The Letter

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

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.

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.

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:
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.
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.

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.

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

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.

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





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.

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.

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.”

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.

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

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

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.

 “We live in an incredibly benign strategic environment.” Helen Clark, Prime Minister, 5 April 2001.

The Letter

The Letter is New Zealand's largest weekly newsletter, distributed only by email and fax. The Letter offers unique insight into topical issues and current events.