ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte says the Sensible Sentencing Trust's just released analysis of 3 Strikes legislation "proves ACT was right to promote the policy and that it has made New Zealand a much safer country. The figures show beyond doubt that deterrents work and that violent offenders are changing their behaviour to stay out of jail."
The Sensible Sentencing Trust review of court data to the end of 2013 shows that 3721 offenders had been convicted of First Strike violent crimes, but only 29 have received a 2nd Strike sentence and none has been sentenced for a 3rd Strike.
Dr Whyte says ACT was "attacked by the offender-friendly establishment when we made this policy part of our coalition arrangement with National in 2008.
But the SST analysis is the best evidence yet that we were right then and will be right again when we take 3 Strikes for Burglary to the negotiating table after the election."
ACT has a long history of putting victims first, says Dr Whyte. "We've walked the walk for three elections now.
We've worked with Sensible Sentencing and will continue to do so. Other parties in this election are blatantly copying our policies but imitation is no substitute for innovation.
ACT has consistently led the way on law reform to make New Zealand safer and will continue to do so. Protecting people and their property is central to ACT's philosophy."
“Colin Craig’s tax plan is to have two rates of income tax: 0% up to $20,000 and 25% above that. This will leave a $6.4 billion hole in the budget even before the new spending proposed by the Conservatives. The Conservative tax promises are dishonest” said Dr Jamie Whyte.
“Using Treasury figures, ACT calculated that to get the same revenues with a tax-free threshold of $20,000 the rate above $20,000 would have to be 34%, a significant tax increase for middle New Zealand.
At a Papakura combined churches meeting of candidates on Wednesday, Conservative Party candidate Kevin Stitt made a point of immediately correcting the ACT candidate’s claim that the Conservative Party’s flat tax rate will be 34%. Mr Stitt told the audience that the Conservative Party flat tax rate above $20,000 was 25%. When questioned again on this, he confirmed that the flat rate tax rate was 25%” said Dr Whyte.
“The budgetary mathematics of Colin Craig’s 0% and 25% rates are brutal.
Total taxable income in New Zealand is $143.5 billion. Of this, $54.8 billion is from income below $20,000, from which Craig would collect no tax. All income tax will be levied on income above $20,000, which amounts to $88.7 billion. 25% of $88.7 billion is $22.2 billion. That is how much income tax will be collected on Craig's tax plan.
But income tax today totals $28.6 billion. So Craig's plan will require the government to reduce spending by $6.4 billion
“To fund a $6.4 billion dollar tax gap the Conservatives must slash Super, hospitals and education. There is no other spending that comes near to seven billion dollars.
“The Conservatives promises on tax are either silly or dishonest.
“Even their proposed 25% flat tax increases marginal tax rates for middle-income families already hit over the head by the Working for Families abatement rate of 25%. Many ordinary families and second earners will face an effective marginal tax rate of 50% under Colin Craig’s proposals” said Dr Whyte today.
“ACT was able to produce a fully costed policy using Treasury figures to reduce the top tax rate to 24%, the company tax initially to 20% and then to 12.5% by 2020 in its Alternative Budget Analysis. ACT did this by cutting corporate welfare and cutting middle-class welfare by $4 billion. These tax and spending reforms will boost the growth rate by at least one percentage point: that is, by at least one third,” said Dr Whyte.
I watched the Leaders' debate last night and was struck by the fact that John Key accepted all of David Cunliffe's basic assumptions. For example, he did not say that the government should not tell farmers who they could sell their land to; he said that it was National who had established the rules about being allowed to sell to foreigners only if it created jobs.
Neither man ever argued on principles (even economic ones) but just quibbled about facts and figures, about what the government had and had not achieved. Both men think taxpayers' money should be spent on housing. Even on capital gains taxes. John Key's answer was the government already has a capital gains tax. Both claimed that a government they lead can increase spending and balance the books.
It seems ACT is now the only party that believes in free enterprise capitalism.
“Colin Craig is proposing a radical transformation of our constitution. The Conservatives are proposing to overthrow of one hundred and fifty odd years of parliamentary democracy and replace it with binding referenda,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.
“Yet Craig does not want a referendum to make this change. He has said repeatedly he will support a Labour/Green government if they will agree to binding referendum. In other words, Colin Craig thinks that if he gets just 5% of the vote, he should be able to overthrow our form of government.”
“If anything should be put to a referendum, it is a significant change to our constitution.”
“The media should stop mocking Craig’s loopy ideas about “chem-trails” and the American moon landings being faked and instead examine his much more radical political ideas,” said Dr Whyte.
“Binding referendums have destroyed California. It has gone from being the powerhouse of America to being ungovernable.
“The problem with government by referendum can be seen in Colin Craig’s own policy platform. He says totally contradictory things.
“I appeared with Colin Craig in several debates. He always begins by assuring the audience that the Conservatives were in favour of less government and less tax. Then all of his specific policy proposals involve increasing the role of the government.
“Colin Craig wants more government spending on apprenticeships and similar training; he wants the government to fund start-up companies; he wants the government to decide who you may sell your land to; he wants the government to decide who goes to university,” said Dr Whyte.
“Here is a man supposedly in favour of smaller government whose every specific policy proposal involves an expansion of government.
“You cannot be in government and vote in favour of every spending increase and then vote for tax cuts. The books do not balance.
“But people can vote in favour of a referendum that increases spending and, later, in favour of a referendum that cuts taxes. That is what the electorate in California has done.
“Colin Craig’s populist policy hodgepodge and binding referenda have the same problem; they try to have it both ways. It has ruined California and it will ruin New Zealand.
“Like Colin Craig, the electorate in California has passed the now infamous Proposition 13 that limits taxes. But the people of California, like Colin Craig, have not seen a spending proposal they do not like. Lobby groups have successfully promoted referenda that direct taxpayers’ money their way,” said Dr Whyte.
“Do not think this will not happen in New Zealand. The Fire Service Union promoted a successful referendum that said how many people there should be on a fire truck. The government ignored that recommendation and the country has not burnt down. Colin Craig would have had that referendum turned into an unchangeable law, and we would all be paying for it in higher insurance bills.
“I doubt those who are thinking of voting for Colin Craig have realised how dangerous his proposal is. He says he will support any government that supports binding referenda. He will support Labour if they give him this change in our constitution. Is Christine Rankin telling the people of Epsom that a vote for her might be a vote for David Cunliffe to be Prime Minister?” said Dr Whyte.
“Binding referenda have made California ungovernable. Do we really want 5% of the population making New Zealand ungovernable too?"
“An army of inspectors will find fault with homes making them unprofitable to maintain so the total pool of rental properties must decrease. That is economics 101.” said Dr Whyte.
“94% of rental houses failed a 2014 warrant of fitness (WOF) pilot by councils, ACC, the New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago using a 31 item checklist. Two-thirds of the fails required more than "just a few minor and inexpensive fixes". Be they minor or major, the majority of rental properties will go rent free while landlords scramble for tradesmen to fix faults. What investor would buy a rental property under the threat of the same severe penalty, no matter how minor the fault?” said Dr Whyte.
“The New Zealanders who will suffer the most from these laws are low income workers, beneficiaries and students who seek low-cost housing”, said Dr Whyte.
“The continued failure of the Greens to recognise there is no free lunch for any costs imposed by regulation also fails to acknowledge that tenants will bear the burden of unneeded regulations so homelessness will increase. Some people will not be able to find rental accommodation,” said Dr Whyte.
“There is no doubt that over time the wish-list of requirements to receive the WOF will expand, exacerbating the difficulties in finding affordable rental accommodation. Next will be double glazing, solar heating, low energy light bulbs, approved shower heads, allergy-free carpet, lead-free paint and asbestos removal”, said Dr Whyte.
“The Green’s proposals that any tenant will have the right of renewal will make every landlord wary of investing in rental properties. Rent controls and sitting tenants laws are the stock in trade of Seinfeld and other New York-based comedy programmes, not economic policy in New Zealand”, said Dr Whyte.
“It is incomprehensible that Dr. Norman claims to be more pro-free market than the National Party and the next day champions policies that will destroy the New Zealand rental market" said Dr Whyte.
The Op Ed pages of the left-leaning New York Times are full of articles by economists supporting proposals to dramatically lower Company Taxes. These economists are urging the United States to lower company taxes and point to Canada where the lowering of company tax has increased the size of the economy - to the extent that the tax reductions are self- funding.
New Zealand now has a company tax rate that is higher than the European Community average. The evidence is that high company tax rates are one of the reasons why New Zealand's real wages are so low.
A 12.5 percent company tax rate could be immediately funded by eliminating corporate welfare and would grow the economy sustainably by at least an extra one percent of GDP per annum.
ACT has a plan that will reduce the cost of a new house by up to one hundred thousand dollars.
Both Labour and National have now announced housing affordability schemes that will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions and both parties say the other parties’ scheme will increase the cost of new houses. They are both right.
ACT’s plan will not cost the taxpayer a cent. ACT’s plan will work. ACT’s plan is based on sound economics and is endorsed by some of the country’s leading economists as the only plan that will make housing affordable again.
ACT’s plan will not only make housing affordable for the average family, it will stop the diversion of capital into increasing the cost of homes. Lower mortgages will reduce interest rate pressure and the risks taken by banks to fund housing.
* * * * *
New Zealand has some of the most expensive housing in the world. Among the 34 OECD countries, only in Greece do householders have to spend more of their income on housing than we do in New Zealand. Despite the fact that our average incomes are well below those in the United States, our median house prices are substantially above those in the US.
This has devastating social consequences. It means that a great many people can’t afford to buy a home at all. It means that far too often both parents are obliged to seek paid employment outside the home. It means that the children of families forced to rent are too often obliged to move from school to school as their parents move from one rented house to another. It puts huge pressure on the budgets of all low and middle-income families.
It also has serious economic consequences. Because house prices have been rising strongly with scarcely a pause for more than two decades, it means that a large share of available saving is diverted into housing instead of into more directly productive activity. It means that saving itself is reduced as those fortunate enough to own a house see their wealth increasing effortlessly. Why save when wealth can be acquired by simply buying property and waiting? It means that banks are forced to borrow very large sums overseas, with our modest savings no match for our almost insatiable desire to borrow against the security of housing.
It means interest rates have to be higher than they need to be to deal with other inflationary pressures, and the exchange rate is higher than otherwise as a result – with consequential adverse effects on the ability of exporters and those competing with imports to grow and create jobs.
It even affects the risks to the banking sector, as the Reserve Bank made clear last year by imposing their restriction on the volume of loans which can exceed 80% of a recent valuation.
So the hugely high cost of housing in New Zealand is one of our most serious social and economic problems.
* * * * *
Housing affordability has become one of the main election issues.
National’s solution is to encourage people to raid their KiwiSaver schemes for a deposit on a home. If you do, National promises you another $20,000 of taxpayers’ money.
One of the problems with government retirement saving schemes is that politicians find it too tempting to use them to fund their elections.
By increasing the amount of money chasing the same supply of housing, this policy will only increase the price of housing. And it will make yet more New Zealanders, who could be self-reliant, clients of the state. National deserves some credit for other housing initiatives but this is a bad policy.
The parties of the Left have put up even more foolish “solutions”.
The Labour Party wants to introduce a capital gains tax, exempting the family home, even though Australia has a capital gains tax, again exempting the family home, and house prices there are by some measures even more expensive, relative to income, than in New Zealand. That is not a solution at all.
Having the State building one hundred thousand new houses will just transfer house building from the private sector to the state. When Labour’s housing spokesman was asked where the one hundred house lots would come from, he answered from Crown and local government land. The only way to get sixty thousand house lots in Auckland would be to build on Council and Crown reserves in Auckland – something Aucklanders are going to be very angry about.
Winston Peters wants to ban the purchase of New Zealand houses by “foreigners”, which is code for Chinese. This appeal to xenophobia violates the right of property owners to sell to whomever offers the best price. And it ignores the fact that increased demand for houses has no enduring effect on house prices absent a constraint on the supply of housing (of which more in a moment).
The Conservative Party – which on this issue has more in common with the Left than with the Right – wants to confiscate privately-owned land if the land-owner is slow to subdivide and develop it. Mr Craig at times seems more communist than conservative.
One of ACT’s contributions to New Zealand was persuading the National-led Government formed after the 2008 election to set up the Productivity Commission. The very first report of that Commission was on housing affordability. After exhaustive study, the Commission attributed the high cost of housing in New Zealand to four factors.
First, it is caused by the relatively high cost of building materials in New Zealand.
Second, it is caused by the cost and delay in getting through the consenting processes required by local government rules and regulations. (And I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of consents taking many years and millions of dollars to achieve.)
Third, it is caused by relatively low productivity in the building industry, occasioned at least in part by the very small scale of most home builders.
But, overwhelmingly, the main factor contributing to the very high cost of “housing” in New Zealand is not the price of houses, but the extraordinarily high price of the land the houses sit on. Once upon a time, the price of the section cost perhaps 25% of the combined cost of land and house. In our major cities it is now common for the land to be valued at 50% or even more of the combined package. Often 60% in Auckland.
Last year, there was a story in the New Zealand media of a land-owner offering 29 hectares of land in Flat Bush – a suburb a long way from the centre of Auckland – for $112 million, though the land agent said the owner “might accept” $80 million. At $112 million, the price of the undeveloped land was nearly $4 million per hectare; at $80 million still nearly $3 million per hectare. But what attracted attention was not just the very high price of the land compared with, say, the very best dairy land at $50,000 per hectare, but the fact that the landowner had bought the land for just $890,000 less than 20 years previously. In other words, he had made a very large fortune by just sitting on land and waiting for the population pressure built up within what was once called the Metropolitan Urban Limit, and is now called the Rural Urban Boundary, to make him wealthy.
It is this artificial restriction on the supply of land which is the root cause of New Zealand’s very expensive housing. It not only directly affects the price of the land houses are built on but also undermines the productivity of the building industry by making it very difficult or impossible for builders to acquire blocks of land on which economies of scale might be realised.
The Productivity Commission found that the price of land two kilometres inside the Auckland Metropolitan Urban Limit was, in 2010, nearly nine times the price of land two kilometres outside that limit.
American experience also makes it abundantly clear that zoning rules are the primary problem. US cities with a relaxed approach to zoning, such as Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, have median house prices around three times median household income, despite strongly growing populations. Los Angeles and San Francisco, two cities with a very restrictive approach to zoning, have median house prices some seven times median household income, despite strong net outwards migration over the last decade.
New Zealand’s unaffordable housing is a direct and inevitable result of local government zoning rules.
Just lifting the urban limit on Auckland would see the price of a new house fall dramatically.
Lifting the Auckland urban limit is not going to see huge parts of our country covered with asphalt and houses.
New Zealand is larger than the United Kingdom but has about 7% of Britain’s population. While some 9% of the UK is urbanised, in New Zealand the figure is less than 1%. There’s not the slightest risk of running out of open spaces, farms and forests in our lifetime, or in the lifetimes of our great-great-great-grand-children.
The National-led Government has been moving in the right direction on affordable housing. Recent law changes have restricted what local governments can charge for giving consent to sub-divide, and set up 26 so-called Development Commissioners to whom developers can appeal if they believe what they are being charged is unreasonable.
In the past, developers sometimes got the impression that local councils thought of a number and doubled it in deciding what to charge for a development consent. Now, the charge must be directly related to the cost of any additional infrastructure required by a new development, with the appeal process intended to give the new rules real force.
In addition, the Government has put pressure on some major councils, including the Auckland Council, to establish Special Housing Areas, within which the consenting process can be significantly accelerated.
The Government has also waived the tariffs previously charged on some imported building materials to reduce the cost of building materials within New Zealand.
ACT supports these moves as far as they go.
We were among the first to highlight the serious effect which restrictive zoning rules were having on the price of housing. We agree with recent ministerial statements criticising the restrictiveness of the rules envisaged in Auckland’s proposed Unitary Plan. We find it deeply ironic that the Auckland Council wants to compel Aucklanders to live on smaller and smaller pieces of land when most of the Councillors themselves live on spacious grounds.
ACT wants affordable housing to again become a reality for all New Zealanders. That would do more to allay concern about the growing pressure on low-income families than any other single measure – more than additional subsidies for doctors’ visits, more than increasing paid parental leave, more than higher minimum wages.
We want to ensure that cities grow according to the wants of their citizens rather than to the dreams of planners. We would reverse the notion that people can use their property only in accordance with local government plans. Instead, we believe that central and local governments should respect the wishes of property owners.
ACT wants the law to permit any residential development, provided basic environmental conditions are met. And these basic conditions would relate solely to rational requirements, such as geo-technical reports in cases of possible ground instability.
My proposition to voters is that a party vote for ACT this election is a vote for stronger property rights. It’s a vote for a party in Parliament that will put property rights high on the agenda.
It’s a vote for a party that says “this land is your land.” It’s a vote for a party that will shift the pendulum from the property-right-denying paradigm we currently have to one where we begin with the presumption that people can do what they like on their own land, provided only that it does not harm the property of others.
I have already announced that we favour scrapping the Resource Management Act and allowing property issues to be constrained by clearly targeted environmental legislation where the common law is found to be lacking.
The RMA contains the word “restriction” 61 times and the words “property right” only once, and then only in reference to another piece of legislation. It is surely no accident that the major acceleration in the cost of housing in New Zealand began in the early nineties at almost exactly the time the RMA was passed into law, in 1991.
Ultimately we would like to amend the Bill of Rights Act. Extraordinarily, that Act currently lacks any reference to property rights. It guarantees New Zealanders freedom of thought, religion, peaceful assembly, and movement, as well as the right to justice and the right to vote – but not the right to own and use property.
ACT would push to amend the Bill of Rights Act to protect the right to own and use property as the owner sees fit provided that that use does not substantially reduce others’ enjoyment of their property.
Governments would still be able to interfere with property rights, but they would have to show a good public interest reason to do so, and the question of compensation would have to be acknowledged and addressed.
The immediate result would be that much of the current planning apparatus that tightly restricts land supply would become void. Rather than forcing intensification upon existing built up areas, we would see a growth and expansion of desirable housing across the country.
The cost of housing would fall. We know that before the RMA the cost of land was 25% of the total value of homes. Now it is 50%. ACT’s proposals will mean that over time the cost of land will return to 25% of the total cost. Housing will again be affordable for the average New Zealand family.
The shift to a property rights paradigm would be a very significant one for our current legislative framework. But it would arguably be one of the most important things that New Zealand could do to reverse its economic decline.
It would free our farmers from stifling regulatory burden, and the tendency for local governments to declare any areas of private property which take their fancy as Significant Natural Areas.
It would free our businesses from much of the regulatory burden they now face.
And crucially, it would open up the supply of housing, making it affordable for all New Zealanders once again.
It would be another illustration of how you would have a better life through less government.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you, and please remember: a party vote for ACT is a vote for property rights and affordable housing.
“A poll in a major morning newspaper shows New Zealanders are afraid they will be burgled. They are definitely right about that,” said Dr. Jamie Whyte ACT Leader.
“Official Police statistics report less than half of the burglaries that actually take place."
"We have all been burgled or know someone who has been. The Treasury says the real number of burglaries per year is around 120,000.”
“Burglary has become a blight on our society. That is because the risk for burglars is astonishingly low."
"Less than 3% of burglaries result in a conviction. Less than 1% result in a prison sentence. And the average prison sentence is only 15 months, half of which is served. There is no way a 1% chance of spending eight months in prison is a sufficient deterrent.”
“ACT’s 3 strikes for violent crime has seen violent crime fall. So far no one has incurred a 3rd strike. 3 strikes for burglary will also be successful. In Britain when a Labour government introduced 3 strikes for burglary, then later a mandatory prison sentence, burglary dropped by one third."
"Burglary is an offence that is suffered mostly by the poor who cannot afford security systems, insurance and fencing. They resort to keeping dogs to protect themselves against burglars but that doesn’t work out too well sometimes. Dogs have higher running costs than a burglar alarm,” said Dr Whyte.
"I think MPs would fix burglary tomorrow if they thought their families were at risk of being burgled," said Dr Whyte.
"I tell voters if you have been burgled get even, party vote ACT. If you do not want to be burgled,party vote ACT,” said Dr Whyte
26 days to go
In October 2011 NZ First, ACT and the Conservatives were all polling around 1 percent. In a month NZ First broke the threshold, the Conservatives tripled their vote and ACT won Epsom. ACT’s support has risen strongly in five of the six campaigns ACT has run and this campaign will be no different.
ACT big winner in Compass poll
Over 200,000 people have completed the TVNZ Compass poll and the Letter understands that ACT is relatively the biggest winner. If the Compass poll reflects ACT’s own attitudinal survey then 17% of those surveyed are learning that ACT shares their values and has the policies that they prefer. By Election Day up to 80 thousand voters will have discovered that ACT is either closest or second closest to their values. Many of those who do the survey will decide to use one of their votes for ACT.
The media’s obsession with Nicky Hager
Readers are asking why the parliamentary press gallery is continuing to parrot Nicky Hager’s absurd claims. The media has invested so much of their credibility in the story – printing silly statements like “National hacked Labour’s website” (No they did not, Labour left it open). “John Key is lying”. (Key is telling the truth say the head of the SIS, the Ombudsman and John Key’s diary showing the PM was in Hawaii). All the dump of emails and texts show is why Judith Collins is called Crusher. Labour has Trevor Mallard, National has Judith Collins. It is now too much for reporters to say “Actually there was no story. The emails show how clean New Zealand politics is. There was nothing wrong with Judith Collins telling the name of a civil servant and his government supplied telephone numbers. Journalists ask politicians for the name of the person in charge and their contact numbers every day. In an open society we are entitled to know” Having said for 10 days “This is very damaging to John Key” the media feels they must make sure it is damaging. Q&A even put up Winston Peters to say it is “a new low”. You have run out of credible commentators when Winston of Owen Glenn and missing donations fame is your authority.
The press gallery all follow the same line for the same reason that birds fly in flocks, safety in numbers. No journalist is going to be fired by his editor for having been wrong about the Hager book when every other journalist is wrong. To step out and say “Judith Collins does not run National’s strategy. There is nothing here to implicate John Key” would take courage. If some smoking gun was found it might be career threatening. So it is safer not to point out the media is being manipulated. Who believes no Labour MP has ever emailed Whale Oil? Who believes that politicians are not the source of many news stories? Apparently just press gallery journalists.
Who needs a campaign?
The media is stealing the voters’ right to have an election. It is Labour that needs a campaign. In every campaign the PM usually goes down and the Opposition Leader goes up as the media gives equal time. Phil Goff with his absurd claims took away a week of Labour’s campaign. We were surprised Mr. Goff wanted to remind us that he had claimed that he had never been briefed by the SIS over the Israeli “spy scandal” when the OIA revealed Goff had been briefed “at length”. But then Phil Goff may not be too upset that David Cunliffe’s campaign is failing.
No texts or emails from ACT
Jamie Whyte has stuck to ACT’s core messages. Yesterday he made a substantive speech on the need for the rule of law and for justice to be seen. www.act.org.nz National and Labour are promising to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars on housing which will increase house prices. Jamie Whyte has a plan that will cost the taxpayer nothing and will reduce the cost of housing. Watch this space.
Our fascist broadcasting rules
New Zealand has a handicapped election system devised by the two major parties. If we had UN international monitors they would say our elections are not fair. Television and radio time is allocated by a government agency called the Electoral Commission. The Commission gives nearly all the time to National and Labour. Parties are prohibited from buying advertising so it is illegal to get equal time. It gets worse. The Electoral Commission selects when the Party Opening Broadcast is to air. Only a bureaucrat would broadcast at the same time as a rugby test. It is proof that state funding of political parties is a waste of taxpayer money.
Visually Labour: Politically National. Labour clearly put a lot of effort into their unwatched broadcast. Politically it failed as it featured unknown caucus members and ended up in a stream of impossible to remember promises. National’s just feature John Key and a message the country is going OK, an easy message to remember. For the minor parties there is not enough time to win any votes but more than enough time to lose votes. The worst broadcast? A bizarre cartoon from Internet/Mana. The Conservatives brought a court case on Friday demanding ACT’s broadcast time be reduced and their’s increased. There are few things more boring than a film of a politician addressing a meeting so Colin should be pleased he did not have more time. Jamie Whyte’s wife Zainab is absolutely stunning in ACT’s broadcast. It is now must watch You-tube. Check it out for yourself – of course you are just looking to see what the Conservatives did not want you to see www.act.org.nz