INDEPENDENT NEWS

Henare Speech To Employers Federation

Published: Wed 25 Aug 1999 03:20 PM
SPEECH NOTES FOR
Hon Tau Henare
Leader of Mauri Pacific
ADDRESS TO
New Zealand Employers Federation Conference
Plaza Hotel
Wakefield Street
Wellington
INTRODUCTION
One of the great ironies of life is having someone like me standing before an audience like this.
It wasn't that long ago that as a union official people like you and I sat at opposite ends of the table eyeballling one another for other reasons. Then again, it could be argued, things haven't changed that much.
I'm here today, and happy to be ladies and gentlemen, to talk about the philosophy of Mauri Pacific and how it relates to you in your capacity as employers.
Mauri Pacific is unlike any other political party you are going to hear from today, or in the lead up to the election. Because unlike the rest, Mauri Pacific is more a movement than a party, and is based on a cultural paradigm rather than an economic model.
We're people driven, not ideologically. For that reason we're a party not heavily supported by farmers, big business or the trade unions, but common folk.
We're street realists because that's our roots. We're the people who ask where the hell is the leadership in this country and how are they going to make sure Joe and Joesphine average get a break.
We question the free marketeers and ask them to prove what they believe and then ask: what's the impact of such a policy on Joe and Joesphine? How do they benefit!
This usually explains why we're Mauri Pacific. Not Labour, National, ACT or the Alliance, nor the Greens or United for that matter, but Mauri Pacific.
We're also not on some imaginary line that says we're left or right. Serious political thinking commentators would drop the old left and right dichotomy and ask real questions like what is our position on various issues and why. The new political paradigm, ladies and gentlemen, is a sphere, not an imaginary line, and it's shifting all the time.
Mauri Pacific and the employers
Our message to the employers is quite simple: more jobs. Please!
Jobs in today's environment aren't about political survival, but people survival.
The latest unemployment figures give me little reason to rejoice as long as the Maori unemployment rate remains as high as it does. The sad reality is though that I have no great confidence that either of the main political parties has the will to change it.
Labour says it will change because Labour knows best.
National says turn this and turn that and everything will be kei te pai.
The Alliance says the sky is falling and they're sick to death of people who work hard getting rewarded. But no answer.
ACT says don't do anyone any favours. White is right and right is might.
NZ First says... well I'm not quite sure what they say these days, but you can bet it's a conspiracy whatever it is.
The Greens say we'll grown our own solutions that aren't genetically modified.
And United says together we'll find the answer.
Mauri Pacific supports creating a positive environment for job growth to occur. We've flagged on more than one occasion that we support lower corporate taxes, tax free zones in regions like Northland and the East Coast, slashing compliance costs... we believe in growing the number of taxable individuals and businesses, rather than flogging a dead horse.
We don't believe in the current economic purism line being practiced, but we do believe that strategically placed incentives can help the economy overall.
Having full blown interventionism is corporate welfare in disguise and Mauri Pacific does not believe in giving hand outs to beneficiaries or subsidising big business for that matter, rather a hand up.
If the Aussies are lifting in the line out, then New Zealand must do the same, but smarter. This is, essentially, what the knowledge economy is all about. Doing things smarter.
It's about now that you're going to learn why the sense of irony... the indusial reforms of the past decade have set up a new environment for employers.
According to the Employers Federation, real incomes are up. Strikes are down. Employment is up, and so is the number of small businesses.
It's all good news if you're riding that rollercoaster.
The down side is that over the last three years the shape of industry has changed so dramatically that instead of building roadways, we're building technology highways.
Sounds good aye! But tell that to someone whose been part of the traditional labour industry for 30-40 years who suddenly finds themselves jobless.
All they know is that they had a job yesterday. Today - nothing.
Upskilling, retraining... the old YOU CAN DO ANYTHING motivational techniques mean squit if you don't have a job
The Employment Contracts Act
The Employment Contracts Act - I wouldn't change. I'd personally hate to revisit compulsory unionism and the greatest idea to come out of that legislation was the ability to pick your bargaining agents.
Imagine, if you can, post election 1999. Sir William Birch, bargaining agent. Well, you get the point anyway.
As for the Employment Court and Employment Tribunal, I'm not too sure.
I think there needs to be more use of the tribunal as opposed to the court. Courts have this ability to drag matters out and I think we need to get more lay people on the tribunal to speed up the process.
Having said all that, I still think we've got some of the most reasonable industrial relations in the world, but we can make it better so that the people win, not political imperatives.
Summary
So what you, the employers, can expect from us is:
no change to the ECA no change to the Labour Court access to the tribunal quicker decisions
Mauri Pacific
So where does Mauri Pacific fit into all this?
We're pragmatists, we're doers and in less than a year in existence, we've built up an solid reputation for getting the job done.
If we say we're going to do something, we do it. Post 1996 I was given a job to do. It was a three year job contract. Come hell or high water I know I've done the best in the job that I can.
You see the difference here between yous, as employers, and a constituency as an employer, is that come the end of that three year cycle, they can fire me. Hero to zero all in one foul swoop.
Having said that I'm confident Mauri Pacific is going to make a dent in the support of the popular parties at this year's election and bruise the egos of the experts. This I promise you.
Mauri Pacific is the only party with a clear vision and the leadership New Zealanders are so desperately looking for.
We're not reckless populists, PC, offensive or indecisive.
We are Mauri Pacific.
Thank you.

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