HEAVE HO DUYNHOVEN
Harry Duynhoven has broken the electoral law and should be expelled from parliament this week. MPs are expelled if they act to become a “citizen of any foreign state”. Duynhoven has admitted that this year he “filled in forms” to get Dutch citizenship. (This lets him travel passport free in the EC and gives him a possible financial benefit, as Dutch pensions are very generous.) Geoffrey Palmer’s argument is that Dutch law is retrospective so Harry always had dual citizenship. But it is the act of applying that triggers expulsion. The government spin that this is an anachronistic 1852 law is also wrong. Parliament reviewed and reaffirmed the law, with Duynhoven voting for it, in 1993. Without the provision an MP could legally be a foreign agent. While Harry is a popular MP, partly because Helen does not like him and MPs are sympathetic, he has been incredibly foolish. Officials are advising government not to pass a retrospective law.
A NEW PLYMOUTH BY-ELECTION
Duynhoven has the biggest majority in parliament – a 14,930 majority. The list vote is a better guide - Labour 41.5%, National 21.8%, NZF 11.9%, United 7.8%, Greens 6.7% and ACT 4.9% New Plymouth illustrates National’s challenge. It once was a National seat and now is Labour’s safest. National must win provincial NZ to govern. A by-election over the seabed issue would be a good start. A copy of ACT’s legal opinion is on
The government continues with its strategy of saying one thing to the public and a separate message to Maori. To the public, that full, unimpeded access to the country’s beaches will be upheld and to Maori, that Maori customary rights will be preserved and claiming the distinction is “rights, not title”. Legally this is nonsense. The Court of Appeal used the words “customary property”, “customary land, and “customary interest” interchangeably. The position of government Ministers, such as Tariana Turia, that Tangata Whenua are in an equal partnership with the Crown under the Treaty, is incompatible with the sovereignty of parliament. Labour’s engaged in a high wire balancing act and at some point they must fall.
Labour has continued the policy of successive governments in believing that there is little to be done about rising crime, that prisons don’t work, and crime is society’s responsibility. ACT strongly disputes all these assumptions. Rising crime is not inevitable. While the causes of crime are complex, active policing and deterrent sentencing can and will reduce crime. Zero tolerance policing, or the broken window approach, does work, not just in New York but also in Britain. In Hartlepool and Middlesbrough active policing saw immediate dramatic falls in crime. In Hartlepool between 1994 and 1996 theft of vehicles fell 56% and burglaries 31% and in Middlesbrough all crime fell by 20% in six months. Prisons work for the simple reason it is hard to do crime when in jail and most crime is committed by a small percentage of the population. Today ACT launches a campaign on zero tolerance for crime. See
Constitutionally the PM is the MP enjoying the confidence of the House. Helen Clark has lost her self-confidence in parliament. Having humiliatingly failed to answer questions on whether she did apologise to President Bush, what she did say in Europe or whether it was her as Minister of Culture who requested the loopy changes to the RMA, Clark has decided to avoid question time. The Standing Orders allow for any question to be transferred to another minister. The opposition has been reduced to asking: “Does she have confidence in X as a minister?” to ensure Clark has to answer. No one can remember a PM who was scared in parliament! Most have commanded the House and relished the opportunity. MPs noticed the difference on Thursday when Cullen instead of Clark answered questions – he had transferred none and made clear his willingness to answer. In parliament Dr Cullen is the de facto PM and as Clark spends time overseas visiting war memorials.
On Wednesday, 24 hours before the committee stage of the State Sector Amendment Bill (to reorganise Social Welfare), the government introduced a Supplementary Order Paper to abolish the Department of Courts, with no consultation or select committee hearing. No Minister participated in the debate to explain the measure. The courts are a vital part of our constitution. Under the Bill the Ministry of Justice resumes administrative responsibility. The Department of Courts was set up because it was felt it was wrong for a policy department to administer the courts. What’s changed? Did it fail? Perhaps the fourth estate would like to ask.
Figures from DTZ Darroch show that government departments now dominate the Wellington CBD as they use to prior to the Douglas/Richardson slimming down. Government departments now account for 45% of all Wellington inner city office space, up 18% since Labour took office. DTZ also report departments are not stinting themselves and are demanding “better quality buildings”.
Rick Neville, former INL number two, temporarily out of work, is said to be interested in the top job at Radio NZ.
The Letter believes Bill English has the votes to suspend Maurice
Williamson on Tuesday. There is no support for the Pakuranga MP who has been badmouthing not just Bill English, but also the caucus, all year. Few National MPs think the suspension is good politics. National MPs can suspend Williamson from the caucus, and the Board, under National’s new post-Peters constitution, can under rule 12(a), ”cancel or suspend the membership of the party if any person whose actions, in their opinion prejudice the interests of the party.” Under rule 83 adopted this year, “Should at any time a member of the Parliamentary Section cease to be a member of the party he or she shall cease to be a member of the Parliamentary Section.” It’s a hard sell – sacking an MP for saying what National’s supporters believe – the party should be doing better. While Williamson has been very provocative, why not do what everyone else was doing and just ignore him?
The government’s new initiative on red tape is a website for business setting out all compliance regulations. The response? ‘Useful, but lower taxes would be better’. The cost? $300,000 to set up and an estimated $250,000 a year to run.
The Americans on the diplomatic circuit have been quietly raising the nuke ship issue. The US Navy is increasingly powered by nuclear energy and Americans hope that this country will reconsider the issue. ACT’s Ken Shirley in his contribution to Liberal Thinking quotes the Somers Committee investigation that found, as a side effect of routine hospital care, Auckland hospitals “release everyday more than twice as much radioactivity into local waters as does the extensive US nuclear fleet and its support facilities annually into all harbours and coastal waters worldwide.” You can get a copy of Liberal Thinking at
Since 2000 the Russian tax burden has fallen from 34% of GDP to a projected 28% in 2004 and economic growth is clipping along at 7.2%. Labour’s Michael Cullen has progressively ratcheted our tax burden up to over 40% of GDP and our projected growth over the next five years is around 2% per annum see
ACT’s Dr Muriel Newman has revealed that under-staffed, under-resourced police can take more than 19 hours to respond to a burglary callout. In a recent United Nations (OECD) survey on crime, NZ was ranked 27th out of 28 countries for police numbers per capita. With 35 officers heading to the Solomon Islands, the delays will increase.
Helen Clark has returned home from her European jaunt praising Tony Blair and his Government. If Helen decides to adopt some of Blair’s policies the trip will be worth the cost. To reform health and education Blair advocates: “Opportunity for all, not the privileged few” and "This means opening up the monolithic, ‘one size fits all’ service. It means a diversity of supply - different types of schools, different types of health providers. It means flexibility of working. It means choice is in the hands of the parent or patient. It means, in other words, taking that search for quality and for a consumer oriented service and putting it in the hands of the many not the few.”
The failure of the ‘one size fits all’ service in health, education and policing in the UK is leading to active debate over alternative solutions. At the forefront is a Commission on the Reform of Public Services “to assess, with authority and non-party political objectivity, the best way to provide and find high quality public services in a modern, prosperous society.” The Commission members are ACT’s Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. (We have always said we are above politics.) The report advocates health insurance, vouchers for education and the New York approach to policing. It’s a well-researched paper -
Clive Nelson, editor of the brash tabloid Sunday News, is rumoured to be heading for the editorship of the upmarket Sunday Star Times. Former British tabloid man, Nelson, looks ready to take the slot left by controversial Suzanne Chetwin. It’s taken a while but Nelson, a great networker, has turned the struggling Sunday News around. At the Herald, Auckland news people are saying senior journalist Ewan MacDonald is beavering away on a top-secret project on a free evening daily newspaper similar to the popular metro editions published overseas. Seems The NZ Herald sees gridlock-stressed Auckland drivers abandoning their cars to become public transport users – the people who read commuter-style free metro papers.
There is a real revolt by farmers against the flatulence tax. Farmers see the tax as part of a long line of government imposed costs: ACC increases, fuel taxes, increased Animal Health Board levies, etc. It’s inequable in that other methane sources such as landfills are exempt. The tax has high admin costs. ACT’s voice of the land, Gerry Eckhoff, is leading the fight and has launched a petition. To download see
ACT’s annual regional conferences begin in Wellington on 2 August at the Museum Hotel, and Ruth Richardson is speaking on the UK Public Service Reform project. Details and registration for the regional conferences can be found at
RECESS – WILL TRAVEL
A LOSE-LOSE DEAL
PAID TO JOIN
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVOLT
ROGERNOMICS KEEPS YOU ALIVE
Kiwi 60c US
A Fall Of Wood
Privy Council Referendum
Helen Clark’s announcement on Monday that Labour would legislate to extinguish any Maori claim to the foreshore and seabed was poll driven. Labour conducts regular opinion and focus group polling and this says there is growing public reaction against the government’s race-based funding.
It is unprecedented for eight MPs, including four Ministers, to issue a press statement dissenting with caucus and cabinet. While the ninth floor spin is ‘this is MMP’, of course it is not. All are Labour MPs. It is the politics of race. The Westminster convention of cabinet responsibility is that Ministers who disagree should resign. Labour’s own caucus rules do not allow MPs to dissent from an agreed policy. The press statement is a very serious challenge to Helen Clark. The government is in effect saying there are different rules for Maori.
Monday: Helen Clark announces the government will pass a law asserting the Crown's ownership of the seabed and foreshore. Tuesday: “The land wars are over, so the consent of tangata whenua is required before customary title can be extinguished,” - Labour Maori Caucus.
Thursday: “It is also the Government’s intention to preserve the ability of Māori claimants to pursue claims to the foreshore and seabed,” – Margaret Wilson.
It is a very serious matter in a free society for government to refuse access to the courts to citizens to assert a property claim. The Appeal Court unanimously ruled that iwi had the right to make a case in the Maori Land Court. The Court did not rule that Maori have a customary right to the foreshore and felt the Marlborough case had little chance of succeeding. It is unlikely that in 2003 Maori have any ownership claims. The 1992 Maori fisheries settlement was legislated as “full and final”. Common law rights are ‘use it or lose it.’ The Appeal Court in the 1963 Ninety Mile Beach case ruled there were no Maori customary rights. The advantage of courts is there is some certainty in the end.
To legislate to assert the Crown’s full ownership is also a defendable position, it is similar to the Crown’s claim to the Queen’s Chain. Parliament, the courts, and Maori, have thought this to be the position at least since 1963.
Labour‘s present position has no moral or legal authority to assert Crown ownership but then acknowledges Maori customary rights. The Appeal Court made it clear that Maori customary and usage rights are the equivalent of ownership. An access that is not exclusive is not a right. As the government does not know what Maori customary rights are it does not know what it is negotiating and the claim has moved from being a property to a racial claim. History is repeating itself. In the 1980s some Maori had some fishing claims to some inshore fishery. By refusing to let the court decide, the claim became a very expensive racial claim on behalf of all Maori out to the 200-mile exclusive fishing zone. It is still not settled.
Labour has cited Lake Taupo as a possible model. The Bolger government, with no debate, ceded the lakebed to Tuwharetoa with an agreement for free public access for recreational and scientific purposes. Taupo fishermen report increasing incidents of stand over tactics by young militant Maori demanding money and vandalising boats and cars. The Crown Research Institute brought a submarine from Germany for much needed research on Lake Taupo – an active volcano and the site of the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded human history. The iwi demanded substantial financial compensation. The sub sat in its crate on the wharf and returned to Germany without getting wet.
Labour may not have a majority for its planned legislation. This is an issue that might bring down the government. ACT certainly will not support Ministers’ cheque book Treaty settlements that have no legal or moral authority.
The United Party is devastated by the passing of the Bill. United MPs were sure that the Bill would fail and confidently told their supporters that this was going to be their trophy – an example of how United was making a difference. United MPs are also shocked that Helen Clark used her office to pressurise MPs into voting for the Bill, and that every Labour Minister voted in favour including Phil Goff who used his position as Minister of Justice to move amendments. United MPs are asking why they are supporting a government that is passing measures they are so opposed to.
Last year foreign investment in NZ fell by 93% - by far the biggest fall in the OECD.
Contact Energy has just completed a multi-million dollar upgrade of its New Plymouth power station but it is sitting idle because the applications to the Regional Council for resource consent have been objected to.
The public keeps losing bicycles and the police sell them in lost property auctions. Not any more. The Commerce Commission has told the police that under the Fair Trading Act every bike should have an owner’s manual. No manual - $30,000 fine. So the lost bikes are now being sold for scrap.
The daily humiliation for Labour as Parekura Horomia demonstrates his total unfitness for the office, exposes a deep split in Labour’s Maori caucus. As the ninth floor claims Parekura’s job is safe, his Maori ministerial colleagues leak details of the Minister of Maori Affairs’ poor health and John Tamihere makes a proxy attack on Maori’s traditional leadership.
The Labour Party captured the Maori seats with an alliance with the Ratana movement. It is a core Ratana belief that tribalism holds back Maori, and Ratana is a pan-Maori movement. Ratana set out to represent the Morehu – the landless ones. Just as a few Maori are descendents of chiefs, many more are descendents of slaves or low caste Maori whose chiefs sold their land. Labour’s Minister of Maori Affairs in the Lange government, Koro Wetere, was the first high class Maori Labour MP and as the Maori Queen’s advisor, believed in tribalism and his tribe. Wetere made treaty settlements tribal and tribal leaders wealthy. The treaty settlements have done nothing for Morehu or “urban Maori”.
The Morehu versus the “aristocrats” has hit Labour’s Maori seats before. Winston Peters, in his 2002 pre-election speech said, “The Treaty Industry has brought the mass majority of Maori nothing. Not a snapper, not an inch of land, not a dollar in value.” Helen Clark is very conscious that she is the first Labour leader to lose a Maori seat, and fears she will do so again. Tamihere is an anathema to tribal Maori – so Clark feels she cannot replace Parekura with him.
Consumer confidence is at a ten-year high, despite the drought, SARS, the Iraq war etc. John Howard is at record popularity and Labor has just had a damaging leadership challenge. Interest rates are at historic lows. There is a school of thought that says government popularity is more affected by people’s mortgages than any other factor. The Liberal government in Australia and the Labour government in NZ have taken diametrically different stances on Iraq. Both countries have been hit by drought (serious in Australia) and SARS. But in both countries tens of thousands of homeowners have received letters from their banks saying their interest rates have been lowered, giving in effect a tax-free pay rise. The fact that rates are lower because both Reserve Banks see harder times is ignored. People feel better which is the real explanation for both government’s high polling.
Toll Holdings has demonstrated why NZ companies fail in Australia, and vice versa – they do not understand the culture. Michael Cullen thought he had an agreement with Toll only to see Toll stand in the market against the NZ government. Clearly Toll’s Paul Little thinks that NZ is a state like Tasmania and can be easily beaten. But Dr Cullen has many more weapons – the government writes the rules. He has said if Toll wins – the government won’t subsidise the track. And Toll is going to need overseas investment commission approval. Then there is the Commerce Commission, which has for years wanted to have a crack at rail’s control of the interisland ferries. Labour can blow Toll’s offer out of the water at any time it likes. Paul Little is about to discover that Australia and NZ are not the same.
It’s not possible to run a railway without government co-operation. Three government decisions hit Tranz Rail. First, cabotage – the ability of foreign ships to pick up local cargo. Rail lost the Comalco contract – vital South to North cargo. Second, the speed restrictions in the Marlborough Sounds – lowered the ferry’s profitability and rail delivery times. And then the king hit – speed restrictions when it was hot – played havoc with rail timetables. (The buckling of lines has never been a problem in NZ – an equivalent ruling would be that because heavy trucks can aquaplane in rain, when it’s raining truck speed be limited to 40 km.) Any government safety inspector could stop rail at any time just by citing “safety” at the hundreds of uncontrolled level crossings.
The Prostitution Reform Bill is parliament at its worst - a private members bill and a free vote. The Bill is poorly drafted; even worse are the amendments. Even the Bill’s founder, Tim Barnett, is alarmed by the result. The Bill was misnamed from the outset. Prostitution in NZ is not illegal and never has been. What is illegal is soliciting, pimping and brothel keeping. Parliament realises that massage parlours are brothels and the Massage Parlours Act already sets stringent rules. The police and local bodies said in evidence that they have no significant problems with parlours, only street prostitution. The Bill seeks to regulate prostitution and introduce the OSH Act into brothels but by legalising soliciting the Bill encourages prostitution on to the more dangerous street scene. The Bill’s protagonists have so misstated the legislation’s reality that some liberals are for the first time voting for state regulation and some conservatives who do believe the State can regulate in the bedroom, as this Bill does, are voting against the Bill. Most MPs are aware of the contradictions.
The cabinet is in general agreement that Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, should go but is divided over whether his firing will cause more or less political damage.
“When did the Minster know that the answers to his parliamentary questions were false?” Horomia’s answer – “Shortly after.” What does that mean? Shortly after he gave the answers? Shortly after his officials admitted to the media the answers were wrong? Or was it shortly after Rodney Hide pointed out his answers were a litany of lies? The Minister’s own cabinet colleagues have tried to find out the answers and Horomia’s answers to them are just as incomprehensible. Examples of his answers are at
When the Minster of Maori Affairs attempted to find out what was going on in Maori Broadcasting (Te Mangai Paho) the chief executive, Trevor Moeke, refused to come to the Minister’s office and explain. Moeke said that he was only accountable to the board.
Rodney Hide does not believe the Minister’s claims that his officials have misled him. It is a breach of privilege to mislead the House, but the inaccuracy must be deliberate. A breach of privilege letter has been sent to the Speaker.
In the UK a Minister who cannot answer for his department in parliament is sacked. NZ’s question time has been so tame that even incompetent ministers that just stick to their officials’ scripted answers have been able to stumble on. The new Westminster-style question time means the opposition can ask extra questions. Horomia’s cabinet colleagues are now spending hours each week trying to help the Minister. His answers to oral questions on Thursday were written for him but Horomia can’t even stick to the script! Then his subsequent answers to supplementaries contradicted his scripted answers.
The ninth floor spin is now, “There is no question of the Minister of Maori Affairs going.” (Translation: his replacement is being actively considered.) “The Minister speaks beautiful Maori.” (Translation: we know you don’t speak Maori so you have no idea.) “The polls are holding up, the public is bored with this matter and want the opposition to debate real issues.” (Translation: please move on.)
The Treasury inquiry into the bribery and kickbacks in Te Mangai Paho was a very narrow inquiry into the allegation against just one official and only one contract. The official resigned and refused to be interviewed. Even though they found evidence of fraud the government won’t call in the police. Ministers are afraid that a real inquiry will reveal widespread corruption. Maori TV is hiring staff on expensive contracts but no tender has been let for transmitters. So Maori TV will not be on air this year and the budget is blown. Separate race funding in health, education, business, the arts, etc parallels the separate funding for Maori broadcasting. Maori funding administered by Maori. In most cases there is no tender, no accountability and no review of outcomes.
A small example is the separate anti-smoking programmes for Maori. After increasing cigarette tax by $120 million in Labour’s first budget, $20 million a year was voted for an anti-smoking programme and about $200 million earmarked for Maori programmes. Maori “health providers” have piled in and spent the money. Result: more Maori smokers than ever before.
Dunedin heart patients are being sent home to die because they are white. There are now standardised criteria for heart operations. Patients are given points for symptoms. Cardiac surgeons say if you receive 25 points you need an operation. In Auckland patients with 35 points get an operation. You need 50 points in Wellington, 60 points in Christchurch and 67 points in Dunedin. There are many more Maori in Auckland so the Board can afford to “purchase” more heart operations. Dunedin’s too white so patients are being refused operations.
Labour funds doctors’ visits for Maori and Pacific Island people by 20 percent more than for other NZers. E.g. a primary health organisation (PHO) receives $19 a year for most female non-Maori/Pacific Island superannuitants enrolled in the area, but $60 for most female Maori and Pacific Island pensioners. (For detail of how race-based health funding works see Heather Roy’s chapter in Liberal Thinking –
Labour’s focus group polling shows race-based funding is very unpopular. Labour ditched “Closing the Gaps” even though Helen Clark had said that it was Labour’s key policy and departmental heads were told their reappointment depended on their performance on Maori issues. The cabinet committee has been scrapped and the policy name banned – but the spending continues. Clark is considering appointing John Tamihere and completely u-turning Maori policy.
On Tuesday TV3 news claimed the ACT caucus had re-suspended Donna Awatere-Huata. The caucus did not even discuss the issue. ACT MPs have been amazed that Donna was able to get hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Pipi Trust. If an ACT MP can get so much – how much do Labour’s friends receive?
A PROPERTY PRICE BUBBLE
Last week the Reserve Bank cut interest rates again. Is the bank just feeding a property price boom? The editor of the influential magazine, The Economist (31 May) says the stock market bubble has been replaced by a property price bubble that will burst. Property is the biggest business worldwide. Over 60% of NZers’ wealth is in property. Studies show that changes in property prices have twice the wealth effect of changes in shares.
THE HOUSE PRICE BOOM
Worldwide property prices have increased dramatically. In the last three years house prices in Britain have risen 55% while shares have fallen 40%. House prices in real terms in Australia, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden, have risen in real terms more than 50%; US house prices by 30%. The OECD exceptions are just Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy. The Economist says that US house price increases are the biggest of any previous real estate boom. In New York prices have increased 47%. House prices increased 18% in Australia last year.
Allan Greenspan, the Chairman of the US Fed, and NZ economists like Adrian Orr, say there is no bubble. Increased house prices can be accounted for by low interest rates, rising real incomes, growing population and a fixed supply of land. The Economist disputes this. If property rises are driven by supply and demand then it follows that rents would be rising in step.
The traditional way to measure the worth of shares is the price to income ratio, the p/e. The price of a share should reflect its future income. So The Economist has calculated the p/e ratio for housing by dividing house prices by rents. US house price p/e ratios are at record levels. The Economist calculates house prices in Australia to be 30% too high. The magazine points out it is a myth that property prices can never fall. There was a major price correction in NZ after the 1987 sharemarket crash. German and Japanese house prices have been falling steadily for years. Japanese prices are down by over 50% in 10 years.
Comparing house prices to rents from 1975 to 2002, rents have increased 772% and house prices, 712% - no bubble. But since 1994 rents have increased 10% and house prices 43% - a bubble (but Labour’s state house rent reductions are part of the reason). The house price to income ratio says property is overpriced. From 1992 to 2002 house prices have increased 69% and wage and salaries by 19%. Auckland house prices from 1994 to March 2003 have risen 80.3%, compared to 17.8% increase in nationwide wages (no data for Auckland wages exists). What’s very worrying is the record level of household debt in this country – it has risen from 64% of GDP in 1990 to 117% a year ago. The increase in house prices seems to have eased; the real question is, will property prices fall? For more data see
In the middle of Niu FM’s broadcast on 3 June 2003 it went off air. The station discovered that the government had switched the frequency to premises in Ponsonby where it started to broadcast, using some of Niu FM’s staff it had persuaded to break their employment contracts. Today, in the High Court, the Pacific Island community-owned radio station 531 PI is attempting to get an injunction against the Crown to return their radio frequency.
Labour decided to finance a network of Pacific Island FM stations. The National Radio Pacific Island Trust was set up with Labour’s political appointees. A tender for the supply of PI FM stations was issued and a community-owned Pacific Island radio station 531 PI won the tender. The trouble started from day one as the government-appointed trustees realised there was nothing to now justify their existence. In December the government secretly registered a company in the station’s name Niu FM Ltd! Despite the claim by the government that there were ‘irregularities’, the auditors say there is no money missing. What has really outraged the Labour government appointees is that 531 PI has appointed Arthur Anae, a former director, successful PI businessman and National MP, as station manager. That’s when, with ministers’ approval, the Crown decided to simply steal the frequency. Why is it outrageous to suppress the media in Tonga but not in NZ?
The Auditor General wrote to the Speaker last week advising him that he was declining Donna Awatere Huata, Winston Peters and Rod Donald’s request that he investigate how ACT runs its out of Parliamentary offices. After looking at ACT’s arrangements the Auditor General concluded that the funding was within the rules, which was what The Letter predicted.
Richard Prebble and the ACT MPs are tomorrow launching ACT’s latest book Liberal Thinking. You’re invited to attend the book launch at 5.30pm, Portrait Gallery, Bowen House, Wellington, Tuesday 10 June. It’s new ground for ACT as the book seeks to set out what classic liberals think and then apply this to different issues. The book is available in all good bookshops from 23 June. Liberal Thinking will also be available along with other ACT publications at
Richard Prebble will also be conducting book signings at the following places and times:
University Book Shop,
East on High Books,
Chapters & Verses,
272 Stafford St,
181 Thames St,
Preston’s Paper Plus,
234 George Street,
Books and More,
251 George Street,
THE FADING GREENS
The Green Party conference at Karapiro was potentially the Party’s most important since they split from the Alliance. The Party that had expected to be in government with Labour finds itself irrelevant and facing electoral defeat. The Green politicians are still keen on office and can see opportunities: move to the left and take the Alliance’s electoral support; modify their anti-GE stance and become Labour’s only option. The Greens agree the United Party is finished. How could Peter Dunne allow his “biblically based” Commission for the Family become the politically correct Families Commission?
GE OR NOT GE?
The Green position has been that once GE is in the environment, it’s the end of the world - so the Party has pledged it’s a non-negotiable bottom line. The Greens had promised extra parliamentary protests when the moratorium is lifted in October. The Party leadership went to the conference with a new strategy – oppose GE but still let us be in coalition with a GE supporting Labour Party. Can a Party that compromises on GE credibly be called Green?
Jeanette Fitzsimmons has promised her husband to retire at the next election. The greens’ constitution demands gender-balanced leadership. Problem: none of the women MPs are Green. There is Sue Kedgley who is batty about battery hens, Sue Bradford who is a red, and Metiria Turei is an anarchist/Maori sovereigntist who makes Tariana Turia look mainstream. The next candidate on their list is Catherine Delahunty, a real Green. The Caucus has been trying to persuade Ian Ewen-Street to take a long honeymoon with his new love and let Delahunty into parliament. He’s resisting - so parliament may win over love for Jeanette also.
If the left can’t form a government, can the centre/right? Winston Peters has not lasted as a minister more than two years on two occasions. NZ First’s irrational immigration views are unacceptable to ACT. An even bigger problem is Winston’s populist approach to big government and big spending. However National, ACT and NZ First do agree that the Treaty industry is out of control. A coalition where ACT, not NZ First, was in second place ensuring sound economic policies and NZ First was handling the Treaty issues, is a formula for stable government. Richard Prebble’s speech is on
It is expected that the Reserve Bank will cut interest rates yet again this week. The latest economic data shows a $1 billion dollar drop in earning from the farming sector last year – hard spring, drought and falling milk prices. The Australian, British and the US Fed are all expected to lower interest rates. But should NZ? Inflation is under 3% but only because the price of imports are falling. Strip out the imported prices and domestic inflation is at 3.5% and rising. The critical shortage of skills is seeing wages rise faster than inflation. If the Kiwi falls (as the Governor wants) the strong internal inflation will be revealed. Inflation is easy to create and very hard to eliminate.
Phil Goff’s picture, hand in hand with Arafat, was shown around the world. Goff knew when he requested his meeting with Israeli PM Sharon that the meeting would be cancelled if he then sought to meet with Arafat. The Munich Olympic terrorism was planned and executed by Arafat’s movement. He has done nothing to stop the suicide bombing. Goff, who spent six months as a student on a Kibbutz in Israel has not explained why he has chosen to make this gesture of defiance to Israel and the US. It is impossible to see how NZ’s interests have been advanced.
Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere has been predicting a dozen Maori seats, saying the Maori population will reach 28%, 749,000, in 2021, and a million by 2051. Yeah right, and Christian Cullen is a Maori. Claiming every one with any Maori blood is Maori is harmless when it’s rugby, but not so when it is used to pick those who govern us all.
The Government’s spin in Te Mangai Paho is that there is nothing wrong with the policies and procedures but they were not followed. That’s like saying there is nothing wrong with law and order except some people break the law. Actually, the report shows the procedures are not ok. Thousands of dollars were taken without a contract, agreements, or services. That’s called theft. Why hasn’t the Government called in the police? Employees, including the chief executive, are working, handing out $48 million of taxpayers’ money, without having a written employment contract. Illegal. Rodney Hide has more to come.
Documents released under the Official Information Act show officials advised against Labour’s new dog laws. The Minister was told, “Inform the public that there has not been an increase in the number of dog attacks and that the incidence of dog attacks, under the current Act, is decreasing.” Officials advised that identification of dog breeds is “problematic” and “Customs would not be able to identify and prevent the importation” of specific breeds. The UK Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 “has had no effect on the incidence of dog bites.” The ad hoc Ministerial group on dog control recommended against the new measures. ACT will post the documents on