Sunday, November 13, 2011

"When you sup with the Neoliberal ... use a long-handled spoon"

Much has been made this week of NZF's surge in the polls. We thank the media for finally deciding to sit up and take note of what's sure to be one of the more interesting stories this election - our comeback.

However, a surge in Peters-popularity inevitably causes all manner of spurious allegations to come out of the woodwork from the man and the party's detractors. We've already seen the re-hashing of hackneyed versions of the Owen G Glenn saga which omit to mention the police report finding in Winston's favour. Others have sought to raise the specter of Winston the Kingmaker, calling him a reason to vote against MMP due to his deftness at post-election negotiation.

Certain elements in the media (chiefly in my mind this morning's Sunday Herald editorial) are now attempting to undermine our post-election coalition position by spinning the hell out of our two previous Near-Government Experiences (rather like a near-Death experience except with more bureaucracy).

The customary opening claim runs "in 1996 Winston campaigned on destroying National and then went into government with them."

This is then followed with disparaging remarks about the 2005 arrangement, which usually attempts to seriously mis-characterise NZF's interaction with the then-Labour government.

What they're saying is that NZF can't be trusted to *remain* in opposition once we return to Parliament.

Their general thrust is plain - "you shouldn't trust Winston to keep the Government honest in 2011".

Which is ridiculous. Here's why. John Key has ruled Winston out. Winston has ruled John Key out. John Key has ruled out not selling assets. Winston has *very emphatically* ruled selling assets out. There is thus prima facie no reason to assume NZF will go into government with National in 2011.

The counter-factual narrative then usually ripostes by suggesting that New Zealand First had ruled National out in 1996. This is severely misinterpreting Winston's remark that "the price of a coalition agreement ought to be Jim Bolger's head". And, as it turned out, the price of a coalition agreement was more to the tune of ending asset sales, keeping ACT out of government, free doctor's visits for under-6s and moves toward compulsory national savings and a universal student allowance.
Or, in other words, New Zealand First hadn't ruled out National, and made substantial gains and unquestionable gains for New Zealand by going into coalition.

This contrasts markedly with 2011, wherein Winston has very definitely ruled out National; although I suppose it torments the Business Round Table no end to speculate whether he might reverse this position and entertain negotiations ... if he were to re-take his old Treasurer role and once again end the neoliberal agenda of a wayward National party.

Interestingly, it also contrasts rather markedly with the post-election stance adopted by The Greens, who consistently refuse to rule out National.
This despite its highly publicised recent use of Robyn Malcolm to castigate the Prime Minister and its seemingly-now-abandoned taxation egalitarianism.

Our logic, in effect, was this. We cannot in good conscience go into government with a major party that plans to destroy and to cheapen the nation that we love. National's second term agenda is precisely this.
They have declared they will not countenance any party which won't aid and abet them in this.
The Maori Party voting to raise GST to 15% and make our tax system more unfair as the price of its confidence & supply votes is a prime example.

National have said they will stake their second term on partial asset sales. They're hell-bent on it.
They've supped tea with the Neoliberals in Epsom to try and bring their partners in crime ACT back to help them. The record of both parties in office also suggests frank economic incompetence. Under this three-ring political circus, we've seen a massive increase in the number of Kiwis seeking a Brighter Future in Australia.
We've seen rampant inflation, rampant public debt to pay for unfair tax cuts, and rampant spending cuts to both the public purse and our own wallets. We've seen all manner of shadowy constitutional and economic posturing. We've seen the Foreshore & Seabed and aspects of our economic sovereignty quite literally given away. The record of the last three years suggests the Key-lead government might well have resembled the bridge of the Rena.

Foreign Owned.

Any party which is not prepared to rule out coalition with National is, in effect, refusing to rule out assisting National in the despoilment of the country which we hold so dear.
Any party which is not prepared to be honest with voters about its post-election posturing has something to hide.

There would have to be some seismic shifts in heaven, earth, and National Party ethos before coalition with them became an idea which any party genuinely committed to social justice and national sovereignty could support.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Securing our Context & Protecting our Perspective

As the 2011 campaign heats up, so to do the sentiments and the tempers of those involved in it.

Several times in the last week, NZF Youth have run into other parties' online activists brandishing the quote
"We have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand - or some other country".
This is then customarily followed with a screaming and hysterical array of vague and ill-substantiated allegations of xenophobia.

Now, anybody who's read the quote in-context - that is to say, anyone who's actually read the speech it originated in rather than a sensationalised excerpt - will appreciate how inaccurate this is.

Here's a short precis.

"Being a New Zealander is something precious.
That is why we called ourselves New Zealand First.
It means that we place our country above ourselves. 
We believe in words like patriotism, loyalty and traditional values.
We believe in the concept of the people of this country owning it.
We believe that we must protect and defend it.
And we believe that we have the right to say who should come and share it with us."

"The last census revealed that over 300,000 people in New Zealand spoke little or no English."

"New Zealand is for New Zealanders. This is our place.
The rest are here at our invitation. We will weed out those illegals who should not be here.
We will not have 20,000 overstayers 'give or take five percent'
And those who are here for genuine reasons and want to contribute and become New Zealanders, we will welcome.
And give them the same rights as New Zealanders."

What's so xenophobic about that?

Friday, November 4, 2011

"The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed"

Guicciardini once wrote "L'imitazione del male supera sempre l'esempio; comme per il contrario, l'imitazione del bene รจ sempre inferiore". For those of us who, like myself, never pursued Italian beyond Latin .. this translates as
He who imitates what is evil always goes beyond the example that is set; on the contrary, he who imitates what is good always falls short." 

For anyone who's followed the progressive political plagiarism of NZF's policies over the previous two decades, the meaning of the above quote will be clear.

What Guicciardini meant was that it is very difficult to copy the beliefs and actions of another and put them into practice without losing something in the process. When seeking to wreak destruction, this is hardly likely to lead to a less damaging result. When attempting to perform good works, this failure tends to lead to less effectual (indeed, inferior) works. Something is overlooked; something is missing. The imitator cannot fully grasp or become the ethos behind the action, and thus cannot fully replicate it.

An apt summation of the first part of the quote is provided by the neoliberals of Labour's (arguable) past, and ACT.
(I hope nobody minds me referring to Rogernomics as 'Evil')
The first time around, from '84-'90 as is a matter of historical record, Labour did fundamental and thus far unrepaired damage to the Kiwi economy. The ACT Party, not realising quite *why* the twilight years of the Lange government took their cabinet-collective-responsibility foot off the accelerator ... then spent most of the next two decades attempting to push the neoliberal revolution further. Indeed, Roger Douglas's foundational work of ACT party mydeology, was entitled "Unfinished Business". The jaundiced, economically quasi-literate minds of ACT sought to outdo their predecessors.

As you can see, the imitation of evil begets greater evil.

The imitation of good, by contrast, is often flawed. The best recent example of this is supplied by Bill English.
(I hope nobody minds me talking about English intending to do something positive)
National recently proposed to make Kiwisaver compulsory (with an opt-out), showing they've finally started to comprehend the point NZF first articulated some fourteen years ago about compulsory savings being good for an economy. It's only taken them three decades to see the advantage of a pension-based sovereign wealth fund.
The problem, however, is the date English chose for its introduction. Half-way through the upcoming decade .. and only once we've reattained budgetary surplus. Now, excuse me for being pessimistic .. but assuming we have an economically incompetent National-led government for the next three years, returning to surplus within that timeframe doesn't seem likely. In other words, inferior imitation turns a good start gets turned into an empty, wasted opportunity.

Similar examples abound from the Labour party. They want to  keep our existing state assets. Great. Let's take this to its logical extension. We want to start buying back the necessary ones which *they* flogged off. This was why the NZF-Labour administration 2005-2008 bought back TRANZRAIL.

Now this last point is interesting. It indicates to me that it's possible to correct the behaviour of a minor party (a stratagem known to the Campaign for Change as "the tail wagging the dog"). The same thing arguably happened with the Foreshore & Seabed Act 2004, wherein NZF's intervention kept Labour on-course (despite pressure from its breakaway Maori turncoats) and ensured crown title.

In sum, I came into this party with one burning sentiment.

"What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be
 read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television. I want this country to realise we stand on the edge of oblivion. I want every man woman and child to understand how close we are to chaos. I want everyone to remember why they need us."

I used to think that meant New Zealand needed NZF as a sort of eternal champion ... a Marquis resistance always there to guard against the return of rampant Neoliberal agendas.

I now realise it also means New Zealand needs NZF for something more akin to our traditional "Keeping the Bastards Honest" role. We should also be there to guide their hands. We are, after all, in the persuasion business - it thus only makes sense to ensure that the works we've inspired are not of inferior quality.

Say what you will about us ... but we're inimicable. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Achievements of our National Government 2008-2011 pt 1

A while ago me and a few mates were sitting around talking about how to evaluate the performance of a government. What criteria could we use to measure the success, competency, and - ultimately - whether it'd be worthwile to re-elect it.

We noted that the simplest - totally partisan - way to look at the issue would be to go on a government's self-reported achievements, and the self-described competency of its ministe
rs and MPs.

This would be manifestly ridiculous.

According to this view, we are gently watched over by a competent managerial team led by a former finance sector wizard and a present-day economic savant who have responded to every challenge in a way we're all "comfortable" with, and created 170,000 jobs a year into the bargain.

A slightly more externally objective view - is that of its constituency considering voting for them (at this stage apparently almost half the nation) - who would perhaps consider such things as campaign promises delivered upon, crises handled competently (or at least, responded to adequately), the improvement of its own material circumstances, or the fulfilment & enactment of its 'narrative' for New Zealand. Do we feel safer today than we did three years ago? Are we finding it easier to get by now than we did three years ago. Have our power bills and our council rates and our weekly groceries come down? Are we earning more? Are we being taxed less?
Are our healthcare and education services better? Are our kids employed? Are they employed in New Zealand? Are we going to retire at 65 and how will we fund that? Are we taking as good a care of our old people as we used to? Are we leaving our children the country in a better condition than we found it?

Then we decided to think about it from the perspective of the country at large, using external, 'bigger picture', and general goals. Things that the OECD measures. Things like economic growth, unemployment, investment funding, wages, improvements in education, child poverty, an HDI.
Have the signs of our economic health and wealth improved over the last three years? How well was the global economic crisis handled? Are we laying the foundations for a prudent and prosperous future? How are we investing in making that happen? Are our people more educated now than they were three years ago? Has child poverty gotten better or worse? Has foreign ownership of our economy lessened? Are the profits and the graduates staying in New Zealand?

Ultimately, we began to think about this from the perspective of people like us. Young adults facing dismal employment prospects, probably with significant debt. We are not Waitakere Man, we're his grandkids. Do we feel as confident of getting a job when we leave school or when we graduate? If we'd been born 10 years earlier and entered the workforce when things were easy, would we have been better off? Are our meager service-industry paychecks enough for us to get by, fund study, or live independently? Are we going to inherit a country better than the way our parents' generation (0r, heaven forbid, our grandparents' generation) found it?

We're also relatively liberal in the old sense of the term. We believe in a private sphere. We believe in the importance of our legal rights - we believe we should enjoy the same rights to jury trial and legal aid that the generation before us did; and we're not amused by the Armed Offender Squad raiding harmless Kauri Snail environmentalists.

Are we as protected now as we were five years ago? When Martyn Bradbury is given a lifetime ban from a state broadcaster for criticising the Prime Minister ... is our press as free as it was less than two generations ago - before we allowed it to be sold offshore.
Is our foreign policy in alignment with the interests and opinion of New Zealanders?
Do we know what we're doing in Afghanistan?
Will I get a lawyer?

And we're Nationalists. We believe that, to (do the trite philosophy thing and) paraphrase Voltaire ... "if the Kiwi Nation doesn't already exist then it's necessary to create it."
Or, to paraphrase John Ralston Saul, "New Zealand is either an id
ea or it does not exist. It is either an intellectual undertaking or it is little more than a small chain of tourist attractions lying in the pacific just offshore from a successful economy."

Now that might sound a bit arcane (and that part of the discussion was toward the more inebriated depths of the evening), but what we mean by this is that we're proud of being Kiwis and having a strong, distinctive shared identity as part of that. With this in mind, we got to asking questions as to whether the Treaty Partnership was working better for all New Zealanders now than it was three years ago. Whether the government was articulating our values. Whether traditional Kiwi beliefs about the "fair go", egalitarianism and equality, and our own gregarious sense of community were being furthered. Whether this was the kind of country we wished to raise our children in and leave to our grandkids.

Are We Better Off?

I think you'll agree that's quite a few questions.

But we feel that to most of them, there's one simple answer.

final thoughts before the RWC final

My heart sings to see our nation all fired up as one for the RWC; but why is patriotism a once-every-four-years experience? Why should we confine our enthusiasm and expenditure, our fire and our fervor to stadia and to 22 men.

Let's enjoy the match, but let's keep up the momentum post-game.
Let's strive together for a better New Zealand both on and off the sports field.

Let's win at being a country.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ben Craven's Karori Candidate Forum Speech

Speech to Karori Candidate Forum 19/10/11

"New Zealand First is the only party to fully embrace the democratic ideal of government by the people. Our philosophy is with the citizens of this country. It is with the community. It is with you.

We have faith in the collective wisdom and instincts of ordinary New Zealanders. I, for one, believe many of our country's problems could be resolved a lot easier if those making decisions actually understood their practical implications on ordinary people.

There is a tendency for our bureaucratic and political elite in Wellington to become insulated by a sort of beltway mentality that detaches them from the rest of the community.

For this reason, NZ First firmly believes in greater use of citizens initiated referenda, for example. While still respecting parliamentary sovereignty, we want to give greater weight to the public voice.

We would amend the relevant legislation so that a majority referendum vote could only be blocked by a three-quarter majority in Parliament.

Under our system, politicians would not have been able to ignore, for example, the 80% of voters who gave a resounding 'NO' to Labour's anti-smacking law. Nor would they have been able to ignore the 81% of people voted to reduce the number of list MPs in 1999.

Personally, I think it is arrogant for Parliamentarians to believe that only they are qualified to legislate public morality, or to decide important constitutional matters. We don't advocate a system like they have in Switzerland; we just believe the popular will cannot, and should not be ignored by those in power.

In light of these blunders, we must ask ourselves: Are our elected representatives actually representing us? Or are they merely pushing their own ideological and sectional agendas?

We also need to foster a greater sense of community cohesion. I think the rise of 'Neo-liberalism', the idea that whatever the market delivers is good for society, has been a corrosive influence on our nation's social fabric.

Yes, okay, personal responsibility is a virtue that must be extolled. But we should never forget our egalitarian past, and we should continue to cling to that good old fashioned Kiwi notion of 'The Fair Go'.

This country was built on the idea of everyone working hard, pulling together and chipping in. But I feel that American consumerism, and the selfish individualism promoted by some are eroding these Kiwi values.

Come 26 November, I implore you all put your community first, and vote for the only party that will restore real power to the people.

On the 26th of November, vote to put New Zealand First."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Investing In NZ's Future - Where We Stand With Students pt 1

Interest on student loans
We strongly supported Labour's bill to remove interest on student loans as a first step toward tackling our escalating student debt crisis.
However, taking interest off the loans was only a partial solution. Our students are still forced to begin their working lives saddled with crippling debt, and our best and brightest are still driven offshore in order to pay it back. New Zealand First will fight to keep your student loans interest free. Better still, we will strive to reduce the amount you have to borrow to live and to pay your fees with our universal student allowance policy and movement toward a zero fees model for tertiary education.
In the mean time, our dollar-for-dollar student loan repayment scheme will make it easier for you to pay off your debt faster.

Student loan entitlement
Access to tertiary education is a fundamental birthright for all Kiwis - whether you've just finished high school or you're a mature student. We noted Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce's moves to restrict student loan entitlement with concern as surely, in the midst of a recession, the most logical thing for many to do is retrain and upskill in the hopes of finding future employment. New Zealand First will make it easier for Kiwis to access tertiary education by lowering your fees and preserving your ability to get a student loan.

Student allowances
New Zealand First has vigorously campaigned for a Universal Student Allowance since our founding in 1993. Students are one of the few groups in our society forced to borrow to live, as well as being some of the most economically vulnerable - especially during a recession. It is unreasonable to expect full-time students to have to seek full-time employment to survive, particularly when many of the job vacancies you would otherwise be filling simply no longer exist. It is also fundamentally unfair to decide whether to hand out assistance to struggling students on the basis of how much your parents make. Not only does this make it far harder to allocate allowances on the basis of need, the current system is open to abuse by students from wealthier backgrounds whose parents have mastered the art of income trusts.
Kiwi students used to enjoy a generous universal student allowance back in the "good old days". New Zealand First will give students a fair go by restoring this entitlement.

Tertiary fees
Kiwi students pay some of the highest fees in the developed world. This is partially due to persistent under-investment in tertiary education by successive governments; and partially because universities have been allowed far too much freedom to make up the short-fall by gouging you, the students, their customers.
In the long term, New Zealand First wants a Zero Fees model for tertiary education - as we used to enjoy up until Tertiary Education Minister Phil Goff abolished it in 1989, and as many successful economies such as those in Scandinavia have today. However, we are also realists who recognise that such a change would be difficult to implement overnight. New Zealand First will re-impose a cap on tertiary fees as a first step and then progressively reduce your fees over a number of years. We will also ensure that this does not harm the quality of your education by once again properly investing in your education and our future from the public purse.

VSM / student control of student services & support
The ACT Party's "Freedom of Association" bill was an ideological solution looking for a problem. Rather than seeking to improve accountability, transparency, and value for money in our student associations, this government has instead decided to indulge in an old far-right game called union-busting. We note with considerable bemusement that implementing this law will neither decrease the fees you pay nor increase your control over how the money is spent. Instead of paying a levy to a democratic student association accountable to you, you'll pay higher fees to your education provider. Prior to the law's passage, New Zealand First would have instead advocated a strengthened opt-out clause. Now that it's passed, we fully expect to see the quality and availability of your services to be reduced. We are further concerned that universities will simply be able to ignore your views on the issue in the absence of effective student associations to represent and advocate on your behalf.

Student representation in institutions’ decision making processes
New Zealand First is deeply concerned about the decline of our student associations and their ability to represent your views. Since the passage of ACT's VSM legislation, the ability for students to make their voices heard has become more crucial than ever so as to ensure that the service you're paying top dollar for is acceptable to you - the customer - and meets your needs. We do not believe it is possible to have a viable university or student culture without an independent student voice. New Zealand First would therefore ensure that - in the absence of fully independent student associations - your university listens to you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Open Letter To WINZ

Follows is a letter written by one of our Christchurch-based supporters to Work & Income New Zealand.

"Kia Ora

Some of you will be aware that at the moment I am having a stoush with the Department of Work and Income, after they cut my unemployment benefit in late August. After the initial complaint to WINZ through their website, they assigned the manager of the Riccarton branch in Christchurch to deal with my case. Whilst they helped me get in contact with Studylink, and apologised initially for their mishandling of my case, events since then have shown to me that WINZ has fundamental problems needing policy change and Ministerial intervention.

As yet they still haven't reinstated my unemployment benefit - they say that they can't by law, but they expect me to struggle by on $80 a week for food. Further more their staff are seriously deficient in people skills, if not completely lacking. When I go into a department, I expect to be treated with respect and compassion, not to be looked upon as a problem and a burden. When I went in Wednesday the staff member who served me did not make any effort to do background checks, did not ask how I was or what I thought the problem was. More over when I showed him a bank statement indicating I am in serious overdraft because of WINZ's actions, he just ignored it.

WINZ put me into overdraft. WINZ can get me out of it.

I have no confidence that they can or will without Ministerial intervention. Subsequently there is an e-mail currently residing in Paula Bennett's inbox. There is another in the inbox of shadow Minister for Social Development Nanaia Mahuta.
A third one went to WINZ so that there can hopefully be a whole lot of faces drained of colour on Monday morning.

What do I think the problem in WINZ is? There are numerous problems. Some are fairly simple, yet quite fundamental in nature. Others are policy problems that may require legislative change.

1) I think WINZ needs a "fit for purpose" review - just like my old employer Environment Canterbury was subjected to. It is obvious that they have significant problems regarding their internal management; customer service; and expected outcomes.
2) Once a person tells WINZ that they are studying, they should be given a grace period to make contact with Studylink and get on a benefit or allowance. If they are on a benefit there should be a 4 week window or similar.
3) A benefit payment range, partially linked to the market - if basics are more expensive, then there should be a certain amount of leeway allowed by increasing the benefit, and lowering if the prices go do - not from week to week, but maybe from quarter to quarter (Jan-Mar;Apr-Jun...)"

- Rob G

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First steps toward tackling endemic youth unemployment

What of the Real Culprits - Speech by Winston Peters

"This week the government took a major step towards cementing a two tier society in place in New Zealand.

The two tiers of our society are of course the rich and the poor or as more commonly phrased, the haves and the have-nots.

This government is made up of rich people.

It governs for rich people, its policies benefit rich people and it regards the rest of the people, who are struggling to live and feed their families, as a "problem."

The first of the poor on the government's hit list are 15-19 year old teenagers who are going to be forcibly trained to work in jobs that do not exist. New Zealand First has always been for education and training, the problem is that unemployment is rife among this group with nearly thirty percent without jobs.

Their dole is going to be stopped and paid to parents or by some other means to ensure they do not waste it on booze and cigarettes. Both these products are illegal for under eighteens to buy now.

So that means if you are 17 years old and not in training you have to ask your mother - or some other person - for several dollars if you want to splash out on something reckless like a Big Mac or, heaven forbid go to a movie.

Again, New Zealand First is all for training and education. For years we have led the field in policies to give young people an allowance while they are training. NZ First is all for teaching young people that liberty is not licence. That the twin of freedom is responsibility.

But we are nervous about a system that defeats itself before it is even started because it is unbelievably stupid to try to train people for jobs that are simply not there.

Do we really need to train Australia's work force?

We have already sent hundreds of thousands of skilled New Zealanders across the Tasman and this new scheme appears as though it has no other logical outcome.

It is all a big public relations hoax of course - something that has been designed by the government's public spin doctoring department to appease certain groups in election year. My challenge to Mr Key is this - when you said in May that you would create 170,000 jobs in four years - what did you base that promise on?

New Zealand First suggested a better form of youth training several weeks ago and we gave a real incentive for employers.

Our idea is to set up crash education courses to ensure teenagers can read and write and then establish as many trade training schemes as possible.

We even have a scheme to help employers. If they give one of these youngsters an apprenticeship, we will pay them the dole the young person receives as an initial subsidy.

Such a scheme would pay for itself as the youngster starts earning a weekly wage and starts paying taxes.

It's what you call a win-win situation.

But going back to the idea of handing out food vouchers and the like, it smacks of the sort of Victorian charity that our ancestors left the Old World to escape.

And don't think for one moment that the government will only target the young.

For many weeks there has been a barrage of propaganda aimed at senior citizens.

Teams of highly paid bleaters are bleating about the cost of superannuation.

They want the age of entitlement lifted and the amount reduced.

Who is going to suddenly employ thousands of 65 or 66 year olds?

Where are the jobs?

It's just another part of the softening up process on the way to poverty.

The government is edging towards the concept that being poor is somehow immoral.

Next minute they will be referring to the ungrateful poor.

John Key is already on record as saying people should be able to live on 300 dollars a week if they budget properly.

We are sure that people in this audience could put him straight on that one.

Only a truly rich person would tell a truly poor person to be thrifty.

It's like Oscar Wilde said..."telling the poor to be thrifty is like telling a starving man not to eat too much!"

What many people don't realize is that the pressing financial problems of our age are all man made. And we can tell you which men made them.

The leaders of irresponsible capitalism - the bankers, the financiers, the futures traders, the currency speculators and the teams of monetary middlemen created this crisis.

It was not caused by anyone in this room. Ordinary people are not guilty.

Yet the pillars of the world of finance have brought the system crashing to its knees because of their insatiable greed and their willingness to do anything to make a fast buck.

Their losses were so great in the Western world that entire governments face bankruptcy baling these people out.

Governments did not believe they could let these firms collapse. So they are pumping money into the system to prop them up.

If they stop, it's been estimated that unemployment in America alone will soar to thirty percent.

It would cause a depression that would make the Great Depression of the 20th century look like a mild recession.

But as already mentioned, the people who bear the brunt of this financial folly are not those who caused it.

Ordinary people lose their jobs, get behind in the mortgage, can't look after the kids - the human cost goes spiraling down.

And at the bottom of the heap all you get told by the smiley face at the top of the heap - is you better budget more carefully.

We want to remind ordinary people there is something you can do about your plight.

You can go and vote.

You can tick a box called New Zealand First and it might be just the best tick you've ever ticked in your life.

We will not stand by and watch ordinary people being trampled on.

We identify with the battlers and the strugglers because that's how we started out in this world.

Help is on the way at the end of November.

Let me give you this assurance. If we win - you win.

I'll repeat it - we win - you win. It's what they call a win/win situation.

And remember, it can only happen if you party vote New Zealand First in November."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ben Craven's Speech 08/08/11 Wellington Central Candidate's Forum.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the public and fellow students - welcome.

My name’s Ben Craven. I’ve put my name forward to be the NZ First candidate for Wellington Central this election.

I’m not a rich kid, I’m living on my overdraft. I don’t have a flash suit either. And I’m a member of the New Zealand First Party.

So what’s going on?

Once upon a time I thought NZ First was, quite simply, a party of pensioners.

When you think NZ First, you think Gold Card and oldies. Probably a few zimmer-frames too.

But I looked a bit deeper. I looked beyond the media coverage and found a party that upholds ideals that resonate well with me.

You see, the reason why there’s quite a few elderly people in NZ First is not because it’s a pensioners party. It’s because they remember a time when New Zealand used to be a great country.

They realise it’s not a great country anymore. Not by a long shot.

They’ve seen assets sales by both Labour and National. They’ve seen the rise of consumer culture and the destruction of community.

Who here even knows their neighbours?

Furthermore, they have seen the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” grow greater each year.

And have seen consecutive governments fail our young people.

New Zealand First have a vision and long term plan to right these wrongs, to guarantee everyone a fair go and to ensure New Zealand is a country that our generation and the generations after us actually WANT to live in.

So why vote NZ First this election?

NZ First believe in a universal student allowance.

University costs far too much to make it viable for a great number of young people. They’re so worried about the debt that they’d rather go and work a minimum wage job - or better yet, go on the dole.

In investing in YOUR future, we’re investing in this country’s future.

“But wait - there’s more…”

NZ First’s dollar for dollar student loan repayment scheme is set up to help you guys.

The way it works is pretty simple. For every dollar of your student loan that you pay back whilst in New Zealand, we’ll match it.

What’s the point having a huge student loan scare all of our graduates overseas? The figures might look good on paper, but it’s money this country will never see again.

NZ First believe in helping graduates enter the workforce and prosper.

Some sectors want to ban graduates leaving the country until they’ve paid off their student loans!

We at NZ First do not believe this country should be a graduate-prison. But a place where graduates actually WANT to live.

Make no mistake, unlike other parties with their sectional interests, New Zealand First is a party for ALL of New Zealand, ALL New Zealanders, and ALL of those people who call New Zealand home.

We don’t give a stuff about David Letterman. Who here has seen Mr Key’s video?

In it, our National Prime Minister, the “Right Honourable” John Key, makes a mockery of this country and its inhabitants.

If he’s going to fob us off in order to prostrate himself in front of a US media mogul, then what chance does this country have?

Where’s this brighter future he guaranteed us?

Or should we assume that his policies for his contemptible countrymen will merely echo his personal sentiments?

NZ First are a party that take New Zealand, and New Zealand interests, seriously.

Who and what are Mr Key’s interests?


Make no mistake - National and their YoungNats are parading the right slogan - they’re all “Key People!”

Through Mr Key, the US see an opportunity to fleece us all.

You’ve seen it all over the news. The US are up against the ropes, they’re desperately in need of some easy cash and they see us as an easy target.

And why wouldn’t they?

Instead of resisting their advances, what has Mr Key done?

He’s committed more of our people into the atrocious US-led war in Afghanistan and opened up down-town Wellington to the US Marines!

So what’s this love fest all about?

It’s about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the erosion of New Zealand’s economic sovereignty.

The Australians already have such an agreement with the US. Now they’ve got American tobacco companies on their backs for trying to wean their population off smoking.

Yes, that’s right. Tobacco firm Philip Morris and others are looking to sue the Australian government under this Free Trade Agreement.

Now the US have Pharmac in their sights.

The fat-cat American drug companies will leech the life out of this country with ludicrously expensive medicines, your average Kiwi will be out of pocket and John “the smiling assassin” Key will get a pat on the back.
This government has shown us that they want to divide and conquer.

They’ve been flip-flopping their policies like a dying fish.

Just look at VSM.

Originally National explicitly said they were not going to support VSM, now they’ve done a great U-turn.

As students, OUR community and OUR representation has been all but gone to the dogs.

NZ First believe in preserving and fostering community. We want to maintain and uphold the values of democracy and for that reason we are explicitly against VSM.

This election it is imperative that we put NZ First.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Young people get a bad rap in New Zealand and it is undeserved. New Zealand First believes investment in our youth is investment in all or our futures. Our youth will face up to the future if they are given the tools and opportunity. We have an exciting policy for students, but not everyone is made for university. New Zealand First is embarking on a ground-br4eaking programme, new learning, new trades, new apprenticeships, new skills and new competencies for the digital age. You know we look after our grandparents, but we are going to look after our grandchildren as well.


Technologies constantly change, but the need for skilled adaptable people stays the same. New Zealand First will pull back on the practice of bringing in workers from overseas, while untrained New Zealanders stand in dole queues. Our long term economic plan invests in our manufacturing sector to provide more jobs and most importantly, apprenticeships. But it doesn’t end there. We will consult manufacturers about the skills they require to complete on world markets. And we will start training people in these skills. Many young people have asked to make trades training a condition of receiving the unemployment benefit. New Zealand First agrees. Basic reading, writing and numerical skills will be included. Skills levels will be lifted and employers will be given incentives for ‘on the job training;. We will increase the number of places available at polytechnic trade training.


Student debt amounts to billions of dollars, and it has to be sorted out. We will face up to it before it inflicts more damage on yet another generation of young New Zealanders. We will introduce a scheme where Government makes a matching dollar-for-dollar payment on student debt for students staying and working in New Zealand. So if a student with a student loan of $20,000 pays back $10,000, the Government would match that sum to extinguish the debt and remove a big incentive for young Kiwis to go overseas. A generation of our young Kiwis are effectively economic exiles because of student debt. We want them to bring their stills and ideas home. In the long run this will save New Zealand money.

Monday, August 1, 2011

NZF Youth Report - This Is Our Time

"Ten months ago I came before you with a vision. A vision for the future - of our party and of our Nation.

Today, I am happy to report that our Youth Section has gone from strength to strength.

We have expanded and rolled out on university campuses across the country.

We have experienced surges in support produced by our online campaigns on facebook and other digital media.

Most hearteningly, a recent Horizon poll indicated that 14.5% of first time voters were intending to vote for New Zealand First.

But the real story isn't just in the number of 'likes' or 'friends' we have on facebook, abstract polling data, or how many campuses we've arrived on.

It's in the reactions we're getting - and how they've changed over the last two years.

18 months ago, when we started doing this, NZF Youth seemed something of an oxymoron.

The best public reaction we received were amused references on some of the more effervescent
right-wing blogs to the emergence of a fanatical "Winston Youth".

Well we're here alright.

A year ago, there were small flurries of interest. Excited whispers that Barbarossa - asleep in the mountains - was soon to awake and return to his Nation in its hour of need.

For a select few, anything seemed possible and we struck sparks of inspiration wherever and whenever we spoke.

At last, we said, we had a genuine alternative to the other big two major parties - a way forward and a vision.

Today, when we talk to Youth, the reaction is easily summated:




Young people know increasingly what we stand for, and want to stand with us.

They are hearing our message.

They realise that we stand on the edge of oblivion, they see how close we are to chaos;
and they - along with the rest of the Nation - are beginning to remember why they NEED us.

Our generation is feeling the pinch created by thirty years of neglect for the things which nurture and foster a healthy youth.

Which turn children to contributing members of society - here - and which give and guarantee a productive position and stake in the Nation.

In 1989 Labour's Education Minister Phil Goff abolished free tertiary education.

The previous National Government abolished apprenticeships, started moves to scrap school-C and introduced NCEA.

Our present overlords have presided over a shameful increase in youth unemployment to somewhere around twenty per cent.

A fifth of those willing & able to seek work my age are unemployed, and the wage-gap between New Zealand and the Developed World continues to increase.

Small wonder 24% of Kiwis under 30 are intending on leaving the country to seek better fortunes in those well-renowned "greener" pastures (or coal-mines) across the Tasman.

Don't get me wrong - we recognise and enthusiastically endorse the OE as a Kiwi rite of passage; and as a valuable way of accumulating human capital.

However, there is quite clearly something sick in our society when OE comes to stand not for Overseas Experience but rather Overseas Exodus.

So, what will New Zealand First do. What panacea do we have to cure the Nation's ills.

It starts with Youth. With giving us not just the opportunity for a stake in the Nation, but allowing us the opportunity to help build it.

You've all seen the Student Army down in Christchurch - that's the kind of potential and good old-fashioned Kiwi grit we intend to bring to the table.

Last Convention, also held down in Christchurch, we passed remits to grant young people seeking to increase their human capital a Universal Student Allowance - as we once enjoyed.

During our previous term in Parliament, we fought successfully for more apprenticeships, and abolished Youth Rates.

Recently, we have announced plans for a dollar-for-dollar student debt reduction scheme that's proved wildly popular across the country.

Today, these gains are under threat. ACT are campaigning heavily on reinstating a separate Youth minimum wage - and calling everyone up to their mid-20s "youth".

National have sought to cap tertiary student numbers, and cut university funding.

This government has also seen fit to cut and curtail funding and personel for our Defence Forces - which provide a valuable set of life-skills and pathway to prosperity for many - and often at-risk - youth.

Further, they have cut funding to over 2,000 early childcare educational services, and are moving to abandon requirements for educational providers to be certified, qualified teachers.

Again, these are not signs of health - and still far less signs of wealth.

Rather, they are the signs of a fundamentally sick society.

Earlier I stated that Youth are hearing our message.

That message is simple: Help is on its way!"

- Speech to 2011 NZF Convention

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Without Winny

NZF's gettin' back in from the outside, from the outside, from the outside .. 'Cause we're no longer pollin' down below five, down below five, down below five..
Guess who's back..
Back again..
Winston's back..
Tell a friend..
Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back
guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back..
I've created a Messiah, cause nobody wants to see Goff no more
They want Winny, Phil's chopped Labour
Well if you want Kiwi, this is what I'll give ya
A little bit of need mixed with some hard labour
Some Nationalism that'll jump start the economy quicker
than a Shock Doctrine by Ruth while I'm not co-operating
When I'm critiquing the neolib' agenda while she's operating (hey!)
You waited this long to stop the House debating
Cause I'm back, smokin' a fag and Pontificating
I don't know if you've seen the job market lately but our economy's problems're complicating!
So GST they won't let be
they keep trying to fuck around with ACC
And then shut me down on TV3
But it just feels so empty, without me
So, come on and get exports on ships
Fuck the TPPA trying to blow PHARMAC to bits
And get ready, cause this shit's about to get heavy
I just settled all my lawsuits, FUCK YOU O-Gee!
Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody, Party Vote for me
Cause we need a little, controversy
Cause it feels so empty, without me
I said this looks like a job for me
So everybody Party Vote for me
Cause we need a little, controversy
Cause it feels so empty, without me
Little Hellions, ACT's feelin rebellious
Embarrassed their economic policy dates from the era of Elvis
Privatized 3-strike prisoners helpless
'til someone comes along on a mission and yells BRASH!
A Visionary, Vision seen Clearly
Should start a Reformation, buyin' back the airwaves
A rebel, so just let me revel and bask
in the fact that I'm about to start kickin' some arse
And it's a disaster, such a catastrophe
- the Earthquake Response we got under Brownlee.
Well I'm back, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na
Fix your Foreshore & Seabed and then I'm gonna
Get in, keep the Nation from deterioratin' any longer
The Balance of Accountability, back from Tauranga
I'm Questing, advocating Compulsory Saving
Investing in NZ's future and jesting!
"Hey Media, attention please!"
Feel the tension, soon as someone mentions me
Here's my ten cents, more of which is GST
"Ruled Out?" Heh .. have we got news for Key! :)
Tizard's in a casket, I go tit for tat with
anybody who's talkin' economic bullshit
Sean Fitzpatrick, you can get your arse kicked
Leadin' them Randian Libertarianz bastards
And Don-B? You can get stomped by Rolly
You Friedmanite baldheaded political zombie
Your policy's too old, let go
It's over, 2025 Taskforce honcho!
Now let's go, just gimme the signal
I'll be there with a whole list full of new insults
I been slick, givin' sermons on the hill
ever since Philly first abandoned his principles!
But sometimes the shit just seems
everybody only wants to discuss me
Now without too much digressing,
It's actually about the whole party!
While I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the most eloquent since David Lange
I'm just saying let's take a Corporatist approach to the economy
and use it to make our Nation wealthy
(Hey!) Vote for an approach that works
Lest any other "white motherfuckers" emerge
But no matter about Banks gettin' a vote or three
It'll be so empty, without me
Frank Si-inatra, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya
Lady Gaga*, la-la-la-la
*[this will only make sense to those who were present for the now-infamous "Let's hook Vivian's iPod up to The Chief's soundsystem and re-expose him to P-Diddy" incident]