Richard Prebble’s Letter From Wellington
One law firm has told The Letter that three property deals fell over on Friday because of the latest U-turn on immigration. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce estimates that the changes will have a $2 billion negative impact. The requirement that immigrants from non-English speaking countries have university-level English will bring migration from China to a halt. Also excluded are skilled tradesmen from Central Europe. The English language test is racist because (if it were a compulsory standard for English speaking countries) many immigrants from the UK would not pass it.
Many Pacific Island immigrants would also not qualify on the points system so Labour created a special quota system for them. No justification has ever been given for this favourable treatment. Could it be because Pacific Islanders are Labour voters?
Labour’s election strategy has been to court the immigration vote with policies like the ministry of ethnic affairs. Labour’s focus groups’ polling has told the party that Peters’ attacks are causing Labour to lose its traditional “working class” vote. So Labour has decided to abandon ethnic voters and introduce a policy that’s tougher than anything Peters ever asked for. Last week’s decision could be as divisive as National’s dawn raids that the Pacific Island community has still not forgotten.
Select committee inquiry
ACT has been a critic of immigration policy under both old parties. The refugee policy which is used for foreign policy - accepting queue jumping boat people to make Helen Clark’s visit to Indonesia a success - is totally unprincipled. The latest changes are a panic measure. ACT has launched a petition aiming to gather 10 thousand signatures and force a select committee inquiry. For a copy of the petition go to www.act.org.nz/immigrationpetition <http://www.act.org.nz/immigrationpetition> .
Trademark political correctness
Last week under urgency parliament passed a new trade marks law.
The new law contains two bizarre provisions:
- If a trade mark has become a common term, e.g. nugget, jandals, sellotape, then the trade mark is lost!
- If your trade mark is offensive to Maori, e.g. Air New Zealand’s koru, the Warrior’s League team logo, then the registrar can revoke the trade mark. The United party not only voted for this but were against an ACT amendment that would have compensated trade mark owners for their loss of property.
The National party had a better week. National MPs put up a vigorous opposition to measures like the Trade Marks Bill. National has the hapless George Hawkins trapped in the headlights. National has finally jumped off the fence on Maori and have announced they will be voting alongside ACT against separate Maori representation on local councils. (The bill also gives council the power of general competence that allows councils to use rate payers money to enter any field of business in competition to the private sector.)
“On his own”
Last week Helen Clark’s press secretary, Mike Munro, went down to the office of George Hawkins to tell him that he must deny to all media that he had been told about the leaky homes problem. George got the message - he is on his own - and Helen Clark will not defend him. If there are any more leaks, George is history.
Where is the briefing
Before meetings, Ministers are normally given a briefing note by officials that states who they are meeting, what issues will be discussed and matters the Ministers “may care to raise”. Amongst the Official Information documents there are no briefing documents for George Hawkins’ meeting with the Building Industry Association. No former Ministers in parliament believe the claim that Hawkins was not briefed - it’s a smoking gun.
Super resource ministry
The Letter has learnt that the environment lobby is using the row over the scampi quota to press for a new super resource ministry covering DOC/MAF/Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry for the Environment. The environmentalists see the new Ministry as a way to introduce their ‘sustainable development’ policies in the same way they have under the Resource Management Act - to promote their extreme anti-development agenda. A lot is riding on the scampi inquiry. The word is that it’s TVNZ that is going to look bad not the Ministry.
NCEA opposition select committee
ACT has received 30 submissions to the opposition select committee inquiry into the NCEA. The committee is holding public hearings: 11 December - Westlake Girls’ School, Auckland (time tba).
-9 December - Parliament Buildings (time tba) (Contact Scott Dennison on 04 4706625.)
Submissions are still open and you can have you say at http://www.act.org.nz/ncea <http://www.act.org.nz/ncea>.
Let them in
The Letter had a good response to our readers’ poll on nuclear propulsion and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). More than 500 responses were received. 537 agree that an FTA should be negotiated and 29 are against. 491 support the amendment to the nuclear free law while 75 are against amending the law.
A benign environment
The Labour government decided against purchasing sophisticated air defence equipment for the frigate Te Kaha on the basis we live in a “benign environment”. Now our Prime Minster has sent the Te Kaha to the Persian Gulf - a “flash point”. Military experts have told The Letter that the US Admiral would have to deploy resources to protect our ship - ironical.
The Letter has also learnt that the air force advised against upgrading the Hercules. The decision means our air crews will be flying the oldest Hercules air frames in the world.
The strike is getting worse. MPs are beginning to get letters like this one “My thirteen month old grandson…urgently requires a liver transplant…As a direct result of the strike, the scheduled surgery has now been postponed twice…surgery will now be postponed until the New Year at a date not yet fixed…Meanwhile (his) liver malfunction condition worsens…” Annette King says it’s nothing to do with her. What the Minister does not say is that she wrote a letter to the Auckland Hospital Board instructing them not to offer more than 2%. The Letter is told the union is staunch. Radiographers know that they are being paid 30% less than in Australia and they will not accept a below the cost of living increase. A copy of this letter is at www.act.org.nz/radiographers <http://www.act.org.nz/radiographers>.