Leighton Baker – Conservative Party Leader
Leighton was born in Lower Hutt, lived in both Invercargill and Northland, and attended Secondary school in Auckland, so has an affinity with all of New Zealand. He farmed for a few years before completing a building apprenticeship in Auckland. At age 23 he started his own building business, later moving to Rangiora where, 25 years later, he still runs his building business.
Over the past 20 years or more he has invested in the lives of young people teaching them how to find their strengths through trades training, in particular he spent 6 years as a trade tutor. He is 50 years of age, married, with 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren. He has been politically active for the past 10 years, and a part of the Conservative Party Board since its foundation.
Some of Leighton’s views and reasons why he is involved in politics with the Conservative Party:
“Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional family values and a strong national identity. They believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to justly pursue their own goals whilst ensuring support is available to those in need. Conservatives believe in hand ups, not hand outs, and that as its people are empowered to use their natural skills and abilities the nation will be strong.
“Conservatives believe in Justice for all and that punishment should fit the crime. There are many people in New Zealand that do not feel represented by current political parties or politicians. This is displayed through poor voter turnout at elections as people wonder why they should bother, because the government will just do whatever they want anyway! Politicians would, of course, deny this, however if we look at Citizens initiated referenda over the years, not one government has acknowledged the will of the people. This has applied across the board, whether it was fewer politicians, not selling state assets or even the rights of parents to correct their children. On other issues, such as lowering the drinking age, even though school principals, youth workers, police and judges opposed the move, the government still dropped the age with foreseeable and regrettable results. Much as we might laud New Zealand as a democracy, the truth is we have an elected dictatorship with the opportunity to replace dictators every three years. The Conservative Party of New Zealand is the only party fully committed to Binding citizens Initiated referenda to enable the silent majority a voice.
“My intention in leading the Conservative Party, is to provide some motivation for the government to do a health check on our democracy, to identify and correct the root causes of both Child abuse and child poverty and to ask some honest questions around social policy, housing and justice.
“There are some good people involved in our party who have worked in the front line of social services, health and business and I believe that together we will provide a voice for those New Zealanders who support Conservative values.
“One of the reasons I’m stepping forward is because the high ideals of representative democracy have been lost as vocal minority interest groups make grabs for power, and deny the majority of New Zealanders true representation. The Conservative Party’s main platform of Binding Citizens’ Initiated Referenda should not be necessary in a true democracy. There is no way a true democratic government would ignore the directions of its citizens, particularly when those directions have been so emphatic. Unfortunately, in New Zealand this has become commonplace as not one Citizens’ Initiated Referendum has been supported by the government of the time.
“More alarming is what happens in the future as the citizens are ignored, then they no longer trust the democratic process. This leads to either apathy at the polling booth (sound familiar?) or rebellion and major demonstrations as currently seen in other countries.
“I would hope that involvement in the political process may help government correct its stance on referenda and also provide a voice in the public arena for those who feel ignored.”