Prime Minister John Key’s speech to the National Party conference yesterday included a rallying call for next year’s election.
National has a clear plan for New Zealand. We are delivering on that plan, and we are seeing the results.
The fundamental difference between us and the opposition is that we are about doing things, and they are about stopping things.
As we prepare ourselves for the election next year, I can tell you that I’m as fired up to win now, as I first was in 2008. . .
He paid tribute to his deputy and Finance Minister Bill English then listed some of National’s achievements:
Bill has delivered five Budgets – all in tough circumstances. But that’s what growing up in Dipton prepares you for.
Each Budget has laid out further stages in our plan to deliver a brighter future for New Zealand.
Under our plan, we have protected the most vulnerable New Zealanders through difficult times, set a path back to surplus, and built a solid platform for growth.
Under our plan, the economy is growing, wages are rising, the cost of living is well under control and there are 65,000 more jobs in the economy than there were two years ago.
Under our plan, business confidence is the highest it has been since 1999, we are delivering better public services for Kiwi families, and crime rates per capita are at their lowest level in more than 30 years.
Under our plan, we are overhauling a welfare system that is trapping thousands in dependency and giving people more support to get off the benefit.
Under our plan, more kids are getting early childhood education and every child’s going to get breakfast.
Under our plan, more young people are achieving NCEA Level 2, and National Standards are letting parents and schools see how children are really doing in reading, writing, and maths.
And finally, ably led by Gerry Brownlee, we are standing behind the people of Canterbury and supporting the rebuild of our second-biggest city.
These are real achievements, of which we can be very proud.
And I can promise you that through good, sound policy and economic management we will continue to make New Zealand a better place. . .
Former Prime Minister hoped to leave New Zealand no worse off than he found it, and failed.
The current one aims to make it much better and is already succeeding.
This is even more noteworthy when it’s being done in the face of tough financial times and natural disasters.
. . . The Party is in great shape as election year approaches.
We will have to redouble our efforts next year to ensure we keep the hard-won gains New Zealand has made over the past four-and-a-half years.
All of us will have to work extra hard to earn every vote.
Under MMP, all elections are close elections.
And they are not just about National versus Labour, but about the centre-right versus the left.
And it’s clear for everyone to see that Labour has hitched their wagon to the Greens, lurching the opposition to the far left.
Make no mistake, our opposition comes from the far left of politics.
That is a very scary prospect, not only to National supporters but also many swinging voters in the centre and more than a few on the centre left.
It’s important that New Zealanders understand what a Green-dominated government would look like.
They want to tax you more, rack up more debt and make you work two more years before you can retire.
They want a government department to run the entire electricity system, just like it did in the old days when we had blackouts.
They want to stop oil, gas and mineral exploration that would create jobs and growth.
They blame foreigners for all the ills of the country when our future prosperity lies in being open and connected to the rest of the world.
They even characterize businesses relocating jobs from Australia to New Zealand as ‘deeply worrying’.
And they take petty, opportunistic political positions on national security in the face of the obvious need to clarify the GCSB law – a law they passed in the first place!
Well, I can tell you that as Prime Minister, I take the role of our agencies and my responsibilities in terms of national security, very, very seriously.
And I always will.
It’s bad enough for the wee parties to play political games over national security, it is even more stupid for Labour to do so if it wants to be taken seriously as lead party for a government in waiting.
For our part, the National Party has a track record of sensible economic management and policies that actually make a difference to peoples’ lives.
We are guided by the enduring values and principles of the National Party.
They run through the 77 years of our proud history.
We believe in a supportive government but also in personal responsibility.
We understand that businesses large and small create jobs and prosperity in our country.
We believe in supporting people’s hard work and enterprise.
We have tolerance and respect for all New Zealanders and we don’t favour one group over another.
We believe in supporting families – they are the most important institution in our society.
And we have always been the party of home ownership, because we know it provides stability for families, strength for communities, and security for retirement. . .
This message was given to the party faithful at the conference.
But it was of course also aimed at voters.
This is an extraordinarily successful government.
In opening the conference on Saturday, Minister & Nelson MP Nick Smith noted where other parties had been five year into government.
Muldoon was facing internal revolt and external division over the Springbok tour. David Lange was falling out with his Finance Minister Roger Douglas. Jim Bolger faced a similar situation with his Finance Minister Ruth Richardson. Helen Clark was mired in controversy over foreshore and seabed legislation which led to Tariana Turia’s resignation and the formation of the Maori Party.
This government in its fifth year has a united and strongly performing caucus, coherent policy which is making a positive difference, and polls consistently show support at more or less the same level as in the last election.
In spite of that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted.
No party has managed to get 50% of the vote since MMP was introduced and, popular as this government is, it is unrealistic to hope that National could do it next year.
That means we’ll need coalition partners, none of whom are in a particularly strong position at the moment.
The alternative to that on current polling is the Labour Party dependent on the Green Party and at least two others.
That gives voters the option of a centre-right government led by a strong and united National Party or a far-left one led by a weak Labour Party beholden to the Greens.
Anyone not clear on exactly how bad that would be should think about the Finance Ministers.
It’s a choice between Bill English’s steady hands and proven record or Russel Norman who still believes printing money is a viable option.
That’s a choice between leading New Zealand forward or taking it back and a clear choice between the centre right or the far left.