Finance Minister Bill English points out the difference between National and Labour in yesterday’s finance review debate:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Mr Chairman—
Hon Damien O’Connor: What can we trust?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, it is interesting to hear the interjection from the Labour side asking the question: “What can we trust?”, because I can tell you whom those members cannot trust, and that is their leader with his trust. That is the answer to the question. Damien O’Connor asked, today of all days: “What can you trust?” The answer, if you are a Labour member who voted against David Cunliffe, as most of them did, is that they cannot trust their leader with his trust. This is the leader who says: “I’m going to pay back the money to the people, whom I cannot identify, who gave it to me.” So that is what is going to happen.
David Cunliffe’s contribution to the economic debate today is: “People gave me money confidentially to a trust so I could avoid declaring it on the pecuniary interests register. And now that I’ve said I’m going to pay it back, I’m going to pay it back to people whose names I don’t know.” His own members of his own caucus do not believe that. Of course, the real shame of all this is that many New Zealanders who used to rely on the Labour Party to protect and advance their interests, including those who show they are on below 60 percent of the median wage, now find that the Labour Party is enmeshed in a tangle of its own making over whether its own leader is trying to get around the pecuniary interests of MPs. And who is left? Who is left to advance the interests of the lowest-paid New Zealanders? The John Key – led, National-led Government. That is who. We spend more time talking about the most vulnerable and those on the lowest incomes, because we are the Government, which last week, working with aspirational, low-income New Zealanders, got 1,200 of them off a welfare benefit and into a job. And if there is one thing Labour does not like, it is people getting off welfare and into work, because they might become ungrateful. They might become more interested in lower taxes than in higher benefits. Is that not a risk? Those people might start saying: “We want decent education for our kids because we understand the power of work.”, whereas Labour would rather they stayed on welfare and accepted mediocre education, because if you are disadvantaged, you cannot expect to learn. And that is another big difference. The National Party believes that the point of a public education system is precisely to overcome disadvantage. The Labour Party believes that the point of a public education system is to make sure that those who are disadvantaged do not learn. Because you cannot teach them. They are beyond hope. They do not deserve aspiration. They cannot learn. And then you can rely on them voting Labour, if that is their situation. Well, the evidence is that more and more of the people who used to vote Labour when Labour was a working-class party now do not believe that Labour can advance their interests. In the old days Labour was a working-class party; now it represents the measuring class.
Hon John Banks: Who?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The measuring class—people with tertiary education who spend all their time telling us how much misery there is in our community. Labour knows even less than ever about what to do about it. Who is doing something about it? The National Party. We are not sitting around spending for ever arguing over measuring the misery; we are trying to break the patterns that locked it in. That is what is behind the whole-of-Government approach to this financial review. It is a National Government focused on getting results and working with people who have got hope and aspiration, and this year we are going to get to argue with a party that believes that none of those things can be achieved because people are too disadvantaged to be able to get ahead. We do not write them off; we work with their aspirations and their hope.
Labour and its potential coalition partners on the left – the Green and Mana Parties, want to throw money at problems without trying to solve them.
National has put a lot of effort into understanding the causes of the problems and directing money where it will do most good.
The left want people to stay dependent, National is helping people become independent.
The left would make work for the measuring class but keep the poor in need. National is helping people get real work to enable them to help themselves, give them choices and prosper.
Labour and its friends favour the soft options which entrench dependency and poverty.
National understands the importance of education and the power of work to break the patterns that lock in poverty and all the social and economic problem which go with it.