Marama Davidson - General Debate - We Can Change the Direction

Thank you, Mr Speaker. So I just sat and listened through Michael Woodhouse's debate speech about all the hospitals that the previous Government—his Government—apparently fixed and ran so that they are functional. 

 

What else are we here for if it is not to ensure that our hospitals are running and functional? So all of the hospitals that are running and functional in this country—and they know this, and that's why they're spinning off the list of the hospitals that are running and functional—all of those hospitals that are running and functional, cannot ever take away from the sewage mouldy hospital in Middlemore in South Auckland, in my community, where I gave birth to my babies, where my community families go to to be healed, to be cared for.

So that's why they know this. That's why they're spending this debate time talking about how they managed to keep some hospitals afloat—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise for interrupting the member. Interjections are meant to be rare, reasonable, and, preferably, funny, not a constant, mindless barrage, Mr King. Marama Davidson.

MARAMA DAVIDSON: It's all right; I wasn't listening to him anyway.

Mr Speaker, and so it is indicative that this previous Government are very aware of the mess that they have caused, and it is exactly what I am thinking about in my first general debate speech as the newly elected co-leader for the party: the particular crises that we have facing us, and the reason why it is going to be so important that we turn our country in a new direction, because the one that the nine years of the previous National Government put us on have resulted in and have worsened the very crises of inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation.

And they are the result of a flawed and broken economic system which concentrates the wealth and power into the hands of the few, while everyone else is left scrabbling for the rest of the crumbs. Having grown up in South Auckland and in the country communities of my whakapapa in the north and on the East Coast, I saw first-hand the devastating effect that the economic model that is currently operating had on those communities, including intergenerational poverty and a tragic and lasting effect of suffering and suicide in our regions also and in our urban centres. And that is the impact that we are feeling here.

And now - that was the worsened situation—that very economic model that the previous Government pushed hard and drove hard and ended up in worsening impacts for people every day, to the point where in Aotearoa right now, two men, just two men, own more wealth than the 30 percent of the poorest, the lowest-income New Zealanders in this country. That's totally unacceptable in this country and it is also not sustainable. It is not economically sustainable. It is not morally sustainable. Half the nation's wealth is concentrated into the hands of the richest 10 percent, and the whole other half of the nation's wealth is fought over by the rest of the 90 percent.

We are losing our indigenous biodiversity at an alarming rate. We've got to understand the connections. We have got the highest rates of homelessness, child poverty, domestic violence, suicide among young people, and incarceration in the developed world. This is unacceptable, and what we need to do here in Parliament is turn our faces to the streets. We never do that. We hardly ever do that in this place. We need to turn our faces to the streets and be honest about the struggles and the challenges that New Zealanders, up and down our country, are facing.

It is in our confidence and supply agreement with Labour that the Green Party committed to working towards a transformational Government that would truly address the systemic causes of those crises of climate change, inequality, and environmental degradation. And that's why I'm proud to stand as co-leader, to be working with my Labour and New Zealand First colleagues towards that transformation. And alongside my co-leader, James Shaw, it is particularly exciting that between the two of us we are able to reach a broad cross-section of New Zealanders in this work—in this work of exciting New Zealanders that there is a way that we can be different, that we can change the direction that we have been heading in, that all of our children can grow up in liveable cities with enough to live dignified lives with their families—where we can swim in our rivers and not even have to think about the safety of the water that is coming from our taps.

This is what we have set out to do. This is what inspired me to put my hat in the ring to become the co-leader of the Green Party. This is what I'm proud of working towards with the Government. Thank you, Mr Speaker.