Our country will face a real choice in five months’ time.  

And the choice isn’t Red Chris or Blue Chris.  As many now see, that isn’t much of a choice at all.

The choice New Zealanders face is between parties offering more of the same… And one promising a genuine change.

A Fresh, Fearless Approach, or Carry On Regardless?

Our country will face a real choice in five months’ time.  

And the choice isn’t Red Chris or Blue Chris.  As many now see, that isn’t much of a choice at all.

The choice New Zealanders face is between parties offering more of the same… And one promising a genuine change.

So many New Zealanders tell me they think our best days are behind us… That our country is in decline. 

Labour’s massive borrowing, spending and out-of-control money-printing has led directly to the rampant inflation which means everything from petrol to bread costs twenty percent more than it did just a couple of years ago.  The result is an economy that picks your pocket, even as it forces you to choose between filling your car and feeding your family properly.

A dangerous constitutional experiment is dividing communities because left-wing politicians, bureaucrats and academics have reinterpreted the Treaty to fit their worldview.  A worldview in which there is nothing positive to be learned from our history – And in which we must all be divided by our group identity first:  Māori or Pakeha… Trans or ‘anti-trans’… Victim or oppressor.

Labour came to Government promising to reduce the number of prisoners by 30 per cent and so criminals now no longer fear consequences. It’s one of few goals they’ve achieved. Violent crime is up and the prison population is down.  According to the Police’s own numbers, monthly ‘victimisations’ – that is crime to you and me – are up by 60% each month since 2019.  That is more than six and a half thousand more innocent people – families – being the targets of robberies, gangs and violence each month.  But this was supposed to be a government of ‘kindness’…  How can this be?

But the good news is, whether New Zealand keeps declining is a decision for us.  But it requires us to rediscover the right values.

Reward for hard work. Accountability for your actions. Freedom and personal responsibility.

New Zealanders tell me that, on issue after issue, they don’t get a real choice.  Successive governments duck the real issues.  Where, for example, is the debate on raising productivity from the very bottom of the OECD rankings?

On changing our overseas investment rules so we’re more welcoming than China and Saudi Arabia? On liberalising our archaic GE rules so scientists don’t have to go to the United States to test GE ryegrass? We get endless hot air from our politicians but precious little debate.

ACT exists to ask – and start to answer – those questions that others simply will not.

The simple truth is that the next government – any government of New Zealand – can deal with the hard issues… or carry on pretending that they don’t exist.

It is time to choose:  Do we get wasteful spending and debt under control… Or ask future generations of an ageing population to pick up the tab?

Who should bear the responsibility of the wave of crime and gangs engulfing this country… The innocent victims, or the criminals themselves?

Do we pander to what focus groups tell us will ‘play well’… Or do we do what we know in our hearts and minds is the right thing to do?

Do we heal and unify the country around principles of genuine equality… or continue to divide New Zealanders based on race?

We’ve had successive governments that have ignored problems and taken the easy road.  

Hardworking Kiwi families are now paying the price.

We’re still a first world country… But only just.

When – at such an important juncture in our history – the two major parties sound so similar that voters struggle to tell them apart… I say that it is down to us to set-out what a real alternative looks like.

A Budget for Real Change

Governments keep coming up with the wrong answers because our leaders don’t have the courage to ask the right questions about our economy.

You would think, from the lack of debate, that over the past six years Labour had produced some kind of economic miracle.  Instead, hardworking Kiwi families pay the highest taxes in over two decades.  Our economy grows at a slower rate than our competitors’, wheezing under the weight of inflation brought on by years of answering tough questions by simply printing more money. 

A Kiwi builder… or nurse… or accountant… or farm worker finds that they earn some 20-30% less than their equivalent in Australia.  You can understand why our best and brightest are leaving.  Despite big talk from governments of all colours, we haven’t made the decisions necessary to close the wage gap with Australia.

This is not a time to nudge the wheel a little to the left or right.  To trim the sail or change the brand of petrol…  We need a whole new mode of transportation.

That’s what ACT’s Alternative Budget is about. Labour and National seem to think finance is about coming up with the best slogan. Beneath their endless sparring there is no real difference.

This week Grant Robertson said his Government had found $4 billion in savings. That’s a lot, right? Well, no, because they give numbers over a four-year cycle. So it’s really one billion a year.

Then you put it in context. The Government is set to spend $129 billion this year. They’re talking about a fraction of a per cent. About 0.8 per cent to be precise. Put it another way, Robertson is promising to keep doing 99.2 per cent of what he planned.

Then National respond with, well, no hard numbers at all. Under either of them, the only change is a change of style, and how has that worked out for us in the past five years?

Well, Government spending is up by 61 per cent since Labour were elected. Does anyone think public services are 61 per cent better? Sure, there’s been 20 per cent inflation, so it’s really only about 40 per cent, but does anyone believe any public services are 40 per cent better?

How about some specific areas? Education is up 38 per cent in five years, but fewer kids attend and learn less when they do. Health spending is up 68 per cent. It’s impossible to fathom where all those billions have gone, but gone they have.

On the other hand, ACT’s alternative Budget is a real change. It is steeped in ACT’s guiding principle that people can make a difference in their own lives. They can change their future.

It significantly lowers and simplifies income tax. Right now, the Government levies six tax rates on income. The company rate is 28 per cent, and there are five personal rates, 10.5, 17.5, 30, 33, and 39.

This system tells you two things. First of all it’s worth doing clever accounting to shift money around, when income can be taxed at a rate nearly four times higher, or four times lower under the same system.

Second of all, it tells you what New Zealand really thinks about success. Namely, it doesn’t belong to you. If you do too well, we’ll whack you. Because we can. 23 per cent of people who earn over $70,000 pay 78 per cent of income tax. There is no justice to it. The majority use the ballot box to take from the majority for one reason and one reason only. Because they can.

ACT’s alternative budget would cut taxes $34 billion over four years. It starts with a generous middle income tax cut, lowering the 30 per cent rate to 17.5.

It also raises a rate. The 10.5 per cent rate, charged on income up to $14,000 rises to 17.5. People on low incomes receive a Low Income Tax Credit, and an annual payment from Emissions Trading Scheme revenues, so they are still better off after this increase.

The net effect is more revenue to cut higher tax rates for higher income earners. In the second and third years, it cuts the 39, 33, and 30 per cent rates down to 28. By aligning the top personal and company tax rates, so many opportunities for tax avoidance through complex accounting disappear.

Mortgage interest deductibility is restored for landlords, because taxing landlords was never a clever way of helping their tenants, AKA first home buyers. The Bright Line Test is gone, for similar reasons.

The net result is a simpler, cleaner tax system with only two rates, and every taxpayer better off. More importantly it sends a message. We are not here to punish success. We don’t assume everything in life is luck. We do believe that your efforts should make a difference, not be sapped away by ever increasing taxes. It is a formula for a culture of success and a wealthier New Zealand over time.

In specific targeted areas, ACT’s Alternative Budget increases spending.

  • Teachers receive an average pay rise of nearly $5,000 thanks to the Teaching Excellence Reward Fund. There is no investment more critical to the long term than getting the best people into the classroom and rewarding them for excellence
  • Defence is brought up to two per cent of GDP because the world has changed, and New Zealand cannot continue to free ride on its friends
  • GP capitation funding is increased by 13 per cent, to keep family doctors working so people can get appointments when they’re needed
  • Half of the GST collected on residential construction is shared with councils so they can afford to connect new developments they consent, and have an incentive to do it
  • Funding is provided to restore the prison population to 2017 levels, before Labour’s experiment of letting criminals roam free to see what happens
  • 200 new beds in secure Corrections facilities are funded for youth criminals, to stop the game of tag-and-release and start rehabilitating them so it’s safe to run a dairy again

In these times, though, inflation is out of control. It would be irresponsible to cut taxes and increase spending on the back of more borrowing. That is what Liz Truss tried and it didn’t go well. That’s why ACT’s alternative budget reduces three kinds of spending to get back into surplus from year one.

First we reduce tax welfare churn. A lot of spending is simply giving taxpayers their own money back, creating a false sense of dependence. The winter energy payment makes sense for retirees in real hardship, but not for those whose additional income means they are paying 30 or 33 cents in the dollar. They would be better off paying less tax. ACT’s budget would target that spending at those with a Community Services card, reducing tax for those with higher income. In the end, every taxpayer is better off. How is that possible, but reducing Government waste.

It makes no sense to give Kiwisaver subsidies or winter energy payments to those on high incomes. It makes more sense to target these benefits to those truly in need, then cut taxes for those who could afford to save and pay their power bills, if only they were allowed to keep more of their own money.

Then we reduce corporate welfare. The Government plans to hand out $6.2 billion in four years to various businesses that have found favour with politicians. Too many schemes take money off businesses making a profit, and give it to those that do not. Now, investing in start-ups is vital to growing and diversifying the economy, but Government rarely knows where the best investments are, and the track record of Government subsidies to business shows it. Put another way, politicians could all be rich if they knew how to invest their own money, but few own more than an extra house. Business would be better off with less tax, red tape, and regulation than queuing for Government handouts.

Then we reduce wasteful Government expenditure in Wellington. In five years the Government has raised spending by $49 billion, or 61 per cent. The headcount in the public service (not the frontline) has gone up 14,000 in five years. Just going back to the 2017 headcount (when services were, if anything, better) would save four billion in four years. There are whole departments that no Government would establish today, but no Government has had the courage to stop funding. Just ask yourself, what has the Human Rights Commission actually achieved for human rights lately?

In short, our Alternative Budget is a real alternative to the Labour-National duopoly. It is what a Government with courage and determination to make New Zealand a wealthier society would do if their rhetoric came true.

Imagine what nine years of Labour looks like.

New Zealand needs a government that has the guts to make the right changes.

But what happens if we don’t? If six years of Labour is bad, imagine what New Zealand is going to look like at the end of nine.

The size of the bureaucracy will continue to grow, crowding out New Zealanders who want to make a difference in their own lives, and eating up resources that would be better in your pocket.

A generation of once young, now hardened, criminals will be totally alienated from society because they haven’t been taught consequences follow from your actions.

And New Zealanders will be divided by race.  Māori or Pākehā.  What does this say to the thousands of our modern Kiwi family who don’t fit into this government-mandated straight-jacket?  And to whose benefit?  Certainly not the poor brown kids who have to deal with the incompetence of the Māori Health Authority or Oranga Tamariki every day.

Only ACT will stop this.

We also know that, thanks to the deal cooked-up between Labour and their counterparts across the ditch, it will soon become much easier for our best and brightest to migrate to Australia.  And, with salaries so much higher over there – and the barriers to business so much lower – which way do you think the traffic will be going?

Only ACT would stop this, too, by focusing on creating the conditions for growth here.  By making New Zealand, once again, a magnet for talent, skills, and innovators.

No party understands the rural economy better than ACT.  And farmers understand more than most how the latest scheme from Wellington – whether lunatic freshwater reforms, the new Resource Management Act, or mandated methane targets – hammers them, when they are already under the pump from rising costs and uncertainty. 

In the end, they just want to be left alone to do what they do better than anyone else on Earth.  But if we don’t change course, many will suffer unnecessarily… Or end up leaving the sector altogether.

It’s an insult to Kiwi families who are having to track every cent of their own budgets watch the economic mismanagement in Wellington. It has lasting, damaging consequences to all of us:

Fewer jobs and more pointless rules and red tape.

More criminals and less accountability.

Slow growth and higher taxes.

Emigration, when we need immigration.

Money going to back-office bureaucrats, rather than targeted at the doers New Zealand needs.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

The Real Choice

Throughout our history, ACT has done what’s right… Not what’s popular.

After our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch, ACT was alone in opposing rushed, reckless law-making. After much fanfare and publicity, all that happened was guns being driven into the hands of gangs.  As a result… ALL New Zealanders are less safe today than we were on 14 March 2019.

When Labour introduced heavy-handed and divisive vaccine mandates, ACT opposed them and proposed a test-to-work alternative.

We alone stood up for free speech… We alone fought Labour’s hate speech law… And we eventually defeated it.

Likewise, the Zero Carbon Act. Only ACT had the courage to say that Labour and the Greens would use the law as an excuse to sacrifice the economy at the altar of climate change.  We’re now seeing the dire consequences of that law.  And, of course, emissions continue to rise.

This road is often not easy.

The reason ACT is rising faster than any other party in NZ, is because Kiwis know better.  And they deserve better than the mixture of blandness and blindness they are being served up.

People know that I turned down a ministerial limo to pass the End of Life Choice Act, to give compassion and choice to those with a terminal illness.  And I would do it again.  Back then, I was the only ACT MP, and the only voice in parliament for this change.  But I did it because I knew – as you do – that leadership is not just about parroting what people want to hear.

Maybe you didn’t agree with every one of those positions. That’s okay. The key word here is ‘choice’…

But I hope you’ll respect the fact that we’ve never lost sight of our principles, nor abandoned them in pursuit of high office and expensive hotels.

And for the avoidance of doubt, we never will. 

The future of our country is simply too important for charlatans to be exhumed from political purgatory and put in charge of picking the next government.  It is long overdue that New Zealanders – all of us – have a real conversation about the future.

How ACT works for You

ACT will be YOUR voice for common sense in any future Budget.  A voice for accountability and responsibility, that never forgets whose money it is in those coffers.

A vote for ACT is a vote to get criminals off our streets and put victims at the heart of the justice system.

A vote for ACT is a vote to go line by line and weed out the waste in the Wellington bureaucracy.

A vote for ACT is a vote for targeted tax relief for those families that need it the most.

A vote for ACT is a vote for an independent voice in government that goes line by line through the next Budget, to ensure you get value for the taxes you pay.

A vote for ACT is a vote to end divisive co-governance, and end nonsensical ‘culture wars’ – Not enflame them.

And in the end, it is a vote for freedom from a gluttonous, flabby government that has encroached into too many aspects of our lives – to too little benefit.

Above all else, it is a vote for real change in our country.

Deliver a CALL-TO-ACTION:  Our Chance to Change NZ for the Better

We can keep taking the easy road and ignoring our problems.  But if we’re serious about real change, it’s going to require MPs who aren’t afraid to make hard - and yes, sometimes unpopular - decisions.

Now is the time to tell the simple truth about the state of our country and its finances.  Kiwis can handle it.

And now is the time we can choose to turn around our country’s decline.

Changing the logo of the government in October simply isn’t going to be enough to get New Zealand back on course.

If, like me, you look at our politics and see a stale choice

If you see too many elected representatives who get to Wellington and then forget who they work for… And if you believe that 2023 is a time for us to be leaders, not managers…

Then my message is simple:  There is a fresh alternative available. A real alternative.

ACT is standing up for what’s right. We’re real New Zealanders, with real solutions, and our goal is real change.

And we are ready to fight for you.

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