Focusing on tomorrow, not just today

Immediate Release: 3.00pm, 7 December 2004

Mr Speaker, it is an honour to be standing here before New Zealand’s House of Representatives.

The fact that I am, shows not only how diverse our Parliament now is, but my presence is a reminder that in this great country anything is possible.

Being a Member of Parliament is a privilege, not for its status, but for its responsibilities.

While we who convene in this House are politically different, we all share the trust of people who put us here. We owe it to them to serve with utmost honesty and commitment. That is my pledge.

I will do all I can to shoulder the responsibilities people have trusted upon me, to serve the best interests of every New Zealander, and to represent those 145,000 people who gave their vote to ACT in 2002.

I want Maori to get a fair go, I want the pakeha farmers’ land rights respected, I want Chinese working mums and dads to keep more of their hard-earned money, I want our young Pacific people to get a world-class education, I want our Indian businesswomen to make a good margin, and I want those brave men and women who fought under our flag to get quality healthcare services.

I am proud to be a New Zealander. I have great admiration for the people who carved a living out of this land, who built the infrastructure, who developed the farms and who created our vibrant cities. It took sheer grit and determination, and this country’s forebears did it with their bare hands and without flinching.

Their hard work saw this country last century rise as a world leader in living standards. For years New Zealand punched well above its weight - nurturing so many talented individuals, national heroes, and world champions. We have done so well in our past, and we are capable of even better.

This beautiful land has been the land of opportunity for my family and me.

To my loving wife Li Ma, and my very Kiwi children Amy and Collin, thank you for your patience, encouragement, love and support.

I want to also acknowledge my parents, other family members, my valued friends, my staff at BrandWorks, and ACT party volunteers. I owe this unbelievable opportunity and experience to you all. Thank you for putting your faith and trust into me.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the Honourable Richard Prebble and my caucus colleagues for standing firm on their principles. I have been elected under unique circumstances and I am pleased ACT has now been restored to a full complement of nine MPs.

I hope that Donna Awatere Huata is also remembered for her contribution to the debate on education. As a father, I am also committed to lifting the education standards for every New Zealand child.

To the good people of New Zealand, since arriving half a lifetime ago, I have found you hard working and friendly by nature.

Like all of you and your ancestors, I came to these shores with hopes for a better life and dreams of a brighter future.

After studying at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts, I was privileged to be part of a great occasion in New Zealand’s modern history. It was indeed an honour to design the official poster for the 14th Commonwealth Games in Auckland some 14 years ago. My study here in New Zealand equipped me with skills I never knew I had, and for that I am forever grateful.

As I have said, when at its best, this country can produce world leaders. At its worse, it can be the vehicle for mediocrity, dependency and despondency.

I want this country to deliver its full potential. We owe New Zealanders nothing less. After all, we are all here because someone wanted us to have a better life. Just getting by is not good enough.

I know firsthand how hard it is for the many New Zealanders who work long hours, week in week out to make ends meet, to raise children and to support the family.

We all live in hope that one day our hard work will pay off, that we will start getting ahead, and that there will be a better tomorrow.

As a small business owner I know how tough life can be for the small and medium-sized businesses, which make up 90 percent of all New Zealand’s businesses.

For many years I often sacrificed my own wages to pay my staff. For many years I worked late into the night doing the paperwork only to satisfy the bureaucrats. I know what it’s like to battle with regulations, red tape, compliance costs, bureaucracy, and hefty government taxes.

The reality is even in these so-called buoyant times, businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, let alone thrive or compete globally. We have to do better and the ACT party I believe in, is the only party with a plan which will deliver a brighter future for all New Zealanders.

Just a few years ago I was one of the many Asian New Zealanders who was deeply hurt by one politician’s statements implying that we were responsible for every evil in this land. ACT was the first political party to publicly condemn such attacks.

In reality Asian New Zealanders have made a huge contribution to this country since first arriving for the Otago gold rush. Without immigration this country would be a much poorer place both economically and culturally.

I have never been on welfare, I have never committed a crime, and I have cost the health system very little. Instead I have built a business, created jobs and paid many taxes. The same can be said for the overwhelming majority of Asian New Zealanders.

I treasure my Chinese cultural heritage, for the Chinese are well recognised for their hard work, law abiding nature, a strong emphasis on family values, and a commitment to education. These values are also ACT ’s values.

ACT is not a party for the rich. ACT is a party for everyday Kiwis like me – people who know what it’s like to be poor, what it’s like to labour night and day in factories, and people who like me just want a fair go.

I follow in the proud footsteps of my parents and grandparents who devoted their entire lives striving for a fairer and prosperous society. For them, their battle for what was right cost them considerably.

Like my father who never wavers from his principles and my grandfather who fought bravely in the battlefields for his beliefs, I won’t be afraid to stand up for what is right… and believe me, things are far from right in New Zealand in this new century.

Life has taught me a valuable lesson: Fairness is not about taking from those who have and handing out to those who have not. Fairness is about equality in rights and opportunity.

There can be no real social justice without economic growth and prosperity. Prosperity can only be realised by people working hard and there must be good incentives for people to work hard.

Last week, en route from my home in Mt Roskill to the Auckland airport, I got talking to the taxi driver.

He told me he’s on the road on average 12 hours a day, yet despite working more, providing for his family is harder than it was a decade ago. When I said the Government tells us the economy is doing well, he responded: “Well where is the money? It’s not in my pocket.”

I believe hardworking men and women deserve to pay less tax. The current tax rates are not necessary and are a disincentive for those desperate to get ahead. This is not as good as it gets. New Zealanders can do so much better.

I am committed to making a difference to the lives of every New Zealander - standing up for those who work hard everyday to contribute to our country, yet increasingly they are rewarded with less.

I am passionate and ambitious for this beautiful and enterprising country. I am ready to serve the people of New Zealand – the people and country I love.

I finish as I began. I owe my arrival into Parliament to so many people, but more so I owe so much to the equality in rights and opportunities this great country has given all of us.

At the beginning of this new millennium, our focus as parliamentarians must be on building a New Zealand that will again be the envy of the world. We owe it to our ancestors who fought so hard and we owe it to our descendents who deserve so much.

Thank you