ACT welcomes commitment to RMA reform

“ACT welcomes the acknowledgement by Environment Minister Nick Smith that the RMA has become a major impediment to development, is costing jobs, making housing too expensive and not even doing a great job at managing natural resources,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
 
“The Treasury-commissioned report released by Mr Smith confirms the stifling and expensive effects of the RMA on development.

“The discussions around inequality and child poverty in recent years have consistently shown rising housing costs as a significant factor contributing to various measures of poverty in New Zealand. Fixing these regulatory barriers to affordable housing could have a major impact in reducing inequality in New Zealand.
 
“New Zealand needs comprehensive RMA reform. ACT looks forward to working with National on these reforms, to the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

ACT welcomes taxi law review

ACT Leader David Seymour welcomes Craig Foss’ prompt call to review taxi and private car hire regulations, announced today.

“I believe that entrepreneurship and the fast adoption of new technologies are essential to the prosperity of small nations such as New Zealand,” said Mr Seymour, who wrote to the Minister of Transport requesting such a review last week.

“Regulation can play an important role in protecting consumers, but should not be used to privilege particular businesses, especially when technology removes existing market failures.  Regulations may have been needed in the past when consumers had limited access to information on pricing, safety, and other quality indicators.  Mobile internet technology now gives real-time information to all parties.  It is removing the need for such regulation while improving customer service, efficiency, and safety.

“Craig Foss has acted promptly.  It is now important that he places the interests of consumers first, as regulation is in place for them – not incumbent providers."

Taxi regulations threaten entrepreneurship and innovation

“Smartphone-based taxi technology has provided greater choice for New Zealand consumers, but in some cases could prove illegal under current transport regulations,” said ACT Leader David Seymour today.

“Recent cases where drivers have been charged or issued with infringement notices suggest the current law may not be fit for purpose.  It is not for me to comment on individual cases, but we must review the existing law to send a message that entrepreneurship is welcomed in New Zealand, and to foster innovation in taxi technology and maximise consumer choice.

“Taxi companies provide a vital service and are an important source of employment. Smartphone-based technology could benefit all of these companies, allowing them to explore new safety practices and pricing options, such as providing users with driver profiles and enabling automatic fare adjustment to increase taxi supply during busy periods.

“As ACT Leader, I have written to the Minister of Transport, asking him to confirm whether the Government has any plans to review the law to ensure smartphone-based taxi services are able to continue operating legally within a competitive transportation market.

“Intelligent regulation and a liberal approach to business innovation are essential to a healthy economy. Therefore, regulatory reform is a key ACT priority for the next three years.

“I look forward to hearing the Government’s plans for modernising New Zealand’s transport regulations.”

Mr Seymour has previously researched taxi regulation for Canada’s Manning Foundation and Frontier Centre, and has even written a paper named “Whither Taxi Regulation: Why GPS-enabled smartphones will send traditional taxi regulation the way of the dodo”.

Forget today's deficit - we must focus on long term fiscal health

"Forget today’s deficit announcement – we need to focus on long-term fiscal health," said ACT Leader David Seymour.
 
"The Green and Labour Parties’ excitement over a tiny projected surplus turning into a small expected deficit is just childish. These are parties that wanted to hand out billions in an election lolly scramble, now purporting to discover fiscal probity.
 
"Labour and the Greens both had their platforms calculated as costing an additional $5 billion. Their largess would have put this deficit in the shade, and pushed up mortgage rates to boot.
 
"Revenue will always bounce around due to international and domestic influences, and in the short term there is no reason for the government to react to that.
 
"What matters is the general trend which, compared to most other countries, is promising – at least for the next few years.
 
"To avoid fiscal strife further down the line, we must address quality and effectiveness of spending, and scale and effectiveness of government regulation. We also need to account for an aging population and a surge in NZ Super and healthcare costs."

Celebrate volunteers by opposing regulatory burden

On International Volunteers Day New Zealand politicians must consider their responsibility in tackling the regulatory burden faced by the voluntary sector, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unfortunately, regulations intended to improve practices in business can often have unwanted consequences for volunteer causes.

“One current example is the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which would treat volunteers – even casual ones – as workers, forcing organisations to take liability for the safety of people who have chosen to pitch in for events like tree plantings and disaster clean-ups.

“The practical effect of this regulation is obvious: it will be harder for communities to mobilise volunteer action. Ratepayers in particular will be hit hard, as local councils currently utilise volunteer labour for many vital services and initiatives.

“ACT is backing the Bill’s submissions from Local Government NZ and Volunteer NZ, which call for more flexible regulation towards health and safety.”

“Volunteer initiatives are always preferable to government programmes. Individuals who sacrifice their time to contribute to causes they are passionate about are far more likely to put care into a job than an anonymous bureaucrat on a fixed salary.

“Volunteer and community initiatives are at the core of what separates an adequate society from a healthy society. The fact that New Zealanders spend more time volunteering than anyone else in the OECD is something we ought to celebrate.”

Car ban for mountains problematic, out of the blue

The planned ban on car access to Auckland’s volcanoes is out of the blue and undemocratic, says ACT Leader and Epsom MP David Seymour.

“The Maunga Authority’s decision to end vehicle access to the top of Mount Eden and other cones comes after the government had promised that the Authority would not compromise existing public access and use rights [1].

“It is hard to reconcile that promise with this week’s announcement. For many New Zealanders, such as the elderly or those with injuries or disabilities, a ban on cars will effectively be an end to access.

“What stings even more is that today is 2014’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“On a day when we should be celebrating inclusion and fair treatment, the Maunga Authority is threatening disabled, injured, and elderly people with, at best, a marginalising and bureaucratic process for gaining access to the summit, and at worst, a total end to their enjoyment of our mountaintops.

“Further considerations ought to be given to parents of small children, the tourists who contribute to Auckland’s economy, and cyclists, who would for some reason be included in the ban.

“Maybe some sort of restriction is justified to reduce erosion, pollution, or noise. But if that were the case, the merits of the ban should be able to stand up to public scrutiny and debate. Instead, the Authority has announced the ban from out of the blue, with no opportunity for public consultation or a cost-benefit analysis.

“The government should hold the Maunga Authority to the public-minded spirit outlined in its formation. The ratepayers who fund maintenance of these mountains deserve input.

“Matters of public access to our beautiful maunga should be matters of public consultation.”

ENDS

[1] "There will be no changes to existing public access and use rights. Third party rights including infrastructure, buildings and leases will be maintained.“ http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/deed-settlement-initialled-t%C4%81maki-collective

Stock rustling set to continue under lax laws

The theft and illegal slaughter of farm stock can only be expected to continue if tougher laws are not introduced, said ACT Leader David Seymour today.

NZ Farmer today reported on David Searle, who found three dead ewes on the edge of his property yesterday morning, with another six missing.

“It makes for a grim read, but what’s grimmer still is that this is an ongoing problem for rural New Zealand,” said Mr Seymour.

“It’s a crime that often goes unreported, but is estimated to cost farmers $120 million each year. One Southland farmer had 1200 ewes stolen in July alone.

“Stock thieves are comparable to burglars in that they are rarely apprehended, offend repeatedly, and have little regard for the sanctity of property.

“ACT would have equipment used in the theft confiscated, as is the case for fisheries offences, and increase maximum jail sentences to reflect the harm done to farmers and their vulnerability in remote areas.

“Farmers have called for tougher laws, as has the national association Federated Farmers. ACT won’t let stock rustling and other property crime become a career option in New Zealand.”

Patient residents seek reassurance over Auckland outage

"Epsom electorate residents have responded patiently to being without power, but want to see how future outages will be avoided," said MP for Epsom David Seymour.

"C’est la vie was the most common response from shoppers and shopkeepers in Remuera village this morning, so long as the promised restoration targets are met.

"More acutely affected were the elderly and those with small children, however people appear to have been getting by with help from family and friends.

"People are eager to know what will be done to avoid future outages.

"An enquiry might raise many questions. 

"Was this the fault of Transpower, Vector, or both? Was this a freak event or the result of a systemic problem? And what can be done to improve that systemic problem? 

"Residents would like reassurance and given that they operate natural monopoly infrastructure the utilities should be prepared to give it."

Leadership Acceptance

“I am honoured to lead the ACT Party, I look forward to the challenge and relish the opportunity.

It has been a privilege to work with Jamie Whyte. I want to acknowledge his tireless efforts through the past nine months and during the campaign.  Through his efforts the Party was rejuvenated and our membership increased.  It is a substantial achievement and on behalf of all the members and supporters of the ACT Party, we thank you Jamie.

Once again the ACT Party, with the support of Epsom voters, is contributing the vital extra seat that will assist a National-led government to implement the policy changes which will boost growth and prosperity in New Zealand.

The principles that drive ACT are timeless – freedom, opportunity, choice, competition, personal responsibility and compassion.  ACT believes in small but efficient government, and a low tax burden to encourage and reward hard work and creativity. Only with low taxes will individuals and families be able to get ahead from their own efforts.

The successful New Zealand we know today is significantly due to the policy reforms of the founders of the ACT Party. Those reforms are why we are consistently rated as amongst the freest economies in global surveys. It is this environment that has freed the energy we now see in New Zealand innovation and entrepreneurship. We see it in business, in sport, in the arts, and in science and technology. Cutting red tape and reducing the tax burden further will unleash that energy.

The celebration of entrepreneurship is core to ACT values – it is what drives our economy and incomes forward, creating new industries, new jobs, and higher incomes.

I am excited by the opportunity I have as Leader of the ACT Party, as the MP for Epsom, as well as my Parliamentary Under-Secretary roles in Education and Regulatory Reform.

I look forward to ACT contributing to a stable and successful National-led government, and to expanding our presence in Parliament in 2017.

ENDS

David Seymour 

President Release re Jamie Whyte Resignation

"Today the ACT Party Board announces with regret that it has accepted Jamie Whyte's resignation as Leader," said ACT President John Thompson.

"Jamie has proven himself a principled and clear-headed advocate of ACT's values of smaller government and greater personal responsibility.  Under his leadership, the Party has been rejuvenated and membership has swelled.

"We are proud to have had Jamie serve as Leader, and hope the New Zealand public has not seen or heard the last of him.
 

“The ACT Party Board has appointed David Seymour, the ACT MP for Epsom, to succeed Jamie Whyte as the Leader of ACT.”

ENDS

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