“New Zealand is where good ideas grow”-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Auckland, August 11, 2020
New Zealand faces a series of challenges but each of these present opportunities to grow and Kiwis have the inherent potential to match them, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Delivering the Indian Newslink Lecture at Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Central Auckland on Thursday, August 6, 2020, she spoke of the ‘larger challenges that will take longer to meet.’
“Child poverty, even with $5 billion investment and the introduction of new income support and legislation requiring us to account on poverty targets, they will still need our attention and our commitment for years to come,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that this may lead people to ask if any of these challenges, or even our overarching vision for New Zealand, can really be achieved when we are in a time and place that is so fraught with challenge, or as said, during these unprecedented times.
“My answer to that is, yes. I would argue that maintaining our sights on the New Zealand we believe in and want to build is as important now as it ever was. And while there are of course different magnitudes to the challenges we face as a nation, there are always challenges,” she said.
Egalitarian and fair-minded
Ms Ardern said that New Zealanders see themselves as egalitarian.
“We are fierce defenders of the simple concept of fairness. And perhaps because of that, nothing gets our back up more than injustice. We love our landscapes, our waterways, our environment. We believe in hard work, problem solving. We are both pragmatists and dreamers. We do not believe in things being too hard or impossible. And we instinctively, as isolated island dwellers, we know that what we do impacts on others and that we have a duty of care to one another.
“So, if you ask me then what my vision is for New Zealand, I will tell you it is to live up to the vision we already have about what we can be. To be egalitarian, to be clean and green, a place where good ideas grow and where we are good for the world. And I actually believe that we have that within our power,” she said.
She quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the problems of the world.”
Our strength and potential
Ms Ardern said that New Zealand is a wealthy nation, wealthy enough to make sure that every child born in this country has the chance to live up to their potential and to rid ourselves of child poverty.
“We have the resources and the right decision making and investment to see that everyone has a decent education and access to world class healthcare. We have the innovators and small business owners that with a mixture of incentives and support can create high wage jobs that our people deserve. We have growers, farmers and manufacturers to maintain our credentials as a trading nation that is good for everyone. We have an environment that, with the right protections, can keep producing the products we pride ourselves on, while still restoring waterways and landscapes that we equally trade on too,” she said.
“We even have the Wind, Sun and Water to support our transition to an economy fuelled by renewable electricity – all of the opportunities that brings in a climate aware world. We have the potential to solve the problems that we have faced for some time and that the world is collectively facing too. And to be all the stronger for it,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that her government had set to tackle these problem.
Oil and Gas exploration
Admitting that it is not always easy to achieve objectives, she spoke about a phone call that she received from Dr Megan Woods, a Minister in her Cabinet during the early years of her government.
“She had to make a pressing decision about what to do about the block offers for oil and gas exploration. It started chain discussions about our future. We knew the consequences of that decision for future generations, for the people of Taranaki, for the workers. It was an example of the calls that had to be made now lest we make it even harder for ourselves down the track.
Now, that decision to end offshore oil and gas exploration, coupled with things like Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Reform, Zero Carbon Act and our landmark agreement on the primary sector to price emissions in the future, that has made climate change our nuclear free moment,” she said.
Tenth in an Annual Series, the Indian Newslink Lecture 2020 featured Ethnic Communities, Customs and Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa as the Master of Ceremonies, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff delivering the Welcome Address, India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi as our Special Guest, National Party List MP and other special guests Finance Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith (who gave his ‘Reflections’ on the Lecture), Barrister & Solicitor Gurbrinder Aulakh (who gave ‘A Point of View’) and former Labour List MP Dr Rajen Prasad (who provided the Concluding Remarks).
Members of Parliament Michael Wood, Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Labour), Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar (National), Police Commissioner Andy Coster, Deputy Police Commissioner Wallace Haumaha, several new candidates contesting in the forthcoming general election (on September 19, 2020), corporate heads, senior officials of the public and private sectors and business leaders were also present at the Lecture.
Pictures for Indian Newslink by Narendra and Sai Bedekar.