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Richard Prebble's Letter From Wellington

Politicising the environment

In cabinet Margaret Wilson has a paper to replace the present Deputy Commissioners on the Environment Court with her own political appointees. The Deputy Commissioners are appointed for five years and work with the Court to assist the judges. The Letter understands that the officials had recommended that most, if not all, the Deputy Commissioners be reappointed. But that does not fit with Margaret Wilson’s plan to reshape the courts to her radical agenda. What sort of people will Wilson appoint? She has already appointed as a Deputy Commissioner a former Alliance candidate. Another appointment is a former Christchurch Labour city councillor who is costing the Court a fortune, as he cannot hear cases in Canterbury for conflict of interest reasons. Let’s remember Joris de Bres was Margaret Wilson’s personal choice, as was Ella Henry (the Human Rights Commissioner who thinks traffic tickets are issued because she is Maori), and triple-dipper Susan Bathgate.

The new Supreme Court

Margaret Wilson in her “academic” writing has opined that the reason NZ has not become a true socialist state is because the left has not replaced the “capitalist” legal structures. To achieve her vision of an Aotearoa Socialist Republic with the Treaty of Waitangi as the constitution, courts must be restructured and what better way than to replace the “colonial” Privy Council with a NZ Supreme Court – one where she and Helen Clark pick the judges. Margaret Wilson has already announced that Labour’s choice of Chief Justice will be on the court. Labour’s Sir Geoffrey Palmer will help choose the judges. One must be versed in Tikanga Maori. Her axing of the members of the industrial relations tribunal shows Margaret Wilson’s contempt for a non-political court. Tribunal members were fired so that Margaret Wilson could put in her choices.

Holmes Labour Christmas show

Instead of having the Holmes Christmas show this year it was decided to have the Finn brothers and a Split Enz 30 year reunion. The Letter has been asked why only Labour MPs were in the audience. Answer: The Finn brothers are Labour supporters and the Holmes show agreed that only Labour politicians be invited. Thought: if politicians issued an instruction to the Holmes show we would be outraged, yet state TV meekly allows its guests to issue political instructions. Is this an example of the Charter TV that Marion Hobbs said we needed?

De facto compulsory unionism

As real net average wages have fallen under Labour, the government must find ways to keep the trade unions onside. The Letter believes that Labour is planning significant law changes to favour trade unions. One measure is a requirement that non-union members must pay the union a “bargaining agents fee” equivalent to the union membership fee. Trade unions complain that non-union members receive the same conditions as union members (a requirement of the law as it is illegal to pay non-union members more, so quid pro quo – employers cannot pay them less.) Employers believe that Labour intends introducing a new package of measures to assist trade unions - · Trade unions will be able to call “political” strikes.
· Those firms who undertake contract out work must employ the staff who did the work. When buying a company you must buy the staff (the slave provision). Business New Zealand believes that the government is going to ratify three different ILO conventions to entrench the positions of the trade unions

Media manipulation

The decision to announce the axing of the Deputy Commissioner of the Environment Court in the week before Christmas is part of Labour’s news management. The Clark cabinet will, just prior to Christmas drop as much bad news as they can. In December people are too busy to fight unpopular decisions. This is the reason that Labour’s U-turn on four weeks annual leave is slipping through and the reaction to the Qantas/Air NZ monopoly has been diluted. In the case of the Environment Court – the Deputies’ contracts expired in June before the election, but the announcement that they are to be replaced with political appointments was held back for six months - too late for parliament to debate the issue. In the last week of the session parliament will be in urgency passing unpopular measures like the Local Government Bill – with United’s help.


The ACT select committee hearings into NCEA reveal what the official select committee refused to examine -
· Pupils gave evidence that the NCEA exams were “unfair”. Students sitting just one credit were given the same three hours as students sitting five credits. · History has been “decontextualised”. It is now possible to get seven credits in NCEA history without knowing any history. A student could pick a topic like Pakeha/Maori relations in the twentieth century and pass without knowing any other subject. · A teacher who has been marking the NCEA maths paper reports that few pupils even attempted the excellence questions as no marks are given for knowing how to tackle the problem. In one particular paper 54% have failed. Those who fail get no mark just a “Not achieve” so a pupil does not know if they got zero or 49%. The old parties and NZ First who support the NCEA refused to allow Donna Awatere Huata to present her minority report. You can read ACT’s minority report on the NCEA at Some of NZ’s leading schools and educationalists gave evidence to ACT‘s inquiry and will be published in January.

Attack on rural landowners

The Labour government has been looking at the Blair government attack on rural landowners. In the UK Blair has become very popular by opposing fox hunting and now introducing “The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000” which creates a new right of access to open country. The new law was strongly opposed by landowners who wanted to be able to stop trespassers on their land. In parts of NZ theft and stock rustling are major problems. This new bill will mean ruin for some farmers. John Tamihere has revealed Labour in NZ is planning something similar. What the Blair legislation revealed is how tiny the rural vote now is. So too in NZ, ACT’s Gerry Eckhoff and National’s Shane Ardern are the only two real farmers in a parliament of 120. Attacking such a small group is politically popular. While no final decision has been made The Letter believes that rural NZ will be subject to a “Right to Roam” bill as Labour seeks to court the “outdoor vote”.

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