Welcome everyone; welcome to Epsom.
Last election Epsom was the difference; it made the difference to our Parliament. This election you can be the difference; you can make the difference to our next government.
Last election I told Epsom voters, they could vote Richard Worth, and get Richard Worth.
Or they could vote Rodney Hide, still get Richard Worth, plus me, plus the ACT team.
That's how MMP works. The good people of Epsom understood. Epsom voters voted for me. They got Richard Worth. They got me. And they got Heather Roy. They made a difference to our Parliament. A big difference. If you doubt that, ask Winston Peters.
This election I am asking you to ensure the next National Government makes a difference.
It doesn't matter where you live. You can be the difference. From North Cape to Bluff. You can party vote ACT. That's a vote for a government of change. And that's what the country so desperately needs.
It's that simple. A Party Vote for ACT will ensure John Key makes a difference.
On election night 2005 I was elected MP for Epsom. It was against the odds. It was against all predictions.
Strangely, I didn't feel I had won the seat. I felt instead Epsom voters had put their trust in me.
I had gone door to door, looked the young and the old, the rich and the poor, in the eye and asked them one-on-one to vote for me. I had never done that before. And they did. It was humbling.
I resolved that night to be the best MP that I could be for Epsom. I did not want anyone to regret the day they voted Rodney Hide.
And in turn the people of Epsom have reinforced my values and ideals. Given me a real sense of purpose.
I thought if I could make such a difference for myself and for Epsom then we could do the same for ACT and for our country.
We set the goal of being the best that we could be. We got out and talked to business leaders, commentators and economists on what was needed to make New Zealand the best country that we can be. We set out to lift our sights and the sights of our country.
To tackle a big goal you must first work out where you want to be. You have to picture your ideal.
We love to beat Australia at sport. We expect to. It gives us pride, self respect.
Beating them at rugby and netball is one thing. But what about striving to pass them where it matters, on how we provide for ourselves and our kids. That's the ideal.
The other parties have given up trying to match Australia. They say we can't. They say we shouldn't even try.
Not ACT. We are the party with the big goal. Our goal is to beat Australia by 2020 - economically, politically, socially, environmentally, and at sport. It means radically lifting our sights. It means telling Wellington it's no longer business as usual.
It means recognising that our government is failing us, it's not working, it needs sorting - and fast.
It's the failure of our government that has elderly ladies telling us they're orphans. Not because they have lost their parents, but because their children and their grandchildren have left.
Their grandkids are growing up cheering the Wallabies, not the ABs.
It doesn't have to be.
We can and we should lift our economic performance to bring our kids home which in itself will further lift our performance.
It is not enough though to have the big goal.
I have learned the hard way that you need a plan to get there. And you need to measure your performance. And tweak your plan based on your results.
That's why ACT has a 20-Point-Plan to beat Australia and bring our kids home.
It's a plan to bake a bigger economic cake, not simply slice up the one we already have.
This week I was critical of John Key's economic response to the world financial turmoil. He didn't have one. But John Key understands MMP. He knows to be Prime Minister he has to win votes from Helen Clark. He can't risk putting any difference of substance between his policy and the policies of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. And so he cuddles them close, and just tweaks Cullen's budget when global turmoil calls for a comprehensive economic response.
ACT is the party that can tell it like it is. We can spell out what we need to do.
First up, let's tell it like it is. Michael Cullen rivals Muldoon for economic ineptitude. New Zealand has been in recession all year - before the world financial turmoil.
We are heavily indebted. The rest of the world funds our lifestyle. Our current account deficit is a whooping 8.3 percent of GDP.
The rest of the world's willingness to fund us is over. That's what this world financial turmoil means to us. Our banks and corporate are going to find it tougher to roll over their loans. There's a worldwide shortage of investment funds right now.
That will force major adjustment for New Zealand families. No matter what politicians think. The adjustment will work through the exchange rate. Our dollar will fall choking off imports and stimulating exports to make us live within our means. Costs will increase making it tougher for New Zealand businesses and households.
Tweaking Cullen's budgets won't do.
We need economic leadership and economic direction. We need a recovery package. That's what ACT's 20-point plan is.
Government must facilitate the transfer of real resources from government to the productive sector so we can pay our way. It's going to happen anyway. The only issue is whether the transition is going to be painful or easy, and whether we are going to emerge from the turmoil even stronger or another basket case.
The way to facilitate the necessary transition is to cap government expenditure in real terms, free up the labour market and radically reform the Resource Management Act.
Both John Key and Michael Cullen agree that government can't afford big tax cuts. Well, here's a newsflash - we can't afford John Key sticking to Labour's spending plans.
Our government is too fat. It's squeezing us all. It desperately needs a trim.
Cullen has increased expenditure over the last ten years by 230 dollars a week for every household over the rate of inflation. That's a whopping increase. And ask yourself? Have you seen a 230 dollar-a-week improvement in government under labour? I don't think so.
And it's set to get even bigger. And John Key agrees with that.
ACT will cap the growth of government, that will force Wellington to get its budgets and priorities right, and enable lower and flatter taxes that will spur investment and growth.
Capping the growth of government will allow us abolish Cullen's 39 cent envy tax. Party vote ACT, and it will be gone by Christmas. That's an important signal to send. We will no longer have a government that will punish those who try to get ahead.
Small businesses and the self employed will be motivated to create real wealth for themselves and the nation. It will be a signal to Kiwis overseas that it's time to come home, their energy and enterprise will be welcomed and rewarded.
We are going to need them.
Party vote ACT and the thirty nine percent envy tax gone by Christmas. That will be a difference.
That's the first part of a recovery package. It stops government soaking up even more of the resources needed in the export sector so we can pay our way.
The second part is to free up the economy so exporters can expand their businesses to take advantage of the lower real exchange rate and cushion the effect of the higher cost of imports.
That means reforming our labour market and the Resource Management Act. That's what ACT's Anti-Red Tape Bill does. That Bill is in front of Parliament and needs passing into law.
The third thing we must do is dump the dopey Emissions Trading Scheme. The Scheme was always a dog. It was all pain for no environmental gain. Now is not the time to be artificially driving up costs on businesses and households by creating a pretend market in hot air. The ETS will simply export successful New Zealand businesses overseas, making the real exchange rate problem worse. It will drive up costs for households, cost us jobs, and make us poor. The Emissions Trading Scheme has to be dumped and dumped fast.
A party vote for ACT is a party vote for smart green policies, not the dumb stuff. It's a vote to dump the Emissions Trading Scheme.
ACT is the only party this election that can be the difference. And the voters who party vote ACT will be the voters who will make the difference. That's how MMP works.
It's not just Epsom voters who can be the difference this election. Every voter can be.
There are small businesses now going to the wall because they are being squeezed paying for an ever- fattening government. Families are struggling to make ends meet with taxes, rates and other charges.
But John Key's hands are tied. That's MMP. He's just going to fiddle with KiwiSaver and tax credits. He's had to ignore the big hairy gorilla in the room - that's the government itself. Whittle that down, people will have more money in their pocket and the country will prosper. It's simple.
ACT can say that. ACT can do that. But only ACT can be the difference. That's the message you must take away from here today.
Vote not just for a change of government, vote for a government of change, party vote ACT.
Do that and we'll ensure the next National Government makes a difference.
Roger Douglas has taught me it is not enough to have a big goal and policies, you need the people who can make it happen.
That's why I have been lucky with Heather Roy. She has done all the work for ACT in Parliament so that I could concentrate on Epsom. Epsom voters really did get two for the price of one.
To make the difference in the next government, I went out to get the best people to join us.
And who better at a time like this than our best-ever Minister of Finance. To get the best, I asked Roger Douglas, not just to help out. Not just to stand. But to come back to Parliament and be part of a Government of change.
Roger has helped me enormously. I don't know anyone who understands politics better or has more experience and history. He is the only politician I know who can lift his sights to where we can be. He is a visionary. He is the only politician I know with the courage to debate big ideas. He doesn't claim to have the answers. But he has an uncanny knack of going out and finding them.
John Key ruled Roger Douglas out of his Cabinet. That's disappointing. I guess that's what John feels he has to do because otherwise Helen Clark will scare voters from National by decrying Rogernomics. But here's the question John can ask Helen.
What is it about anything that Roger Douglas did as Minister of Finance that you would change?
The end to the wage-price freeze?
The end to import licensing?
The end to opening New Zealand to the world?
Halving the top tax rate from sixty-six cents to thirty-three?
Would Helen change any of that? Come to think of it, she hasn't. In fact, she and Michael Cullen voted for it. The lot.
And what is it about ACT's 20-point plan that Helen Clark objects to?
Is it holding government expenditure to the rate of inflation? Lowering and flattening taxes? Having school vouchers or scholarships so parents sending their kids to private or independent schools no longer have to pay twice? ACT's Regulatory Responsibility Bill to slash red tape?
It all looks good and necessary to me.
But it's not up to Helen Clark or John Key.
Ultimately, it's up to you. That's how MMP works. If you want a change of direction, not just of government, you will party vote ACT. If you think Sir Roger's ideas and experience would add to our parliament and our government, especially at this time of world financial crisis, then it's in your hands. You can be the difference this election, you can party vote ACT.
Trust me, in the next few months John Key's going to need all the help he can get. Now more than ever, Roger Douglas's vision and ideas are going to prove invaluable.
ACT would not be here if it was not for John Boscawen. He has already made a difference.
Without his energy, enthusiasm and unbelievable organisational capacity, I would not be the MP for Epsom. We saw it again with his campaign against Labour's dreaded Electoral Finance Act that shuts down free speech in New Zealand. I said to John: you can't rely on the National Party to protect free speech. They never have in the past. The only way he could ensure freedom of speech was restored and protected was to come to Parliament. I have a bigger motive. John has the energy and enthusiasm we need in ACT politicians.
Party vote ACT and let John lose in Parliament. They won't know what's hit them.
I often get asked what the number one issue of this election is. I say crime. David Garrett has said to me a flat tax is good, but you can't enjoy it if a young thug has run you through.
I have heard the politicians talk and talk about law and order. Hours of it. I have concluded they have no answers. They just play politics with it. As for the bureaucrats, it's their ideas that have put us in the mess we are in.
ACT worked to come up with a no-nonsense policy to deal with crime. Not satisfied I asked Garth McVicar of Sensible Sentencing and Peter Low of the Asian Anti-Crime Group to audit the policy for us.
Garth agreed with Zero Tolerance, with police prosecuting the most minor offenders such as taggers, because that's how to stop crime when it starts.
He said Truth in Sentencing, where you serve the full sentence, with abolition of parole, was right.
He explained to me the agony that victim's families have to go through as part of the parole system, re-living the trauma and being re-victimised simply to keep the killer locked up and the community safe. That's gotta go.
But there was more.
Garth said Three-Strikes-and-You're-Out.
It's so simple.
Commit a violent offence and you serve your full sentence. No parole.
Second offence gets the maximum sentence. No argument. You also get a warning from the judge about the consequences of committing a third strike offence.
Third offence and its twenty-five years to life. Die in there if need be.
Fact is there are seventy-seven people in jail for murder with more than three jail sentences for violent crime to their name, before the murder. They should not have been walkingthe streets. Under ACT's policy similar violent thugs won't be. Think of the lives saved.
That's seventy-seven innocents who should be alive today. That's two bus loads
Seventy-seven families that would not have been devastated.
Amazingly, only ACT has the policies to deter the hardened thugs and lock up the psychopaths.
National favours truth in sentencing - but only after you have been sentenced twice. Announcing their policy John Key gave the examples of notorious killers such as Anthony Ronnie Dixon and Charlie George Baker and William Bell. One had a hundred and sixty. Another one hundred and two previous convictions. Fact is, they all had numerous violent convictions. Under ACT's three-strike policy they would not have been free to kill. Their victims would still be alive.
That's a difference. That's a difference worth voting for.
Having the policy was one thing. What we really needed was someone to make it a reality. That's why I asked the ACT Board to keep the Number 5 position on our list open. I wanted to get a specialist. And I got one.
Garth McVicar introduced me to David Garrett. He's a barrister. Like me he's knocked around a bit. Worked on oil rigs. But his passion is stopping crime. And the policies needed to fix it. He's travelled to the States. He's seen Sheriff Joe's tent jails. He's studied the three-strikes-and-you're-out policy and drafted the legislation for New Zealand. He has worked pro bono for the victims of crime and been a spokesman for Sensible Sentencing. He's the man going to parliament to make our streets safe.
Make a difference. Party vote ACT and put David Garrett in Parliament to make our country safe and secure once again.
Here's another thing. It's the fundamental right of every New Zealander to defend themselves. I would hope I have Virender Singh's guts to chase the thugs down that knifed him, slashed his nephew's hand and bashed his nephew's wife.
I would hope that I too would stand up for myself and my loved ones. Virender Singh rang the police three times while fighting off the young thugs. His shop and his family were under attack. The third time he rang he pleaded, does someone have to die here before you come. One of the thugs lunged at his nephew to run him through the chest. His nephew grabbed the knife to save his life and sliced his hand badly. Virender was in a struggle with a thug and got knifed in the back of his leg. A woman who rushed out of a next door shop was bashed and her eye closed.
Virender and his family were under savage attack. They fought back.
Virender gave chase and bashed one with a hockey stick. There was no one else to protect him and his family. He did the right thing. He did the brave thing. He should get a medal.
Instead, six policemen come to his house, take him to the station, interview him, lock him up and charge him for two counts of assault. He's now out on bail.
Here is a small businessman protecting his property and being charged for his pains. There's only one word for it. Madness.
We have got it back to front in New Zealand.
Government and criminals are running amok with hard working and law abiding Kiwis paying the price.
And what's our government busying doing? It's telling us what light bulb we can buy. And how we are to shower. And making us criminals because we gave our toddlers a smack on the bum so they learn the difference between right and wrong.
That's why there must be change. Not just of government. But of direction.
Fortunately there is a way for those self same, hard working and law abiding Kiwis to make a difference.
Yes, they can vote for National and get rid of Helen Clark. But always remember, MMP saw John Key and National voting to criminalise smacking.
A party vote for ACT is a vote to dump Helen Clark AND dump her policies.
This really does bear repeating. A vote for National is just a vote for change of government. A party vote for ACT is a vote for a change of government AND a government of change. That's what we need.
And, so long as you give your party vote to ACT, we'll do it.
Now is your chance to make a real difference.
We'll do it with outstanding MPs like the remarkable people behind me.
We have real people with real policies, vision and passion to get New Zealand values back on track.
People prepared to go to Parliament to fix things.
New Zealand is facing critical economic times.
Now is the time for clear thinking. Now is the time for strong economic leadership and clear direction.
Now is the time to encourage business to invest and expand and employ.
Now is the time as a nation for us to unite in a determination to emerge stronger from the global financial crisis.
Now is not the time for the hope and pray policies of Labour.
Now is the time to implement long overdue policies to strengthen the New Zealand economy.
Yes. ACT's time has come.
Now is our moment.
We can emerge from this present crisis stronger than we have ever been. We can once again build an economy that will sustain us and our families and a society where our mums and daughters are safe.
We can regain our pride, our self respect.
We can catch and match Australia.
And you can make a real difference this election.
You can Party vote ACT.
Get your friends, your neighbours, your workmates, your family to Party Vote ACT.
Tell them, they can be the difference.
Then we'll ensure the next National Government makes a difference.
We won't let you down.
We will make your vote count.
I will make sure of that.