New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s ANZSOG address: Why does good government matter?

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, rau-rangatira mā

Prestigious people, speakers of note, chiefs one and all Nga tangata whenua, o tenei rohe

Tēnā koutou katoa I acknowledge the indigenous people of this land and greet all of you in te reo Māori – the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people. And I especially greet you Aunty Joy I get
the feeling that you shower inspiration on your community on a regular basis as
well. Ngā mihi ki te rangi e tu nei, Ngā mihi ki te whenua e takoto nei,
Ngā mihi ki ngā mea katoa
greetings to the sky above greetings to the land below greetings to
you and all things thank you very much for the invitation to come and speak
with you all today and Lord Mayor for the hosting role you’re playing in the very
kind and generous introduction and can I start by also welcoming the work of the
Australia and New Zealand School of Government in what you do in support of
public policy development in both our countries and surprisingly to me rather
a lot of you have come to hear me talk about that subject matter today and I
start though by apologizing of course best laid plans had me joining you here
in Melbourne in March and that was obviously unsuccessful you did however
have at that time our longest-serving female member of parliament and now High Commissioner the Honorable Annette King fill in for me at that time instead she
is what I call a mentor and friend or a more technical turn of phrase she is my
political spirit animal and so Annette thank you very much for your
presentation at that time you have asked me to speak today about why good
government matters now the first premise that I would like to offer in response
to this topic is a relatively simple one good government matters because
government affects everything this in itself is something that perhaps we take
for granted I still remember my first election as a
candidate I ran in a traditionally conservative seat in rural New Zealand
but it was my old hometown now near the conclusion of the campaign I was walking
down the main street of town when I came across an old school friend sister we
stopped briefly to chat she asked me what I was up to now once I overcame the
small blow that’s created given she clearly had no idea I was attempting to
run for office in a matter of weeks I tried to pivot towards a conversation
about the election ah that she said I don’t think I’ll bother voting it
doesn’t really have anything to do with me second blow a woman roughly my age
who fiercely wasn’t interested in politics and secondly had very little
interest in trying to be this crushing if not edifying experience happened to
over 10 years ago but it could have happened yesterday we have an impact on
people’s daily lives for better or for worse whether they know it or believe it
we make decisions that impact on their environment on their jobs on their wages
on their healthcare and that’s why good government has always mattered but in an
environment where indifference can end is quite easily tuning in to distrust it
matters even more a quick scan of the horizon and we see that increasingly
voters see their governments is not necessarily hearing what their interests
are or at worst working against their interests even in long-established
democracies now that may not be a new phenomenon politicians have long been
the focus of derision but what is new is the increasingly noisy environment that
we will operate in fake news fragmented interest groups and multiple sources of
news and information that people increasingly distrust it’s an
environment made for shock politics where only the noisy or the surprising
I heard the result around the world democratic values and
institutions are under threat in a way that many of us never expected to see in
our lifetimes nationalist sentiment that closes off the possibility of countries
working together is surging authoritarian movements and regimes are
on the rise norms that we in New Zealand and Australia perhaps take for granted
the rule of law the peaceful transfer of power freedom of expression are being
challenged in you in explicit ways these trends are possible because large
numbers of people believe rightly or wrongly that their leaders are failing
them now unfortunately for us as political animals I don’t think we can
afford to sit back and claim that we simply misunderstood not when we look at
the context or environment in which all of this dissatisfaction has emerged we
can start with the state of many developed economies and while they
continue to grow in overall economic Terms if not as quickly as they once did
they have to often fail to see the benefits of that growth in many
countries while the very wealthiest have grown consistently wealthier the rest
have seen little or no real rise in their incomes or their living standards
over decades inequalities that deepened with the great deregulating reforms of
the 1980s and 90s have become a permanent feature of these economies not
a brief moment of pain that certainly was the experience in New Zealand as a
small country we are often at the forefront of global trends because we
can move faster and sometimes further than our larger counterparts and that
was evident in the way that we embraced and sometimes pioneered the free-market
reforms of the 1980s and 90s starting in 1984 through to the 1990s we removed
regulations that were said to hamper business we’ve slashed subsidies we
transform the tax system dramatically cut public spending massively reduced
welfare benefits paid to the sick and those caring for children and the
unemployed now we can argue whether those regulatory
reforms were necessary but regardless the numbers and outcomes they speak to
themselves within 20 years my country lost its status as one of the most equal
in the OECD while incomes at the top doubled and GDP grew steadily and comes
at the bottom stagnated and child poverty more than doubled now I was a
child back then but I remember clearly how society changed I remember nothing
of Rogernomics of course I was five I was not the
doogie howser of politics but I do remember the human face especially the
kids who didn’t have the basics now this experience is not new zealand’s alone it
had in too many countries often with deeper inequalities and more
persistently stagnant real wages and the change hasn’t always been reversed yet
in fact more recent trends have added new dimensions to the problem the
financial crisis of a decade ago did not tune into another Great Depression
thankfully but it has led to ongoing upheaval in the global political economy
high debt and prolonged low interest rates of inflated asset values widening
inequalities and new ways most obviously for countries like Australia and New
Zealand booming housing markets have put homeownership out of reach for a growing
number of young people especially when coupled with the debt many accumulate
trying to further their education that same generation is now facing the
prospect of new challenges climate change and digital transformation
putting people out of work now and in the future and just to add fuel to that
already somewhat grim picture new forms of media and communication are changing
how we understand what is happening to our societies and how we connect with
each other this change has opened up the world in one sense but it’s also had the
opposite effect of making us more distant at times more entrenched
stunningly our most connected generation in New Zealand our young people have
also been found to now be our lonely in the face of this fragmentation and
disillusion what does good government look like not
for us but for the very people who are turning away from us now I’ve already
mentioned one potential answer to this question in recent years we have seen
politicians and governments of all stripes respond to the stresses and
challenges I’ve outlined by tuning in words
domestically some have chosen to reject the Independent Expert public service
and the possibility of a mutually respectful and diverse nature and
looking beyond their borders some have rejected the international institutions
that they paint as responsible for both economic and cultural problems when they
aren’t necessarily at fault so this is one answer that is available to
politicians and it’s summer signing up for after all fear and blame is an easy
political out as I say though while I understand how we got to this point I
completely reject that as an answer because there is another response
instead of tuning in words we can improve the institutions that have
helped hold together this long period of global peace that we live in
instead of austerity measures that only stretch the rich-poor divide we can
offer meaningful support and more than just financially to those at the bottom
instead of tearing down what works about our societies we can build the system
back up we can acknowledge the areas where public policy hasn’t met the
challenges of economic change and we can do better one of the ways we can do this
simply by widening our idea of what prosperity means because if a country
has been growing economically for 30 years yet large numbers of its citizens
haven’t felt the benefit is it really moving forward as a country has a
relatively high rate of GDP growth but it’s neglecting the things that we
should all hold dear like health of our children a warm dry home
mental health services or rivers and lakes that we can swimmin then can it
really be said to be improving this year in New Zealand we tried to push back on
the old orthodoxy and we introduced our first well-being budget we didn’t
abandon the previous approach to public finance we widened it we said not only
what will be the most conducive to economic growth but also more
fundamentally what will do the most to improve the lives of New Zealanders what
will help them to pursue lives of dignity and purpose we embedded
wellbeing at every stage of the creation of the budget from setting priorities to
analyzing proposals and spend to making the inevitable trade-offs that come with
the privilege of being in government now this is not a concept that we came up
with ourselves for some time now the OECD and the IMF through the urge
countries to look beyond economic indicators in the government’s balance
sheet to define success our own Treasury has been preparing the groundwork for it
too by developing a wide range of measures of living standards taking into
account social and environmental factors as well as traditional financial ones
after all surely economic growth kehna cannot or at least should not be a means
to an end in itself but rather the foundation for wider progress including
greater equality at this point everyone usually wants to know what a well-being
budget actually means all the talk about getting beyond GDP is well and good but
what does it mean in practice well let me give you the clearest example I can
child well-being New Zealand is a developed country most people enjoy
relatively high living standards and global tunes
it has been clear for decades that this cannot be said of a significant
proportion of New Zealand children now there are obviously different measures
around poverty but to take one of them which measures poverty after housing
costs have been taken to account well on that measure about 250 New Zealand
children lived in poverty in 2017 and 18 another
measure known as material deprivation also paints a bleak picture now income
measures they tell us about how families are doing relative to their peers but
material deprivation it tells us how many families like the basics like
having a couple of pairs of shoes for school or a warm Heder in the family
home and on these we also do poorly now clearly this is fundamental to a
country’s well-being children who have quite literally the future of Newseum
who have done nothing to choose this situation are in an unacceptable
hardship and these six are obvious on our health system where diseases that we
should have abolished years ago are taking root again like rheumatic fever
on our education system we’re a tale of underachievement it’s plainly tied to
Lea C’s of social and economic inequality on our justice system
we’re the worst off kids are often the first to arrive as adults now we can
have both an economic or a moral argument as to why this needs to be
addressed or we can simply say that either way it isn’t right New Zealand should be the best place in
the world to be a child. So child wellbeing was one of five focus areas for our first Wellbeing Budget. Before Budget Day arrived, we passed legislation to make sure that Governments now – and in the future are held to account for decisions that have impacts on children living in poverty. The Child Poverty Reduction Act ensures transparent reporting on progress against published targets at the Government Budget each year. we’ve recovered 30 in photo it shows
transparent reporting on progress against published targets during the
budget each year for our sense been For us, that has meant setting ambitious 10-year targets to halve child poverty and three-year targets to significantly reduce the rates. The Act itself doesn’t set out how government achieves
those goals that bit it’s up to us as politicians so in our first year we
introduced a families package giving a significant income boosts to more than
three hundred and eighty four thousand families in need it includes a universal
child payment in year one a winter energy payment an d is extension to paid
parental leave at this year’s budget we made a crucial change to our benefit
system indexing the main benefit rates to average wage increases which will
halt the drift between the two that has grown for decades it is estimated that
about three hundred and twenty nine thousand individuals and families will
be better off as a result now indications are that do do that
collection of policies by 2020 and 2021 will juice the number of children in
poverty by between fifty thousand and seventy four thousand children on the
after housing cost measure and it was a well-being approach that supported those
initiatives and those outcomes let’s take another example though one
that’s also dear to my heart mental health New Zealand’s neglected
mental health and addiction services are no surprise to anyone at home they’re
being reported on for years our suicide rate is devastatingly high last year a
wide-ranging inquiry into mental health and addiction revealed that we needed a
whole new approach to mental health and addiction in New Zealand and we had the
mandate for it because you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in New
Zealand who hasn’t been affected by suicide mental health or addiction
issues as it stands our mental health and addiction services are often
orientated to those with the highest needs people with emerging issues or
mild to moderate mental health or addiction needs are largely our missing
middle now this comes at a huge cost to individuals and families and if you want
to add on the list to the economy as well it’s estimated that in 2014 the
economic cost of serious mental illness alone was twelve billion dollars or five
percent of GDP and that’s one of the reasons why we made mental health a
centerpiece of a well-being budget which included a more than 1 billion dollar
investment a new zealanders Mental Health our aim in short it’s to
transform our approach so that within 5 years every New Zealander who needs it
has access to a range of free services that support and maintain them into
well-being now this new layer of services will put trained mental health
workers workers and doctors clinics Māori health providers and other health
services so that when people reach out for help when they go and see their GP
or attend their local clinic help will be there in the form of a trained mental
health worker who is immediately available now all of this responds to
the idea that New Zealanders well-being must be the foundation of our public
spending one more example briefly The asperations of Maori are another
priority in our well-being approach now here once more despite the Treaty of
Waitangi partnership between Maori and Parker
New Zealanders despite several decades of settlements for land taken and
promises betrayed a legacy of inequality continues now our well being budget
prioritized new and empowering approaches through greater investment
and the flagship far no order program which supports Marty to determine their
own needs and desired well-being outcomes through investments in our
Marty health workforce employment programs and through targeted and
culturally relevant support for prisoners far too many of whom are Maori
now at the same time we have an aspiration that basic te reo Māori the
language will be spoken by a million people in Aotearoa by 2040 so
we’ve put substantial new resources So we have put substantial new resources into Te Taura Whiri, the Māori Language Commission te reo teachers, and more funding for Māori broadcast media. after all if the country has a 2.6
percent GDP growth rate but its indigenous people aren’t thriving are we
truly in good health but let’s be honest our well-being challenges cannot be
solved in one budget you’d even question whether or not they could be solved in Ten
that wasn’t a reelection pitch public investment is a powerful lever for
change but it is only just one after all we also need to embed the idea of
well-being in the heart of our public service how it works what it prioritizes
who joins and leads it that’s why earlier this year we announced that we
would refocus the New Zealand public service to deliver enduring change more
strongly focused on improving the current and future well-being of all New
Zealanders and the changes that we’re making in New Zealand there not far from
many of the key themes identified in the early stages of your ongoing independent
review of the Australian public service including strengthening culture and
leadership increasing flexibility and capability and a focus on working
collectively now that doesn’t mean that our current system in New Zealand is
broken and fix in fact our public service is a strong international
reputation and New Zealanders ranks second overall in the 38 countries assist
on central civil service performance in the 2019 international civil service
effectiveness index not nearly as widely publicized as it should be closer to
home the 2018 Kiwis count survey published only weeks ago shows New
Zealanders of increasing trust in the public service satisfaction with the
provision of services is that a record high so we’re not embarking on the
biggest reforms to the statutory framework of our public service and more
than 30 years for nothing we’re building on the great service we have but giving
it the flexibility it needs and why because we know we can do better we know
that we can build a more modern agile an adaptive
public service and we know the importance of the constitutional role of
our public service so were affirming this role for country current and future
generations in new legislation just a few weeks ago our government announced
the most significant changes to the New Zealand public service since the
state sector Act of 1988 this will be repealed and replaced with a new public
service Act and it will underpin a modernizing of the service all with the
aim of making it easier to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the
government of the day after all one department dealing with one part of the
problem at a time can’t fix complex issues like breaking the cycle of
poverty and domestic violence or planning for climate change or providing
more effective mental health services the issues that don’t fit neatly into a
box and we can only seriously tackle them with a whole-of-government approach
and that’s why under these changes boards made up of chief executives from
relevant government agencies will be established to tackle cross-cutting
challenges now these boards or joint ventures will be accountable to a single
minister they’ll receive direct budget appropriations and public servants from
across the sector will be deployed as required
now one current example of this is the way that we’re working to prevent and
respond to family and sexual violence this was also a major feature of the
well-being budget not only did the government deliver the largest single
investment into this area but we also delivered a new way of working we
delivered a package that cut across eight different portfolios the Attorney
General Corrections courts health justice child welfare police and Social
Development but we know that we need more than structural change as our
minister of state services Chris Hipkins has said the shift to a single unified
public service approach will also be complemented by cultural change with the
new Act acknowledging there a spirit of service to the community is
fundamental to the public service a unified public sector around common
purpose principles and values is crucial and we believe that we can encourage
that practically by making it easier for public servants to move seamlessly
through the public service as a whole something that’s not quite possible now
building trust though also means a strengthened public service that
supports the government’s commitment to stronger Maori crown relationships
helping to improve outcomes for Maori and the indigenous people of our country
and we want on top of that a more diverse and inclusive public service one
that reflects ultimately the communities that we serve now none of this will be
sudden change as I said before New Zealand’s public service is in pretty
good shape so these changes will be carefully phased and managed and the
legislative process will run into mid 2020 but all of this of course it’s part
of a much wider goal building a public sector that can help build good
government but as is so often the case in the sphere the back ultimately starts
and stops with us the politicians as leaders globally we are facing a rising
tide of public suspicion towards government a sense that we’ve left the
material differences between us stretch beyond fairness and as a result there
are signs of life and old ideologies but if we begin at home if we broaden our
idea of good government and act with a sense of fairness of guardianship and
even kindness of what we call in New Zealand manake Tonga and kaitiakitanga
then I absolutely believe we will make headway on these challenges but we won’t
succeed unless we apply these same values globally in the countries like
New Zealand in Australia that means prioritizing international rules and
norms work for all countries it means
encouraging trade not retreating behind protectionist barriers trade that means
jobs and livelihoods but also a shape by an open honest dialogue with our
communities and here I do think Australia and New Zealand can be
examples we share a strong commitment to the rules-based international trading
system that is currently under such strain and I acknowledge and endorse
Prime Minister Morrison’s call for countries to mend and not end the system
and to reject the idea that traders are zero-sum game but we can also enhance
our expectations of the trade agenda if we want to bring people with us trade
agenda also needs to lift labor and environmental standards and prove that
they too can respond to the very issues that are accused of ignoring times may
be challenging but I absolutely believe politics can be a place for change
disruption and ultimately a force for good
No reira

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou kato Thank You Prime Minister prime Lisa
Arden was I think it’s fair to say backstage most looking forward to this
part of the evening which has aren’t where she got to hear from you and
you’ve been terrific and sending in questions via that slido service so
remember you can always go back there and that vote for the question you want
to hear asked or submit your own thank you for um a terrific address and for
one that really goes to the heart of how much trust and faith you still have in
democratic institutions in the institution of government and I guess in
our best selves to sort of get past the period that we’re in right now but we
really are in a very strange retreat from the center and a fleeing if you
like to to the margins and often the extremes
no more horribly represented than in New Zealand have you reflected long and hard
on why that is yes and even and even before the terrorist attack in New
Zealand it struck me that we were operating in an international
environment where increasingly this common theme of fear you know whether
you look at the digital transformation that developed economies are facing and
the the insecurity that’s creating financially for people when you look
abroad and see outcomes overseas through votes like Brexit and
conversations around migration and what underpins all of this is the sense of
fear the sense that people don’t have the level of security of their perhaps
feel perhaps somewhat nostalgic Lee they once enjoyed and we have choices as
politicians you know in a political environment you can either choose to
capitalise on that fear stoke it and politically benefit from it or you can
run a counter-narrative you can talk about hope you can talk
about solutions to the problems that we have to admit many of us political
beings have being a part of we have to acknowledge where we’ve failed in diem
straight how we can rectify the institutions that may underlie their do
you see those arguments and those discussions starting to turn the ship
around if I can put it that way because just for example in the last 24 hours
we’ve seen quite the opposite in the United States with extraordinary
language and rhetoric that I I really don’t think many of us have seen in our
lifetime perhaps those of us who who go back to to World War two might have some
memories of that but do you see any any evidence of that sort of logic working I
see hope every day I’m and I’m a I’m an absolute optimist if you spend ten years
in opposition you have to you have to dig deep you have to dig really deep for
that of tourism but it’s there and I’ve seen I’ve seen I’ve seen humanity in the
darkest of spaces and I think probably you know in the way coos and the wake
for instance of March 15 that there was ever an environment where you would
expect that it would be at least justified for a community to hold anger
and to hold a sense of extraordinary injustice it was that moment and yet
24 hours after when I traveled to Christchurch and I walked into a small
community space we’re in that room where leaders from the Muslim community across
Canterbury who the day before had been in the mosques that had been attacked
who would no doubt utterly traumatized by that and as I said and waited for
them to utter their first words I had a I had an anticipation of what might come
and yet when they opened their mouths they expressed love and sympathy and
compassion for New Zealanders and that to me was the most extraordinary thing
so if I consider that environment and hear that kind of response in the face
of something so extraordinary I have a deep faith in humanity a deep faith
I want to ask you something more about the Christchurch shootings one
publication said of your and it seemed at the time unusual empathy and warmth
with the affected families and the way you conducted yourself in the aftermath
of that the quote was Jacinda Ardern and just proved typically feminine behavior
is powerful is that how you see it is there an inherently feminine way of
holding power there’s a human way of holding power and I’d like to think that
was just instinctive when you’re mourning with someone to reach out in
that way it just felt to me like a human response but perhaps I’d add another
layer to that it was a Kiwi response at that time all I was doing was mirroring
exactly what was happening around the country were you surprised by the
surprise at your response the fact that globally there was this surprise yeah it
had how you conducted yourself I was saddened by it shouldn’t have been
noteworthy mm-hm and when President Trump asked you how his country could
help you in the wake of the massacre you told him you wanted sympathy and love
for all Muslim communities has he done that you’d be best to ask the muslim
community within the united states that question its for them to judge did
you feel that the he arm answered your call again
i’m not the one to judge there you know i’m not a member of the community i’m
not i’m not the one having those experiences and that context it would be
for them to answer i’m never one to answer on anyone else’s behalf a lot of
questions have been coming in on the issue of australia and constitutional
recognition and you referenced in your remarks the Treaty of Waitangi and what
that achieved but also what it hasn’t and where the the inequities are still
but from the perspective of a country that has a treaty with its First Nation
peoples are there only lessons for us here in how we can start down the path
of constitutional recognition for our indigenous people again you know as
someone from a country with an imperfect record loath be it for us to ever to ever
tell any other country how to how to conduct itself you know because we we
have not been a picture of perfection by any stretch and for us of course you
know our focus is ensuring that the treaty is a living document that we on a
daily basis are recognizing and living its principles and demonstrating that in the
relationship that we have so we’re we’re not ones to lecture we just runs to
focus on some self-improvement we’ve got a lot of work to do let me press you a
little on that because that’s a question that’s come through again and again and
it’s one that clearly the room would love to hear some reflection on so let
me present it to you in a way that might be easier for you to answer because no
one’s asking you to lecture but for example when we saw in the aftermath of
Christchurch that extraordinary vision I hope you saw it too of the school kids
doing the haka yeah outside of the synagogue Maori kids and then white kids
and then other kids and they were all in there doing it together and it was their
dance speaking and their language beginning of their addresses their dance
and their language and something they all mutually owned yeah how do you get
to mutual ownership well we just I think we have a sense that
we have a duty of care there maori Waitangi finau Dafina where they indigenous New
Zealanders so much of our sense of who we are is derived from that and you know
New Zealand is Marty and New Zealand we are an inextricable inked of course
by virtue of that and it’s the only place where their tongue O’Duffy north
so that immediately makes us have a duty of care but at the same time you know
we’re at the moment in a turning point and some incredibly important parts of
our relationship for instance we have too many Maori children and stake here
we have too many Maori in prison it’s a deficit approach I know to talk about
those things but that really is an acknowledgement of where the failings of
being in our system we need to address that acknowledge it and change it and it
is it’s taken us too long today’s so this is why I’m not one to speak of
perfection here but at least we have a sense of responsibility I know that much
TJ asks are you the leader you want to be or the leader you have to be or both
I sleep at night so that means I’m the leader I want to be you know one of as
well as being as well as being an idealist which I am I’m also a
pragmatist so whilst have these great hopes and ambitions for what I’d like to
do while I’m in the privilege of having this role I also come from a small town
called morons Ville and it’s probably where I think some of my pragmatism
comes from so I am okay with the idea that transportation transformation takes
a bit of time because if you want anything to stick in a country with a
three-year electoral cycle you have to bring people with you
I still remember 10 years ago in my first year in Parliament I was sitting
in the nose Lobby which is a sad place to sit and I was sitting next to our ex
Minister of Finance and in the debating chamber at that time there were a series
of votes going on which were essentially undermining our emissions trading scheme
and we’ve just gone through a series of votes as well on on our superannuation
scheme that also did something similar I just saw the emotion on his face years
of work just gone like that I think probably some of those experiences made
me realise that transformation for it to be truly transformational as a
government you have to build consensus people have to actually decide that what
you’ve done needs to stick otherwise that’s it’s gone and so I’m okay with
being a pragmatist of taking a bit of time if it means it’ll leave a legacy
and so on child poverty and climate change those are the two areas where I’d
love to ensure what we do last and I wanted to ask you about climate change
because you’ve said in the past we’re small and our contribution to the global
emissions profile is even smaller but nonetheless you want to lead the charge
for change what will it take to get meaningful global action or will it be
country by country if even the small ones bit by bit
what will it take I think a visit to the Pacific Islands might do it I don’t know
I think we actually just do need to humanize this I think probably one of
the struggles that we have and acknowledging we have made progress when
I was a candidate 10 years ago I still remember being asked in a candidates
meeting to speak about my views on climate change and I spoke in a very
noble and impassioned way only to have the entire hall boom including I suspect
my grandmother who was in the audience at the time it was a time where actually
people were very open about the climate change in denial so when I think about
we we’ve come in the last 10 years that we’re now actually debating what our
action will be and New Zealand as opposed to its existence then that’s a
big shift but I still think we need to humanize this I think these are we run
the risk that climate change can feel like something that’s happening to
someone else but if you visit kit Abbas or you’d visit to Vaalu no it is real
this is not a hypothetical the changes that they sing in their natural
environment is happening now so I’d hope that actually when confronted with that
that might motivate the change that we need because actually there’s going to
take country-by-country action and it’s going to take civil society to keep
pushing for it I never run over time I’m always a slave to the clock but I’m
going to crib just one minute more if I may because a lovely question has come
in from a librarian at the city of Melbourne state library what are you
reading always a great question refer to your pile of shame I’ve invested never
gets read are you kidding I have a bookcase of shame I read this I read in
the summer and so when I’m not reading this summer it takes me a long time I’m
reading don’t add economics at the moment yeah
oh really yeah yeah and what are you getting from it oh it’s reinforcing the
things they already believe of course because isn’t it great and the society
we’re all entrenched during our enthuse and ideas to reinforce ourselves from
time to time yeah just like skimming facebook I just
quickly and finally no political leader really it seems ever willingly and
happily walks away from power they usually have to be dragged out of office
are you one who you think will know when your time has come or oh yeah I’ve
actually I’ve talked about this before but I the fact that I I want my family
to tell me when actually it’s time for someone else to do this job because you
know I’m certainly of the view that you know we’ve been blessed in New Zealand
with a long list of amazing politicians not all of which who have held the top
job but we are all replaceable we are and now we have this tradition in the
New Zealand Labor Party that when you leave you get gifted you get gifted this
terrible don’t know why we still do it any of these super trades that you do
nothing works but you get this silver tray with an engraving and we
so have a tradition that in the New Zealand Parliament as a Member of
Parliament passes away we all stand to give a minute’s silence and I would have
only been in Parliament for maybe about two years when a name came up that I
didn’t recognize and I’m a political animal just this little fleeting moment
where I thought one day I’ll be a name just just in the history books somewhere
do you know some nerd of politics will recognise but I don’t need to have
anyone remember my name but if they can remember something we did that meant
something to someone you know if the poverty legislation is still there
making a difference for kids or someone can easily go to the mental health
service without even thinking about it or without even remembering there was a
time when that wasn’t there then that’s worth ten silver trays and it’s worth
ten namings in parliament ladies each other and please thank the prime
minister of New Zealand Jacinda Arden

Stephen Childs

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