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Richard Prebble's Letter From Wellington

RICHARD PREBBLE’S
Letter from Wellington
Monday, 11 September 2000

Helen Clark’s statement that we should consider replacing the Kiwi with the Aussie makes no more sense than Michael Cullen’s calls for common citizenship. The Aussie is also a tiny currency. The only currency worth looking at is the US – but this by itself is not an answer. And if joining Australia is our answer – what’s the solution for Tasmania, a true economic basket case?

Aiming for 41 cents?
At the New Zealand-Taiwan business seminar in last Thursday, Minister Pete Hodgson, was asked about the Kiwi’s fall.
He gave the usual excuse of the US dollar’s rise. He then went on to boast that the Government had fully hedged its forward exposure at 41 cents to the dollar. Knowledge of the Minister’s remarks reached the mar-ket and the dollar fell dangerously close to 41 cents.
If the pessimists are correct and the dollar reaches 39 cents - the coalition will join ordinary New Zealanders in having to pay more for it’s imports – drugs, defence equipment etc.

Not Fully Covered
Despite Minister Hodgson’s claim that the Government is fully hedged the Letter can reveal it is not. Not all SOEs have taken out forward cover and some showed more faith in the Government than it had in itself! While Treasury instructed the SOEs to take forward cover they did not pass on their view that the coalition policies would result in a collapse in confidence.

What Helen Won’t Tell You
The slide in the Kiwi’s value represents the biggest drop in wealth since our nation was founded.
If you translate average earnings to US dollars the average family is be-low the official US poverty line of US$17,050 (NZ$40,500). This means 86% of New Zealand’s taxpayers would be considered impoverished.

No Exit For East Timor
Foreign Minister Phil Goff in Par-liament last week appeared to commit New Zealand to East Timor forever. He said new Zealand would stay as long as the security threat re-mained.
East Timor is a country with a long history of instability. New Zealand has committed troops without setting an exit strategy. The brave helicopter rescue mission was only possible be-cause the Indonesian army guaran-teed security.
We need to inform the East Timorese that one of the costs of independence is your own defence (advice Labour could note). Train the local Fretilin, arm them appropriately and exit. The Army’s serious resource problems will become critical if there is a fur-ther rotation after next May.

In Defence Of MMP
But for MMP the public would not know of the $538,063 secret Gov-ernment payout to prisoners. Na-tional did not want to raise the issue because the incidents happened un-der their administration.
ACT’s Rodney Hide asked the par-liamentary question that forced the disclosure. Phil Goff advised that he knew nothing of the payment. He was telling the truth. The deal was closed by Margaret Wilson and Matt Robson so Helen wouldn’t be embar-rassed at the UN. The Ministers were so naïve they thought they could just keep it a secret.

Background
Mangaroa Prison was a liberal experiment. It was built in Napier so local convicts could be near their families. The Justice Department had this flaky idea to hire local people as wardens as part of a ‘culturally ap-propriate’ trial scheme.
Maori Labour MPs have long called for a separate justice system where Maori offenders are supervised by their hapu. The outcome: uncles and aunties of patched gang members were hired as some of the wardens. The experiment was a disaster.
When Mangaroa prisoners were ran-domly drug tested around half tested positive. There have been numerous scandals at the prison. This is a case where the prison officers union’s warnings have all come true.
The Alliances, Matt Robson, last week announced his experiment in re-storative justice, which he believes will prove that all criminals need is milk and cuddles. Last week also saw the coalition vote down ACT’s Truth in Sentencing – a law that has re-duced violent crime in the US by 8%.

Labour Leadership Challenged
The Maori caucus is openly defying the leadership. John Tamihere’s notice of motion making a de-famatory accusation against the dis-tinguished lawyer who represented the young woman complainant against Dover Samuels, was not cleared by the leadership.
It is outrageous for Mr Tamihere to make the claims under parliamentary privilege and then seek to chair the inquiry into his own allegations.
ACT believes parliament should move on. However if Mr Tamihere insists on an inquiry, ACT will agree to Parliament's powerful privileges committee examining the claims. A number of Labour MPs will not come out of the inquiry well. Richard Preb-ble will be shown to have acted prop-erly and without malice throughout.

Southern Tour – A Great Success
ACT’s just completed its Southern ACTion tour – visiting every town in the South Island. ACT has never had a better reception to one of its tours and the views of ordinary New Zealanders prove that this is definitely a one term government.

Greening of ACT
Interest in ACT’s web-based green network is growing exponentially. This discussion group is open to any-one and is one of the few places in NZ where there is rational environ-mental debate based on science. The web site includes links to worldwide green sites and discussion groups. With the GE Royal Commission muzzling debate by excluding ACT yet giving the Greens special stand-ing, the ACT Green Network fills an important role. To join email neil.wilson@parliament.govt.nz

Feedback
Last week’s Letter featured an article on proposed tax law changes to UK Investment Trusts. Rebecca e-mailed a news article providing clarification on the review’s timing. http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article.php?ArticleID=976485462

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