Mr Speaker,

May I firstly thank you, for taking on the heavy role of maintaining the honour of this House and for this opportunity to address it and tell of the reasons I have come here and where I come from.

There’s a value which you will hear frequently in this address because I feel it deeply; it’s gratitude.

I am grateful to live in a safe country. For the most part we are peaceful and free, but this freedom and safety were not ordained. For many generations New Zealand has built and preserved our society based on rights and responsibilities.

Picking up the litter to put it in the bin, especially when no one is watching, giving the benefit of the doubt to your neighbour or saying gidday to the person you pass on the street, little things which maintain trust and openness.

These are all things that I think are summed up by the honesty box culture. Every honesty box on the side of the road makes me smile, and in my opinion the number of honesty boxes that Kiwis have shows the health of this society. Each person who puts something grown or made out on the street shows a faith in their country, and along with those who pay up without the eyes of a store clerk watching, they exhibit their trust and their gratitude to their neighbour and by doing so display what it means to be a New Zealander.

I am grateful to our rule of law and our democracy, whose participation and process has seen me standing here today, addressing this house as an ACT MP.

I am grateful to all those members and supporters who worked so hard on the ground to ensure ACT’s best ever result, and particularly the Tauranga and Bay of Plenty crew, some of whom have been around for a while and others joined during and after the Tauranga by-election. I am so impressed by the work you’ve all done, it’s a privilege to be part of an amazing and growing team!

Our democracy and our way of life survives on the faith and peaceful satisfaction of the people who live within it.

However sometimes this enlightened country has needed defending from without. It hit me like a 240 volt the first time I walked into this chamber, looked up and saw the names of those places in which New Zealand’s forces, including my ancestors, have defended our rights and our place in the world.

It is an immense honour to be standing in this part of the House in particular Mr Speaker, under the name of the theatre in which fought the man who bequeathed to me my surname and these medals in front of me – Stanley George Luxton of the wellington mounted rifles.

It’s an honour and a privilege to be the guardian of these treasures tangible and intangible, and I want to thank all our servicemen and women, past and present, for what you’ve done for us.

For I have had a fortunate life. My two sisters and I were raised by loving parents, who set about being the best parents that they could be, despite their childhoods not grounding them in what it means to be happy healthy humans, they made choices and sacrifices for the long term, and gave to us an upbringing that was a gift.

I am so grateful that when faced with the choice of an international corporate career, travel, and a life of country hopping, my parents Rod and Cherie chose instead to bring us home to New Zealand and move to what was then the small and not so well-known coastal town of Papamoa Beach.

Thank you Lucko for buying a 12 foot tinny with a sketchy motor to brave the surf and teach me to fish!

And thank you mum for giving me a moral compass.

We love you both Nanonan and Lucko, thank you for all you’ve done for our family and the generations to come. 

Living by the beach and near the Rotorua Lakes, meant that to take full advantage of what the Bay of Plenty has to offer required learning to swim. I’m grateful that Papamoa Primary School Pool was a community asset available - without the competence to swim, the life I’ve led would have been very different. Swimming in some crazy places gave me the confidence to take on the oceans and the hills, and now something equally daunting, politics.

That small town of Papamoa grew and fuelled the massive growth of the city to which it belongs, the small town changed into Tauranga’s largest suburb. Having a family in the building game and with so much opportunity in the trades, I left school (which wasn’t my forte) and at 16 I moved into a campground in Rotorua to start my building trade.

It’s a wild time when you are out of home and in a new town, I met some lifelong friends whose love and fellowship is a blessing I cherish.

Builders have a no-nonsense type of character, not to say that the on-site banter isn’t the best you’ll ever hear, but that if it ain’t straight or plumb you’ll know all about it.

Every tradie deals with what’s in the world, so it can be infuriating when the realm of rules and laws doesn’t match with the reality of what’s on the ground.

As our leaders get further away from the site of production, further from how buildings are built, food is grown, fish are caught, resources harvested, and services provided, it is no wonder that we have a productivity crisis.

As with the recent examples of Housing supply initiatives, tradies and property owners rightly ask: how does a government think they can change the direction of our housing supply crisis without changing the real factors which effect the ability for the people on the front line to actually build more.

I’ve heard it said while sitting on a upturned bucked in a half built garage at smoko one day, “this lot either thinks we’re corrupt or incompetent if they think they that can build houses faster and cheaper than we can, without changing the stupid rules we all have to follow.”

This disconnect goes beyond just missing what should be done, it also has a pervasive effect on an important part of society: trust.

It’s a feeling whose shadow shows up in surveys and data, but it’s real to so many Kiwis who want to reharness that can-do attitude. How many of them have experienced the looming doom of a taxpayer-funded ute or EV rolling up a driveway or tanker track. Or increasingly an email arriving in your inbox with another pointless issue you have to sort out to comply with some unworkable or out of touch rule. We’ve gone too far in the direction of centralisation.

The only thing that has ever innovated and produced more in this world is private citizens working for themselves, their families, communities, and each other.

Sometimes government input is required and when that is chosen by the citizens in equal franchise it is legitimate, but people in the productive economy know that often, there are no solutions, only trade-offs.

And sometimes what was traded away is hard to get back.

The housing crisis has been talked about in every quarter. I believe strongly that if this doesn’t get sorted, then the negative effects on all aspects of Kiwis lives will lead to a broken future for our country which will be hard to repair.

It could be seen as ironic that to come to Parliament means that I’ve put my apron down and am no longer on-site swinging a hammer to contribute some houses to our stock.

But as the only LBP ever elected to this house, I am here to enable my fellow tradies and everyone who thinks that New Zealand can only reach our potential if driven by our productive sectors.

We do this by making space for the underground knowledge of the true experts of any society; the People that Do!

The world isn’t a finite resource; innovation and exploration discover new territories of knowledge which we can use to help our fellow humans in every way be freer and happier.

As I’m sure each member of this house can attest, there are many reasons why someone chooses to get into politics. Mr Speaker, I have half a dozen circumstances I could tell you which pushed me towards the political direction. But let me speak of one which forced me over the edge.

I was not strongly suited to a mainstream education. One of the most vivid memories I have is the feeling of entrapment and fear when, at six, I realised I couldn’t leave “This Place”. It was a soul crushing feeling, and perhaps then it’s not surprising that a love of school didn’t take.

I felt this in every year of my schooling except for 18 months when at a newly opened school, Te Akau Ki Papamoa, I was fortunate enough to be in the year six class of Mr Simmon. That school and teacher didn’t follow every other experience I’d had of school until then.

Because of a shortage of space in a growing school, our class was a rented house down an alleyway off the school grounds.

And the way our class was run was so freeing and inspiring I started thriving, I learnt to read, I was so comfortable that I didn’t wag even a single day, in fact I would do my NZ Herard delivery run and still turn up to school early. 

This is the experience we want for every Kiwi kid, we know that education is the path to a better life.

I was on the sidelines when Kura Hourua began, I looked on from the back paddock, (I’ll get to how I ended up in the back paddock in a second) and I waited with a real hope for the future of New Zealand when the charter school model would move into areas where the most good could be done, and I looked forward to the day when every parent in the country could choose a school that was right for their child.

The angriest that I can ever remember feeling in my life, was the day that this gift of charter schools was taken away. The anger was fuelled by the hopelessness of knowing that so many kids would miss the experience of finding “their place”. This robbed our country and poor communities up and down New Zealand of the chance to see what these kids would do! The day Kura Hourua were stopped by the “kind” previous Government, I decided that in whatever way I could, I would help the political party who gave, if even for a moment, that chance to Kiwi kids.

Now to that back paddock, when the GFC hit construction I was about 20, so it was time I went on my OE, but it wasn’t to Europe, America or even over the Tasman. I moved to a place I will love for the rest of my life, a little pastoral island wedged between the Kaingaroa forest and Te Urewera, a place called Galatea on the Kuhawaea plain.

Grateful isn’t a strong enough word for how I feel about this place and the community. It was there that I Dairy Farmed, Hunted, and Played Rugby. Galatea is the best place I have ever known.

I had so many formative experiences, and learnt some of the most important lessons in my time while in the valley. Many of them influence my politics, from Crime and Gangs, Education, Health, and the society of our country, but the central experience and the one which I wish to briefly speak about is Farming.

New Zealand is blessed to have a farming community who care; about their animals and people but also about the land and the environment which their work is enmeshed in. My years on farm taught me to respect and care for the world we have. This lesson is held by farmers of all types, I am grateful to our agrarians who will when the seasons demand it, often work themselves ragged to feed us and pay our overseas bills, and when lessons are learned on how to improve the environment they put that into action with passion!

Rural people have a different view on life because when it comes down to it, when you’ve lived in the world of mud and blood and death and birth one can’t help but take a long term view. Farmers know what it is to pull a calf out in the mud, or turn off the tractor at golden hour and watch the world come alive when the sun is low, to be eaten by bugs and covered in crap but love every second of it.

It’s in Galatea where I met my wife Susan. To you my darling, thank you for all the support and love you give me. I am sorry, because I know you thought you were marrying a dairy farmer and living in Galatea, and now you’ve gotten stuck with a politician,

But it’s your gracious manner and ability to be loved in every environment you enter, which fills me and our kids with so much confidence that our family can do anything.

To my two beautiful children, I’m sorry in advance for not being as available as you’ve been used to throughout your lives, I might not be there every night to tell you three things. But you’re strong and you both are growing into the good people that we talk about.

The list of people who’ve got me here and made me the man standing in front of you today is long; friend, family, workmates, opponents, mentors. Past and present, the places and situations which have impacted on me. Sometimes it’s hard to believe where I’ve found myself and the people I’ve been there with. From the moments when I’ve felt the sublime, to the points were the pain has nearly had me pass out.

Mr Speaker, I am here for this country because of the potential it has to build on the good things left to us by the people who’ve gone before, we are so fortunate to have inherited traditions going back centuries and millennia, therefore we owe to the future the chance to do better than we have, with the tools we can give them.

I am not blind to the travesties of the past, but I’m grateful for the good which has been left us.

As in the immortal song, “we don’t know how lucky we are mate”.

I offer my experiences to this House, and to make my contribution worthwhile.

My trust in the sanctity of the individual, the rule of law, free speech, property rights, these are what I am here to defend, they are not physical items, they cannot be hoarded away in a quiet place and taken out just to be displayed and looked at. These treasures must be put in the world, defended and lived up to.

These concepts are antifragile, they only get stronger when challenged, just as those of us who defend these values must be antifragile too.

I believe that every New Zealander should have the privilege, as Henley puts it “to be master of their fate, and captain of their soul.”

Mr Speaker, I might not know to the fullest extent how lucky it is to be the inheritor of these Taonga left to us in this liberal democracy but every day, I will be Grateful.

Thank you.

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