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House of Representatives
14 November 2012
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General Debate

[Sitting date: 14 November 2012. Volume:685;Page:6587. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

General Debate

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Attorney-General) : I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. For the record, note that there is no written speech. I am not reading any speech. This is a speech that is given from the heart.

I am very interested in history, and I am particularly interested in the history of the Labour Party. That was why a couple of years ago Chris Auchinvole and I went to Blackball to learn all about the Blackball strikes. Darien Fenton refused to speak to us, but one or two trade unionists were actually very pleasant. And that was why I was so interested to hear about the New Zealand Fabian Society seminar The Kirk Legacy, which, we are told in this pamphlet, was 3 years of courage and achievement. We have here dear old Norman as the centrepiece—I do not whether the photo was taken when he was shooting pigeons from the third floor of Parliament—we have a photo of Fred Dagg, and we have a lovely photo of Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan, a wonderful woman. It was my privilege to get to know her in recent years. She was treated appallingly badly by the Labour Party. Helen Clark treated her like dirt. Then we have a very nice photo of another person I really respected, Bill Rowling, a good man. He was a really very nice man also treated appallingly by his colleagues in the Labour Party.

When I read this pamphlet I initially thought it was out of Private Eye, but apparently there is an organisation called the Fabian Society. It is organised by some historian—or self-styled historian—guy in Auckland who runs a dairy in Mount Roskill, and I understand—

Hon Annette King: So what’s wrong with that, you snob?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: —that it is mixture of myth-making and airbrushing people out of history. I would say this to “Her Honour”: just keep quite and listen.

The introduction was by this fellow called Gerard Hill. I was very surprised that Michael Bassett was not invited to speak. He wrote a very good book on the history of the Labour Party, and a very splendid book, I thought, called Working with David—was it working with David or against him—a history of the Lange Government. [Interruption] Oh, it was Cunliffe’s book. Then we had a contribution “Big Norm, Big Labour, and Big Ideas” by Colin James, who was an apologist for the luvvies then and is now. We had a contribution “Mururoa and Nuclear Power” from Kennedy “I charge you with ecocide” Graham, a lovely guy; it is just a shame he immatures with age. Then we had Bob Tizard, 90 and going strong. And then “The Future”—the future belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the Labour MP.

Like all Labour publications or Fabian Society publications, it is replete with falsehoods. For example, we are told that Labour established the Accident Compensation Corporation, when we all know that it was Jack Marshall’s Government in 1972 that started it up, when David Thomson was the Minister of Labour. I see that some of the third-grade apparatchiks on the other side look confused, because they do not know their party’s history. Then we are told that the Treaty of Waitangi process, which Norman Kirk promoted, has been an unqualified success. Well, we all know that the years 1999 to 2008 were a disgrace in Treaty settlement terms, because they achieved nothing, and we also know that Mat Rata walked out of the Labour Party. Norm Kirk established our international environmental reputation? Well, that is rubbish, because Jack Marshall appointed the first Minister for the Environment. “The establishment of a New Zealand national shipping line was also a statement of independence.”—and also economic lunacy! Then we have the “inspiring action” of Martyn Finlay—and they could not spell Martyn Finlay’s name properly. It is in the pamphlet as M-a-r-t-i-n F-i-n-l-e-y when anyone who knows anything knows that it is M-a-r-t-y-n F-i-n-l-a-y.

So what we actually have is a most amazing attempt to airbrush people out of history. As I say, where was Michael Bassett? Where was Roger Douglas, who was such a fine Postmaster-General in the time of Norman Kirk? These people were here, as Winston would know. These people could have made a contribution.

So what sort of seminar are they going to have when they look at the years of David Shearer, in years to come? This history of the Labour Party from 1972 to 1975 brings us to the history that will be occurring at this weekend’s Labour Party conference, because David Shearer and the leadership are history. Their future propagandists will not have to airbrush out Shearer’s loyal troops, because they will be moved to the sidelines, just as Labour moved Peter Fraser to the sidelines for many years.

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) : On “Planet Labour” I live in a country where we have got the highest unemployment in 20 years. It is the highest rate in 13 years, since Bill English was last Minister of Finance. I live in a country where, despite the National Party promise to stop people going to Australia, 180,000 people have gone, which is more than the population of Hamilton, of Napier and Hastings combined, or of Dunedin and Invercargill combined. I live in a country where the Government promised 170,000 new jobs, and the number of jobs is going in the wrong direction. I live in a country where youth unemployment is high, where Māori and Pacific youth unemployment is over 20 percent, and where the base level of unemployment amongst Māori and Pacific is 15 percent. I live in a country where we have the second-worst current account deficit in the world, after Greece, and next year it will be the worst in the world. And I live in a country where exports are down.

On the other side of the land, we have got the National Party saying it is all going well. Well, what do you have to call those members? What is that? Well, I think after Paula Bennett’s episode today, you would have to say that that is fantasyland. We heard Paula Bennett today rewriting the next episode, the next reissue of Disneyland. We have already had “Grumpy Growth English” saying grumpy—what the heck does “grumpy growth” mean? It is fantasyland. Then we had Paula Bennett saying that unemployment is bumpy.

Hon Members: Bouncy.

Hon DAVID PARKER: Bouncy. Sorry, bouncy. I cannot close my eyes when I say that. We heard her saying that the unemployment figures are bouncy when the quarterly employment survey has had filled jobs going down. The household labour force survey has been going in the wrong direction for three quarters in a row, and unemployment is terrible, after 180,000 people have gone to Australia.

So we have got “Grumpy” and we have “Bouncy”. Well, I thought: who is “Dopey”? Then I thought that Mr Speaker will not let me say that anyone is dopey, but I have to say that it was a dopey idea to improve educational outcomes by increasing class sizes. Unfortunately, there are two people with responsibility for that: Bill English and Hekia Parata. So I will not call anyone “Dopey”.

Then, of course, what is Mr Key? Well, he is either “Surprised” or “Forgetful”; I am not sure which. He was surprised that unemployment was going up—

Grant Robertson: “Sleepy”.

Hon DAVID PARKER: Oh, “Sleepy”? No, I think it is “Surprised” or “Forgetful”. Business and Economic Research Ltd said unemployment was going up. ANZ National Bank said it was going to go up over 7 percent over time. “Forgetful”—well, we have got Dotcom. Remember the brain fade over that. He cannot even remember where he stood on the Springbok Tour—all those important years—or on the drinking age, or on anything else.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Who’s “Snow White”?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I was asked by someone “Who’s ‘Snow White’?”. Who is “Snow White”? I had to think for a while, but—

Hon Member: Judith.

Hon DAVID PARKER: Exactly! It is Judith Collins, who is trying to reinvent herself. She was “Crusher Collins”; now she is soft. She is lining up for the future, competing against Steven Joyce for when John Key gives up, tired of his job. He does not like being surprised or being characterised as forgetful, and he is looking pretty disenchanted with the job.

We have got all these problems in the country and the Government will not do anything about the serious issues. It will not remove the tax bias in the economy. ASB just today said that the favourite investment class of New Zealand is, again, rental housing in Auckland. We need a capital gains tax to get money into the productive sector. We need universal KiwiSaver. We need a Government that is willing to help our exporters and the people who are employed in those industries by doing what the IMF and others are saying is necessary. If you are a small trading nation, you have to pay attention to your exchange rate, as well as to inflation. But National? No, it says it is on the right track. Who else thinks that?

On the other side of the House it is fantasyland, it is Disneyland, and it is time that those members acknowledged that this economy is not working for ordinary New Zealanders. They are leaving in their droves—1,000 in a month to Australia. There are declining rates of homeownership because people cannot afford their own house, in part because they are competing against residential landlords. It is time to change track.

  • Debate interrupted.