365 days of gratitude

February 17, 2018

Yesterday’s sore throat is still here and it’s been joined by a runny nose.

People say it’s only a cold but there’s nothing only about feeling like you’ve swallowed razor blades and have a tap on your nose.

But I’ve eaten three oranges over the course of the day.

Whether or not the vitamin C is effective, I felt marginally better after each one and I’m grateful for that.

 


Word of the day

February 17, 2018

Pornification – the prevalence and growing and acceptance and normalisation of sexual themes and explicit imagery in popular or mainstream culture; the perceived pervasion of society in general or an aspect of it by the imagery, language, and attitudes associated with pornography.


Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Saturday’s smiles

February 17, 2018

Pete had an awful day fishing on the lake, sitting in the blazing sun all day without catching a single one. On his way home, he stopped at the supermarket and ordered four gurnard fillets.

He told the fish salesman, “Pick four large ones out and throw them at me, will you?”

“Why do you want me to throw them at you?”

“Because I want to tell my wife that I caught them.”

“Okay, but I suggest that you take the orange roughy.”

“But why?”

“Because your wife came in earlier today and said that if you came by, I should tell you to take orange roughy. She’d rather have that for dinner tonight.”

 


Judith Collins’ maiden speech

February 17, 2018

Three MPs have entered the race to be the next National Party leader.

Who are they and what do they stand for?

Some of the answers to those questions are in their maiden speeches.

I am posting each of them this morning, in alphabetical order.

JUDITH COLLINS (NZ National-Clevedon): Since this is the first time that I have spoken in Parliament, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his
appointment, an appointment, I note, that was made with the full support of this House.

I am proud to represent the electorate of Clevedon on behalf of the New Zealand National Party. Clevedon is a diverse electorate, located both to the south and to the east of Auckland. It is 80 percent urban and 20 percent rural. Included in its boundaries are the historic township of Papakura, the rural areas of Clevedon, Orere Point, Kawakawa Bay, Brookby, Alfriston, Whitford, and Ardmore-which, incidently, is home to the busiest airport in New Zealand. It encompasses the coastal townships of Maraetai and Beachlands, and to the north, New Zealand’s fastest-growing residential areas: Dannemora, Somerville, Shamrock Park, Point View, and Shelly Park.

The people of Clevedon are ethnically diverse. The population includes European New Zealanders. Maori New Zealanders, Pacific Island New Zealanders, and, increasingly, New Zealanders who have migrated mainly from Taiwan, Korea, India, China, South Africa, and Fiji. It is an electorate of schools with the highest decile ratings, and schools with the lowest decile ratings.

Clevedon is an electorate of old and new traditions, of Christian churches and Buddhist temples. On the one hand it is the home of the present Minister of Justice; on the other hand it was the home of Michael Choy until he was brutally slain. It is New Zealand as it is today.

I am the youngest of six children born to Percy and Jessie Collins of Walton in the Waikato. We were dairy farming people. We were not wealthy people but we were not
poor. We were and are middle New Zealand. In a way, we were very privileged. We had two parents, discipline, responsibilities, plenty of love, and, more than anything else, we had security-a family in reality, not just in name. I decided to become a lawyer. I did not know any, but I had seen them on television and I knew that lawyers could, if they wanted to, do a lot of good for people.

That vague ambition was made solid when someone made the mistake of telling me that I could not do it. The exact words were: “You won’t be a lawyer. You’re a nice girl; you’ll get married.” Well, at university I met and later married my husband, David Wong Tung, who was then a police officer. David had come to New Zealand as a child from Samoa. I have been a lawyer for over 20 years, and in that time I have also been a restaurateur, a public company director, a Law Society politician and regulator, a gaming regulator, a business person, a wife, and a mother. So the nice girl did get married, she did become a lawyer, and she did a little bit else, as well.

My ancestors came from England, Ireland, Wales, and Germany. All were looking for a better life: a life of freedom, opportunity, and security. The first of them sailed into
Nelson harbour in 1842. But, like many of my generation and of later generations, this country is my only home. It is a country of which I am immensely proud and a country for which I am prepared to upturn my life, and that of my family, in order to serve here in Parliament. · 

When I look around this profoundly beautiful debating chamber, I am moved by the knowledge that this is a war memorial. War memorials, like Anzac Day services, are not about the glorification of war but are, instead, about the commemoration of the sacrifice made by individual citizens for others. I am proud that my family has contributed to New Zealand in both peace and war. In this country they were farmers, breaking in the lands of Taranaki and the King Country, and they served their country in the New Zealand wars in Taranaki, in both World Wars, and in Vietnam. When I look around these walls, I see commemorated so many famous battles, including battles that my father told me about and battles where he fought-El Alamein and Monte Cassino, to name just two. 

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my family. I pay tribute to my parents, who personified to me the New Zealand spirit and the New Zealand culture: honest,
hard-working people who called a spade a spade. I thank my husband, David Wong Tung, and our son, James, who have always been supportive of me, and whose sacrifices I appreciate. I thank my mother-in-law, Flory Wong Tung, who has been a wonderful grandmother to James and friend to me.

Winning Clevedon, against the odds and with a healthy majority, took some doing. It also took an incredible team, led by campaign chairman Chris King, and electorate
chairman Roger Burrill. Five of my campaign team have travelled to Wellington today to support me. I would put my campaign team up against any other, any time-I will not say any place-and we would still win. I thank the people of Clevedon for the faith they have shown in me.

At this time, I pay tribute to two former parliamentarians. The first is my good friend Annabel Young, who is here today and who has long been a promoter of my coming into Parliament. The second is the long-serving Hunua member Warren Kyd. Warren served Hunua and its predecessors faithfully and well for 15 years, and when I won selection as National’s Clevedon candidate, Warren called on voters to support me, in the gracious and generous manner that one expects of him.

A maiden speech should include what a politician stands for. I have a vision for New Zealand. I have a vision that recognises and supports business, as well as New Zealanders at every level of society, that encourages opportunity, that celebrates success, and that rewards hard work-a New Zealand that will grow. All through the pre-election campaign, I have said that there is nothing wrong with this country that a change in attitude would not fix. I say that again today. As a lawyer, I know that laws affect attitudes. Good laws help to make good attitudes. Parliament makes the laws and shapes the attitudes, and that is why I am here. I am here to make a difference to those attitudes.

I have told the people of Clevedon what I stand for. I stand for one standard of citizenship for all, for one justice system for all, for one country, and for one sovereignty.
Conversely, I do not stand for political correctness. I do not stand for dividing this country-my country, our country-along the lines of race. I stand for all young people
knowing, as I did, that they can achieve anything they want, if they are prepared to use their talents and their energy and to make sacrifices. Conversely, I do not stand for young women leaving school to go on the domestic purposes benefit because they think that is an easy option. It is not; it is a trap. I stand for a safety net, not a welfare trap. 

I stand for a robust justice system that gives the police the resources and, just as importantly, the political backing to sort out the criminal gangs. It is those gangs that
manufacture the methamphetamines currently fuelling much of the increase in violence in the south Auckland region, and that fill the gaps left by absent or incompetent parents.

The criminal gangs recruit from and are affiliated to the youth street gangs. They have turned whole districts of this country into cannabis plots, and they are said to run the prisons.

I stand for business, particularly small business. Eighty-five percent of business in New Zealand is small business. I know first hand what it is like to mortgage our home in
order to go into business. I know first hand the hours and the money spent on completing silly little forms that seem to go nowhere, and do not achieve anything, anyway.
We have heard a lot over the years about the changes brought about in the 1990s.

Well, I remember what this country used to be like before the 1990s, and the changes that the previous National Government put into place. I remember how every Christmas holiday, the ferries and the airlines could be counted on–counted on to go on strike. I remember how every time there was a drought, the freezing works could be counted on–counted on to go on strike. I remember what it was like to try running a business with 28 percent interest rates. I remember what it was like under compulsory unionism, as an employee, being forced to pay union fees and never once seeing a union delegate. I have seen plenty of small-business owners put the welfare of their staff first, but I have yet to see a union put a worker first and the union second. Big unions might have a place in big business, but they have no place in small business.

I stand for sensible defence. I stand for New Zealand committing to its allies, pulling its weight, and growing up. Conversely, I do not stand for bludging off other countries. I do not stand for us, as a country, riding on the coat-tails of our SAS force and believing that that is all we have to do.

I stand for First World health-care and education, and I know that only a strong, growing economy can deliver them. There is a form of poverty in
this country, but it has little to do with poverty in a monetary sense. The poverty of which  I speak is a poverty of responsibility, a poverty of courage, a poverty of truth, a poverty of love, and a poverty of faith.

And that brings me to my final point. I stand for the dignity of the individual. I believe in God, and I believe that every human being is created with free will to do either
good or evil. That is what I stand for, and the people of Clevedon have generously told me that they agree. I pledge to the people of Clevedon that I will stand up for them, and that I will represent them and their views to the very best of my ability. And, Mr Speaker, you can be assured that I shall.


Simon Bridges’ maiden speech

February 17, 2018

Three MPs have entered the race to be the next National Party leader.

Who are they and what do they stand for?

Some of the answers to those questions are in their maiden speeches.

I am posting each of them this morning, in alphabetical order.

SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) : Nearly every maiden speech that I have read has begun with the member congratulating Mr Speaker on his appointment to high office, and I congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and also Mr Speaker, the Hon Lockwood Smith. I congratulate the Hon Lockwood Smith not only as a matter of professional courtesy but because of our personal friendship, going back to a beer we shared at Auckland University’s Shadows bar when he was getting a hard time as education Minister and I was a pimply young Nat.

Indeed, I joined the National Party at a young age, not because of any longstanding family connection to the greatest political party in the history of our nation but because then, as now, I believed in less not more government, in individuals doing as much for themselves as possible, and in reward for hard work and enterprise. Then, as now, I was generally economically dry and socially conservative, but never unthinkingly or uncaringly so. We need to do what works, not what sounds good in theory. In human affairs matters are often shades of grey, and not simply black or white. In economic times like these, rigid adherence to orthodoxies may not solve things for ordinary Kiwis. World-class health and education systems are essential. New Zealanders clearly understand this, and voted on 8 November for a John Key – led Government and the fresh approach to our nation’s challenges that it brings; they voted to move away from a slavish adherence to ideology, towards a new style of politics that is inclusive, dignified, and decent, and that believes that politics can be noble and deliver greater justice.

Can I today in this hallowed hall acknowledge my wonderful family and my amazing wife. My mother is from Waihī dairy-farming stock and my father from Frankton in Hamilton. Like so many in this nation, my mother’s ancestors came from England, while my father’s mother, Naku Joseph, was Ngāti Maniapoto and came from rural Ōpārure, near Te Kūiti. She remained in an unhappy relationship with her hard-living husband, Alf Bridges, because in those days early last century she thought that marriage to a Pākehā man was bettering herself and her children’s prospects. She continually told my father that she wanted her children and grandchildren to have letters behind their names, without really understanding what that meant. The dysfunction my father grew up with, and the sacrificial example he saw from his mother, played large roles in his becoming a Baptist minister and dedicating his life to service in many parts of New Zealand.

All my childhood and teenage years were in Te Atatū North. Just as my father has lived a life of service, so has my mother—bringing up six children of whom I am the youngest by some way. All six of us children, despite a lack of material wealth, have gone on to higher education, the surest path from poverty to prosperity that I know of.

In relation to my amazing wife Natalie, I acknowledge my debt of gratitude to her. She has sacrificed a lot because of my journey to Parliament. She is the daughter of a Welshman and a Polish woman, and she and I met in England while both of us were studying at Oxford University. She is here in New Zealand because she married a Kiwi. New Zealand must develop a fuller policy for stemming the brain drain than intermarriage; a John Key – led Government will.

My story is that I am the product of the wonderful family and world-class health and education systems with which I grew up. I am grateful to all hues of Government for the provision of health and education systems of such a standard. Following on from degrees at Auckland and Oxford universities, I have worked as a litigation lawyer and a Crown prosecutor, prosecuting over a hundred jury trials in the last several years in my electorate, Tauranga. These trials have included trials for the city’s worst murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and violent offenders.

Martin Luther King Jnr once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and in many jury trials I have seen injustices—indeed, manifest indignities—performed on the weakest in our society as court rules worked against them. We need to make law that redraws the balance between victim and community on the one hand and criminal accused on the other. Victims and the community deserve better than the so-called justice I have seen served up to them on occasion, and although there has been tinkering previously, more reform is needed to make the jury trial a more just institution. In short, juries need to be trusted with more information, and victims need to be treated more evenly when compared with accused.

Just as constant vigilance and scrutiny are required in relation to the ancient tradition of the jury trial, so is diligence necessary regarding our rules for elections and our constitutional arrangements. Nothing is ever perfect; there is always a better way.

My already-mentioned ancestry or whakapapa, of course, makes me who I am. In reference to it again, let us remember what another MP for Tauranga, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, said in his maiden speech to this House, which is equally apposite for myself: “I am a New Zealander, I am a Māori, and I am also a lawyer. New Zealand is not a monotonous garden where every flower is the same; it is a garden where the diversity of the blooms enriches the view.” The diversity of my ancestry enriches my outlook, and deepens my empathy for all New Zealanders, no matter their race or background.

Can I at this point acknowledge Winston Peters, whom I stood against in Tauranga. As I said on the evening of the election, Winston Peters, I respect you, and I acknowledge that I learnt a lot from you while we jousted on the campaign. You have been amongst the very longest-serving members in this House, and now you are no longer here. You will nevertheless be long remembered, and I wish you well in the future. Can I also acknowledge another colourful Tauranga politician—we seem to have had a few of them—Bob Clarkson. Bob, you have been a great servant of Tauranga, inside and out of Parliament, and you put National back on the map in Tauranga. I know that your high level of service will continue, and I also wish you well in the future.

Tauranga has attracted politicians of colour because it is a place of singular loveliness. Its beaches, weather, and people are special, and renowned throughout our nation. Tauranga is a jewel in the crown that is our nation. And no longer is it the sleepy little seaside village of yesteryear. Since the early 1980s it has grown exponentially from approximately 50,000 people to become a vibrant city of the future with a population of over 110,000. School rolls have burgeoned as young families have flooded in. A baby boom has occurred in our city. In years to come, and perhaps even while I am still privileged to represent it, Greater Tauranga is, on some estimates, set to rival both Hamilton and Wellington in population terms. Accordingly, National Ministers can be assured I will fiercely advocate my city’s cause on the back of a strong case based on growth in numbers, now and going forward.

As a student in Te Atatū North and then at Auckland and Oxford universities, and later as a professional in Auckland and then in Tauranga, I have always kept the fire of my politics alight. Indeed, since 1992 I have continuously held office in the National Party, at nearly all levels.

Although to many this is not a selling point, I say to this House that I have long dreamt of standing here and delivering my maiden speech. Just as in some quarters it is no longer de rigueur to believe in jury trials, so in others Parliament is a place out of fashion. Nevertheless I believe in it, and want to do all I can to uphold its integrity and central position in our society. As I have said, I have long dreamt of standing here and delivering my maiden speech. I have wanted to, for my ancestors and family and for my future family and people. I have wanted to, as a pimply young Nat and now as a man in his 30s, because then and now I have realised that Parliament is a place that matters. This is still the place that makes a difference to the Naku Josephs of yesteryear, and to the Simon Bridgeses of tomorrow. This is still the place that can deliver world-class health and education systems, and can ensure that individuals get ahead regardless of their race or background.

Although it is perhaps unusual to quote from a valedictory speech in a maiden speech, let us remember former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s final words to the House of Commons last year: “to all my colleagues from different political parties. Some may belittle politics but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall. Although I know it has many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes.” My prayer in this House is to always pursue noble causes and greater justice on behalf of all who need it in Tauranga and further afield; to be in the service of those ends and no other master.

Can I end by once again congratulating you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and Mr Speaker, the Hon Lockwood Smith, and by thanking my wonderful family, my amazing wife, my multitude of terrific Tauranga supporters, and my God for getting me here.


Amy Adams’ maiden speech

February 17, 2018

Three MPs have entered the race to be the next National Party leader.

Who are they and what do they stand for?

Some of the answers to those questions are in their maiden speeches.

I am posting each of them this morning, in alphabetical order.

AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) : It is with a great deal of respect that I rise to present my maiden speech in this Chamber, and I offer my congratulations to you, sir, on your election. I stand before this House as the representative for the newly formed Canterbury seat of Selwyn, and I am conscious of the great debt that I owe to the people of my electorate for the faith they have shown in me. I would like to begin today by pledging to them my commitment to work in their interests and for their advancement for the time I am here.

I would also like to pay a personal tribute to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Key. Our Prime Minister is a man of great honour and real charisma, and a man with a heartfelt empathy for the people of New Zealand. He has been an inspiration to me, my electorate, and all New Zealand, and I am especially honoured to be serving in his Government.

We seem to raise strong politicians on the Canterbury plains. I come from the same part of the country as the great Sir John Hall, a farmer, and former Premier of New Zealand, who in the 1870s formed and maintained a Government in a period of great change and instability. Sir John is particularly to be remembered for one of his final acts of public life, which was to successfully shepherd the women’s suffrage bill into the House in 1890.

In the passage of time we seem to have lost sight of the enormous contribution Sir John made, and, as a woman now representing his home area, I take a moment to acknowledge his legacy. As a farmer, he and his brothers formed one of the first large-scale sheep runs in the South Island, which later became Terrace Station. As a politician for the original Selwyn seat, he was respected for his integrity and huge contribution to the developing nation’s landscape. Sir John was a staunch conservative who felt that women would bring more decorum and civilised behaviour to politics, and who would be least likely to countenance official extravagance. Women, he noted, “instinctively possess a far keener insight into character than men, and the result of giving them a vote would be that a candidate’s chance at election would depend more on his character, for trustworthiness, for ability and for straightforwardness than on mere professions made on the hustings.” He said: “A clever ready-tongued political adventurer may cajole a set of dull-witted men, but if he has to pose before a number of women they will see right through his real character. It will be of no use trying to get around them with blarney and humbug; they will soon discover whether he is the unselfish patriot he professes to be or a selfish hypocrite who wishes to make use of the people for his own benefit. Women’s intellect would be a surer guide in cases of this kind”, Sir John said, “than that of the majority of men.”

One hundred and fifteen years since that pivotal moment in our history, I am extremely proud to represent the new Selwyn electorate, and I wish to acknowledge the many notable members of this House from the area who have come before me, including two former Prime Ministers: the Rt Hon Sidney Holland and the Rt Hon Jenny Shipley. I come to this House as a commercial lawyer and a Canterbury sheep farmer and, based on that, just last week in Wellington someone called me a “typical Nat”. Well, I make no apology for that side of my background. I am extremely proud of what I have worked very hard to achieve. But for those who are looking to stereotype me, it is worth pointing out that I also grew up in a sole parent household, always short of money, with my mother putting herself through a degree with two preschoolers underfoot, to eventually become a psychologist bonded to the Education Department. Her job, working with some of the most unfortunate families, meant we grew up all over the place—Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton, Wellington, and eventually Auckland.

Compared with many Kiwi kids, though, I was fortunate, because I came from a family of self-starters who believed that anything was possible if one worked hard enough. One of my grandfathers was an engineer and an inventor, who started a factory in his Wellington garage that employed many people for decades. My other grandfather is a well-respected accountant in Motueka, who again built his business from the ground up—a business that has strong roots in the agricultural and farming communities in the Tasman region. For myself, it was while I was at Canterbury University and met my husband that I began my relationship with the farming and rural sectors.

Back in Sir John Hall’s day, New Zealand was a young country, building its fortunes on the sheep’s back—an agricultural economy with a bright future. Today agriculture is still the backbone of our export-based economy. It was our past, and it remains our future. It is the primary sector that will help us as a country find our way through these troubled financial times. However, the farming sector is under threat from all sides, and the threats that face the rural sector in New Zealand are serious, and will need commitment and innovation to find solutions. At this time, we need the rural sector more than ever. We need to treasure our rural communities, not trash them.

Something that worries me is how many New Zealanders have lost touch with the land. Most Kiwi kids do not visit farms any more. They do not see lambs in the spring, and they do not grow up knowing that farmers care about their land—its health and its future. It is not in farmers’ interests to pillage nature. Farmers farm for future generations, and they farm for the prosperity of all New Zealand. Environmentally, we must find a workable balance between the needs of the environment and those of the rural sector and other stakeholders. But when we talk about sustainability, as we must, let us not forget the need to also be economically sustainable in the international marketplace. Although the issues we face will be challenging, and at times contentious, I am confident that if all sides can approach the issues collaboratively, solutions can be found and implemented.

We must also remember that the plight of agriculture is not just about the success of our economy. The world has a massively expanding population, and UN predictions are that feeding those people will be one of the biggest challenges in years to come. We cannot afford to let our agriculture industry in New Zealand shrink, where we have the proven capability to produce some of the best, and most environmentally sound, foodstuffs in the world.

The management of water, and in particular the need for large-scale water storage facilities in Canterbury, is one of the most difficult but also most important issues facing my electorate. Water is life, and nowhere is that more true than on the farm. In rural homes throughout the country, the amount of rain that has fallen, and the forecasts from the rain radar, are not just small talk. They can make the difference each year between survival and foreclosure. To resolve the matter we must look for the optimal solution, and then ensure that the law enables it to be achieved. Decisions should not be driven by who got in first, or which option is most expedient under the Resource Management Act. Rather, a macro-analysis of long-term outcomes and community needs must be the central consideration. We as politicians must ensure that the law supports rather than hinders such an approach.

That brings me to infrastructure. For too long, politicians have dodged the issue of infrastructure development. Time and time again, infrastructure has been shunted into the too-hard basket. Infrastructure requires long-term thinking, long-term funding, and long-term commitment. I have no doubt that short-term thinking has already cost this country considerably. We have to start thinking as a nation and not just as individuals. It really is a case of doing it for the greater good. And it is not just the economic cost. Communities suffer when schools, roads, libraries, broadband services, and the like do not keep pace with population growth. The lack of community infrastructure is a major issue for many parts of Selwyn. I do not want our communities to be nothing more than a place where people go to sleep. For communities to support their people, we must first support our communities. For New Zealand to succeed, we cannot keep saying no to infrastructure projects because they involve change. The process should instead focus on fairly balancing all competing interests, including wider public needs. To build New Zealand’s productivity we need to get innovative, take risks, and do it fast.

Fifteen years as a commercial lawyer has taught me that there are already hugely innovative and talented people in our business communities, but we are making it very hard for them to succeed locally and on a world stage. All over the country, these business people are telling me that one of the biggest challenges is getting a straight answer from central and local government. People are generally happy to work within the rules. They just want to be told definitively what the rules are. Businesses need to have certainty, and to be able to plan ahead, confident that the playing field will not change every few years. Being told by central or local government that the system means that it will take many months or years and often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant and legal fees to work out whether something can be done is not OK. It is a huge drain on business, and it is pouring productivity down the plughole.

Making laws that effect people’s lives is a very grave responsibility. When the law does put restrictions on people, we owe it to them to make the rules clear and concise, and not open to subjective interpretation leading to wide inconsistencies of result. An example is that of a farmer in my electorate, who was building two sheds that were exactly the same, a few paddocks apart on the same farm. One council, two building applications, and two different council officers were involved. The approval for the first shed took just a few weeks, and did not require anything further. The second identical shed took months, and required the furnishing of considerable further information and reports, and, of course, extra costs. That is not right.

Of course, we must have regulations, but let us think very carefully about what any restriction on people’s freedoms actually gives to society. If the benefit is minimal, and the compliance or productivity cost is high, let us not do it. Business in this country has often been demonised in recent years as large, heartless corporations making money off Kiwis for their international owners. But in reality, the face of New Zealand business is a couple of guys working in a workshop out at the back of town fixing cars, or a mum selling kids’ products on the Internet from home, or builders, sparkies, cleaners, lawn-mowing contractors, and painters. The productivity of this country is in their hands. They form the bulk of New Zealand businesses, and they will be very exposed in the coming economic storm. They are the infantry of our economy, and they are fighting on the front lines right now.

So are we sending in reinforcements, or will we abandon them? And it is the same in the social sector. We need some long-term thinking, focused on early intervention initiatives that can make a real difference. We have serious social issues to confront as a nation. While there are outstanding programmes in place, we need more. We need major attitudinal change right across this country. I believe that the key is fostering a strong sense of individual responsibility. As a parent, I can say that there is only one way to teach responsibility, and that is for there to be clear and consistent consequences for one’s actions. If 3-year-olds can get it, I think other Kiwis can too. That means that to be part of the very special community that is New Zealand, we expect people to take responsibility for themselves and their families. The State is here to help, but it is not its role to run our lives, tell us what to do, or tell us how to do it. The role of Government is not to wrap us in cotton wool to save us from ourselves.

I can assure people that I will stick up for the right of Kiwi kids to play on swings, see-saws, skateboards, and cycles; and to climb trees, and build tree houses without the need for a building consent.

I want to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge my husband and my two wonderful children who are here today for their unending love and support, and for making sure that my feet stay firmly on the ground. Don, Thomas, and Lucy, you are the reason for everything I do, and I love you deeply. Thanks must also go to my wider family, my parents, my sister Belinda, particularly, and to my new Selwyn electorate family for all their tireless work supporting me over the previous year. There are simply too many of you to name, but you know who you are. My thanks also go to the National Party, its president Judy Kirk, and our regional chairman, Roger Bridge, and my caucus colleagues for your unfailing support and guidance.

I conclude by saying that in my view for most of the past decade New Zealand has been heading down a no-exit street—economically, socially, and psychologically. We have been penalising hard-working families, struggling to keep their heads above water, with higher costs and higher taxes. We have been strangling business with red tape, making it harder for them to hire staff, and miring them in a field of regulatory uncertainty. We have been downgrading the education system, creating meaningless qualifications, giving kids poor work habits, and loading teachers with responsibilities that should rest with families. For too long we have had a culture where the State thinks it knows what is right for every family, and for every business; a culture where every social problem is renamed a condition that people should not be held accountable for; a culture where violent offenders seem to have greater rights than their victims. Well, that is not OK with me. I have higher aspirations for this country, and I have a strong belief that we can achieve them.

I would like to finish with the words of Sir John Hall back in 1890: “We cannot afford as a nation for [our politicians] to stand aside from the work of the nation: we need all their spirit of duty, their patience, and their energy in combating the sorrow, and sin, and want that is around us.” Mr Speaker, I look forward to serving the people of Selwyn and Aotearoa, for as long as they allow me the privilege of representing them. I thank you.

 


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