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Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington

Richard Prebble's
Letter from Wellington
Monday, 25 February 2002

Petrol Tax Increase

The Letter understands Helen Clark tomorrow will announce a $2b spending package to complete Auckland's motorways. Mayor John Banks has got everything he wants.

The government is also expected to hike the tax on petrol by four cents-a-litre - allegedly to pay for the new motorways. But the government already collects $1.6 billion from motorists and spends just $550 million on roads. The only connection between the 4 cents and transport is that it will help pay for Tuku's BMW.

The spending package won't work unless the real problem is tackled. It's not money but planning delays that are holding up Auckland's motorways. The Resource Management Act has made it virtually impossible to build a road when there are serious objectors.

The Grafton Gully motorway extension will take three years to build but planning approval has taken six years. At this rate, a proposed motorway extension through Helen Clark's electorate will never get approval. What's really needed is a re-write of the RMA. The new petrol tax is a broken promise. Labour's pledge card said the only tax increase would be the 39 cent top rate of income tax.

Tax Revenue

The government's tax revenue is well ahead of forecast this year - showing they don't need the extra four cent petrol tax. Dr Cullen claims the extra revenue is from the higher top rate of income tax. But Treasury computers can't tell how much revenue is due to the rise in the top tax rate. Theoretically, it should produce $300 million a year.

The Letter sticks to its assertion that the higher top rate has produced no extra revenue. Tax consultants confirm that tax planning is a huge growth industry. Leading tax accountants have told the Letter they have no clients paying 39 cents. So who is paying the extra tax?

Wage workers - Labour's traditional support base. Households earning less than $40,000, who don't qualify for a community services card or a state house, whose children are zoned to failure schools, are paying the extra tax through inflation.

ACT's polling shows there's a revolt starting among Labour's "hard-working class" supporters - those Mike Moore called the battlers. The government has done nothing for this group except to place gang members in state houses in their street, ruining the neighbourhood.

Queen Bashing and Other Lines

Helen Clark has attacked the NZ Herald for accurately reporting her cheap shot at the Queen. The Letter thinks the Herald should also have critically covered Clark's speech in London. It's a fantasy re-write of history. Some examples: "In the mid-1990s the (NZ) economy marked time". In fact, the economy grew at up to 5.8 percent p.a. - more than twice the current rate. And: "We took office after 15 years of neo-liberalism". What! Winston Peters and Bill Birch were neo-liberals?

Clark then claimed that most business people don't want lower taxes and less red tape. You can only say that overseas. The Prime Minister wasn't available to welcome the Queen because she wanted to electioneer. (See )

Trouble at Court

The leaking of the internet viewing habits of six judges is due to staff anger in the Courts Department. Not only have several court staff lost their jobs for viewing exactly the same kind of material that the judges did, but staff are also angry at collusion between their union - the PSA - and politically-correct management.

Most court staff have left the PSA. Management's response has been to sign a new wage contract that favours PSA members by having an earlier start date. While it's illegal to discriminate against union members, it's lawful to discriminate against non-union staff. No private employer would be silly enough to favour union members - unlike the politically-correct brigade. So there's war within the courts department. Last week we learned about the porn. Now we've heard about the judges' $72,000 weekend conference. The Letter expects the leaks to continue.

Parole and Justice

The government's admission that 40 percent of those on parole breach their parole conditions, couldn't have come at a worse time for the coalition. Parliamentary questions by ACT's Stephen Franks have revealed parole is a joke. Most parolees are not supervised. Re-offending rates are horrendous.

Under the new Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, most offenders will be released from jail after serving just one-third of their sentence, to parole that won't be properly supervised, and will re-offend within 12 months. This will be an election issue and it's one that ACT owns.

Shop Trading Bill

Rodney Hide's Shop Trading Bill is causing the two old parties huge anxiety. Neither party knows how their MPs will vote on the issue. Some Labour MPs gave passionate speeches about how opening at Easter would exploit workers but then said retailers in their electorates should be able to open if a cruise ship was in port.

The debate on clause one - which usually takes an hour - lasted all Wednesday night, as neither the National or Labour whip was willing to find out who had the numbers in a vote. The only MPs who know what they think are the Alliance - who are united in opposing freedom - and ACT who are equally united in supporting freedom.

The Remarkable Mrs Raukawa-Tait

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait's decision to stand for Christian Heritage came as a surprise to Peter Dunne who thought she'd agreed to stand for his United Future Party. Her appointment as deputy-leader of Christian Heritage also surprised many party members. Inside the party, homosexuality is regarded as evil and their new deputy-leader's liberal views are seen as what's wrong with society. Peter Dunne's problem is that he is now leading a religious party that wants the "Christian" vote - about 4 percent of the electorate - but he doesn't want his constituents in Ohariu-Belmont to know.


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