Paul Goldsmith’s maiden speech

Paul Goldsmith seconded the motion in the Address and reply debate and delivered his  maiden speech:

I second the motion, That a respectful Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

I begin by joining my colleague, Alfred Ngaro, in congratulating you Mr Speaker on your election to the Chair. You bring honour to your office.

No reira, e nga rangatira, e nga waka, e nga karanga maha, tena koutou.

The first member of my family to reach New Zealand was Charles George Goldsmith, who settled in Poverty Bay in the mid-1840s.

He was the typical big-hearted pioneer; a trader. And over the 50 years or so he lived in New Zealand he had four wives – two Ngati Porou and two Pākehā – and 16 children. That’s the sort of spirit that built this nation, Mr Speaker.

But it wasn’t easy for Charles George Goldsmith. Two of his children, Maria aged 15 and Albert, who was just four, were executed on the orders of Te Kooti during the Matawhero massacre of November 1868.

On my mother’s side, her great grandfather Edward Turner came to New Zealand in 1883. Like many migrants he was fleeing trouble at home and looking to start afresh in a new land. He went on to found a great enterprise, Turners & Growers that amongst other things pioneered the export kiwifruit industry.

A hundred years later, as a schoolboy, I worked down at the markets during the holidays and was inspired by my family’s enterprise.

It feels fitting on a day like this to pay tribute to my forbears. Their lives and struggles bind me to this land.
My parents, Lawrence and Margaret, are here today. As a maths teacher and a palliative care nurse they didn’t have to navigate such a precarious existence as the early pioneers, but they made sacrifices and laid a strong foundation of love and a set of values that have guided my brother, sister and I, and for which I’m truly grateful.

Mr Speaker, my history doesn’t begin with the generation who chose to come to New Zealand, or at 1840. It stretches back into the culture of the British Isles and includes the formation of this institution, through which we all serve our community today.

I’m proud of that heritage, of representative democracy and the rule of law which, while by no means perfect, have been Britain’s greatest gifts to the world.

Equally, I value the unique, blended culture that has evolved in New Zealand, and which continues to evolve today.

Mr Speaker, this is my only home.

For while I celebrate my English and Scottish roots, those countries have long since turned their back on my family – we have no special rights to return.

New Zealand is my only home. And what a wonderful home it is.

I’m very conscious of the honour, the privilege, and the burden granted to me, to serve as a member of this Parliament.

I’m honoured to be a member of a team, led so positively by John Key, a team that includes such a talented group of New Zealanders with a broad set of views and outlooks.

Mr Speaker, as some Members may remember, my primary focus during the campaign was the Party Vote. As for the electorate vote, it was up to the people of Epsom to decide.

And I congratulate my new colleague and old friend John Banks on his victory.

I arrive courtesy of the National Party list – and thereby as a result of men and women all around the country voting for National – although I’m bound to say it is gratifying to have received such strong personal support from the Labour and Green voters of Epsom. I look do forward to continuing that spirit of bipartisanship.

Epsom has been at the sharp end of MMP politics for several elections now, but it is also my home. It is a superb part of Auckland, a series of villages – Remuera, Parnell, and Mt Eden – circling around the busy hub of Newmarket.

It is my intention to base myself there and to be Epsom’s voice within the National caucus. To listen and, with my family, to be active in their community.

Though I’m not the member for Epsom, I do want to acknowledge the efforts of its recent MPs –Rodney Hide, Richard Worth, Chris Fletcher, and Sir Douglas Graham.

My goal in coming to Parliament, as I’m sure it is for all members, is to make a serious contribution to a government that through wise reform and new initiatives helps this country to grow and prosper.

I’ll be pleased if after my time here, I’ve been part of a team that has advanced, in practical terms, those core National Party principles of valuing the importance of enterprise, individual freedom and choice, and its flipside, personal responsibility.

I won’t measure my success by the number of new laws I’ve introduced. In fact, I’d be happier if we could thin out the statute books. The State’s powers of coercion should, in my view, be used sparingly and, as legislators, I believe we should resist the temptation to take too many decisions out of the hands of New Zealanders.

The liberty to decide and responsibility go hand in hand. If we chip away at the former we inevitably weaken the latter.

Mr Speaker, I want to talk briefly about the big issues that I anticipate our cohort will need to confront in the next decade or so, if given the opportunity by the voters.

And of course the economy is centre stage. While some more romantic members of the House suggest that all this focus on economic growth and material things is misplaced, I don’t doubt its central importance. The reality is we live in a competitive world.

Young New Zealanders are mostly well educated and ambitious – they want to be part of an economy that is dynamic. Most want to live in exciting cities and to have the opportunity to do well.

They won’t be satisfied with a future wearing hand-me-downs from our Australian cousins.

So we absolutely need a strong economy.

And fundamentally that comes down to producing things or offering services that the world wants to buy.

We create wealth by figuring out how to deliver those goods or services more cheaply than our competitors or, more preferably, by commanding a premium in the marketplace.

We can also increase our wealth by unlocking more of the potential stored in the human and natural capital available to us. I’ve been fortunate to spend much of the past 10 years writing the histories of many New Zealand businesses and business folk, several of whom have succeeded as manufacturing exporters – and the overwhelming theme is that it’s hard.

It’s very hard. The hurdles are high and the competition relentless.

Over the decades governments have tried to help in various ways – through export incentives, subsidies, encouragement for R&D – but I firmly believe the best thing government can do is to ensure we have good physical, technological and intellectual infrastructure, sound laws which are policed, low inflation, an educated and willing workforce and then get out of the way.

I’ve no desire to follow the political tradition of talking grandly about helping while at the same time stripping cash from struggling companies in taxes and piling on the costs to comply with all manner of nice-to-have regulation.

Mr Speaker, it feels to me as if we’ve reached the end of an era. All around the Western World the big spending welfare states are being forced to face reality.

Our way of life is being challenged by too much government spending, too much debt, too much drift, as we fall behind other more dynamic countries.

It falls to this generation to stand up and draw the country back to a more sustainable way of life.
We don’t need to turn the world upside down – but we do need to get greater productivity out of the public sector, and we need to make it easier for entrepreneurs to do their thing, and above all to inject some realism into the big areas of government spending.

I believe the National-led Government has made good progress, in difficult conditions, these past three years and I look forward to being part of the team to carry on the work.

Mr Speaker, the second defining issue, it seems to me, is welfare reform.

When Michael Joseph Savage introduced Welfare in 1938 he said it would do two things: end poverty and bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Sadly, neither of those visions has been realised. Instead, we now face entrenched, multi-generational dependency.

We have to change that system, not because we don’t care about human suffering, but precisely because we do care.

The no-questions-asked, as-long-as-you-like welfare mentality is rightly being challenged, and in my view change must surely accelerate, to target assistance to those who really need it and to restore a strong sense of accountability to the rest of society.

And when we look at education, it’s worth remembering that when my parents were young, a man could leave school with only his muscles to offer the market, and still provide for his family relatively well. It’s not the case today, and it certainly won’t be the case in 20 years’ time.

In a rapidly globalising world the premium put on internationally transferable skills is rising. The big challenge, in order to maintain a cohesive society, is to find ways to engage everyone in meaningful education.

It doesn’t mean that everyone should have to go to an expensive university or polytechnic course, but at the very least we should insist that nearly all people emerge from their schooling sufficiently numerate and literate to engage with the modern world.

I was fortunate to attend Auckland Grammar School, where we were encouraged to strive for excellence in whatever we set our mind to. I refuse to believe that that attitude is only appropriate in some parts of the country.

Life is full of successes and failures. I’d have thought a good education prepares children to face up to that honestly, and shows them what it takes to succeed.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I suspect we’ll be talking a lot more about New Zealand’s view of itself and its place in the world.

During the past few decades we’ve moved away from the Fortress New Zealand of pre-1984 to become a more outward-looking country that is part of the global mainstream. This transformation caused heartache, but the outcome has been for the better.

But at the same time, we’ve concentrated more on what makes us unique, particularly the special place of Maori within our culture. Again, this has been much for the better and has enriched us.
As an historian whose first job was at the Waitangi Tribunal, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to that in a small way.

I do worry, however, that along the way, and always with the best of intentions, there has been a tendency to elevate the importance of ethnicity in our political and legal arrangements.

And it seems to me, there is a danger, if we’re not careful, that we allow ourselves to become increasingly drawn to focus on internal differences.

We shouldn’t be afraid to debate these issues openly and with good grace.

I see myself as standing for an open, outward looking, multi-cultural, dynamic and democratic New Zealand, where our institutions are based on equality and accountability.

Mr Speaker, I would like to finish by thanking a few people.

My teachers in politics, the three Ministers for whom I was a press secretary – John Banks, Simon Upton, and Phil Goff. Each in his own way inspired me, as did my colleagues on the Auckland City Council, led by David Hay. Michael Bassett introduced me to politics when I was a postgraduate student.

Some of my biographical subjects helped shape me, such as Alan Gibbs who challenged me once to stop living vicariously by writing about other people and to get out and do something myself.

National Party leaders who encouraged me, led by Peter Goodfellow, Alan Towers, Peter Kiely, and Alastair Bell in Auckland.

My wonderful campaign helpers in Epsom, who willingly gave up so much of their time for the cause. Too many to name them all, but I want especially to mention, Tom Bowden, Grant Plimmer, Lesley Going, Beth O’Loughlan, Elizabeth and Roley Rackley, and Tim Woolfield.

And finally, my family. My parents Margaret and Lawrence. David and Jenny my elder siblings, who through their achievements prompted me to compete.

And my wife Melissa, without whom nothing would be possible.

The thing I’m most nervous about standing here today, is the possible effect a parliamentary career will have on our family. I hope it will open many opportunities for our children and expand their horizons, but I do worry about my absences.

I only dare to try because I know Melissa’s strength. Thank you.

This is a proud day for me and my family.

I pledge to work constructively with my colleagues, on all sides of the House, as we try to do our best for the people of New Zealand.

Thank you very much.  

I like his values and philosophy.

I also appreciate his acknowledgement of his family, the sacrifices his parents made for him and his siblings and the impact his career will have on his wife and their children.

4 Responses to Paul Goldsmith’s maiden speech

  1. Clint Heine says:

    Very nice speech.


  2. PurpleSouth says:

    He has also made a wise choice in his selection of an Executive Assistant in Parliament. He chose the very wise and experienced Pat Humphries!!!


  3. homepaddock says:

    Behind every good MP is a wise and experienced EA!


  4. Ross says:

    Ele, I have been tremendously encouraged by the 2 speeches that you have posted today. High calibre, thoughtful, focussed on the things that matter, balanced….

    Our parliament and country will be well served by such MP’s.

    Thank you for posting these speeches – I would not normally follow them.


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