Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Free Press, 27 August 2018


Jacinda Ardern showed a serious lack of spine on Friday afternoon by failing to fire Clare Curran. Curran has been dishonest with the PM and the public about who she has had ministerial meetings with. She should have been sacked, but the PM couldn’t bring herself to do so, keeping her on as a Minister outside Cabinet and only stripping her of a couple of portfolios.


What does the Open Government and Government Digital Services Minister actually do? Even Wellington insiders wouldn’t be able to tell you. We clearly don’t need these highly-paid and redundant portfolios. ACT’s Smaller Government Bill would limit the number of Ministers to 20, providing greater focus and accountability.


Last week, we saw the first case of a ‘third striker’ being ordered to serve a prison sentence without parole. Hayze Waitokia had 14 prior convictions, including six violent offences. His first strike was for a vicious assault, the second for a sexual assault, and his third for a stabbing.


The sentencing judge believed Waitokia was at high-risk of reoffending and that the public needed to be protected from him. Prior to 2010, he would have received a jail sentence of two years and three months. ACT’s three strikes law means he will have to serve the full seven year sentence. Justice Minister Andrew Little – who wants to get rid of three strikes – should ask whether he wants violent men like Waitokia churning through the justice system, creating an endless string of victims.


Last week, the PM delayed MPs’ pay increases for a year. ACT supports this move. But, hang on. Politicians’ pay increases – MPs were to receive 3 per cent – are tied to the raises civil servants received in the previous year. There are 16,000 civil servants that earn more than $100,000 a year. If the Government was consistent, it would be putting in place a pay freeze for highly-paid bureaucrats as well. ACT says politicians’ pay should be linked to pay increases in the private sector, creating an incentive for MPs to focus on lifting wages in the real economy.


The partial privatisation of four SOEs has been a big success. Under the so-called Mixed Ownership Model, Meridian, Genesis, and Mercury all improved their earnings and debt metrics at a time when electricity prices were flat. Remarkably, the taxpayer has received more in dividends on its 51 per cent holdings than it did when it owned 100 per cent of the companies. We must extend this model to our remaining SOEs, such as NZ Post and Landcorp. This would free up revenue for road and rail projects, provide Kiwi families with new investment opportunities, and subject these companies to market forces, requiring them to deliver better results for their shareholders and customers.


The Economist magazine has featured a powerful piece by someone affected by the prohibition on assisted dying. Here’s a brief excerpt: ‘…the quality of life for the patient, however tolerable at first, is often then suffered with increasing discomfort and pain. In this age of individualism and personal freedom, it is for patients themselves to judge whether their lives are intolerable or not. They alone have the right to decide that it’s time to let go.’ ‘It is my life and my right to let it go.’ This is why David Seymour is sponsoring the End of Life Choice Bill.


For members and supporters based in Wellington, ACT will be holding a dinner with Party Leader David Seymour at 6:15pm on Tuesday 4 September at the George’s Room at the Thistle Inn. David will provide an update on the successful ACT Party Conference and the Party’s plans for the near future. Attendance requires a cash donation or bank app transfer of $10 ($5 for students). Please RSPV to [email protected]