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The Letter – Monday, 20 March 2006

The Letter – Monday, 20 March 2006

The Letter – Monday, 20 March 2006

The Letter Limited -

The Haps

Police let Labour off again with a warning. The government lost two votes in parliament. Is the KiwiSaver Bill in trouble?

Prima facie justice

If you are Labour you can forge paintings, rocket down the road at 160kph, assault children and now buy elections. $400,000 is more than enough to influence the few votes Labour needed to be the largest party and therefore the government. Given the huge consequences of Labour's illegal actions it is extraordinary that the party has not had to answer in court.

The nerve of a burglar

Helen Clark has judged, so far correctly, that Labour could buy the election with funds taken from the taxpayer.

The Last Guardian

There is still the Auditor-General's report. The Police say that the pledge card was political advertising and parliament's rules are clear that a PM cannot use her leaders fund for election expenses. In the past the Auditor-General has referred an MP who incorrectly filled out an expenses claim for just a few hundred dollars to the Serious Fraud Office for possible prosecution. In that case the MP was entitled to claim the accommodation allowance. Clark is not entitled to the $400,000 and we now know she took a similar sum in the last three elections! We are forced to admit it is evidence to support Willie Jackson's claim that Maori are treated differently. The MP referred to the Serious Fraud Office was Maori.

May not even report

The Auditor-General told the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week that he is "six months" from reporting on MPs' use of their taxpayer funds and he has not yet determined whether he will even report on the PM using those funds to finance Labour's election campaign!

They are slick

Labour's strategy for the Auditor-General is the same as the one they used on the Police. Bombard the office with complaints about other parties so it can be said that everyone is doing it. Instead of quizzing the Auditor-General's lack of vigour Bill English asked 40 minutes of questions about the Wananga and not a question about the non investigation of Labour's pledge card!

Interesting Week

Labour suffered two parliamentary defeats on Wednesday. Wayne Mapp's bill to allow a probationary 90 days for new employees passed with only the Greens supporting the government. The NZ First bill to reduce the size of parliament also passed, again with just the Greens supporting Labour. Heather Roy's bill to subject Pharmac to the Commerce Commission was only narrowly defeated. From the expression on Cullen's face as he watched the government defeats it was obvious he was asking himself the question, can this government last the distance?

Power Shift

Next election will see new boundaries drawn and more Maori seats in parliament. The government is spending $4.5 million promoting the Maori Electoral role option. Labour used to believe that more Maori seats favoured them. Once the Maori seats were so safe for Labour many Maori opted for the General Roll where their vote might make a difference. With the Maori Party campaigning to win all the Maori seats the next election may be decided by the outcome in those electorates. If you are Maori the way to maximise your vote now is to opt for the Maori Roll. Just another 14,000 voters opting for the Maori roll is a new Maori seat. Everyone expects the number of Maori seats to increase to 8 but it could be 9. No party has formed an MMP government without some Maori seats. If the bill to reduce the size of parliament passes, 9 seats out of a 100 MP parliament looks like a permanent balance of power. While no one expects it, we would not be surprised if the result of the Maori option is 10 seats!

Mice will play

While Winston is sycophantic in his support for Labour, when he is away his MPs are asking increasingly tough questions. Last week the hardest questions for government ministers came from Ron "Minnie Winnie" Mark.

KiwiSaver Scheme

Labour's scheme to encourage us all to save looks frighteningly complex. The bill is 40 pages of dense regulations setting up what is in effect a totally new tax. Every employer will have to set up a new payroll system, fund managers must be appointed along with elaborate reporting systems. As Rodney Hide observed "The KiwiSaver scheme is the most expensive way ever invented to give every worker a $1000". The true compliance cost will be massive. It would be far cheaper just to send them the money with a letter saying we would really like you to save it. With the Maori Party joining National and ACT opposing the scheme Labour must rely on United Future for support. As Gordon Copeland campaigned for a reduction in company tax and compliance costs it is hard to see how they can support the scheme.

ACT conference

ACT's annual conference is this weekend at the Mercure Hotel Wellington where a new president will be elected. Speakers include Ray Evans from Australia, "Politics and Patriotism"; Prof Raymond Miller, editor of "N Z Government and Politics" and the dinner speaker is ACT founder Sir Roger Douglas. You can still register, you don't need to be a party member. Register at:

Our Poll

83% of letter readers do not believe the Reserve Bank Governor's statement that he will keep interest rates up all year. Credibility is hard to earn and once lost even harder to regain. This week; A 100 MP parliament will deliver more power to the Maori Party, should ACT MPs vote for the Bill. We will send your answers to Rodney Hide. Vote at


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Please Note: Formerly the column The Letter was circulated by the ACT Party. It no longer is.

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