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Richard Prebble's Letter From Wellington


URGENCY?

Having called an early election saying its legislative programme was log jammed Labour felt the need to put parliament into urgency last week. But the bills chosen increased their embarrassment.

- The Sport and Recreation Bill - It’s apparently urgent we change the name of the Hillary Commission.

- The Racing Bill - Parliament saw the effect on the godless Labour party being dependent on the fundamentalist Christian United Future party when Ministers realised the Bill contained a provision allowing Easter Sunday racing - so the Bill was suddenly withdrawn.

- The Tax Bill – contains some overdue provisions giving relief to tax payers suffering hardship from IRD usurious interest rates (thanks to Rodney Hide’s campaign) but the government decided to exclude the country’s 300,000 small businesses from any hardship relief.

- The Victims’ Rights Bill - A Claytons Bill that states “the principles …do not confer on any person any legal right that is enforceable, for example, in a court of law.”

- The Electronic Transactions Bill – not only legalises electronic transactions but the definition of e-signatures is so wide it includes a rubber stamp, a tick on a website and your photo. It’s the result of spurning the excellent US legislation and instead following a politically correct but bad United Nations model .

Don’t think you can start transacting electronically with government departments. A third of the Bill exempts various departments from electronic transactions.

A NEW GRIEVANCE CREATED

Under urgency the Te Uri o Hau Claims Settlement Bill was passed. This was despite the fact the Select Committee found the ratification processes were like a Pakistani election.

- Mailbags containing ballots were stolen;

- Beneficiaries did not receive votes or notification of meetings;

- Some who did attend were wrongly prevented from speaking and voting;

- Maori Affairs officials wrongly participated in the meetings to get ratification;

Just 43% voted. The negotiators (and Sir Graham Latimer again appears) received $200,000! Labour Ministers refused requests for the ballot to be done again. The Letter predicts this settlement won’t be final.

REWRITING HISTORY
Parliament is attempting to rewrite history with the Waitangi Settlement Bills. The Bills contain pages of preambles setting out the alleged history of the claims. The Taranaki Waitangi Settlement lists the Crown’s (serious) misdeeds, but misleads by omission, failing to mention there was a Royal Commission settlement in the 1920s, and in 1944 parliament passed a full and final settlement. The settlement in the 1920s of five thousand pounds sterling a year was enough to buy two dairy farms (every year) and is more generous than today’s! United Future’s Murray Smith most enthusiastically supported the history rewrite, telling parliament that “Hansard is a Pakeha record.”

AIR NZ PURCHASE
Dr Cullen continues to deny that he knows of Qantas negotiations to purchase a controlling stake in Air NZ. The Letter shares businesses’ concern that such a purchase will be anti-competitive, will increase airfares, and raise the cost of airfreight - and would be a bad deal. Qantas is believed to be paying below market price with no premium for control. If Labour wants to sell down - a much more sensible proposition would be to require Qantas to buy all of the government’s shares, then the taxpayer would be free of the risk.

TRANZRAIL
The Letter has obtained documents that show Grant Samuel valued the Auckland suburban rail lines at between $10 and $20 million. Labour paid $81 million. Dr Cullen’s letter to TranzRail reveals he knew he was paying too much as he says it “…will be hard to justify purchasing…”. Neither the ARC nor Labour know what to do with the lines – so TranzRail continues (at a profit) to run the trains but it’s now $81 million richer. Even after the deal TranzRail’s sharemarket value is just $184 million. We shudder to think how much Labour is willing to pay to buy back the whole network. The documents can be found at www.act.org.nz/tranzrail.

A LETTER HOT ENOUGH TO COOK YOUR BREAKFAST ON…
The letter from Wayne Browne, chair of the Auckland District Health Board sent to Annette King, Minister of Health, when he was forced to resign from the Gisborne Board has also come into our possession. It reads: “It has been brought to my notice by members of Min Health staff that under a section of the relevant Act a person elected to one District Health Board may not be appointed to another. Given that I was invited by you to consider the Auckland DHB chairmanship after it was well known that I had been elected to the Tairawhiti DHB…it is something of a shock…I am sure that you will understand just how justifiably grumpy I am…”

“I have no wish to embarrass either yourself or the government (there are enough people in your ministry doing that as it is)." The Letter has no such qualms – Wayne Browne’s letter is at www.act.org.nz/grumpy.

ANOTHER GOVT IT COLLAPSE
Buried in the government briefing document is a statement from the State Services Commission that its GoProcure project (a pilot to run an E-procurement system) is running behind. The Letter understands the technology works, but for the system to work, suppliers must also join and they have not. A similar system set up by the School Trustees Association collapsed costing them millions. Government departments are very reluctant to join for the very good reason that GoProcure will cost them more. The Trevor Mallard solution – mandate all departments to use the system. Central government is over 30 percent of GDP. The anti-competitive effect of one mandated purchasing system is very significant, almost certainly illegal, and another example of the steady creep back to a centrally controlled economy.

BALI TERROR CLOSE TO HOME
“We live in an incredibly benign strategic environment.” Helen Clark, Prime Minister, 5 April 2001.

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