Northland MP Mike Sabind delivered his maiden speech on Thursday:
One of this nation’s finest leaders once said of leadership “having a vision is not enough. Change comes through turning a vision into a reality. It is easy to espouse worthy goals, value and policies, the hard part is the implementation.
Tragically, 10 years ago the architect of those words, Sir Peter Blake lost his life in the pursuit of turning his vision into a reality.
The essence of the Blake ethos centred around the notion that it is your actions that define you, not your words, something that can be easily forgotten by the well intentioned in their pursuit of public service.
Mr Speaker, I raised this because in 2008 as a recipient of a Sir Peter Blake Leadership award I had cause to reflect on my own journey, the importance of leadership and the visions I wanted to see become realities.
Indeed Mr Speaker that moment was a turning point in my life and much of the reason I am here today, something I will expand on shortly…
But firstly Mr Speaker can I acknowledge your re-nomination and the dignity and decorum you bring to the role.
Can I also acknowledge the PM and Ministers of the Crown for the tremendous social and economic leadership they have shown and will continue to show this nation and express how humbled and privileged I feel to join this National Caucus, working to serve the positive aspirations of New Zealanders.
Mr Speaker, can I also acknowledge our Party President, Peter Goodfellow, the National Party board he leads, and the team from the Service Centre. I want to sincerely thank you all for the assistance you’ve provided me and acknowledge the outstanding leadership and support you provide our Party.
In particular can I thank Grant McCallum who was also my campaign chair. Thanks Grant for your outstanding support and dedication.
I also want to pay tribute to my electorate team from Northland. Our success in the election is exactly that – our success. Nothing could have been achieved without you , and while the net result of your efforts is my election as MP, I want you to know that this has, and will always be, a team effort and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the team.
Mr Speaker I want to make special mention of Sally Macauley our Electorate Chairman, the longest serving in the Party, Neil Clements, my Deputy Chair and man of great political wisdom, Ross Miller a loyal and guiding hand and also a special thanks to the evergreen June Levet, the Mrs National Party of the North.
At this stage Mr Speaker I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor Hon John Carter for the massive contribution he has made to the Party, to Northland and NZ.
Of course “massive contribution” could also now describe his tab at Trader Jacks, but I’m sure the Cooks will be well served with him as High Commissioner, not only for his passion to make a difference, but for the range of new jokes he will be unleashing on an unsuspecting population.
Mr Speaker I want to offer my thanks to all Northlanders who supported me through the campaign and who have entrusted in me to be their representative.
I owe you all a debt of gratitude and I hope to repay it in kind by being as effective as I can as your MP in representing the hopes and positive aspirations of Northlanders and the region.
Lastly but most importantly I want to thank my family – my wonderful parents, siblings and children. I am who I am and where I am because of you. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the family we are.
I also want to give special thanks to my partner Sandra. I may not have always been lucky in love Mr Speaker, but my Powerball number came up in that particular lottery when you came into my life Sandra.
Thank you for sharing my life with me in the way you do.
Mr Speaker I would now like to share with you three important themes: Who I am, what I believe in and why I am here.
I am the eldest son of Lew and Merlene Sabin, with one brother and sister. I’m the proud father of three amazing children; Brook, Darryl and Brenna. I am of mixed genealogy, like most; and am proudly of Tainui Whakapapa on my mother’s side. It gives me a uniqueness in this world which I celebrate, but more so I celebrate that NZ is my home and that I am a New Zealander.
My early years were spent in Auckland before my family moved to Whangarei. A product of WBHS, I followed my father’s footsteps in the Navy as a Seaman Officer, but before too long I found myself back in Northland dairy farming. As a young father I was keen to join the Police, essentially to contribute to making the community a better place to bring up my children.
With that in mind my policing career was soon focused in the area of drug enforcement, primarily because I felt the best way to make a difference was to focus on the cause of the problems and one quickly comes to the conclusion in that vocation that drug and alcohol abuse is the cause more often than not.
My career in the police shadowed the introduction of Pure Methamphetamine (or P) into NZ, an area I developed and expertise in, but while working on squads running undercover and electronic surveillance operations I literally saw NZ explode from virtually no P problem to the worst in the world within 5 years.
Our well-developed drug culture saw us primed for the only hard drug in the world that can be made on your kitchen bench from readily available retail chemicals.
Those 5 years have changed NZ forever and led me to the conclusion that the fight needed to go back to the top of the cliff. Quite simply Mr Speaker I knew we wouldn’t win the war trying to heal the wounded.
This desire to find a better way gave rise to MethCon Group, a drug education and policy company I founded and operated from 2006. The mission was simple; empower employers, students and community with education while looking for policy solutions to help provide government with better tools.
I sprang to public prominence over this time, a deliberate effort to give the issue a voice and sense of urgency.
It was a long, difficult and often lonely journey Mr Speaker, one that many told me was futile, one that many told me was someone else’s problem to fix. Nevertheless I stuck to the task for no other reason than my belief that something needed to be done.
Can I pay tribute to the PM and acknowledge his outstanding leadership on this particular issue – it’s been a game-breaker.
That challenge was put into chilling context however when on ANZAC day 2009 my fight went from P to my son’s survival when he suffered a catastrophic bleed on the brain during a game of rugby.
Following emergency surgery I was confronted with the news that his death was imminent, something I refused to accept, as I did their contention that if he did survive it would likely be in a vegetative state.
Like his old man though, my boy is a fighter – I knew that even if they didn’t and I pledged I would fight with him to get his life back.
It was a frightening journey, full of heartache but one in which I never lost hope. Sometimes Mr Speaker hope is the only thing you have to cling to, and when that’s the case you just have to learn to develop an iron grip, something we have been rewarded for Mr Speaker because today I am proud to say my son sits larger than life, fit and healthy in the gallery. It’s not what happens to you in life that defines you Mr Speaker, it what you do about it.
It was a difficult couple of years but by now my goal was to enter politics and eventually I sold my business to allow for a full time campaign to try to win selection and the election that followed.
Mr Speaker, while there are some who would say I am a one-trick-pony, here to further the anti-drug cause, far from it, my journey into politics has come about as an evolution of many professional experiences leading me to the conclusion that if one wants to support their community and nation to reach its real potential there is a need to be around the tables where the decisions that most affect our communities are being made.
The reality is Mr Speaker, my efforts with the P issue demonstrate more my on-going willingness to try to make a difference than my focus on that particular issue alone. Much like my son, I just wanted to try and find solutions, while many others were finding ways to tolerate the problem.
I’d now like to share a little about what I believe in.
I am proud to be a representative of the National Party because its founding values resonate with who I am as an individual, central to this – personal responsibility, reward for hard work and enterprise, limited government and equality of opportunity and citizenship.
Mr Speaker it is a fast paced world we live in and much has changed, even in my lifetime with regard to the fabric that binds society together and the balance required to maintain a healthy socio-economic equilibrium.
Too often now in my view a sense of pride, self-reliance and independence is usurped by a culture of entitlement despite the implicit irony that so many who contribute nothing to society have developed an almost self-righteous belief that society owes them something.
Striving to succeed and success itself is so often frowned upon as threatening and somehow discriminating against those who seek refuge behind an ever-growing vale of mediocrity.
Participation it seems Mr Speaker is now the goal and winning is equal part unnecessary and intimidatory.
Personal responsibility, the very source from which self-respect springs is intrinsically related to the individual’s willingness to accept responsibility over one’s own life. To do so is to give value, purpose and freedom to the soul. To refuse it leaves a hole from which the spirit of the individual will slowly but surely drain.
Yet years of socialist ideology, welfarism which has evolved to provide perverse incentives to opt out and the insidious encroachment of government on the minds and lives of citizens has seen the notion of personal responsibility pilloried like it were the ramblings of capitalist zealots.
This country is Gods own yet we condemn many innocent children to abuse, neglect and homicide. For a generation we have vainly sought solutions, largely ignoring the fact that we have created a culture which too easily traps parents in welfare, who often through no fault of their own, lack even the most basic of life skills and for whom personal responsibility is an unnecessary and irrelevant commodity surpassed by a sea of social agencies that seek to provide what they will now never have to.
Mr Speaker too often we have become consumed with addressing the symptoms of these very problems while failing to challenge the cause of them, something that often requires courage and honesty in uncomfortable amounts, but nonetheless something in my view New Zealanders expect of its leaders. To that end, I’d like to commend the work being done by the Minister of Social Development in this particular area.
Mr Speaker the long and short of it is that a little bit of personal responsibility goes a long way, but a lack thereof will go a lot further – just in the wrong direction.
And why am I here?
I am a great believer that a marriage of quality education and equality of opportunity are essential building blocks to social wellbeing and prosperity. Mr Speaker I am here because I want to do all I can to ensure this environment exists to help Northland and NZ reach the obvious potential we hold.
I also come here with a focus to see Northland develop a whole-of-region economic plan that clearly outlines a path to reaching that potential, the barriers that may stand in the way and where the opportunities are to make our boat go faster – and there are many!
Too often Mr Speaker Northland is singled out for many of the wrong reasons. But let me make it quite clear today, the less than flattering statistics are not the failure. Our failure is that Northland is blessed with economic potential but we have no plan to achieve it – well not yet anyway.
On that note, can I suggest Mr Speaker if any of the members of the house are looking for a nice patch of beachside land in Northland, it might pay to get in quick!
Mr Speaker the last point I want to make relates to judgment. As elected representatives one of our primary roles in my view is to exercise judgment.
Edmond Burke, viewed by many as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism said of judgment: “Your representative owes you – not his industry only, but his judgment – and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
In a world that is over-managed and under-led Mr Speaker judgment and leadership is what New Zealanders need and expect of us, something I will always keep top-of-mind.
So in conclusion Mr Speaker who am I?
A proud family man with a blended family of 6, richer in spirit for the good AND bad experiences in my personal life – poorer (financially) for the fact that I have managed to amass so many children in the process!
I am passionate about Northland and NZ and the pursuit of potential therein.
What do I believe in?
That personal responsibility is just that – the responsibility of the person – not the government
That carrots work better than sticks, but both are necessary.
That the first question we should be asking of New Zealanders is what is your dream? And then aim to create a social and economic climate to help make those dreams possible.
And why am I here Mr Speaker?
For the implementation…. quite simply I want to help turn visions into reality.