Welcome to the 83rd National Party Conference.
How good is it to be back in Christchurch celebrating 83 years of the National Party?
Can I start by welcoming two very important people, Hon Sir Jim McClay and Rt Hon Sir John Key, former leaders of this fantastic party of ours. It’s great to have them here this weekend.
I also want to acknowledge our National Party Board, led by Peter Goodfellow. We have Andrew Hunt, Alastair Bell, Pat Seymour, Glenda Hughes, Roger Bridge, and Rachel Bird. They work tirelessly for us behind the scenes to make sure the machine is fighting fit for 2020.Thank you for everything you do.
And our superb HQ team with Greg Hamilton at the helm. We are so lucky to have a group of people dedicated to supporting our MPs, our electorate committees and our rank and file members’ right around the country.
To the wonderful Young Nats led by Sam Stead, here in big numbers. You are energised, you are determined and you will be critical to our success next year.
Finally, my beautiful wife Natalie - what a woman. She runs her own successful business, raises our three children Emlyn, Harry and Jemima and supports me as my friend, my advisor, my love.
But Delegates, this is all about you and New Zealanders.
The New Zealand National Party has a bottom line.
Our bottom line is you.
Last year I welcomed you to our annual conference, we were a new team with new ideas. In the past 12 months we have listened.
In 2017, 44 per cent of voters asked for a strong government, a team with depth, a healthy economy.
What they got was indecision, horse trading between three parties who lack a coherent plan for this country, broken promises, new taxes and rising cost of living.
The very people who were promised the most, who are struggling the most are actually doing worse under this Government.
More people homeless, lining up for food parcels and a growing number of people on welfare while businesses cry out for workers.
All that platitudes and hope have given us is a weakening economy that’s not delivering for anyone.
We cannot and will not sit back and think this is as good as it gets. You deserve better, you deserve and are entitled to expect a government that delivers.
I feel a deep sense of urgency as I watch this country that I love falter, as I see middle New Zealanders struggling to pay increasing rents and to put petrol in their car.
We must win the election next year and put this country back on track to success and opportunities for everyone.
New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.
Our economy is stalling - uncertainty plagues our businesses and it’s having a detrimental effect on our everyday lives.
So what is the most important part of the economy? Is it GDP? Is it Interest rates? Is it the share market?
It’s actually you. The people of New Zealand.
You are the engine room, the heart, at the very centre of everything that is the economy.
You are what drives me and 54 other MPs and thousands of members of this party to get up each day and fight for a better New Zealand.
Our bottom line is making sure you and your family have every opportunity to live the best life you can.
Everything we do is working toward an economy that works for New Zealanders - that works for you.
A strong economy means we can invest in a health sector that you can rely on. I will not accept that only New Zealanders who can afford it will get access to cancer drugs that are freely available in Australia.
The New Zealand that I want to lead will not have a two class health system that provides care for those who can pay and leaves others suffering because they can’t.
A strong economy means we can get access to those drugs and mothers can give birth in actual maternity centres, not on the side of the road in Lumsden.
A growing economy is about a transport system getting you home on time, and where a visit to the grandchildren or dropping the kids at day-care doesn’t mean sitting in grid lock or driving on dangerous roads.
We are the party of infrastructure.
This Government has cancelled roading projects and haven’t started any new projects. This affects you in your everyday lives.
We can grow the economy, we can invest in projects that will make your life easier.
A strong economy means schools, tertiary institutions and early childcare centres that set high standards.
That delivers real results for children and young people that sets them up to thrive and live big lives.
A housing market that builds houses. I know that one is foreign to this Government. Don’t get me started on a minister that fails at delivering KiwiBuild and is now in charge of the whole economy - needless to say, you deserve better.
We weren’t perfect on this, but we weren’t Phil Twyford either.
This beautiful country of ours needs to be protected and looked after - a growing economy means we can invest and improve our environment.
A justice system that lets you and your family feel safe. One that actually catches the bad guys and holds people to account.
That means that those in small businesses all around this country don’t live in fear of the next hold up, and your children can feel safe walking home.
A successful economy means a welfare system for those that need it but not a hammock and the soft bigotry of low expectations that we are seeing today.
Under this Government there are thousands more who can work – but don’t.
A strong economy means confident thriving businesses that create more jobs and increase incomes.
This Government think they create jobs but the only jobs they are creating are more bureaucrats in Wellington telling you what to do in your life.
We know it’s the men and women of New Zealand that work hard, that take risks that worry about paying wages in small businesses throughout the country who are the backbone of our economy.
We salute you, we thank you, and we support you.
A strong economy is all about you.
In all of these important areas of your life, National has a plan and a track record of getting things done. We are the ones that can manage the economy to ensure it is delivering for you.
A rising tide lifts all boats, there are economic solutions to the issues in our lives.
They all have one bottom line: you.
So ladies and gentlemen. I know you love this country as much as I do. I know you care, I know you want to make a difference.
Our economic plan will be put to New Zealanders over the next 12 months leading up to the election.
We will outline an education and health system that actually delivers for you - we will be clear about what we will do and unlike this current lot we will be ready to work hard for New Zealanders.
Enjoy your conference, debate, discuss and put forward your ideas.
Because New Zealand can’t afford another three years of this Government.
We must start today with a sense of urgency.
Deliver our brochures to every letter box, knock on every door and we will make a difference.
Our bottom line is you.