This is the speech I gave on Saturday 20th June at the New Conservative Conference 2020 in Auckland. I was asked to speak on a campaign message of "Doing What Works". At the AGM I was also voted in as a board member. I hope to learn lots from this campaign season, contribute as much as I can, and look forward to being part of conservative politics in the coming decades.
What does it mean to be a conservative? What does it mean to do conservatism? Conservatism isn't a rigid ideology or 100 page manifesto that one can pick up and read for the definitive answer. Conservatism is grounded in a land, a people, our history, and our way of life. It is a way of doing things. Indeed, one can hear "that's conservative" applied to approaches to every subject matter, from politics, to culture, to architecture, to art, to religion, to fashion, and even to beauty itself. It's about conserving what works. Learning from our history. Ultimately conservatism is practical and it's about doing what works.
The traditional family structure we enjoy today wasn't common in the ancient world, prior to Christianity. People did as they pleased. Infanticide and elder abuse was seen as normal. It was the teachings and actions of the early church that changed that world. The bits of Roman and Greek life that were good are still with us: logic, democracy, and art.
We conserve the good and reform the bad. Many will be familiar with William Wilberforce, the British politician who made slavery illegal througout the empire. But he did more than that. He made slavery unthinkable. He pursued the idea that the best way to prevent great crimes was to punish small crimes. Animal cruelty was normal in his day, even most good people would not have batted an eyelid at animal abuse. He made that unthinkable. In London in his day, near the turn of the 19th century, it is estimated that around 25% of the unmarried women were prostitutes, with about half of those underage. It was said that even a good person could have walked past an 11-year-old prostitute on the streets of London without a hint of disgust or outrage, regarding her as merely a fact of life. "Keep your religion to yourself" may have been a common reply to those who spoke up.
Our ubiquitous "social conscience" and the need to speak up against injustice has its roots in the activism of Wilberforce. Many people view Wilberforce as a man who changed the law, but that's not where it started. He had to first change the culture. He had to change the people. This is our challenge today as well. There is an old Maori proverb: "What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people." I've always wondered why it was repeated three times. People are really important, we've even written it on the conference banners: Make People Important Again.
Which rights, liberties, and freedoms are most important? When you look at where our nation is headed, usually in the name of choice and safety, you quickly realise there is something that sets conservatives apart from the rest. Let's take a look and see what many of our opponents value. In many cases they invert the values we have inherited and traditionally held to. There are those among our opponents who seek to create a right not to be offended. They want to undermine our heritage of freedom of speech, one that was hard-won in the English legal tradition over the centuries. Speaking the truth may become a crime simply because someone perceives it as hateful. New Conservative stands against the so-called "hate speech" amendments that are being formulated to undermine our Bill of Rights, as our so-called Justice Minister Andrew Little promised the United Nations some years ago. We will protect your freedom of speech and expression.
Social conscience requires you to be able to speak up, to offend those who behave improperly, so when freedom of speech dies, you can be sure everything else will die with it too. You need to be aware of history, which is why ignorance towards the past is promoted today.
Killing an unborn baby in the womb is no longer viewed murder, but refered to as "healthcare". Killing an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill person is no longer murder, but "healthcare". They take doctors and turn them into killers. They prioritise a right to death, which can only be done by undermining the right to life. Those two things cannot coexist. New Conservative will legislate rights for the unborn, we will protect the vulnerable at the end of their lives.
Taking hormone blockers or gender reassignment surgery is no longer viewed as mutilation, but as "healthcare". You can see a pattern here. They teach gender confusion to children and those who do not conform are cancelled and hunted. New Conservative holds to the truth that there are 2 genders. We will remove gender ideology from schools and stop taxpayer funding for surgery and hormone blockers that mutilate the body.
We hear much today about the right to use recreational drugs, and that those should be accepted as a fact of everyday life. Some of these people have a point, are we not for personal responsibility? They say this as they trample on the rights of the unborn, on your freedom of speech, as they sell out your sovereignty. Why, of all things, this? Why something that promotes escapism and causes long term brain damage in young people. In a society that's getting more nihilistic, with incredibly high suicide rates, it makes you wonder why this is a priority. They undermine your greater freedoms and distract you with the illusion of new ones that enslave people in dependency. We should not forget that St Augustine once said, "a man has as many masters as he has vices." While it's common to hear cannabis compared to alcohol, we don't see history bear that out. If Churchill had smoked as much weed as he drank whisky, then I'd probably be delivering this speech in a different language.
Rather than teach progressive dogma and propaganda, our education reforms would see trade schools start from Year 9 and charter schools brought back. Schools should have a greater form of independence, more parental control, and more student-based funding.
They talk about the environment, and pour billions of dollars into the carbon credits scam. They buy beachfront apartments and jet around the world while they expect you to believe in man-made climate change. They cause massive emotional damage to children by teaching them the world is going to end. New Conservative will repeal the ETS and withdraw from the Paris Accords. We will invest in pollution solutions. Real solutions to real pollution. New Conservative will look after farmers and our rural communities, who do not need any more red tape and taxes put on their backs by career politicians in Wellington who have never stepped foot on a working farm.
New Zealand businesses need less red tape and our income tax cuts will put more money in your pocket. What businesses don't need is more loans and debt. What they do need are customers with more to spend. The GDP report for the first quarter of this year showed drops in all areas of our economy, except one: mining. Even though this government is anti-drilling and anti-mining these are the sectors that can keep us going, alongside farming. Most people don't realise that New Zealand was once the most productive country in the world. That was a hundred years ago. Now we're in the middle of the pack, with countries from Eastern Europe, states that suffered under half a century of Communism, poised to overtake us in the next decade or two. New Conservative will reverse the decline and unleash our economic potential.
This government has gone soft on gangs, they're giving prisoners the vote, and treats criminals like victims. Recidivist offending shows the justice system is broken. One should not be able to get a rap-sheet of dozens (hundreds?) of serious offences in a lifetime. This is the result of an inverted view of justice, where the criminals are considered victims of their circumstances, and real victims are tossed aside and ignored. New Conservative will introduce 3 stage sentencing, which includes work in prison, education in prison, and work in the community. All three stages must be completed on the way to release to ensure proper rehabilitation becomes the norm. We've also witnessed a greater politicisation of the police in recent years. New Conservative supports police autonomy and wants to see the focus of policing go back to stamping out criminal activity.
There are those who seek to divide us, to undo the unity between people in New Zealand. To them, we are no longer one people, but special interest groups that can be divided and conquered. New Conservative will bring an end to the Waitangi Tribunal, which has done good work, but like any tribunal it cannot be a permanent fixture of society aimed at litigating the past over and over again. New Conservative will ensure that all laws apply equally to all New Zealanders regardless of ancestry.
Many of our opponents, red and blue, have created a world with no objectivity, where evil goes unpunished, where good is not rewarded. An inverted world. Then they look at the chaos, immorality, inequality, and crime to wonder what happened. We have the answer and we know the solutions. We are the ones talking about building families and communities, strengthening the nation using history as a guide. New Conservative will do what works.