugby jersey.  I told him I would wear it with pride.  The respective mascots for the local teams, Mooloo the cow and Ferdinand the bull, always manage to create a great herd. And best of all, when Taranaki play Waikato, I can only win as the Taranaki-King Country MP.  Minister Smith, we are looking forward to the Taranaki versus Tasman final this weekend.

While I have an interest in rugby, it is not necessarily my favourite sport.  The excitement of V8 Supercar racing is another passion that I have to thank Louis for sharing with me.  I have been a passenger at 260 km per hour on a racetrack with a professional driver, and I can categorically say that my own driving skills are not quite up to that standard. I’ll be honest and say that I’m happy to be a spectator; supporting Louis as he drives his Star Car, much like he supports me in my campaigning.

In the large electorate that is Taranaki-King Country, we have eight district councils, about 17 towns, and many little villages. Our largest town is Te Awamutu.  Whangamomona is one of the smallest.  I am the MP who will not forget about the Forgotten World Highway.  I encourage you all to take the tour, an excellent tourism business set up on the old railway. I am the MP who will not forget the natural beauty of our electorate, which can be seen in the Waitomo Caves and the huge number of visitors that visit annually to experience the beauty of the glow worms and the history hidden in these caves. I am the MP who probably doesn’t have the willpower to drive past our famous whitebait fritters in our towns, including Mokau and Raglan, without stopping for that quintessential Kiwi lunch. Ultimately, I am the MP that is here to serve every one of our towns to ensure the future of Taranaki-King Country is bright.

Economic development in the regions is a key interest of mine.  Getting the right incentives in place for businesses to thrive in rural locations is a must.  Housing is not expensive, and the community is atmosphere supportive and embracing.  The call for more skilled young people is coming from every community.

Coming from Taranaki I have been witness to the growth that comes from a region that has worked together over many years to create a vibrant region, that comes from having an open mind, a willingness to trust new ideas, and a will to work together. From this we can see that when communities actively work together, success can be achieved.

Trade and exports lead our region’s income. The dairy and beef and lamb industries are predominant throughout our electorate.  Energy in itself is one of the integral parts of the Taranaki export economy. In Taranaki-King Country we also have dairy goats, Manuka honey, and a popcorn factory – something for everyone. But the young are not forgotten either, with the long established Fun Ho toy factory in Inglewood. Each of my grandchildren, the boys and the girl, all received a Fun Ho tractor and trailer for their 1st birthday, continuing the tradition of their parents receiving a similar tractor set for their 1st birthday.

Ultrafast broadband will provide a huge boost to our region.  The productivity that comes with connectivity will help us attract people who want the benefits of working regionally. I look forward to working with Minister Amy Adams to ensure this rolls out across Taranaki-King Country.

Roading and infrastructure will continue to be a focus in Taranaki-King Country.  I particularly look forward to the new roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 3 and State Highway 37 and the business case for the Mt Messenger/Awakino corridor. I also look forward to the development of various bridges across the electorate, which will further strengthen relationships between communities with improved accessibility and safety.

Mr Speaker, you recently came to visit Waitomo and Piopio.  Louis in particular was extremely honoured by your visit, namely because it was his birthday. That day we saw some great examples of fledgling regional businesses.  The new King Country Brewery and a small business in Piopio fitting out dinghies are indicative of the success that ensues when our regions work together, we thrive. We must make sure that red tape doesn’t get in the way of new and emerging businesses that will provide employment for our people. I’ve already seen some exciting technology businesses in Raglan and encouragement of more will be welcome.

Access to health, education, and community services are vitally important to rural and remote areas of regional New Zealand.  Under a National-led Government over 17,000 more elective surgeries have been administered across our electorate’s two district health boards. This shows those in somewhat remote areas of New Zealand are still gaining access to those vital services and that location is not a barrier. Across our region, more children are attending ECE before starting primary school, which is impressive for rural communities considering the distance that’s often regarded as a barrier. In time we hope to improve these ECE rates even more, with a target of 98 per cent by 2016.

Volunteers connect our communities.  From the Fire Service and Coast Guard, to those working in the prevention of family violence, I would like to thank all volunteers who do a wonderful job. Those who give up their time to take a neighbour to a doctor’s appointment, or those busy mums and dads who arrange play dates for the entire street; your support and continual commitment to the groups and individuals in our region is to be commended. These actions take away the vulnerability of people, knowing there is a volunteer support base to care for them.

Water will be a prominent topic, not just through the time that I spend in Parliament, but for years into the future. This is reflective of the fact we have an abundance of water in our beautiful country, and it is amongst my aspirations to ensure that we utilise our water wisely for our people, for our tourism, and for our industries. As a dairy industry leader, I appreciate how much work has been done in fencing, nutrient budgeting, and finding ways to improve water quality.

It will be a pleasure to join my first BlueGreens Caucus meeting.  National’s Bluegreen’s approach has shown that successful economic and environmental policy can, and must, go hand in hand. The abundant forests, rivers, and marine reserves are of real value and importance to the National Government, who are committed to long term sustainability of these areas that New Zealanders hold dear.

On the completion of my time as Dairy Women of the Year, I set myself a target that by the year 2020, in New Zealand we will no longer be talking about the disconnect between the rural and urban.  We have the collective knowledge, talent, and ability to work together to find answers.  It is a big call, but one that I’m up for.  I ask each and every one of you to join me in this project.  We only have four and a half million people – we have to work collaboratively to take on the world.

Thank you to my colleagues for the support that you have shown over the past few months and particularly over the past four weeks.   Maureen Pugh, the Class of 2014 enjoyed the two weeks we spent with you, we were sorry to see you go.

Samantha, Claire, Sharon, and Tracey welcome to my team.  With your help, I know Taranaki-King Country will be well served. Penn and Doug, thanks for your help and preparation.

I am excited about joining the Primary Production and Health Committees where I can bring some of my existing knowledge with me, and embark on a new learning curve where new knowledge is required.

I commit to be a hard-working and loyal Member of Parliament.

Tena tatou katoa.


Could Labour Day be NZ Day?

October 28, 2014

Labour Day is to celebrate workers’ rights, the eight-hour working day and unions, isn’t it?

Had I been asked about the day’s origins, that’s what I’d have answered but Rodney Hide points out the generally accepted explanation of Labour Day’s origins is built on a myth:

Tomorrow is Labour Day. Once again we will endure the annual claptrap that unions are great and won for us the eight-hour day. Without unions we would be working 24/7. It’s nonsense.

The Labour Day bunk dates from the start of European settlement. Carpenter Samuel Parnell arrived at what we now call Petone aboard the Duke of Roxburgh.

The Duke was just the third migrant ship to Wellington. Parnell was newly married, 30 years old and had travelled from London in search of a better life.

He found it.

On-board was shipping agent George Hunter, who asked Parnell to build him a store. Parnell agreed but on the condition that he work only eight hours a day. Hunter wasn’t happy. Eight-hour days weren’t the custom in London, but he had little choice: there were only three carpenters in Wellington.

Hence was born the eight-hour day. The practice caught on. For more than 100 years we have celebrated the eight-hour day as a victory for trade unionism. We know it as Labour Day which, on the fourth Monday of every October, is a public holiday.

We hear every year of the union movement’s long, hard struggle. It wasn’t easy winning the eight-hour day, we are repetitively told.

Without unions, greedy employers would have us working every hour, every day.

It’s a myth. The so-called victory had nothing to do with unions. It was simple supply and demand. The demand for skilled labour was high in the new and growing settlement. The supply was low.

Parnell could have negotiated more pay. But he chose fewer hours. That was his choice. That was the free market.

Every Labour Day we should be remembering how the eight-hour day was “won”: it was by two men negotiating, no third party involved. There were no unions. There was no labour legislation.

The good-faith bargain was sealed with a simple handshake. And the two men prospered. Parnell soon had enough to buy land in Karori and establish himself as a farmer. Hunter proved a successful merchant and was Wellington’s first Mayor. Auckland’s Parnell is named after Samuel.

Both men did well because they were free to negotiate what was best. They weren’t locked into antiquated work practices.

It was the free market that delivered. Parnell was fortunate he could bargain on his own behalf. That’s what delivered the eight-hour day. . . .

Unions have played a part in working for, and gaining, workers’ rights and they still have a role to play.

But neither workers nor employers are well-served by the old-fashioned confrontational employment relations and rigid rules we had to endure in the past.

Flexible rules which give workers necessary protections and choice while also making it easier for businesses to employ people are better for business and their staff.

Every Waitangi Day there are calls for it to be renamed New Zealand Day or for us to have another holiday to celebrate as New Zealand Day.

Given the accepted story about Labour Day is a myth, it could be time to change the name, let it become New Zealand Day and provide the opportunity to celebrate the nation.


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