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."

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