The Letter

First you beat them in the House

Helen Clark took a battering in Parliament last week – her worst week since Paintergate. MPs who have been ministers saw through Clark’s untruthful claim she had given just a “verbal” instruction to Ambassador John Wood to convey an apology to the US. No civil servant would ever rely on a verbal instruction to give an apology on behalf of a minister.  Labour won’t reveal the instructions or the apology, so there has to be more – and there is.

How to save the FTA

Ambassador Wood’s advice was blunt. First: Unless Clark apologised to President Bush, we could forget any deal with the world’s only superpower (apology delivered). Second: New Zealand must get out of the French-led Coalition of the Losers that insists post-war Iraq be administered by the UN (we’re out). And third: New Zealand could get back US favour by offering aid now to US-administered Iraq (we’re going to).   

Nineteen fewer friends

Nineteen US senators signed a letter to the President pushing the case for a free trade deal with New Zealand.  Then Clark bad-mouthed George Bush.  The senators feel let-down. 

The good news

The US still needs international support.  Both Clark and Goff are on record saying New Zealand would only give aid when the UN authorised it.  Last week, that policy was abandoned. A strong statement by New Zealand at the UN using Helen Clark’s favourite saying – “it is time to move on” – plus some aid, could repair much of the damage. 

Trade and foreign policy

Labour refuses to admit that this US administration links trade and foreign policy. Last week, US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick announced he was putting on hold the implementation of Chile's (already negotiated) free trade agreement.  Chile, a member of the Security Council, would not vote to enforce resolution 1441.  "People are disappointed," Zoellick said.  "We worked very closely with our Chilean partners. We hoped for their support at a time we thought was very important.” (http://www.act.org.nz/chile)
 
And in the letter by the nineteen senators advocating a trade deal with NZ, one reason cited was New Zealand's "major contribution to the campaign against terrorism".  

We were warned

In March 1999, our allies in Nato responded to the proven cases of genocide in former Yugoslavia by launching a bombing raid to rattle brutal leader Slobodan Milosevic’s hold on power.  Helen Clark – in Opposition at the time – attacked the US and UK.  She called the raid a “complete disaster” with “no coherent strategy”.  She claimed “the West would end up looking stupid”, and “Slobodan Milosevic will become further entrenched in power”.  Richard Prebble said at the time: "For Helen Clark to decide there are votes in attacking the US and UK displays a dangerous antipathy towards our traditional allies.  It's fortunate that Ms Clark is not Prime Minister, otherwise her statements would be causing New Zealand real damage.” 

The non-apology apology

While New Zealand media still accepts that Helen Clark’s apology was ‘sincere’, media in the US are hearing otherwise from their administration.  The influential, “inside-the-Beltway” Washington Times reported last Friday that Helen Clark’s apology was “a non-apology sort of apology”. Clark’s apology is now her most famous statement, having been printed around the world. See http://www.act.org.nz/apology 

Parliament has changed

The Opposition has developed new tactics at Question Time. 

Each day there are 12 oral questions to Ministers – six from the Opposition and six patsy questions from Labour.  The Speaker allows each questioner a further question, and then one question from each political party.

Even if the Minister misinterprets the question or gives an absurd answer, Speakers’ rulings accept this as “addressing the question”. So Helen Clark’s technique has been to give as short a reply as possible, knowing she has just a few Opposition questions to get through.

Labour lobbied the Speaker, saying under MMP the third parties (like ACT) get too many questions.  So this year the Speaker ruled each party would get a strictly proportional number of questions.  ACT receives just eight – after the one original question and supplementary, ACT is left with just six follow-up questions to each day’s twelve oral questions.  The Speaker has ruled these questions can be used as the parties wish.  “Including using more than one on a question?”  Answer: “yes”.  This is the major change. 

Three weeks ago, ACT began using most of its supplementary questions to follow the best question of the day.  It is like introducing the tank into parliamentary trench warfare.  Suddenly, all force can be applied to the Government’s weakest link.  Every other party has adopted ACT’s tactic.  Opposition Parties can and are ignoring the patsy questions.

Last week was the first time that the Government’s chief minister was in trouble. The Opposition’s best questioners Winston Peters and Richard Prebble, took enough questions to be able to push evasive Clark.  Example: on question number two on Thursday, Helen Clark faced eight supplementaries: four from English, three from Peters, and two from Prebble: an unprecedented grilling. 

Prime ministerial question time

What Ministers are now wondering is if Prebble, Peters and English can give Clark a going-over, what will happen if they all have a go at, say, Booboo (aka Marian Hobbs) – or for that matter, any Minister? 

Tax survey

The Letter has already received a strong response from our survey asking readers what Government should do with the $4 billion surplus.  Just 12% want an across-the-board, $50 tax cut, 86% want a McLeod-style tax cut (25 cents for the top two individual rates and company rate, 18 cents bottom rate – a tax cut for every worker). And we were looking to cancel the subscription of eight Letter readers who claim to like being overtaxed $4 billion a year – but then we realised at least one must be from Michael Cullen’s office!  ACT has launched its Five Point Tax Campaign.  You can read the case for a tax cut and complete the two-minute online survey (with extra questions) which will be forwarded to Cullen in time for the Budget (15 May) at http://www.act.org.nz/taxsurvey.

The Letter


IT’S THE ECONOMY
The Letter believes the economy has slowed. Since February, new home consents are down; the America’s Cup (an estimated gain of $1 billion) is lost; Fonterra’s payment is down and Air NZ has joined the other air-lines in cutting overseas flights. 

WHAT TO DO
Dr Cullen believes the way to stimulate the economy is government spending (more state houses, etc). The Letter believes this is counter-productive. There is a way to stimulate the economy: cut taxes. 

ACT MPs Richard Prebble and Rodney Hide will present ACT’s Tax Plan for the 2003 Budget in the Beehive Theatrette at 11 am this Thursday, and on Sunday in Auckland at a brunch at the Novotel, Ellerslie. Phone 09 523 0470 or fax 09 523 0472 for tickets.

CULLEN’S CHOICE
Dr Cullen has three choices: He can go on over-taxing New Zealanders and putting $2 billion in the Cullen Fund, investing most of it overseas, he could return it all pro-rata to every working taxpayer - that’s $50 per week, or, he could give it back to the people who paid the tax, and implement the McLeod Report suggestions – lower company tax and the top personal rate, and give every tax-payer a tax cut by lowering the bottom personal tax rate.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We are running a poll on tax. Have your say on the ACT website - www.act.org.nz/tax and we will present the results to Dr Cullen.
 
GENERAL CLARK
Clark says, “Perception is reality”. Well last week was a reality check.

Monday:  The war is not going to plan; would not have happened if Al Gore was president.
Tuesday:  Statements are “bleedingly obvious”.
Wednesday:  “No regrets over the comments.”
Thursday:  “Other leaders have made similar comments” (eg Syria).
Friday:  NZ’s Ambassador to the USA instructed to apologise.
Saturday:  Yanks in Baghdad
Sunday:  Clark not available.
Today:  “I’m not going there.”
Tomorrow:  “We have moved on.”

A FOREIGN POLICY DISASTER
Helen Clark’s misjudgment of the US military is second only to Saddam Hussein’s. The Labour government has also misread US foreign policy. On Monday Phil Goff told TVNZ “NZ is keen for that free trade agreement but we do not draw any parallels between the issues of free trade and the issues of commitment of troops to Iraq.”

What do you mean we? Goff maintains that because the US took no economic measures over NZ going nuclear free, the US splits trade from foreign policy. President Bush, Robert Zoellich, the US Trade representative and the US embassy in Wellington have all said that the US does package issues. After last week’s statements, NZ can forget any free trade agreement while General Clark is Prime Minister.

NO QUESTIONS ASKED
Last week the government did not have to answer questions about Helen Clark’s generalship because United supports government urgency motions that cancel question time. United has made the House of Representatives into a Soviet Parliament – all laws and no questions asked.

NATIONAL’S WOES
The Letter does not seek to advise National on its internal politics, but instead to point out the real problem. No conservative party has won office without winning a majority of the over-65 year old vote. National had a lock on this vote for most of its history. The foundation of Labour’s 1999 and 2002 victory was its appeal to the elderly. Last election, 56% of the over-65 voters said they voted Labour and 31% indicated they were National voters. Winning back the ‘greys’ is not going to be easy. Labour has just announced it will phase out asset testing for the elderly, starting in election year 2005. It is a huge election bribe costing $252 million and, as the baby boomers retire, $507 million a year. National’s problem: Clark’s willingness to make Muldoon-like promises to the elderly.

A PARLIAMENTARY FIRST
The first vote on legislation, “Title of the Bill” is a vote on the principle of the bill. On Tuesday, NZ First voted for the title of the Motor Vehicle Sales Bill and then against every other clause!

BURIED FIGURES
At 4pm on Friday night Education Minister Trevor Mallard (with none of the usual press announcements) had posted onto his Ministry website the Stand Down and Suspension Report giving the annual school suspension figures. Could it be he was embarrassed about the results: 22,000 pupils were suspended last year. At risk and Maori suspensions are up again. What with Parliament in urgency and Americans in Baghdad, it’s hard luck that ACT has taken to checking the website on Fridays and thinks Trevor should not hide his record. It’s on www.act.org.nz/mallardfails.

NZ LESS COMPETITIVE
Another little known set of figures is from the World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report. NZ has slipped from 10th in 2001 (we were 5th in 1997) to 16th. Microeco-nomic competitiveness sees NZ slip to 22nd. On technology we are 27th. Published last week is a survey of NZ by the Hoover Institute. It’s a damning document raising questions over NZ’s political will to tackle structural issues. Both are on ACT’s website: www.act.org.nz/wef and www.act.org.nz/hoover

ANDERTONISM
Jim Anderton’s job machine gave international computer giant EDS $1.5 million for “…the creation of much desired new…jobs”.  The result so far – one job less. This week’s Computerworld reports that EDS NZ boss, Dick Brown, has quit his job for stock and cash valued at $US36 million.

Who would have thought that Jim could Sovereign Yacht EDS?

The Letter

UNDER COVER OF WAR
It is not just Mugabe who is using the world’s preoccupation with the war in Iraq to achieve his agenda. Here in NZ Labour is pushing its own unpopular policies:
- ABOLITION OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Blanket media coverage of the war has meant papers like the Herald did not even report the 85% vote by Auckland law practitioners against the Supreme Court Bill.
- NEW LAND TRANSPORT BILL
It is the near unanimous view that this law will make new roads harder to build.
- THE RMA AMENDMENT BILL
Another measure that is being reported as pro-growth is a huge step towards a centrally controlled economy.  Under the bill local councils can declare land to have heritage status. The effect of such a declaration is that the landowner cannot make use of his land – it becomes, in reality, a park.

ELECTRICITY
Officials now believe that NZ will have a severe power shortage this winter. Labour’s answer  - more regulations. It is a direct result of NZ being the only country in the Southern Hemisphere to sign the Kyoto treaty.

OVERTAXED
Government surplus is now on track to be $4 billion. That’s 3.1% of GDP! In other words, if government gave back all the over-taxing it would be more than $2,000 per household.

WAITANGI SETTLEMENTS
Last week’s Ngati Awa settlement broke a long-standing pledge not to settle Waitangi claims with private property. The forestry companies when they purchased cutting rights also purchased the road access. The Crown has agreed that Maori can charge the forestry companies a market rent to use their own roads! The international banks regard it as nationalisation without compensation.

A NEW THINK TANK
The Republican triumph not just in the Presidency but also in Congress is put down in part to the right’s triumph in the battle of ideas. About 20 years ago, the right started to found their own think tanks. In Australia there is the Centre for Independent Studies. Here in NZ the closest we have is the Business Roundtable that commissions independent research of a very high standard.  18 months ago a conservative think tank, the Maxim Institute, was started. Its speciality is the family. The Institute is already producing researched alternatives. If the Prostitution Bill fails it will be because of research from the Institute into how similar Bills have had unintended consequences.  The website is worth a look -
www.maxim.org.nz . Last week the Institute held its first conference, In Search of Civil Society. An American speaker, Larry Reed, put forward:
- THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SOUND PUBLIC POLICY
1. Free people are not equal and equal people are not free.
2. What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.
3. Sound policy requires that we consider long run effects and all people, not simply short run effects and a few people.
4. If you encourage something you get more of it. If you discourage something you get less of it.
5. Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.
6. Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a Government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got.
7. Liberty makes all the difference in the world.
(Larry Reed’s articles can be read at
www.mackinac.org)

DONNA UPDATE
Donna Awatere Huata has formally advised Parliamentary Services that she is now administering her own parliamentary resources. In effect she is an independent. Her first purchase? A state-of-the-art paper shredder.  And who would work for Mrs Huata? She’s just employed her daughter as an electorate agent. 

CRIME UPDATE
Since Labour took office, crime has increased. Police statistics show:
 Robbery up     15.8% 
 Grievous assaults up   20.8%
 Violence up    13.3%
 Homicides up    23.2%
 Kidnapping up    36.1%
 Intimidation up    26.3%

ACT CONFERENCE VIDEOS
Due to popular demand, the major presentations of the ACT conference, can be viewed at
www.act.org.nz/conference.

LIBERAL THINKING
ACT MPs have just completed a new book, Liberal Thinking, that is to be published in May.

BAGGING THE BAGHDAD HERALD
The Herald believes that one line on page six is balance for four front page attacks on ACT which is no doubt why the paper has not told readers that the Serious Fraud Office has dismissed the complaints against the Party. But then it could be that the Paper’s just too full of headlines like, "Herald correspondent a scourge of US foreign policy" - the paper obviously considers it a mark of honour when its writers are less than balanced. 

REFUGEES WE’D LIKE TO SEE
Clark has refused to give refugee status to white farmers from Zimbabwe saying they’re not refugees. Well what about the cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga. The media reports that the two cricketers who wore armbands are now in hiding because Mugabe’s thugs have threatened them. They’re real refugees and wouldn’t they go well in the Black Caps?

The Letter


24 MARCH 2003

ISOLATED
On Thursday in parliament Richard Prebble asked Dr Cullen, “When is the PM going to make her statement to parliament?”  The answer: “Helen has got to wait to see Bush’s statement on TV to confirm whether the war has started”.  On Tuesday Clark boasted that she had been in telephone contact with the Prime Minister of Chile! Truly NZ has never been so isolated.

FOREIGN POLICY IN TATTERS
Labour’s foreign policy based on “multilateralism” and “support for the Security Council” is in tatters. Clark continues to describe an action backed by over 40 countries as unilateral, but supports France’s (unilateral) veto. New Zealand finds itself isolated from our traditional allies, Australia, UK and USA, and from our trading partners, Japan and South Korea, but supporting France, Germany and Russia, nations that we do little trade with, and do not agree with our stance on issues like GATT.

POST SADDAM HUSSEIN
Clark’s repeated claim that NZ’s opposition to Australia, UK and USA won’t hurt our future relationships is just not credible. The media fails to point out that the status of “friend”, diplomatically, is a country with which another does not have a dispute. NZ now has the status of Singapore but with much less influence.  Once NZ had access to decision makers of Continental Europe because it was known we had influence in Washington. Now our ambassadors report they can’t even get appointments because our views are irrelevant.

PARLIAMENT
Last week ACT demonstrated MMP in action. Neither Labour nor National has been keen to debate Iraq. Labour, because the government has three policies: in NZ, crude anti-Americanism; in the Persian Gulf, our frigate is escorting allied shipping; and in the UN, NZ is fence sitting. National, looking at the public opinion polls, has been reluctant to criticise. United and NZ First have been hoping no one would ask them for a view.  Only the Greens (strongly anti-American) and ACT (strongly pro-USA) have been willing to debate. Last week ACT, by taking the Iraq issue to the Business Committee, forced a debate where Labour had to set out its position. Richard Prebble then moved a notice of motion which required all the Parties to vote – United and NZ First against the US and National to vote with ACT. Without ACT, the NZ parliament could well have never debated what is the biggest issue facing the world.

VERY HIGH STAKES
It is not just John Howard’s career that is on the line. NZ MPs, Clark, English, Dunne, Peters and Prebble have much at stake. Helen Clark has bet her career (and NZ) that the war will be a humanitarian catastrophe, and her opposition will not affect NZ’s relationships. Peter Dunne and Winston Peters now hope she is correct. ACT’s decision to dismiss the UN as an empty debating chamber and strongly endorse our allies’ position means ACT has as much riding on the war as John Howard. While it’s safe to predict that Saddam Hussein’s career is over, it’s also safe to predict he’s only the first politician whose career the war will claim.

BURQA OF SILENCE?
What does NZ’s only Muslim MP think about the war in Iraq? We don’t know, as Labour has not let Ashraf Choudhary speak.

GOVT LAWYER VS GOVT LAWYER VS LAWYER...
Winz has launched a High Court case using Crown Law against the Ombudsman. The story so far: under the Official Information Act the Bailiff of the High Court sought the addresses of welfare beneficiaries who have absconded owing rent. The landlord has judgement orders, knows that the debtors are on welfare but does not have present addresses. The Ombudsman ruled the court orders should be upheld and ordered Winz to supply the addresses. Politically correct Winz is now going to court to fight.  Oh, who is the landlord? The Ministry of Housing. The court case is estimated to cost  $200,000 in legal fees alone.

REVENUE GRAB
Sports clubs have been double whammied by Labour. First, the total ban on smoking. But coming up is a revenue grab. Sport in NZ is financed from gambling. Many clubs have pokie machines and the proceeds pay for things like the national soccer and netball competitions. Trevor Mallard has told sports organisations that the government has decided “in principle” to take an extra 5% in tax. Depending how it is levied, that could be 28% of sports clubs’ revenue. Labour also wants to administer it. Helen Clark told Rugby League administrators that the money was going to “too blokey” causes.

POWER SURGE
The huge spike in power prices is the market working. NZ needs more power stations. The private sector is willing to build them. DOC is stopping a hydro station on the West Coast. Venture Southland wants to build a coal-fired station to assist Tiwai Point – our biggest single manufacturing export earner, but Labour is the only government in the Southern Hemisphere to have signed Kyoto. The government’s regulations are turning off the lights.
  
WWW.ACT.ORG.NZ/CONFERENCE
From tomorrow the video of ACT’s conference may be viewed on the website, http://www.act.org.nz/conference.

HERALD: “WE GOT IT WRONG”
The Herald, which has devoted six whole pages to ACT’s management of its parliamentary office, reported that the parliamentary commission has written a report, but edited out the Speaker’s statement that “there are no adverse reflections on any MP or Party.”

The Letter

Post Saddam Hussein

It seems likely that the US will invade Iraq with or without a UN resolution. The US believes Iraq, with weapons of mass destruction, is a danger, and if the UN will not enforce its own resolutions, it is broken – as is NATO if it will not respond to a member’s security threat.

Events of 2003 are a watershed. The world will not return to how it was. Old alliances are gone. While they deny it, America is moving its European security guarantee – an army in Germany – to bases in the “new” Europe.

New Divisions

The old assumptions of the Cold War have gone. Leftwing Germany and rightwing France are opposing the US. Labour UK and conservative Australia are in favour.

This lack of ideology leads some to say the divisions are overstated.

Not so.  Post September 11, it is America’s view that the world is much more dangerous: Iraq hides weapons of mass destruction, North Korea admits developing a nuclear weapon and has missiles that can bomb Tokyo; Iran discloses that it has a major – it claims civilian – nuclear programme.

At the ACT NZ Conference, Australian Financial Review international editor Nick Hordern gave a very thoughtful speech and spelt out why Australia believes its security interests lie with the US.  Australia has published a new defence white paper, for the first time identifying terrorism as a major threat.

Here in New Zealand, Phil Goff has dismissed the need to review our defence assumptions.  The official view is still Helen Clark’s: that we live in a very benign environment.

ACT Annual Conference

Approximately 300 attended one or more sessions of ACT’s Ninth Conference.  That’s up on last year’s election year conference in Auckland.  The commentators who peddled ACT’s ‘demise’ fail to realise that attacks on a party are usually signs not of its collapse but effectiveness.  Ninth Floor spin doctors were saying three weeks ago that Rodney Hide would be subjected to a personal attack in the media, and they had a tonne of dirt to drop on ACT prior to the conference.  It bounced off.

Setting the Agenda

At its conference, ACT set the agenda:  The need for tax relief for middle New Zealand; The necessity of higher education standards; more choice and private sector involvement in health; law and order.  ACT sets to change the terms of the debate away from personality politics to the ideas.

ACT heard thoughtful speeches from Roger Kerr on the danger of politically correct language, “The We Word”; a superb interactive seminar from Nobel prize winner Dr Milton Friedman and his wife Dr Rose Friedman; a paper on the ‘civil society’ from Dr Judith Bassett. 

ACT MPs made agenda-setting speeches on tax, health, education, justice and Iraq.  Speeches have been posted on the web at http://www.act.org.nz/conference

Campus Tour

ACT MPs have just completed a campus tour.  ACT has branches on every campus, and a record number of students have enrolled.  The educated young see ACT as the only party with a viable alternative.

82% Vote Against Supreme Court

Attorney General Margaret Wilson is outraged that 82 percent of Auckland law practitioners voted against her new Supreme Court.

The legal profession is becoming very alarmed by the prospect of a politically appointed final court from which there is no appeal. The judges who had been in favour of abolishing the Privy Council are having second thoughts. Many issues have not been thought through.  How do you maintain an independent judiciary in a small country when there is no written constitution?

Political Appointments

By appointing Susan Glazebrook, the youngest judge ever, to the Court of Appeal, Margaret Wilson will be influencing the court for decades. 

The most senior judge automatically becomes the president of the Court of Appeal.  Barring accidents, Glazebrook will become president in 2011 and remain so until 2023 – the longest serving president ever. 

Glazebrook is a competent lawyer but this is extraordinary power for one judge.

More controversial is the custom (started by National) of promoting judges.  This is undesirable because it undermines the independence of the judiciary.  Marion Frater - a Family Court judge - has been appointed to the High Court.  Frater has no
relevant experience in commercial litigation. 

Margaret Wilson justifies appointing judges with no experience, saying it is impossible to get senior QCs to accept judicial appointments.  If this is so, where is Margaret Wilson going to find five new judges for the new Supreme Court?

It Gets Worse

Christiansen, the Napier District Court judge who ran out of court in tears (he made an advance on a staffer), has been appointed a Master of the Christchurch High Court.  We won’t even comment on Wilson’s semi-judicial appointments like good friend and triple-dipper Susan Bathgate.

Boasting

Margaret Wilson boasted at the opening of the new Dunedin Court how much she is enjoying being lobbied by judges seeking appointments to the new Supreme Court.  If Wilson’s claim is correct, it shows how she has already undermined the independence and the integrity of the judiciary.

Speed epidemic

The illegal trade in amphetamines is out of control.  Last year the police raided 147 illegal labs.  One lab can produce in a day $200,000 worth of speed and the more dangerous P.  Police sources estimate the illegal amphetamine trade is worth more than $400m a year – twice the wine industry. Horrific, violent crimes are associated with criminals being on P. 

There are just 10 officers assigned to busting labs.  There are, according to parliamentary answers, just 7,104 police and 21,882 gang affiliates.  Despite being asked by police two years ago to classify amphetamines as Class A, Labour has yet to act.

Labour has passed tough laws to seize the assets of terrorist organisations, but won’t act against gangs.  There will be new dog laws before we see any action against the real animals: the gangs that control the drug trade.

The Letter

THE REAL ISSUE?
Why have electorate agents for list MPs? How do you take rules written for electorate MPs and apply them to a list MP whose electorate stretches from North Cape to Stewart Island? How do you apply rules written before fax machines were invented, to the cyber age? How parties operate electorate agents has always been different. Richard Prebble as an MP for Auckland Central used to help illiterate constituents fill out state house applications. ACT MPs do not get many requests for advice on social welfare emergency assistance but they do get asked for in-depth, quality information on, eg, the Land Transport Management bill. Richard Prebble has written an article for the Herald on the real issue.  See http://www.act.org.nz/e-politics.

NEW LOOK HERALD
The new look Herald has put its journalists’ by-line by every story and let journalists have their lead and print any allegation they like against ACT. Audrey Young has in front page stories claimed that ACT has broken the rules to “benefit financially” and  “the scheme could save…around $150,000 per year”. What readers have not been told is that Parliamentary Services has said ACT’s pooling of resources is not secret, is allowed, every dollar is accounted for, and ACT does not receive any extra money by this arrangement. James Gardiner and Vernon Small in a front page Herald story created the impression that there was trouble between ACT MPs and Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union delegates when both groups were staying at the same Waiheke Hotel. The Herald did not print that the two groups got on so well that the union delegates invited Stephen Franks and Rodney Hide to visit the ACI factory. Having manufactured these stories the Herald had the nerve to write “The timing is catastrophic for ACT. Iit holds its conference [this] weekend…Will there be any takers now?”. Come and prove them wrong.

WHY The Letter KEEPS GROWING
Most ACT voters are in the Herald circulation area. ACT got 12% of the list vote in Auckland (National just 19%). The Herald’s attacks do not seem to have fazed ACT voters though it is clearly the reason why the NBR and the Dominion Post’s Auckland readership keeps rising and The Letter has set new circulation records this year.

THE POLITICS OF ROADS
Labour’s new Land Transport Management bill is going to turn every new road into a political decision. The history of NZ politics was roads and bridges - MPs made their careers by getting taxpayer funding for a road for their electorates. The old National Roads Board, now Transit, has as its central policy the legal requirement to provide “safe and efficient roads”. This depoliticised roading decisions. Engineers were able to develop robust cost/benefit ratios and safety records so that new roading could be prioritised in a non-political list. The new bill scraps the need for efficiency and instead sets social, environmental and cultural criteria. There is no way to objectively assess roading by social or cultural factors. Politicians will be making the decisions. This nonsense has come about to keep the Green MPs’ vote. ACT has on our website the bill, objective analysis and how to make a submission by email see: http://www.act.org.nz/traffic
 
IRAQ
Labour is grateful for the Greens’ likening Australian PM, John Howard, to Saddam Hussein. This has enabled the PM to portray her policy stance as moderate. In fact Clark has moved from saying it’s the duty of every UN member to support Security Council decisions, to a refusal to support the implementation of a new Security Council resolution, and refusal to condemn France’s possible veto (France is a third rate power and its veto is an anachronism). The post-Saddam consequences for NZ’s hostility to the USA, UK and Australia will be profound. Beehive officials, touting that US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick telling a congressional committee that free trade talks with the USA were a possibility was a “significant statement”, shows how out-to-lunch Labour really is. All of NZ’s friends in Washington say Labour is completely deluded. A US/NZ free trade agreement is not on the USA’s agenda.
 
THE BUDGET
Michael Cullen is using the age-old technique of dowsing down expectations. He is telling the credulous media that he will be holding a hard line on expenditure. The Letter understands that there will be significant new social spending. The Finance Minister will present the new spending as moderate and fiscally neutral but Labour’s spending Ministers believe they have achieved considerable success.

CULLEN EMBARRASSED
Labour is embarrassed at having to admit that Ministers did talk about achieving top half of the OECD by 2011 and now admitting that it is not achievable. ACT believes for once the ninth floor spin is correct; Helen Clark never supported the goal. What she said was, it’s achievable “if we set our minds to it”. She has always set her mind against it. Clark is convinced that any government that tackles NZ’s structural problems – 350,000 able-bodied adults on welfare, real tax reform – will be swept away.

ACT CONFERENCE
This weekend ACT’s conference in Wellington will debate the real issues. Nobel prizewinner, Milton Friedman, agreed to speak because he believes ACT is a unique party advocating freedom, choice and personal responsibility.  You can register for the conference at http://www.act.org.nz/conference.

TRULY TERRIFYING
Letter received by Ken Shirley:

     Dear (blank)

     I strongly oppose the prostitute reform bill. I am a primary school Teacher , I know if you teach
     kids good thing in life they will be an asset to the society ,

     If you choose to support wrong things in the society, you are responsible for the damage tha’s
     going to happen to the families and to the nation in future. 

     [Signature] 
     Mr Ken

The electoral roll confirms the writer is indeed a teacher, but he appears to have a remarkably similar writing style to the local terrorist who has been sending cyanide.

The Letter

THE REAL ISSUE?
Why have electorate agents for list MPs? How do you take rules written for electorate MPs and apply them to a list MP whose electorate stretches from North Cape to Stewart Island? How do you apply rules written before fax machines were invented, to the cyber age? How parties operate electorate agents has always been different. Richard Prebble as an MP for Auckland Central used to help illiterate constituents fill out state house applications. ACT MPs do not get many requests for advice on social welfare emergency assistance but they do get asked for in-depth, quality information on, eg, the Land Transport Management bill. Richard Prebble has written an article for the Herald on the real issue.  See
http://www.act.org.nz/e-politics.

NEW LOOK HERALD
The new look Herald has put its journalists’ by-line by every story and let journalists have their lead and print any allegation they like against ACT. Audrey Young has in front page stories claimed that ACT has broken the rules to “benefit financially” and  “the scheme could save…around $150,000 per year”. What readers have not been told is that Parliamentary Services has said ACT’s pooling of resources is not secret, is allowed, every dollar is accounted for, and ACT does not receive any extra money by this arrangement. James Gardiner and Vernon Small in a front page Herald story created the impression that there was trouble between ACT MPs and Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union delegates when both groups were staying at the same Waiheke Hotel. The Herald did not print that the two groups got on so well that the union delegates invited Stephen Franks and Rodney Hide to visit the ACI factory. Having manufactured these stories the Herald had the nerve to write “The timing is catastrophic for ACT. Iit holds its conference [this] weekend…Will there be any takers now?”. Come and prove them wrong.

WHY The Letter KEEPS GROWING
Most ACT voters are in the Herald circulation area. ACT got 12% of the list vote in Auckland (National just 19%). The Herald’s attacks do not seem to have fazed ACT voters though it is clearly the reason why the NBR and the Dominion Post’s Auckland readership keeps rising and The Letter has set new circulation records this year.

THE POLITICS OF ROADS
Labour’s new Land Transport Management bill is going to turn every new road into a political decision. The history of NZ politics was roads and bridges - MPs made their careers by getting taxpayer funding for a road for their electorates. The old National Roads Board, now Transit, has as its central policy the legal requirement to provide “safe and efficient roads”. This depoliticised roading decisions. Engineers were able to develop robust cost/benefit ratios and safety records so that new roading could be prioritised in a non-political list. The new bill scraps the need for efficiency and instead sets social, environmental and cultural criteria. There is no way to objectively assess roading by social or cultural factors. Politicians will be making the decisions. This nonsense has come about to keep the Green MPs’ vote. ACT has on our website the bill, objective analysis and how to make a submission by email see:
http://www.act.org.nz/traffic
 
IRAQ
Labour is grateful for the Greens’ likening Australian PM, John Howard, to Saddam Hussein. This has enabled the PM to portray her policy stance as moderate. In fact Clark has moved from saying it’s the duty of every UN member to support Security Council decisions, to a refusal to support the implementation of a new Security Council resolution, and refusal to condemn France’s possible veto (France is a third rate power and its veto is an anachronism). The post-Saddam consequences for NZ’s hostility to the USA, UK and Australia will be profound. Beehive officials, touting that US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick telling a congressional committee that free trade talks with the USA were a possibility was a “significant statement”, shows how out-to-lunch Labour really is. All of NZ’s friends in Washington say Labour is completely deluded. A US/NZ free trade agreement is not on the USA’s agenda.
 
THE BUDGET
Michael Cullen is using the age-old technique of dowsing down expectations. He is telling the credulous media that he will be holding a hard line on expenditure. The Letter understands that there will be significant new social spending. The Finance Minister will present the new spending as moderate and fiscally neutral but Labour’s spending Ministers believe they have achieved considerable success.

CULLEN EMBARRASSED
Labour is embarrassed at having to admit that Ministers did talk about achieving top half of the OECD by 2011 and now admitting that it is not achievable. ACT believes for once the ninth floor spin is correct; Helen Clark never supported the goal. What she said was, it’s achievable “if we set our minds to it”. She has always set her mind against it. Clark is convinced that any government that tackles NZ’s structural problems – 350,000 able-bodied adults on welfare, real tax reform – will be swept away.

ACT CONFERENCE
This weekend ACT’s conference in Wellington will debate the real issues. Nobel prizewinner, Milton Friedman, agreed to speak because he believes ACT is a unique party advocating freedom, choice and personal responsibility.  You can register for the conference at
http://www.act.org.nz/conference.

TRULY TERRIFYING
Letter received by Ken Shirley:
Dear (blank)
I strongly oppose the prostitute reform bill. I am a primary school Teacher , I know if you teach kids good thing in life they will be an asset to the society ,

If you choose to support wrong things in the society, you are responsible for the damage tha’s going to happen to the families and to the nation in future.

[Signature]
Mr Ken

The electoral roll confirms the writer is indeed a teacher, but he appears to have a remarkably similar writing style to the local terrorist who has been sending cyanide.

The Letter

 

 

 

 

URGENCY?
Having called an early election saying its legislative programme was log jammed Labour felt the need to put parliament into urgency last week. But the bills chosen increased their embarrassment.
- The Sport and Recreation Bill - It’s apparently urgent we change the name of the Hillary Commission.
 - The Racing Bill - Parliament saw the effect on the godless Labour party being dependent on the fundamentalist Christian United Future party when Ministers realised the Bill contained a provision allowing Easter Sunday racing - so the Bill was suddenly withdrawn.
 - The Tax Bill – contains some overdue provisions giving relief to tax payers suffering hardship from IRD usurious interest rates (thanks to Rodney Hide’s campaign) but the government decided to exclude the country’s 300,000 small businesses from any hardship relief.
- The Victims’ Rights Bill - A Claytons Bill that states  “the principles …do not confer on any person any legal right that is enforceable, for example, in a court of law.”
 - The Electronic Transactions Bill – not only legalizes electronic transactions but the definition of e-signatures is so wide it includes a rubber stamp, a tick on a website and your photo. It’s the result of spurning the excellent US legislation and instead following a politically correct but bad United Nations model .
Don’t think you can start transacting electronically with government departments. A third of the Bill exempts various departments from electronic transactions.

A NEW GRIEVANCE CREATED
Under urgency the Te Uri o Hau Claims Settlement Bill was passed. This was despite the fact the Select Committee found the ratification processes were like a Pakistani election.
 - Mailbags containing ballots were stolen;
 - Beneficiaries did not receive votes or notification of meetings;
 - Some who did attend were wrongly prevented from speaking and voting;
 - Maori Affairs officials wrongly participated in the meetings to get ratification;
Just 43% voted. The negotiators (and Sir Graham Latimer again appears) received $200,000! Labour Ministers refused requests for the ballot to be done again. The Letter predicts this settlement won’t be final.

REWRITING HISTORY
Parliament is attempting to rewrite history with the Waitangi Settlement Bills. The Bills contain pages of preambles setting out the alleged history of the claims. The Taranaki Waitangi Settlement lists the Crown’s (serious) misdeeds, but misleads by omission, failing to mention there was a Royal Commission settlement in the 1920s, and in 1944 parliament passed a full and final settlement. The settlement in the 1920s of five thousand pounds sterling a year was enough to buy two dairy farms (every year) and is more generous than today’s!  United Future’s Murray Smith most enthusiastically supported the history rewrite, telling parliament that “Hansard is a Pakeha record.”

AIR NZ PURCHASE
Dr Cullen continues to deny that he knows of Qantas negotiations to purchase a controlling stake in Air NZ. The Letter shares businesses’ concern that such a purchase will be anti-competitive, will increase airfares, and raise the cost of airfreight - and would be a bad deal. Qantas is believed to be paying below market price with no premium for control. If Labour wants to sell down - a much more sensible proposition would be to require Qantas to buy all of the government’s shares, then the taxpayer would be free of the risk.

TRANZRAIL
The Letter has obtained documents that show Grant Samuel valued the Auckland suburban rail lines at between $10 and $20 million. Labour paid $81 million. Dr Cullen’s letter to TranzRail reveals he knew he was paying too much as he says it “…will be hard to justify purchasing…”. Neither the ARC nor Labour know what to do with the lines – so TranzRail continues (at a profit) to run the trains but it’s now $81 million richer. Even after the deal TranzRail’s sharemarket value is just $184 million. We shudder to think how much Labour is willing to pay to buy back the whole network. The documents can be found at
www.act.org.nz/tranzrail.

A LETTER HOT ENOUGH TO COOK YOUR BREAKFAST ON…
The letter from Wayne Browne, chair of the Auckland District Health Board sent to Annette King, Minister of Health, when he was forced to resign from the Gisborne Board has also come into our possession. It reads: “It has been brought to my notice by members of Min Health staff that under a section of the relevant Act a person elected to one District Health Board may not be appointed to another. Given that I was invited by you to consider the Auckland DHB chairmanship after it was well known that I had been elected to the Tairawhiti DHB…it is something of a shock…I am sure that you will understand just how justifiably grumpy I am…”
“I have no wish to embarrass either yourself or the government (there are enough people in your ministry doing that as it is).“ The Letter has no such qualms – Wayne Browne’s letter is at
www.act.org.nz/grumpy.

ANOTHER GOVT IT COLLAPSE
Buried in the government briefing document is a statement from the State Services Commission that its GoProcure project (a pilot to run an E-procurement system) is running behind. The Letter understands the technology works, but for the system to work, suppliers must also join and they have not. A similar system set up by the School Trustees Association collapsed costing them millions. Government departments are very reluctant to join for the very good reason that GoProcure will cost them more. The Trevor Mallard solution – mandate all departments to use the system. Central government is over 30 percent of GDP. The anti-competitive effect of one mandated purchasing system is very significant, almost certainly illegal, and another example of the steady creep back to a centrally controlled economy.

BALI TERROR CLOSE TO HOME
 “We live in an incredibly benign strategic environment.” Helen Clark, Prime Minister, 5 April 2001.

The Letter

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