Don Nicolson

Don Nicolson – Speech to ACT Southern Forum

Don Nicolson – ACT Candidate  for Clutha Southland

Speech to ACT Southern Forum

July 20, 2014

Mr Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to address the ACT southern area conference today with this day being 63 days-yes 9 weeks out from the general election.

An election that will obviously not only define who is the government for the next 3 years and who will be the opposition but also define the future of the very party I am proud to represent ACT.

I want to acknowledge the presence of our party president John Thompson, our party leader Jamie Whyte and our Epsom candidate David Seymour who will win Epsom and the members and supporters here today. I note ACTs CE Lindsay Fergusson is also in attendance. But if you want a strong ACT representation in parliament you need more than David Seymour. You need him, plus at least 5 others. Then you might just get me as well!

How many party votes will that take? About 100000 is my guess; about 4 times more than last election.

Is it do-able? Well yes it is. In 1996 ACT was a new party polling less than 1% and with a hostile media. We ended up with over 6 % and 8 MP’s.

We gained about 145000 party votes that year. In fact ACT has achieved over 6% in 3 of the 6 MMP elections so far. If we could achieve 12500 party votes in the 5 electorates in this region then ACT is seriously on the road again. But we need many foot soldiers to get us there. In this region I need your help. I need you to unashamedly lobby your connections, help with localised billboard placement and oversight, and generally become much more mobilised.

ACT cannot be lackadaisical.  While money really helps, it’s those small influences you can all exert that will, collectively make a huge difference. I have been asked to talk about why ACT principles are good for regional New Zealand and also link those principles to the primary industry that I have worked within all my life.

At the outset, I need to say that ACT is unique in our political landscape. We are absolutely different from the rest.

How is that so? Well, we are the only party promoting a better future with less government weighing us down. That is, ACT promotes a better, a heathier nation through less tax or regulatory burden. No other party has the courage and fortitude ACT has. Other parties might occasionally sound similar but drill deeper and they all have command and control tendencies, with those on the eco socialist left extremely dangerous.

We want the monopolistic influences in our country diminished. They are a handbrake on success and achievement. If the current regime of tax and spend works so well, then why is it that society seems so unhappy and desire more?

I say too much money filtered through the hands of monopolists is the root cause. They cannot deliver value no matter how they sell themselves. Their dead weight cost means a significant portion of each tax dollar is wasted. By deadweight, I mean the unearned costs imposed on the production of goods and services, including the loss of opportunity or growth of businesses throughout NZ.

So let’s go to the core specifics ACT has defined the voters are concerned about most in 2014.

Our surveillance has discovered that voters are concerned about their personal and their property security, their earning, saving and spending power and they know that we are seriously over burdened with regulations that impede enterprise.

Add to that voters have a valid concern about race based laws and the division they create.

So ACT will run a campaign about being tough on crime, about the benefit of low flat taxes,  about why we need a One Country, One law ethic and how we will take the secateurs, no a machete to green tape.

How will these policies help regional New Zealand and the primary sector? It is clear that without secure property rights being upheld, criminals can run riot over the property of others and they are. It is thought about 120,000 burglaries happen each year with only about 55,000 of these reported and less than 30% have offenders apprehended. It is thought these invasions of property cost individuals over $1billion a year. ACT says it’s a core government role to have citizens feel secure and so ACT says stronger deterrents to criminals are vital.

ACT’s 3 strikes for burglary and you are ‘in’ strikes at the heart of those who wish to disrespect the property of others. For those in the pastoral heartland it has been assessed that on top of burglary stock theft costs their industry over $120 million per year. ACT wants far tougher penalties for these rural invasions too with additional powers to confiscate weapons and vehicles from offenders caught. ACT policy is a circuit breaker to crime.

And what of low flat taxes and the benefits that will bring the regions or the primary sector?

ACT says it’s too easy for the executive powers of the state to co-erce revenue from citizens under the guise of protecting those same citizens, when in fact much of the revenue desire is to mask the expansion of the Crown, the ultimate monopolist. That’s why from the day of formation ACT has promoted a low flat tax regime. We know that the dead weight cost of a government collected and spent dollar compares poorly with a dollar spent privately. ACT’s research has shown that the much desired economic growth expectation by government can be achieved much quicker with our lower and flat tax regime.

It’s not hard, and in fact won’t create hardship for anyone in mainstream, but it might affect a few surplus government servants; as it should.

In 1999 when Helen Clark came to office, total Crown revenue was $39 billion, when she was deposed in 2008 that total was $81billion, last year $86 billion. During the same periods total Crown spending went from $39 billion to $83 billion in 2008 and was $91 billion last year. Distilling these figures to each citizen is eye watering with a gross debt per head now at almost $18000. Four times greater than Turkey and six times greater than war torn Egypt!

With this level of Crown expansion you would think society would be happy, but it’s not. It seems there is never enough in the kitty for health, education or security. And worse the Crown is getting into the middle classes and business with additional welfare.

The drug of Crown welfare has them hooked, but ACT knows going  cold turkey doesn’t have to be destructive or painful as it was for the primary sector 1984/5.  Individuals in that sector, if they are true to themselves know that any privilege gained unfairly can be easily taken away. So with a low flat tax regime in place enterprise in regions and primary industry would advance on merit once again. ACT knows that; most citizens think that too, but governments of the recent past just don’t trust citizens to make smart choices.

Much is made of regional development with government financial inducements to regions or industry seen as  a saviour rather than for what they are; a bribe for the overtaxing and over regulatory effect of policy.

ACT says leave more money in the pockets of those who earn it and our regions’, towns and cities will be much better off. An example: I pay about $800 per year to Southland economic development agency. I don’t like that because I can’t refuse to pay it; I don’t get to choose how it is spent; I don’t get any dividend or even a share certificate, but the next year that same agency can come back for another $800 or more. It’s never less!

As for Green tape mixed up with red,    well,    where do I start?

I daresay first principles for regional or primary industry sustainability would be to suggest that limiting the state would actually help. Stating the bleeding obvious I expect. But there are people who think that there is protein, in fact sustenance in a silicon chip. They don’t want to understand that everything we enjoy today has its genesis from revenues generated by harvest of the environment. That’s right; it doesn’t matter whether you are Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, the All Blacks or Barrack Obama, nothing occurs without resources  harvested to develop trade and currency. Everything else occurs because of, not in spite of the harvest of the land, the sea and the scenery.

The Greens would have us believe that resource rentals are required but that’s because they don’t understand rent is already paid by trade in open markets.

Those in IT might say ‘oh we don’t use resources’. Well by proxy they do because in general terms their fantastic outputs are generally used to make resource use more efficient. 

No bureaucrat can say they don’t use resources; they do and worse, those same bureaucrats never replace anything that they consume. Think about that? They do not replace anything they consume. Which means ladies and gentlemen that what the bureaucrat consumes, must be replaced by the private sector? Can anybody come up with a better reason for voting for a light handed Government delivering only what is required.

So why do we let them regulate and add cost to individuals and enterprise the way they do?

I could talk at length about regulations and rules and the effect on local communities or primary industry.

Immediately I think of the Resource Management Act and how it damages communities by impeding aspiration or why it doesn’t have a full compensation for takings clause, or how I think the Local Government Act is applied and more especially why the funding of local government is crooked. I think of road funding on a less than fair entire network basis and I think of the explosion of health and safety compliance police numbers. I think of the very politicised water quality discussion and how one sided and destructive those with agendas have become and I think of how ACC should be opened to competition and so much more.

But I want to talk about the biggest nonsense of all; climate change or, as I like to call it, climate variation and the wasteful New Zealand response. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) or a Carbon Tax, neither can achieve anything useful. That is unless one makes their livelihood out of promulgating the lie.

My first brush with a prospect of carbon dioxide trading prospect goes back to about 1990 when a farm forestry magazine mentioned the concept and that was about the time of the first Rio Conference. It might pay to remember that in early 1980’s global cooling was the issue as was the ozone hole over Antarctica. Fast forward to about 2002 and my role in Federated Farmers, we learn that Helen Clark was serious about signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.

That led to me leading the largest farmer rally in 2003 where we fought and won against the Clark governments intention to enact an animal burp, belch and pee tax emission tax humorously called FART ( fight against ridiculous taxes). The Labour party did not desist and pushed for a carbon tax. They failed again but by 2008 they were able to enact an ETS. The National Party was in huge opposition, or that’s what it seemed.

But while the nats have modified the impact on all citizens the cost of the current ETS is still with us. For all the rhetoric about being fast followers we are still ahead of every other nation and so we find ourselves today in a very lonely international club of one with our, all sectors all gases, ETS.

While our neighbours Australia have just killed off their Carbon Tax we still have our ETS. I find it abhorrent that the promoters of such schemes have played with citizens minds by promoting a fear of the future, any future. Dictators would be proud. The merchants of fear said that increasing carbon dioxide would become catastrophic and that any international inaction would result in irreversible climate change.

Well in spite of their assertions and with atmospheric CO2 rising well past the magical 350ppm mark evidence shows that the world has not warmed for the last 17 years. Evidence enough to say man made emissions of CO2 is not a dangerous causal factor to global temperatures.

Further climate models never predicted this ‘stop’ in temperature rise. The models are worthless, only good for the doomsayers. Sea level rise is small and not in acceleration mode.

I could go on but ACT says that until all the unanswered questions are answered without political bias or scientific corruption then any money spent attempting to alter climate is wasteful and doing nothing is more appropriate. 

Leave citizens to make their own choice about where they live and work and further, leave them the resources to adapt and build their own resilience to whatever is ahead. 

ACT would want the ETS ‘gone by lunchtime’ and any idea of a carbon tax dismissed for the nonsense it would be.

But I will leave the last word to a political columnist from Australia, Dan Aitken who last week wrote as that country repealed its carbon tax: 
First, no country can have a sensible policy on climate by itself, because climate is not governed by national boundaries. Second, not even the UN can have a sensible policy, because climate is not governed by laws and regulations. Third, we can do something about the effects of weather, which is much more concern to everyone because weather is local, and affects our daily life. Fourth, but we can’t stop weather, or even predict it with any great success, because we lack deep knowledge about the basic components of weather (and climate). Fifth, it may be that we will never possess such knowledge. Sixth, the evidence continues to mount that carbon dioxide is not, after all, the control knob of the planet’s temperature, and if it is not, then the preceding reasons become overwhelming.

Fantastic lines that help me rest my case.

So back to the question the chairman asked me to talk about. Is regional New Zealand different than metropolitan NZ? Is Primary industry sector different? Should ACT have policy for each?

Absolutely not!

ACT principles, if widely adopted would not discriminate against any sector, any region, any city, any colour, any religion or any creed. ACT is sector neutral economically and colour blind socially. ACT vision is about giving individuals equal opportunity through less government. Opportunity where an individual can make their own choice about how they can control their destiny; not have it controlled for them by the executive.  

As a farmer I controlled stock by using dogs, quad bikes and fences. So I used overt coercion over a weaker species to gain control and then income.

That’s what our current governance model is too; putting individuals into herds or flocks, weakening their resolve or enterprise and then managing their daily requirements by offering welfare inducements to maintain power.

It’s shameful, it’s unacceptable but it is happening in front of our eyes.

Why do voters like the herd mentality? Why do they like the coercive power of the executive over their own liberty and freedom?

One wonders why our forebears fought so hard for liberty, freedom and the property right when their children haven’t appreciated their quest.

How have the socialistic tendencies of the herd become so oppressive, so stifling to those of us who know there is a better way, those of us who value freedom?

Well I know; it’s about the constant diminution of the common law property right. But that’s for discussion another day.

But why are policies that almost had Dr Brash as Prime Minister in 2005 for the National party now not talked about by that same party?

It’s clear to me they have allowed themselves to be so corrupted, so scared of the eco socialistic and extreme left they cannot stay true to themselves. They have been pulled so left only ACT can save them, save us all.

Predominantly it is any two tick Nat whose heart and mind ACT has to influence and wrest back our lost support. There’s little chance of winning over any voters of the more predatory left.

We need to get them ( National voters that is ) to understand their smarter and more powerful voting strategy would be to split their vote because it would allow the National Party to be held closer to its core values rather than be pulled further into socialistic mire. 

ACT wants a better way and so do the Nats.

ACT knows the better way.

ACT can be a powerful influence for making this fine country better

A Party vote for ACT is the influential choice- the right choice.

I implore you to help make it happen. Be proud to tell your mates to Party Vote ACT September 20th and make New Zealand a better place.

Thank you.


Zespri monopoly must be held to account

The recent Bay Of Plenty Times report, 'New Fraud Crisis for Zespri' shows why ACT has remained so staunch about the need to have a Ministerial inquiry launched into the behaviour of the state-sanctioned kiwifruit marketing monopoly Zespri, says ACT Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson.

The article, which explores invoicing irregularities in Zespri’s Taiwan market, highlights serious problems within Zespri - problems which were initially brought to the Government's attention by ACT some 18 months ago.

"To date our concerns have fallen on deaf ears and ACT wonders why, when there has been such a consistent barrage of bad news regarding Zespri's activities," said Mr Nicolson.

"The Serious Fraud Office is looking into something they will not divulge at Zespri. This inquiry, along with attempts by other kiwifruit industry bodies to launch inquiries into their own activities, is no excuse for the Crown to abdicate its responsibility to fully audit Zespri's activities.

"Government-mandated bodies are audited by the Crown annually, so ACT wonders why Zespri, as a state-blessed monopoly, hasn't had any Crown scrutiny since it was given its special status 14 years ago.

"Safeguarding and protecting New Zealand’s reputation is of high priority to this government and is vital if primary industries are to double their export value by 2025 - supposedly an ambition of the current government.

"By not holding a state-endorsed export monopoly to account, we seem to have fallen at the first hurdle."

Minister must act on Zespri revelations

Revelations in today’s edition of The National Business Review that appear to show Zespri gave false evidence to Chinese courts about their import practices requires action from the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, ACT Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.

“It is not good enough to leave these matters to a New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) inquiry as the Minister proposes to do” Mr Nicolson said.

“That is an inadequate response to what appears to have been occurring.

“NZKGI cannot represent the public interest they only represent grower interests.  They are not independent.  They share the same building as Zespri and staff share the same staffroom.

“There is a public interest in this matter because Zespri operates under a statutory monopoly.

“Growers are forced to do business with it. That is why the Minister is under a duty to act.

“This matter also has the potential to effect New Zealand’s reputation in a major market.

“The Government should not allow New Zealand’s reputation to be shredded by instalment.” Mr Nicolson said.


SFO investigation raises serious questions about Zespri

News that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating Zespri raises serious questions about the company’s operations and the Government’s refusal to look into it, ACT Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.

“The SFO is responsible for investigating serious and complex fraud.   While the purpose of the SFO’s investigation is unknown, that it is investigating at all is an indictment on the Minister for Primary Industries’ decision not to initiate his own inquiry," Mr Nicolson said.   

“It shows he is not taking our export markets as seriously as he should be.

“The Minister should not use the SFO investigation and the on-going New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) investigation as an excuse for further inaction.

“As a single-desk exporter, our entire kiwifruit industry rests on Zespri’s reputation.  If Zespri’s reputation is harmed all New Zealand Kiwifruit growers will be affected – sales will decrease, profits will be lost and jobs will go.

“As Zespri is a Government legislated monopoly, it falls on the Government to ensure it operates to a standard fitting of that privilege.

“ACT has been calling on the Government to initiate an independent inquiry into the monopoly since Zespri was convicted of smuggling in a Chinese court.  Better yet, ACT would like the Government to open Zespri up to competition so that growers are not at such high risk from one company’s actions.

“The SFO’s involvement shows that ACT was right to have cause for concern.    It is time that Nathan Guy showed more interest in one of New Zealand’s important export companies,” Mr Nicolson said.



Nathan Guy Must Stop Making Excuses And Do Something

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is looking for excuses to justify his inaction amid growing calls by kiwifruit growers that the industry needs an independent inquiry, ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.

“Initially the Minister said he wouldn’t initiate an inquiry because Zespri was before the Courts on a charge of smuggling.

“Now that Zespri has been found guilty, he is using the excuse that an internal inquiry is already taking place and there is no need for the Government to step in.

“But growers who have contacted ACT do not have any faith in the internal inquiry,” Mr Nicolson said.

“New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI), which is charged with conducting the inquiry, is the very organisation that commissioned the 2007 Grant Samuel Report into Zespri and then suppressed it because it was unfavourable.

“What has changed in NZKGI since then?

“NZKGI has no credibility when it comes to conducting an independent inquiry into Zespri.  The report won’t be worth the paper it is written on.

“The Minister’s continued position of doing nothing is unacceptable.  By failing to take action, the Minister appears to be sanctioning Zespri's poor business behaviour that threatens our reputation.
“Kiwifruit is big business for New Zealand and our reputation relies on Zespri acting as a good corporate citizen.  If its reputation is damaged our entire industry will suffer.

“The Government forces all growers to export through Zespri.  It is therefore the Government’s responsibility to ensure that Zespri’s operations are above board.   Initiating an independent inquiry is the only way the Government can do this,” Mr Nicolson said.



Minister Must Act On Issues In China

ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson today congratulated the Minister for Primary Industries for fixing the problem with his Ministry’s customs certificates in China and called on him to take a similar personal interest into the alleged wrong doing by Zespri.

“The Minister has assured us that the export meat problem has been fixed and the certification problem will not affect other food exporters,” Mr Nicolson said. 

“He was right to put it on the officials responsible for food safety in the Ministry - they did a poor job for New Zealand.  

“A shipment of apples was also held up for eleven days in Russia because of documentation problems and the Ministry’s Deputy Director General had absolutely no idea. 

“But the Minister is still turning a blind eye to the Zespri issue. Why is he prepared to fix one issue and ignore the other?

“All Nathan Guy needs to do is ask Zespri whether they benefited from under-declaring the value of kiwifruit shipped to China, which was then sold at a higher market price.

“The allegation is that some, or all, of this money found its way back to Zespri.   The Minister could get to the bottom of this issue but he refuses to do so.

“The law forces kiwifruit growers to export through Zespri if they want to go beyond Australia. 

“Growers have the right to know whether Zespri has been a party to any wrong-doing in China,” Mr Nicolson said.


Nathan Guy Cannot Keep His Head In The Sand On Zespri Allegations

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy can no longer keep his head in the sand over Zespri’s role in the customs fraud allegations  in China after damning internal documents were revealed today by the Sunday Star Times, ACT Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.

The documents show that Zespri was worried New Zealand customs would discover what it was doing and alert its China counterparts.  The documents also revealed that staff in the company’s shipping department were so worried about being personally liable for filling out incorrect documentation they sought assurances that they would be protected. 

“ACT calls on the Minister, again, to launch a full scale independent inquiry into these matters,” Mr Nicolson said. 

“ACT has questioned Zespri's role in the customs fraud case right from the start as Zespri’s claim that they had no knowledge of the dodgy dealings in China did not ring true. 

“Now there is evidence that Zespri was aware that its invoicing system was likely illegal.  The Government must act. 

“Zespri's actions impact on the whole Kiwifruit industry and all New Zealand growers are being caught up in this scandal.   It is Government regulation that forces all growers to export through Zespri whether they want to or not.   ACT does not agree with this. 

“Zespri seems to have abandoned its responsibility as a Government mandated export monopoly to represent New Zealand in an appropriate manner.   

“Failure to launch an inquiry would be seen as endorsing Zespri’s bad behaviour.  Minister Guy must take action immediately,” Mr Nicolson said.

The Sunday Start Times article can be found here




Labour’s Limit On Share Fund Size Intrudes On Shareholders’ Rights

ACT New Zealand will not support Labour MP Damien O’Connor’s Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No2), ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.

The Bill would limit the proportion of Fonterra co-operative shares that can be held in its shareholders fund to 20 per cent of Fonterra’s share total.

“Legislating tighter limits on the size of the fund is an unnecessary intrusion into the rights and interests of shareholders to determine the destiny of their own company,” Mr Nicolson said.

“Fonterra has sufficient constitutional safeguards and mechanisms for representation and communication to allow shareholders to determine the size of the  fund.   Shareholders are more than capable of doing this without interference from Government.

“ACT believes the Government’s regulatory involvement with Fonterra should be limited to ensuring that the supply and sale of milk and milk products within New Zealand are open to competition.
“Fonterra is the world’s largest exporter of dairy produce and New Zealand’s largest company.  It competes in an ever-changing world and needs to be able to respond to changing circumstances and continue to evolve as a company for the benefit of its shareholders.

“Excessive and unnecessary government involvement will only hinder its ability to do this,” Mr Nicolson said.




  昨晚,在新西兰电视台 “One News” 曝光了ZESPRI国际公司的欺诈性商业行为后,新西兰行动党第一产业发言人Don Nicolson提出应该对该猕猴桃垄断出口商进行紧急调查。




  “行动党近日对政府继续支持ZESPRI 的法定特权地位表示质疑,ZESPRI的特权阻碍了种植者选择客户和销售地的自由。行动党相信政府参与商业和公民生活的行为越少越好。自己选择出口目的地和客户是猕猴桃种植者的权利。”


  “行动党将上诉第一产业部长并推动调查“Nicolson 先生说。

ACT Calls For Urgent Inquiry Into ZESPRI Allegations

ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson called for an urgent inquiry into monopoly kiwifruit exporter ZESPRI International’s operations after allegations of dodgy business practices were exposed on TVNZ’s ‘One News’ last night. 

It is alleged that ZESPRI had full knowledge of the actions of their importer in China and was complicit in their actions to defraud the Chinese Government by under declaring the Customs invoices and therefore under paying the correct duties.

“These are serious allegations and kiwifruit growers have the right to know the truth since they are being forced by the Government to sell their products through this company,” Mr Nicolson said. 

“An independent inquiry is the only way to get a full and accurate picture.

"ACT recently questioned the Government’s continued support of ZESPRI International’s legislated and privileged status which prevents growers who value competition and freedom from exporting to destinations and customers of their choice.   ACT believes ‘less is best’ when it comes to government involvement in business and in the lives of citizens.  It should be a kiwifruit grower’s right to make to make their own export decisions. 

 “Last night’s revelations raise serious questions about ZESPRI’s operations and whether the government’s continued support of its monopoly status is really in the best interest of growers.

 “ACT will be writing to the Minister of Primary Industries to push for an inquiry,” Mr Nicolson said.

TVNZ: Zespri accused of ‘hoodwinking’ Chinese Govt

Straight Furrow: ‘Zespri’s jailed ‘scapegoat’ appeals ruling

ACT: More Questions Raised About Zespri’s operations