Vote out the abstainers –Seymour

Epsom MP David Seymour says councillors who abstain on voting for Auckland Council’s 10-year budget deserve to be voted out.

“As a central government politician it should not be my role to address those concerns. However, I’m contacted by people across Auckland furious about rate rises.

“Councillors are elected to stand up and be counted. That’s their role, especially on such an important transaction as setting a 10-year budget for the Auckland Council.

“If they won’t do so, this is a clear sign they don’t wish to be re-elected.

“Indeed, given certain councillors will not do their job, the honourable thing for those councillors to do would be to resign.”


Government’s digital speech restrictions go too far

ACT Leader David Seymour has indicated he cannot support the Government’s Harmful Digital Communications Bill due to what he sees as an overly broad focus and potential criminalisation of young people.

“The Bill’s communication principles are too broad to be easily interpreted as law. Ordinary internet users, especially young people, could fall foul of the criminal provisions of the law for minor missteps.

“It’s a classic example of why we should not simply judge laws by their intent, but consider their possible unintended consequences.

“ACT takes the online safety of young people very seriously. This is why we support stronger enforcement of existing harassment laws, and amendments to the Crimes Act where needed.

“ACT’s Supplementary Order Paper, supported by Labour but voted down by the government today, would have removed most of the criminal provisions, and transferred the provision covering revenge porn to the Crimes Act.

“Instead we are left with an overly broad, unenforceable piece of legislation which countless ordinary people would inadvertently breach every day. This law risks becoming open to abuse by the very bullies it is intended to target.

“New York’s top court recently struck down a similar law for violating the First Amendment. Indeed, any restriction on communication should be balanced against the need to protect free speech. I fear this law does not achieve such a balance.”

David Seymour welcomes assisted dying petition

A petition campaigning for a public inquiry into assisted dying has been welcomed by Epsom MP David Seymour, who accepted the petition with Iain Lees-Galloway, Chris Bishop, and Kevin Hague today.

“There is clearly significant desire for a public debate on assisted dying. This petition, along with the recent High Court decision regarding Lecretia Seales, shows the time has come for Parliament to take up the issue.

“To this end, I am preparing a Bill which will allow medically assisted end of life choice. I believe this is the best possible course of action, as once drawn from the ballot a Bill will immediately begin the process of a law change. An inquiry will result in a recommendation, but from that point any Bill would have to begin the legislative process from scratch.

“In saying that, I hope today’s petition results in a select committee inquiry as soon as possible, as whatever the outcome, an inquiry will prepare Parliament for the necessary debate surrounding any Bill.

“My Bill will allow autonomy and dignity for a competent adult who seeks to end their life as a response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition. But it will also include comprehensive safeguards for protecting the vulnerable.

“A thorough select committee and public consultation process will ensure these safeguards are well-designed and effective.”

Government must clarify role of volunteers under health and safety reforms

The government should use National Volunteer Week to clarify how the Health and Safety Reform Bill will affect them, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“While thanking volunteers for their work, the government is trying to push through a law which would place new regulatory burdens on voluntary organisations,” said Mr Seymour, referring to the Health and Safety Reform Bill currently before select committee.

“The Bill has been criticised by Volunteering NZ and Local Government NZ for the liabilities it places on organisations and their board members.

“In a situation like a working bee or disaster clean-up, a certain level of risk is expected by casual volunteers. Making organisations liable for this risk could discourage volunteers from taking leadership positions, and force those who did to reconsider working with casual volunteers who would fall under the strict new regulations.

“I have been approached by constituents in my electorate who are concerned they will be in breach of new regulations despite being involved in low risk activity.

“People who volunteer are rightly celebrated, but they need clarity around what liabilities they’re taking on by doing so. Otherwise there will be a chilling effect on volunteers nationwide, to all of our detriment.

“Volunteer initiatives are vital to the health of a free society. People who sacrifice their time for causes they’re passionate about put more care into their work than anonymous bureaucrats on fixed salaries.

“That’s why the Minister for the Voluntary Sector should stand up for volunteers by challenging regulatory overreach.”

Race-based traffic policing is unfair and patronising

“It’s good that the police are experimenting with new prevention approaches for those caught driving without a licence,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Referring unlicensed drivers to training rather than giving them a ticket on their first breach seems sensible. People make mistakes and deserve second chances.

“But giving an exemption from ticketing to South Auckland Maori caught driving without a licence is unfair to every other ethnic group in that community and patronising to Maori.

“The idea that people of different races are equal before the law is a basic tenet of liberal democracy. It’s disturbing to see police guidelines explicitly contradicting this principle.”

Budget 2015’s corporate welfare splurge

The recent report, Any new kids at the trough? shows the Government is spending more than ever on corporate welfare.

“The average household is paying $752 this year in what are effectively government handouts to favoured businesses,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“These handouts, totalling $1.34 billion, include payments for sheep given to a Saudi businessman, rockets launched off the Coromandel, and a boat-building company owned by Larry Ellison, the world’s sixth-richest man.

“This welfare skews advantage towards companies with strong government connections, and away from everyday small businesses.

“It encourages companies to waste effort applying for and meeting the bureaucratic conditions of grants, rather than creating real value.

“Government shouldn’t pick winners. ACT’s policy is to phase out corporate welfare, and use these funds to cut taxes for all companies.

“Only by creating a welcoming environment for all businesses can we encourage investment and create jobs for all New Zealanders.”


Which New Zealanders, Bill?

Bill English can't claim to speak for all New Zealanders on the future of NZ Super, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
"Bill English has accepted that Superannuation costs will balloon by a billion dollars extra each year but says New Zealanders are ok with this.  What he won’t say is, which New Zealanders?
"Surely it can’t be those entering the workforce who just lost their Kiwisaver kickstart in the budget but got no relief on the taxes they’ll pay towards Superannuation for the next 45 years?
"Surely it can’t be those under 35, who’ll retire with the government in debt by 198 per cent of GDP on historic trends?
"Surely it can’t be their grandparents who built this country and would be horrified to know they’ve left it on such a track?
"Australia has announced a plan to gradually raise its retirement age through to 2035. If there’s one thing New Zealanders all have in common it’s the need for such long term perspectives in Wellington."

ACT responds to Key’s RMA backdown

The Prime Minister’s backdown on the RMA is disappointing but not surprising, says ACT leader David Seymour.

“If we’re serious about councils allowing the next generation to build homes, we need to get some guts. We cannot have an act of parliament preoccupied with telling councils that building houses is inappropriate.”

In his Budget speech Mr Seymour pointed out, “The words inappropriate subdivision appear 156 times in the Resource Management Act, three of them in the principles sections.”

“Unfortunately, this backdown is not surprising,” said Mr Seymour today.

“The political class have focused on immigration, foreigners, tax, interest rates, government building programs, basically everything but fixing the RMA’s anti-development bias – the vital thing central government could easily change with a little political will.

“ACT will continue campaigning to free up land supply through essential RMA reform.”

ACT offers Labour a way out of NZ Super gaffe

ACT leader David Seymour today welcomed Labour engaging the debate over NZ Super’s future, but says they need to change tactics.

“Andrew Little appeared in The Herald to endorse means testing for superannuation before distancing himself from the idea within hours.

“He has shown why an issue with such important long term implications might be better handled under ACT’s referendum proposal.

"All parties can put aside their political positions, join together to form a cross party working group – like the flag committee – and appoint an expert group to identify workable options for the long term sustainability of NZ Super.  These options, including no change, could then be put to referendum for the voters to decide.

“It’s to Andrew Little’s credit that he notes these pressures arising from an aging population, calling superannuation ‘a looming issue requiring $30b by 2030’, and highlighting the government’s silence.

“If we don’t address this issue now, New Zealanders will be forced to pay higher taxes or face harsh service cuts in order to fund Super in the decades to come.

“I have confidence in the common sense of voters to support an option which would ensure the fiscal sustainability of NZ Superannuation, an option which is fair across the generations of taxpayers.”

ACT welcomes Budget's focus on poorest families

ACT Leader David Seymour welcomes the moves to focus spending on the poorest families.

“One of the problems with government is the pointless churning of income, taxing middle income families and then returning it to them with government spending,” said Mr Seymour.

“A good example of that is the $1,000 Kiwisaver kick-start, which I am pleased to see axed.

“The move to boost core benefit rates is a welcome move, in combination with the welfare reforms to date and the tougher work tests proposed.

“With superannuation linked via a floor relationship to wage rates, core benefit rates have fallen well behind other income support measures linked to wages.

“Moves to tackle child support debt and encourage parents to pay what they owe for their children are also a welcome move to encourage responsible parenting.”