This is my Candidate Speech given this evening…
About six months ago, I attended the first Candidate’s College here in Auckland. Whilst there, we were asked to prepare a two minute stump speech to engage our audience, explain who we are, and to ask for three key things, usually votes, money, and support, not necessarily in that order.
In my stump speech, I spoke about how Judith Collins apparently advocated for the rape of an Autistic boy in prison when the matter was before the Courts.
This young man was a client of mine at the time.
People approached me afterwards to say that this was pretty compelling stuff.
However, there is something even more important than a National Government Minister breaking the rules and advocating rape on someone who was innocent, when the matter was before the Courts.
Something more important than Collins apparently advocating such a horrendous crime?
I want to draw you a verbal picture of self-interest, power and lack of concern.
This is the story of a country that does not let all their citizens vote freely. They have taken a sizable proportion of their population, and made sure that they will not get out and vote.
These people are too unpredictable. Feeble minded. Easily excitable.
They are delicate and need protecting.
The people who make these decisions know what is best for them. After all, these people are so much weaker, as everyone knows. It stands to reason that they shouldn’t vote!
During one election, many of these citizens did not have access to candidate information. Not that it mattered, as this group is not represented in most of the political Parties anyway.
Some end up locked away, and even when they get a chance to vote, the officials make sure that they still can’t by placing unreasonable restrictions on them.
The country is New Zealand, and the time is today.
On the eve of the election this year, it will be 121 years since, on 19 September 1893, New Zealand broke with the rest of the World.
We allowed what many saw as “unpredictable, feeble minded and easily excitable” people to vote.
Us males now know what we needed to be told over 100 years ago.
That women and men are equal. We are, and I believe that with my dying breath.
However, since then we have sat back, and not ensured suffrage for all our people.
Today, there is another group in desperate need of emancipation. A group who has been denied the vote because of accident or birth.
On election day, many people will not vote. Not because they do not want to, but because they can’t.
Because even in the Labour Party we have only relatively recently stepped up to allow them to vote.
What is so sad is that these people tend to be our people.
Progressive Left supporters.
People who have every reason to hate John Key, and especially Paula Bennett.
These people are not our sisters who fought so hard to get the vote – The 51% of the population.
We, and I am one of them, are only 20% of New Zealand society.
We are people with disabilities.
We are generally so battered down by the system that when we are
- fighting for our very survival,
- fighting for our carer family members to get paid despite a Government that makes legislation to stop this,
- fighting to find work when 60% of us are unemployed,
voting tends to become a low priority.
For myself, I have been looking for a full time job now for 6 years.
I am a beneficiary though I work part time as a Lawyer, fully disclosed to Work and Income.
The cost to New Zealand from people like me, who so desperately want to work is apparently $11.7 billion dollars.
What a waste of money.
That is $11.7 billion in a bribe to stop us voting for a progressive left wing, Labour lead Government.
The work I have been doing as a Lawyer has been varied and rewarding.
Supporting those who do not work at all so that they can survive.
Writing letters as Paula Bennett has insisted that mothers who cannot name the father of their children need to see a Lawyer to get a letter to explain why not.
Let’s be clear here. A lawyer’s letter has no more legal standing than telling a Case Manager, but it costs $200 a time.
Ask any beneficiary to cough up $200 for a letter. I am willing to bet that there will be no problem cancelling our overseas holidays to do that!
It is not just these section 70A letters.
Every year, I support Auckland Action Against Poverty with their Action days.
Three days where we work from a WINZ office to ensure that beneficiaries can get the support they need.
Like the single mum with two young babies living out of a garage with hot water, heating and cooking being by way of a single kettle.
Or the woman who had $20 per week deducted for over 10 years because she was raped and WINZ asked her to prove it.
As she couldn’t, she lost $20 per week for 500 weeks. She lost $10,000 for being a victim.
There are so many more cases like these.
Last year I was asked to take part in the Big Sleepout alongside various Labour and Green friends to support raising funds for the homeless, and have been asked to take part again this year.
It seems appropriate as when I was a teen, I was homeless on the streets of London as a direct result of Thatcher’s policies.
These events raise the profile of those in need, as well as the Party profile when our MPs and supporters attend.
If we tell people we care, they do not necessarily believe us. We need to show them we care.
Homelessness, along with WINZ representation, is all too often a disability issue as well, as we are so over-represented in these statistics.
Over the last six months, with help from Phil Twyford and the Te Atatu LEC, David Cunliffe and my own New Lynn LEC, and many others, I have managed to get the Auckland Branch of the Kirk or disability Sector going.
We are due to have another meeting on Saturday 10 May in Howick, and we would love to see you there. If you want more details, Speak to me afterwards.
We now come to the Upper Harbour Electorate.
Whoever is selected will be up against Paula Bennett, the Minister for Social Development, and Christine Rankin, the former CEO of Work and Income.
Both are formidable opponents, and have been chosen to take a light blue electorate and paint it dark blue.
Whether the neoliberal blue of National, or the conspiracy blue of Conservative, it will be a tough call to paint the electorate red.
However, this is not an impossible call, and we need to ensure that we get the Party vote for Labour.
I can do this on their terms.
Bennett and Rankin have sold themselves based upon beneficiary bashing.
They have made their respective names from misery and holding people down below the poverty line.
As a result, the poverty line has shifted.
It now lies squarely with middle New Zealand income earners.
With new families with children to feed and mortgages to service who are going hungry to feed their children because of the failed promises.
Promises of economic wealth by those who now make excuses about global recession whilst contradicting this with claims of a rock star economy.
This economy is rock star.
Addled, on drugs, drunk, and on the verge of collapse.
Who better to fight this tissue of lies than someone who lives below the poverty line day after day, year after year, with no hope of redemption?
I have political experience and skills dating all the way back to standing for local Council in the UK, and trying for Parliamentary selection there when so much younger.
I have corporate experience, including representing Manukau City Council on the Local Government Management Challenge with SOLGM, where, one person down, we came second in New Zealand.
I have two University degrees, one an Honours degree from the University of Sussex, and the other a Law degree from Waikato.
I can talk the talk when it comes to middle New Zealand.
There are many facets of my lived experience.
Living a life of poverty as a result of broken political promises from a Government that doesn’t care.
Standing up for those with no voice, whilst having Housing New Zealand evict me illegally on 48 hours notice.
Dealing with ORRS (Special Educational Needs) funding for a daughter who is also on the Autistic Spectrum, from a Government that does not see her as cost effective.
We do not live in a democratically representative country any more.
We live in a corporate New Zealand where we are unproductive units that need to have as few resources as possible allocated to them.
Who better to challenge these corporate drones who seek to carry on spreading their propaganda and lies?
This is only half the story. I have spoken of my experiences that will help as a candidate, but so what?
What about your experiences as Upper Harbour residents?
It is all very well for us to stand here telling you what we will do, but if we do not listen to you, then we are no different.
With this in mind I have brought a supply of pens and paper.
What I would like you to do, if you wish, is to take a pen and some paper, and tell me what YOUR concerns are.
I promise that I will read each and every one, and if you want me to get back to you, I will if you include your details.
We are in this together. We need to work together to take these issues and concerns, and tell
Bennett and Rankin,
Key and Craig.
National and the neoliberal right,
that we have had enough!
We need someone with lived experience.
We need someone with compassion, but also with fire in their belly.
I have that fire in my belly, and it is burning.
It is burning bright, it’s burning hot and it is burning red.
Please cast your vote for change.
Cast your vote for Simon Buckingham.