In 12 months’ time, here is what will matter

In three days’ time I will be elected along with a number of ACT MPs.  I think the media will be surprised and ask how it happened?

Let me tell you.

First, ACT has been rising in all the polls.  On the latest Colmar Brunton poll, David Seymour wins Epsom and I am elected.

Second, once a party wins an electorate, the number of votes needed to win a Party seat is very low. Each National list MP will take about 60,000 votes, more than the total votes of any one electorate. By contrast, just 28,000 votes will add me to David Seymour. And 44,000 Party votes will give ACT three MPs. 

The electorates won by a party are deducted from its list MPs.  That is why Labour may get no list MPs.

The ideal way to game MMP is to have a party that wins only electorates and a partner that wins only list seats.  Labour and the Greens are now in that situation and may as a result steal the election from National, who would be recording the biggest win in our history if this were a first-past-the-post election.

I predict that ACT will win a number of seats and that ACT will hold the balance of power on Sunday.

ACT’s Deputy Kenneth Wang is the most popular Chinese politician in New Zealand and on some Chinese website polls ACT is in second place ahead of Labour.  

We have used the internet to poll and so we know that the land line polls are wrong.  As all the land line polls are different, and the differences are greater than the margins of error, even the journalists who report as news what their pollster predicts must know that the land line polls are not credible.

ACT’s polling shows that 11% of New Zealanders support ACT’s message of low tax, less regulation and more personal responsibility.

We have been told by usually reliable sources that TVNZ’s Vote Compass survey also reveals significant support for ACT’s policies.  In a campaign that has been dominated by side issues rather than genuine policy debate, this is a more interesting poll finding than the supposed voting intentions conjured up by landline phone polls.

I have today delivered a request under the Official Information ACT to TVNZ to reveal the Compass Vote survey results that will show that many New Zealanders agree with ACT’s ideas.

We have written to TVNZ demanding that they publish the Vote Compass results before the election. As the survey was paid for in part by the Electoral Commission using Taxpayers money I have also forwarded this demand to the Electoral Commission.  Voters need to know this information now before the election.

At the last election up to 100,000 right wing voters stayed at home.  They were voters who thought John Key was going to win easily and think National is too much like Labour.

To be frank, they are the voters who under MMP had previously elected an average of seven ACT MPs, and they thought ACT had lost its way.

I think I have shown this election that ACT has a fresh team, that we have gone back to our core policies of lower tax and less regulation and that we are worthy of our supporters’ vote.

The numbers coming to our website show there is interest in our alternative to the tax-and-spend approach of all the other parties.

We believe we will do well because we have addressed the issues that matter.

We see commentators express surprise that John Key and National’s popularity have been unaffected by a determined effort to destroy our Prime Minister.

This just shows that voters are smarter than the media gives them credit for.

Voters know that in 12 months’ time the issues that matter will be jobs, the economy, the cost of a house and whether we feel safe.

Mr Dotcom will have left our shores for America and nobody will even remember what “Dirty Politics” was all about. As Helen Clark might put it, we will have moved on.

What the voters will remember is that the election campaign didn’t quite happen. The serious disagreements between the rival parties went unexamined.

What will improve education: more parental choice or more bureaucratic control?

Who is better at making investment decisions: private investors risking their own money or politicians risking taxpayers’ money?

How will we reduce the number of children born into disadvantage – by transferring parental responsibility to bureaucrats and taxpayers or by increasing incentives to work and opportunities to work?

What will do more to reduce the cost of housing: imposing a capital gains tax on those who build and then sell houses or freeing up the supply of land for residential development?

These and many other important matters have gone unexamined because, with some honorable exceptions, the media seem to believe that politics should be reported as if it were a game of snakes and ladders.

The parties’ policies, what they will do if elected, have been squeezed out by the kind of thing Winston Peters specialises in: feigned outrage at the wickedness of politicians and speculations about who will form coalitions with whom.

Yesterday Radio New Zealand hosted the final debate between the leaders of the minor parties. We discussed only two topics. Kim Dotcom’s “Moment of Truth” event and post-election coalition deals. And Radio New Zealand is supposed to be the most serious and thoughtful broadcaster in the country!

*  *  *  *  *

Some parties have not announced policies that are sufficiently well worked out to warrant serious discussion – most notably, New Zealand First, the Conservatives and Internet-Mana. They merely wave their hands in the general direction of a vague idea, and call it a policy.

By contrast, ACT has announced a number of serious policies, fully costed and backed up by academic research.  

We started our campaign three months ago by publishing a fully-costed budget.

No commentator or rival party has disputed ACT’s figures.

In that budget, we showed how by cutting corporate welfare – the corrupt practice of giving taxpayers’ money to companies that can win favour with politicians and bureaucrats – we could cut the company tax rate from 28% to 20 percent next year. In a subsequent policy document, we showed how we could cut the company tax rate to 12.5% by 2020.

New Zealand now has one of the highest company rates in the world.  Most New Zealanders do not realise how far New Zealand’s company tax rates are out of line because of two factors.  Australia’s company tax rates are also high and the USA’s tax rates are the highest in the OECD. 

Americans know their tax regime is dysfunctional. Even President Obama wants to cut their company tax rate and get rid of all the loopholes (which, by the way, mean that American companies end up paying a lower rate of tax than New Zealand companies pay).

The Australians also knows their company tax rate is too high.  The new Liberal government has announced that it is reviewing the Australian company tax rate company.

If Australia reduces its company tax rate New Zealand will find itself at a serious disadvantage.

In parliament, ACT MPs will be pointing out our company tax rates are unsustainable.

People will ask, “Why was this not an issue in the election?”  Well, it was, but the media thought other things were more important. We have explained why cutting the company tax rate from 28% to 12.5% will increase investment, economic growth and wages.

Other parties also seek to increase economic growth and wages. But they are all convinced that the answer is more of them and less of you.

They all say that they can pull off some form of Muldoonism. They can pick winners and replace private investment with politically directed investment. They all claim that investment decisions are made better by politicians risking taxpayers’ money than by private investors risking their own money.

This absurd idea has attracted a fraction of the analysis given to the private emails of a blogger who is not a candidate for any party.

Other parties’ solution to low real wages is to have the government make low wages illegal. But wages do not depend on the will of legislators. They depend on the productivity of workers – which depend on their education, the amount of capital they work with and their degree to which they can specialise.

Legislating higher wages in the absence of improvements in these factors will simply cause unemployment. In the presence of such improvements, on the other hand, wages will increase without any need for legislation.

You cannot make people rich by decree. If you could, we would all be billionaires. The only route to wealth is productivity.

Legislate any minimum wage you like. It won’t increase productivity. And it won’t, therefore, help us close the wage gap with Australia.

ACT predicts that in 12 months’ time, when the Australian economy has recovered, the gap between New Zealand and Australia will be an issue again and the planes will again be carrying our best and brightest across the Tasman, and to the US and the United Kingdom too (if the United Kingdom still exists).

ACT MPs in parliament will be asking the government: “What is the plan to close the gap with Australia?” and the public will be asking why was that not an issue at this election?

Well, if you examine ACT’s press statements, it is an issue.

We have put forward a five point plan to catch Australia.

ACT has identified a major reason for housing unaffordability, which is also a significant reason for the country’s slow growth – red tape and, in particular, the Resource Management Act.

The RMA has proved to be a license for local government planners to undermine private property rights in favour of kind of soft socialism.  The costs in administration, compliance, delays and uncertainty are huge.

In 1990 the average New Zealand family could afford a house. 

ACT predicts in 12 months’ time housing will still be unaffordable because the RMA is fundamentally flawed.  ACT’s policy is to admit the RMA experiment has failed, repeal the law and start again.

In parliament we will be telling National that their RMA amendments do not go far enough.

One issue that has had a little air time during the campaign has been poverty and, especially, child poverty.

Claims for increase in child poverty have been uncritically reported.  Claims that 20% of New Zealand children live in poverty are derived from a perverse definition of poverty. A child is said to live in poverty if she lives in a household with an income less than 60% of the national median household income.

On this definition, no increase of income would suffice to lift children from poverty if all other households’ incomes increases by more. It is a ridiculous measure of poverty which grossly exaggerates the amount of poverty in New Zealand.

Nevertheless, ACT believes that many children are indeed born into serious disadvantage. We believe kids at the economic bottom of New Zealand need a better deal. And we have a plan to help them. It is based on job creation and wage increases caused by lower taxes and lighter regulation, on welfare reform, and on parental choice in education.

We also acknowledge that many of those households in poverty are there because the adults in the house put their addictions ahead of feeding their children.  A fact the Greens and Labour deny.  ACT MPs will be supporting moves by Paula Bennett to require drug testing and to provide assistance to addicts to come of drugs.

In 12 months’ time, when Mr Dotcom is just a sour memory, our state schools will still be failing to provide 20% of their pupils with an education sufficient to find work in a globalised economy of growing automation.

ACT has a solution: Partnership Schools (or charter schools, as they are known overseas).  The media print the Education Union’s attacks. But they put no effort into discovering and reporting the great progress being made by Partnership School pupils who were failing in state schools.

That is why ACT MPs will be pressing to allow every school to have the advantages of being a Partnership School.

The 20th century American journalist, H L Mencken, said that all elections “soon become and advance auction sale of stolen goods”. This election is a vivid illustration of the fact.

All the other parties simply compete to offer people goodies paid for from money confiscated from other people and, often, from themselves. The racket has become so absurd that the Greens have now announced a plan to give everyone who has a child a flax basket full of goodies. Even the Greens are willing to destroy plants if they believe it will buy them some votes.

The Taxpayers Union has their bribe-o-meter, which reveals the gruesome facts about how much extra tax all parties except ACT will be imposing on us after the election. But the media is generally uninterested in the issue.

Would New Zealand First have its support if the media reported that Mr Peters has promised more spending than the Greens, Labour and the Conservatives combined?  His claim that he can fund it all by cracking down on tax evasion is laughable.  New Zealand has one of the toughest tax regimes and lowest rates of tax evasion in the world.

ACT produced a plan to fully fund all our proposals.  It has been galling to go to the trouble to use Treasury figures, to have our policies professionally costed and then see commenters just make up figures with regard to ACT. The same commentators then print no commentary on the absurd promises of the Greens, New Zealand First and the Conservatives.

In 12 months’ time, when the taxpayer has to pay, people will ask why this was not an issue in the election.  Well, it was, but it was not covered.

Let me make another prediction.

Next year there will be over 100,000 burglaries.  Those burglaries will affect around 250,000 people who will ask, “why was this not an issue in the election”? 

That is why in parliament, ACT will be presenting legislation to send professional burglars to jail.

I am confident ACT will get its 3 strikes for burglary through and the law will dramatically reduce the number of burglaries in New Zealand, just as our 3 strikes policy has reduced violent crime.

*  *  *  *  *

When voters go to the polling booth on Saturday, many will ask: “Who will always vote for less tax, less nanny state and more personal responsibility?”

There is only one answer. 

That is why I predict many will Party Vote ACT.

It will be ACT, not New Zealand First, holding the balance of power for the next three years.

We will support John Key and a stable centre-right government. And we will make it a more principled and reforming government

Internet Party Insults Students

"I sometimes wonder if the Internet Party is giving students an intelligence test," says ACT Epsom Candidate David Seymour.

"Does the Internet Party really think our generation cannot see that it is us who will pay for their election bribes in taxes? Perhaps they think we do not know that students become taxpaying graduates?

"The Treasury predicts a massive government debt blow out (202% of GDP) by 2060, on current trends of demographics and expenditure. 

"That year happens to be when current students might hope to retire (see the Long-term Fiscal Outlook).

"It’s insulting enough that students are being bribed with their own money.  Worse is that overall government expenditure will go up further under the Internet Party and their left wing allies. 

"If there are no student fees we would expect more ‘lifers’ at University, and responsible students will pay for them too.

"ACT is the only party taking the future tax burdens of current students seriously. We are the only party offering to reduce government expenditure. 

"Young New Zealanders should be the most concerned of all about election bribe spending.

"ACT is the only party offerring low taxes, less nanny state and labour market policies that will give graduates a chance to get into the workforce to prove themselves in a job," said David Seymour.

ACT’s 5 point plan to reduce poverty and raise incomes

During this election campaign, there has been much discussion of child poverty.

The discussion is confused by a definition of poverty unrelated to real, dollar incomes. A child is said to live in poverty if she lives in a household whose income is less than 60% of the median household income. On this measure, doubling everyone’s income would make no difference to the number of people living in poverty.

Even on this wonky definition of poverty, the common allegation that poverty is increasing is false. Child poverty rates (so measured) have fallen from about 34% 20 years ago to 16% today.

Nevertheless, no one can deny that the opportunities of many children are reduced by the relatively low incomes of the households they live in.

Like the other parties, ACT wants to see those at the economic bottom of New Zealand doing better. And we want their children to have better prospects in life.

Unlike the parties of the left, however, we do not believe that the answer is yet more welfare and yet higher taxes. We believe that the poor will benefit most from a dynamic, job-creating economy and from better education.

More specifically, we have a 5-point plan to reduce relative poverty and raise incomes:    

1. Cut the company tax rate.  There are almost no households in poverty where the adults have jobs. Cutting the company tax rate will create jobs and opportunities for those who are now unemployed.

New Zealand has one of the highest Company Tax rates in the OECD. It raises little income and is stopping investment, growth, jobs and real wages.  By lowering the company tax rate to 12.5%, funded mainly by ending tax hand-outs to selected companies (“corporate welfare”), we can restore full employment and increase real wages. This single measure will do more to create jobs and lift incomes than all the other parties’ spending plans put together.

2. Cut red tape.  Government red tape as measured by statutes and regulations has increased under National, stifling economic growth and making housing unaffordable. ACT wants regulation generally reduced and the Resource Management Act replaced with planning laws based around the Common Law.  This will make housing affordable again.

3. Reform welfare. Virtually everyone in poverty is on a benefit.  Welfare must become a hand up not a hand out.  In America the use of lifetime limits has transformed welfare.  A lifetime limit for able-bodied adults (with those who exceed it receiving strictly controlled payment cards instead of cash) will motivate long term beneficiaries to return to work. We can then be more generous with those who really need our support.

4. Improve education for poor children. Too many New Zealanders leave school with no employable skills. Many cannot read or do arithmetic.  New Zealand’s real inequality is in education; the best in the world for 80% and awful for 20%. President Obama supports Charter schools because allowing communities to set a program that suits the community works.  The 5 pilot schools in New Zealand have seen dramatic improvements in pupils who were failing in state schools now. ACT wants all schools to be able, where the board and parents wish, to become Partnership Schools.

5. Deal with addiction. There is not enough money, even in the deep pockets of Treasury, to fund drug and alcohol addictions. ACT supports moves by the present government to require those on the unemployment benefit to pass drug testing and to assist addicts to become drug free.

Those at the economic bottom of New Zealand need the opportunities provided by a vibrant economy and a good education. And they need incentives to pursue these opportunities.

They do not need more generous welfare, as the political left are promising. That will only undermine incentives to study and work. And, through the deadweight cost of the increased taxes required, it will reduce economic growth, wages and the job opportunities available.

The other parties make a great display of their concern for the poor. But concern is not enough. Their policies will increase the number of people who are stuck at the bottom.

Only ACT’s policies offer the poor a real chance of getting ahead in life.  

Hora Hora School might be first conversion from government to a partnership school

"Pat Newman of Tai Tokerau Principals' Federation claimed today on Radio New Zealand that he wanted the same funding model and freedoms as apply to Partnership Schools. I totally support him, although I am surprised a former Labour Candidate would say this,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.

“I back Principal Pat Newman’s call to given the same freedoms and funding model for his Hora Hora School as those for the Partnership School in Whangaruru,” said Jamie Whyte.

“I have taken a look at his ERO report. I think Hora Hora would do even better as a Partnership School than it does as a State school.

“I am prepared to back Pat Newman’s leadership of his school and the potential of every one of his students if he is prepared to back himself.

“I have written to the Chair of his Board of Trustees Kellie Martin inviting the Board to back Principal Newman’s desire to convert to a Partnership School. I have invited the Board to write to the Ministry expressing their interest.

“Partnership Schools are about giving talented educators the funding freedom and flexibility to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students. We will welcome Hora Hora School into the partnership school fold,” said Dr Whyte.

PPTA Running a Desperate Campaign Against Partnership Schools

"The PPTA is misguided. Epsom is blessed with wonderful schools," said ACT Epsom candidate David Seymour.

"We believe that Epsom voters want good schools for their children, and for all children in New Zealand.

"Partnership Schools allow for passionate and talented educators to engage with kids who would otherwise fail.

"One such Partnership School is the South Auckland Middle School. It is the brainchild of Alwyn and Karen Poole, who run independent Mt Hobson Middle School in this electorate," said Mr Seymour. 

"Under the Partnership School model, they have taken their model of education from Remuera to Manurewa so that more children can attend a good school. It is sad that the PPTA feels threatened by such initiatives.

"We know that the children going to the five partnership schools are thrilled with the advantages they get from these schools. I believe every child should be able to access a good school, but currently New Zealand is failing its most vulnerable students," said Mr Seymour.

"I am very proud of our achievements through Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua.

“I look forward to going to Wellington to expand the partnership program and give the opportunity to attend better schools to more New Zealanders,” said Mr Seymour.

ACT Campaign Opening: Leader's Address

ACT’s Campaign Opening
Ellerslie Event Centre
11am, Sunday 7 September

It is nearly 20 years since the ACT party was born.

Many people no longer remember why it was named ACT.

They may imagine that it was on account of our determination to actually do things in parliament rather than simply occupy the seats and collect the salaries.

That’s true but it isn’t the right answer.

I don’t need to tell you here that ACT was an acronym, short for the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers.

ACT was created because its founders, Roger Douglas of the Labour Party and Derek Quigley of the National Party, objected to what their parties had in common.

In 1996, both the National and Labour parties believed in taxing people heavily to fund government services that people had no choice but to consume.

Douglas and Quigley wanted New Zealand to be a society in which taxes were light and people had a say in what they consumed – even when that consumption was funded by taxpayers.

School vouchers are the perfect example of this goal. They allow all parents, no matter what their incomes, to exercise a choice that only the wealthy now enjoy – a choice between schools competing to provide their kids with an education that suits them.

In the 18 years since its beginning, ACT has had many successes. For example, John Banks got our Partnership Schools policy passed into law, with the help of his upcoming replacement in Epsom, David Seymour.

Partnership schools are state-funded but they only get that money if they can convince parents with a choice in the matter to enroll their children.

Despite such policy successes, ACT’s original raison d’etre remains. 18 years on, New Zealanders are still over-taxed and they are still over-regulated. National and Labour are no less disappointing today than they were 20 years ago.

Anyone who really believes in personal responsibility and individual liberty, anyone who believes that the answer to every problem is not “the government should do something”, still has only one party to vote for. ACT is still the only party that wants big individuals and small government.


*  *  *  *  *

Nor has ACT’s significance changed over the short term.

Three years ago, the people in this hall and the voters of Epsom, decided who would be Prime Minister. Because the ACT candidate for Epsom won a majority of 2,300, John Key became Prime Minister. And we were spared a Labour-led government.

History is repeating itself. 

National is well ahead of any other party in the polls. But the parties of the left, including New Zealand First, could still get enough votes to form a government.

A Frankenstein Labour-Green-Internet-Mana-New Zealand First government may be unthinkable, but it is not impossible.  

It is over to us again.

The people of Epsom are doing their bit.  David Seymour is door-knocking his way to victory.

Now we need get a number of ACT Party list MPs elected.  We need just 1.3% of the party vote – 28,000 votes – for me to join David in parliament. Another 16,000 votes will add Kenneth Wang. 

If ACT succeeds, New Zealand will have three more years of stable center-right government. If we fail, New Zealand faces the prospect of a chaotic left-wing Frankenstein government.


*  *  *  *  *

It’s not pretty, but we should look at that monster.

Part of the monster – the crazy tangled mess of hair stitched onto the scalp – is the Internet-Mana party.

This is a party of hard-left socialists – Hone Harawera, Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto – funded by a convicted fraudster wanted for copyright violation in America.

Their lunatic policies include shutting down all the prisons (perhaps on the suggestion of their fugitive sponsor).

In a televised debate, Hone explained that prisons are unnecessary because if boys are sent on Kapa Haka courses, they commit no crimes.

If only they had Kapa Haka in Germany, Kim Dotcom would not be a wanted man!

As I said to Hone at the time, it’s a very nice idea. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Why don’t you send all the boys for Haka training and then, after the crime rate falls to zero, we will close the prisons. In the meantime, let’s keep them open – just in case you are wrong about the transformative power of Kapa Haka.


*  *  *  *  *

The Greens are the monster’s face, grinning inanely below its swivel-eyes.

In the nicest possible way, they intend to force everyone to live as the Greens prefer. They will tax the things they don’t like, such dairy farming, and subsidize the things they do like, such as solar panel manufacturers.

The Greens are not so much a political party as a religious movement, worshipping snails and ferns and all that makes up Gaia, except us humans of course.

For the Greens, humans fall into two categories: the helpless, who smart green politicians must save, and the wicked, who smart green politicians must stop.

In virtue, and intellect, Russel Norman and Meteria Turei are so vastly superior to everyone else that it is their moral duty to subjugate us.


*  *  *  *  *

The big flabby torso of the monster is the Labour Party.

It was briefly a thing of beauty and strength. We have the Labour government of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble to thank for the fact that New Zealand is not now a basket-case like Argentina.

But the Labour Party has gone horribly to seed.

Nothing reveals this more clearly than its finance spokesman, David Parker – the man who now occupies the position once held by the great Roger Douglas.

Mr Parker fancies himself the smartest boy in the fourth-form. But he has not even the weakest grip on basic economics.

At the recent Queenstown Chamber of Commerce political debate Mr Parker explained his party’s desire to reduce immigration to New Zealand. He claimed that economic output requires increasingly little labour to produce. So immigrants cause unemployment.

This nonsense has been peddled by economic fools since the invention of the weaving loom. In fact, I imagine it got started when someone first thought of killing animals with a sharp stick instead of bare hands.

For the sake of Mr Parker’s education, here is what really happens when workers become more productive. People produce and consume more.

And not just more of the same, but entirely new things. Even Mr Parker has surely noticed that, over the past 30 years, as worker productivity and the population have both risen, unemployment has not increased.

Instead, we are consuming more than we ever have. And we are consuming better goods and services than ever before.

Everyone, please, get your cell phones out and wave them in the air so that Mr Parker might understand.


*  *  *  *  *

Finally, we come to Winton Peters and his New Zealand First, the stumpy little legs of the monster. Little legs that remain idle for 2 years and 10 months out of every three years and then spend two months running around furiously kicking everyone in sight – foreigners, journalists, bankers, you name it: everyone except pensioners.

After all, it’s common sense.

That’s Winston’s slogan: it’s common sense.

I am not sure what “it” refers to but that doesn’t really matter. Because, as my old PhD supervisor used to say, “sense isn’t common”.

And there is no better example of this fact than Winston himself.

Winston’s big economic policy for this election is removing GST from food. That would reduce government revenue by 3 billion dollars.

But Winston has no plan to cut government spending by 3 billion dollars. On the contrary, he plans to increase government spending massively.

Where will he get all the money?

Winston’s answer: by cracking down on tax evasion.

Honestly. He claims that he can raise 7 billion by cracking down on tax evasion.

That’s not sense, common or otherwise. That’s bollocks.

When a politician tells you that he is going to fund his spending promises by cracking down on tax evasion, you know he is either a fool or a charlatan. And Winston ain’t no fool.


*  *  *  *  *

I am not so sure about Winston’s main rival, however.

Colin Craig has a tax policy that no self-respecting charlatan could propose.

He says that the first $20,000 of income will be tax free. Above that, he will apply some unspecified flat rate.

Imagine you wanted a $500,000 mortgage and you went to your bank. The lending officer says: “you’re in luck, we have a special deal on mortgages this week. You can get the first $250,000 at a zero rate of interest. On the second $250,000, we will charge you some other rate of interest.”

“What rate is that?” you ask.

“Oh never mind that, for now”, the lending officer replies. “Just sign the contract and you will find out when the first payment comes due”.

Only a complete idiot would sign the contract. And even the greedy and devious bankers of Winston Peters’ fevered imagination would not dream of making such an offer.

Yet this is the tax policy that Colin Craig is offering the people of New Zealand. 

It is all too easy to think that other people are just like you. I fear Colin Craig is putting too much faith in the gullibility of voters.  


*  *  *  *  *

So much for the monstrous alternative to a National-ACT, centre-right government. I don’t want to spoil your lunch.

What about our friend the National Party?

Without doubt, they are far better than the alternative. John Key beats David Cunliffe, hands down.

And yet … and yet, National disappoints.

When in opposition to Helen Clark’s government, National said Working for Families was a terrible policy that made ordinary middle-income kiwis welfare beneficiaries.

They said interest free student loans were a crass election bribe. They lamented the massive expansion of the Wellington bureaucracy.

ACT cheered them on.

Now, after 6 years of a National government, we still have Working for Families. We still have interest free student loans. The number of bureaucrats is unchanged.

National is a party of competent managers. They don’t make a terrible mess of things – except for Muldoon.

But they show too little commitment to the principles they espouse. They show too little commitment to what has made New Zealand the great country it is.

Like all successful countries, New Zealand was built on the rule of law, private property rights and trade. And our continued success also depends on them.

Chip away at these institutions and we will lose the prosperity and freedom that we now enjoy.

Labour, New Zealand First, the Greens, Mana-Internet and the Conservatives are all openly hostile to the institution of private property.

All want to ban the sale of land to foreigners. I have heard the leaders of all these parties justify this policy by claiming that “we should not be selling our land to foreigners”.

“Our land”?

When Lochinvar station was sold to Chinese buyers, we were not selling our land. The Stevenson family was selling their land.

Land in New Zealand is not collectively owned; it is privately owned. New Zealand is not yet a communist country.

Winston Peters lives in a street near mine. He cannot come knocking at my door demanding entry to “our house”. Nor should he presume to tell me who I can sell my house to. I own my house and Winston owns his.

That’s what John Key should have told David Cunliffe when the topic came up during their televised debate. Instead, Key quibbled that the National government already applies Labour’s proposed test for an acceptable land sale.

In other words, Key accepted Cunliffe’s assumption that the government should decide who a private property owner may sell to.

There is no virtue in meeting your opponents halfway when they have strayed miles off course. 

The Overseas Investment Office should be abolished. It has no proper job to do. When foreigners invest in New Zealand, we benefit. There is no injury for the OIO to protect us from.

ACT would also abolish the Resource Management Act rather than streamlining its consenting processes, as National plans to do.

The problem is not with the administration of the RMA. The problem is with the very conception of it. The RMA is an assault on property rights that stifles investment and economic growth. The restrictions it puts on using land for residential development are the reason housing is so expensive.

We did not have an environmental crisis in 1990 when the RMA was made law. But we did have affordable housing.  ACT would return to sensible planning laws based on private property rights.


*  *  *  *  *

Nor is National fighting hard enough to defend the rule of law. It is a fundamental democratic principle that everyone should be equal before the law.

To know someone’s legal rights, you should not need to know their race.

Under National’s watch, this principle is systematically violated in New Zealand.

We have race-based electorates. Race-based representation on city councils. Race-based rights to influence resource-consent decisions. And race-based admissions to university courses.

A student from a South Auckland state school can fail to get into law school or medical school because her place has been taken by a private school student with lower grades – simply because she is the wrong race.

How can anyone think that’s fair?

National is apparently unconcerned by such injustices.

ACT is not. We will work to eliminate all race-based law from New Zealand.


*  *  *  *  *

Nor has National faced up to the cost of providing state superannuation for everyone over 65. As the portion of the population over 65 continues to grow, this will place an unsustainable tax burden on those of working age.

Other countries are facing up to the challenge. Australia is lifting the age of entitlement to 70. New Zealand should face up to it too. ACT would push a National-led government to lift the age of eligibility to 67.

Sometimes it is better to admit you were wrong and break a silly promise.



*  *  *  *  *

H. L. Mencken, the mid-20th century American journalist, said that all elections soon become an “advance auction sale of stolen goods”.

This election is a shining confirmation of Mencken’s assessment.

The Taxpayers’ Union has employed a reputable economist to calculate the spending promises of each party. Their “bribe-o-meter” shows that every party but one will increase tax-funded spending massively over the next 3 years.

Winston’s promises are so wild that they are beyond the economist’s ability to calculate them.

Next are the Greens, with a promise to increase spending – and therefore taxes – by $5 billion.

Then Labour at $4.7 billion.

Then the National Party, with $600 million of extra promises spending and taxes.

Even Colin Craig, who claims to favour smaller government, plans to increase government spending $400 million, on top of confiscating privately owned land and preventing you from selling to the highest bidder if they are foreign.


*  *  *  *  *

Only ACT resists the temptation to buy votes with taxpayers’ money.

In our Alternative Budget, published in May, we announced a plan to reduce “middle-class welfare” – tax-funded goodies for people who are not hard up. Things like Working for Families payments to people on middle incomes and interest free student loans.

The people who receive these benefits are the very people who pay for them. By cutting middle-class welfare we can reduce the personal taxes paid by the middle class from 33% and 30% to 24%.

We can eliminate an absurd “money-go-round” that creates perverse incentives and slows economic growth.

By contrast, the other parties want to tax the middle-class harder. The Greens and Labour state this clearly. But the Conservatives would also whack the middle class.

Colin Craig plans to apply no tax to the first $20,000 of income while slightly increasing government spending. That will require his unannounced flat rate of tax to be 34% -- slightly higher than the current top rate of tax. Someone earning $40,000 now faces a marginal tax rate of 17.5%. Colin Craig plans to double it.

Under Colin Craig’s tax plan everyone earning over $36,000 would be worse off and households earning between $50,000 and $80,000 would be especially hard hit.


*  *  *  *  *

ACT is also the only party promising to eliminate corporate welfare, the corrupt practice of handing over taxpayers’ money to firms who can make friends with politicians and bureaucrats.

By eliminating this crony-capitalism, we could use the $1.4 billion saved to reduce the company tax rate from 28% to 20% next year.

And by rejecting National’s proposed $1.5 billion of election bribes announced in the last budget, we could reduce the company tax rate to 12.5% by 2020.  

No other policy being proposed by any party in this election would do more to increase economic growth. Significantly cutting the company tax rate will increase investment and lift wages. Economists estimate that a company tax reduction of this size would increase our long-run economic growth by at least 1 percentage point: that is, by a third.


*  *  *  *  *

The parties of the left claim to seek an end to poverty.

But the only way out of poverty is gainful employment. To get the unemployed into work we need a vibrant economy: one that is growing fast and creating jobs.

ACT’s policies of low taxes and light regulation will create such an economy.

The Left’s policies of high taxes, crony capitalism and ever-expanding welfare are economically stultifying. They will only expand the number of people with no serious prospect of getting ahead.

They will only increase the number of children living on welfare.


*  *  *  *  *

People also need skills to take advantage of job opportunities.

Our schooling system serves most children well. But it is failing around 20 percent of our children. 

Only ACT has an answer.

Thanks to ACT, New Zealand now has five charter – or Partnership – schools.  The pupils at these charter schools, who were failing at state schools, are now excelling. The improvement in grades is astonishing. Our charter schools are doing even better than ACT had hoped.

We want many more charter schools in New Zealand. On our education policy for this election, the board of any state school could choose to opt out of Ministry of Education control and become a charter school.

When you vote ACT on 20 September you will be voting to extend charter schools to every community. You will be voting for the only practical, positive solution to poverty: education. 

Labour and the Greens plan to close our charter schools and condemn pupils to failure. Those children are relying on you.


*  *  *  *  *

So there it is – ACT’s case for your vote.

ACT is the only party that does not buy votes with money taxed from the middle class.

We are the only party truly committed to what made New Zealand the great country it is – to the rule of law, property rights, trade and personal responsibility.

Only ACT MPs will push National to stick to these principles, to live up to these values.

If these are your principles, your values, you have no one else to vote for.

Vote your values.

Party vote ACT.

Using children for political purposes is wrong wrong wrong (Part 2)

ACT has found a comment on Kiwiblog’s general debate  which caught our attention.

“September 4th, 2014 at 8:11 am
So yesterday I got a newsletter from my childs school saying they would like the children to wear purple on Friday in support of their campaign against the governments plan for paying lead teachers more. Seriously what the “expletive” is wrong with these people? My child is only 5 yet they want her to get involved in a political campaign. She knows nothing about politics at that age and besides I want her to develop her own views over time not have them forced on her. It is their right to oppose but including children like this is not cool

Then we found a notice from the NZEI.

Are you ready for Friday’s Day of Action for a better plan?
Make sure you get your placards and purple clothes together for Friday morning.
Our aim is to make this a high profile event.  So we need a big turnout bright and early at your local MP’s office – 7.30 on Friday morning – to support our Better Plan for kids campaign.
This will help send a resounding message to the Government that we’re committed to supporting our vote against its controversial Investing in Educational Success plan

We can only presume it is happening.

Asking parents of primary school children to come to their day of action at local MP’s office tomorrow at 7.30 am is one thing. Asking them to dress the children for a protest and dragging them to a political protest at that hour of the morning is a disgraceful development in teacher union tactics.

This is wrong. What primary school child understands what it is about? Should they be used as protest fodder in this way?

ACT strongly suggests that parents complain to the Minister of Education, the Local School Board and to the NZEI. This is wrong.

Using children for political purposes is wrong wrong wrong

ACT has come across a notice from the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) asking parents of primary school children to come to their day of action at their local MP’s office tomorrow at 7.30am.

Comments on the internet from angry parents complain that they have been asked to dress their children as young as five in purple and take part in a political protest.

This is wrong. What primary school child understands what it is about? Should they be used as protest fodder in this way?

I call on all political leaders to condemn in the strongest terms the campaign by the Primary Teachers Union to use school children to participate in a political protest.

Parents are required by law to send their children to school to learn and not to be used in politics. Will the children of parents whose parents refuse to dress them in purple be discriminated against? Will the pupils dressed in purple be praised by their teachers?

Children are entitled to be children and not used as political pawns.

I call on the Labour Party that has close links with the union to publicly condemn this action, and ask the union to call off this protest.

ACT strongly suggests that parents complain to the Minister of Education, the Local School Board and to the NZEI. This is wrong.

Another Union row

“ The teachers union the NZEI is getting ready for another industrial dispute. These disputes now only occur in the government sector. National has no one to blame but themselves,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.

“National has increased centralisation and the bureaucratic control of teaching. If National had carried out National Party policy and bulk funded schools we would have no more nationwide disputes as schools would hire, negotiate pay and conditions like every other business does successfully every day. And we would not have a multi million dollars white elephant the Nova pay system,” said Dr Whyte.

“ACT advocates letting all schools become partnership schools but as a first step National implementing National policy and bulk funding schools would be a good start,” said Dr Whyte.

Two bribes for the price of one!

The Greens yesterday announced a plan to extend the early childhood education subsidy to 2 year olds. This will be worth $95 a week to those parents. We have become so used to such policies that we no longer notice how peculiar they are.  

If the Greens want the parents of 2-year-olds to be made $95 a week better off at the expense of taxpayers, why not simply give them $95 a week in cash? Why make receipt of taxpayers' money conditional on spending it on early childhood education? If that is how the parents want to spend the $95, they can.

If they have something better use for $95 a week, such as saving it for their child's future university education, they can use it for that instead. Why push your intended beneficiary around in this way?

The answer is that by forcing your beneficiaries to spend the taxpayers' money you are offering them on something in particular, you make it a more effective election bribe. Not only will the parents of toddlers become more inclined to vote for you, so will the early childhood educators who are going to be on the receiving end of all this spending. Two bribes for the price of one!  Now that's a Smart Green economy for you.