Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington - 21 Aug
Letter from Wellington
Monday, 21 August 2000
"We won, you lost. Eat it!", Michael Cullen's line sums up the coalition: arrogant. "It was not a mistake, we just didn't know what we were doing" from the Green's Rod Donald, needs no explanation. "Solidarity forever, the union makes us strong" saw the Alliance's, Willie Jackson, put the coalition's agenda to song. The Government refused to listen to business on the Employment Relations Bill. The fact they gave the Ministry of Commerce just three hours to read and make submissions on the massive Bill says it all.
The Employment Relations Bill is badly drafted. ACT is holding discussions with legal experts and will next week begin seminars on how to side-step some aspects of the Bill and how to survive the affects of others. The coalition is already threatening law abiding businesses with $10,000 fines. The Bill's penalties are punitive. ACT will not propose any measures that are not fully lawful.
Handing over confidential information: ACT believes that this provision is virtually unenforceable. Good Faith Bargaining: This measure will work against trade unions. Unions like the Boilermakers have never acted in good faith. ACT urges employers to take unions to the Employment Relations Authority. Collective Bargaining: Until 2 October it is totally legal to help your employees form their own union. Union Access: If the workplace is a dwelling - you can refuse access to both unions and the labour inspector. Trade Union Leave: If it's a house union - the education can be something useful. Strikes: Margaret Wilson claims that anyone can volunteer to strike break. Employee Advice On PG Cases: A difficult one - ACT believes that giving employees a copy of the struck out schedule 2 may provide some protection. The Letter urges all employers to get advice. Membership of the Employers Federation is now a necessary cost of business. Visit ACT's website www.act.org.nz as new information will be posted constantly.
It is not often the Letter agrees with left wing columnist Chris Trotter. However his last week's Dominion column is worth a read. He writes: "recent events (the release of the Government's Health policy being the most notable) make it clear the Labour-Alliance coalition's approach to race relations is much more radical that voters were led to believe. It is quite clear the Government intends to insert reference to the Treaty of Waitangi in an increasing number of Bills it brings before Parliament...their meaning and purpose will be...decided by the courts...what we are witnessing is an attempt to bring about fundamental constitutional change via the judiciary... a 'revolution from above'...a clear and present danger to our democracy.'
Media Coverage Of Parliament
The media coverage of last week's urgency debate led to numerous points of order and ultimately revealed just how out of date Parliament's rules are. The Evening Post copped a weeks suspension for showing Annabel Young's tonsils - yet the photographer broke no rule. TVNZ news showed a shot of the Prime Minister in Parliament responding to Mrs Shipley's claim that the Labour Party have been digging up dirt on Dover Samuels. Helen Clark was not even in Parliament for the Saturday or Monday sittings. Television has, over time, adopted the practice of using unattributed library footage for news stories - in this case to fabricate the news. TVNZ has written not one, but two, apology letters of apology to the Speaker. But as they have not seen fit to apologise to viewers - readers can view the Letter http://www.act.org.nz/action/archive/tvnz1.html on ACT's website ACT as the party of practical solutions has written to the Speaker proposing Parliament be broadcast on the web - as is the House of Commons.
First You Win In The House
There is a saying amongst MPs "First you win in the house and then in the country". No opposition has won an election that has not first 'won' the debate in the House. The commentators all agree ACT and National won the Employment Relations Bill debate. This shift has continued. On Thursday Helen Clark accepted a very late appointment to avoid question time. The Police report on the Waitara shooting exposed her earlier statement blaming the incident on Police racism as shallow popularism. The luckless Michael Cullen was also left to defend the appointment of part-time staff in Ministers offices - staff whose other job is to work for PR and lobbyist companies. When it was revealed under the last government that a Fire Commissioner was also a company director - Labour's Trevor Mallard said that was 'corruption'. As he is now State Services Minister the Letter wonders what his view is today?
The National Party
Despite a string of 'Channel Nine' inspired stories that Jenny Shipley is to be rolled - the National party conference confirms what every MP knows: not only is Jenny Shipley secure, she is very much in charge. For a post election year - Jenny's polling figures are very good. She is seen as stronger than Clark on economic issues, the one issue that matters. (If voters believe you can't balance a cheque book - no matter how much they like your idealism, they won't vote for you) National has identified superannuantion and student loans as two policies that cost them centre votes. ACT is concerned that we appear to be headed for an election with the two major parties bribing us with our own money. ACT may find itself alone in advocating fiscal prudence. As the party of new ideas ACT is revisiting both issues to find fiscally prudent and viable alternatives.
Southern ACTion Tour
ACT MPs are taking the big yellow ACT bus on a tour of 25 South Island cities and towns to listen and report back to New Zealand. To see the itinerary and to register for a meeting in your area, http://www.act.org.nz/action/actiontour.html Letter from Wellington is faxed and emailed weekly. To subscribe, or contribute, call 04 470 6624, Fax 04 473 3532, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Post to: ACT Parliamentary Office, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.