Written by: Norman Kirk, Prime Minister-in-waiting, in 'Towards Nationhood', (published by New Zealand Books).
The Welfare State does not imprison people - it sets them free.
It does not compel a dreary uniformity - it opens the door to a wide range of richly varied opportunities. It does not sap self-reliance - it strengthens confidence by removing fear and insecurity. It is not simply a narrow range of pensions and payments - it is the wide spectrum of education, housing, better cities, economic development, planning; of better houses and secure, healthier families. It does not create a favoured class - it exists to ensure social justice for all.
The Welfare State is the thousands of young people in our high schools, the young men and women in technical institutes and universities. It is the thousands of young New Zealanders who, regardless of whether their parents were labourers or land owners, or from town or country, have been able to earn a place in the professions, and science, and engineering, here and abroad. For them the Welfare State has been and is an adventure, offering advancement, freedom, fulfilment and unlimited opportunity. For the family it has meant better homes, better health, better and more secure jobs, greater security. For those who, due to frailty, age, illness, or disability are no longer able lo work, it should mean adequate provision and freedom from anxiety.
The Welfare State does not relieve the individual of responsibility - nor was it ever intended it should. Instead it recognises that there are many things a community can do jointly that people are unable to do singly.
Individual people cannot establish a medical school, create full employment, or maintain a college or a university - but through their combined endeavours, they may. Thus the people sought and gained the means to do all this, and more, through the Welfare State. A Welfare State that was not a paternal and benevolent master, but a Welfare State that provided and continues to provide the key to the door of opportunity and progress.
Have the people not the right to do this? Why should any be misled into kicking away the stepping stone to prosperity? Yet there are some who would destroy it all, some who seem to think that a higher education should be a privilege for the well-to-do, instead of the right of the able.
Let us hope that this country will never turn its back on institutions and policies that helped make this country one of the most productive, happy, and worthwhile places on earth.