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Richard Prebble’s Letter From Wellington

Richard Prebble’s Letter From wellington

Donna staying

Media has rung The Letter advising that Donna Awatere Huata is putting out a press statement today saying she is not resigning and claiming she is innocent. The ACT Caucus will suspend her tomorrow because she admitted to them last Monday that she had broken the ACT Caucus rules on conflicts of interest; she accepted with her husband a plane trip to Sydney, all expenses paid to see the Mercedes fashion show with taxpayers’ money paid to the Pipi trust to help Maori children to read. Richard Prebble’s suspension letter and a copy of the ACT Caucus rules are at Donna, who did ask for time to be able to consult her family with a view to resigning, after telling friends last week she was leaving, has apparently changed her mind. The ACT Caucus is resolute in suspending Donna even if it means a loss of funding and speaking time…

The Grand Old Duke of Helen

Today Helen Clark has insisted, Mussolini-like, that she takes the ceremonial salute for the NZ Armed Forces instead of the Governor-General. Part of our British tradition is that returning troops have the right to a ceremonial march past the Sovereign or in NZ the Governor-General. So troops returning from WW1, WW2 etc were awarded a ceremonial march. The troops returning from East Timor have been awarded a ceremonial march past today. As Commander-in-Chief the Governor-General agreed to take the salute. Minister of Defence, Mark Burton, has intervened and ordered that Helen Clark takes the salute! This cheap attempt to take credit from the armed forces’ courage has outraged the defence forces. The Letter’s view is this is one of those issues where the Governor-General should have insisted on her prerogative as Head of State to take the salute. It’s a constitutional coup by Clark w

The war in Ira

qThe NZ government has for the first time rejected a call for assistance from our traditional allies America, the UK and Australia. Instead Helen Clark says we are supporting “Continental Europe”. Clark’s statement in claiming that the US does not have UN resolutions on international law for an attack on Iraq is false. There are UN resolutions authorising force that have not been rescinded. The inspectors have reported thousands of tons of gases, chemicals and materials needed to make nuclear weapons are missing.

The NZ Herald public opinion poll repeats Helen Clark’s falsehood that the UN resolution does not sanction action. ACT, which alone says NZ should support the US, asks another question; is NZ safer when the US is willing to take action against rogue states or is it in our own interest that the US follows Helen Clark’s advice and refuses to act? When has Continental Europe ever given a continental about this country?

The coming year

Labour, having been elected with no manifesto, has no coherent programme. The bill to abolish the Privy Council is not a forgone conclusion. Although Margaret Wilson insists on being able to hand pick all the judges, the unofficial government channel, Chen & Palmer, is already saying all judges will come from the present Court of Appeal.

This year the government must lift the GE moratorium.

Government is also committed to new industrial law, like the mad proposal that firms that win contracts must take over the losing firm’s employees.

Labour’s dilemma

Research by the Parliamentary Library shows that rising taxes mean the average take home pay is $14 lower than when Labour took office. Trade union leadership knows workers are now worse off. To buy off the trade unions, Labour must offer laws that give unions privileges – like OSH, and the new industrial legislation. Business NZ estimates that the additional costs, since Labour came to office, for a medium size business for 2003 will be $43,000 a year. See for a full breakdown.

Bigger and better in 2003

We have used the Christmas recess to install new computer software to manage New Zealand’s biggest newsletter. Those of you getting The Letter by email may be getting it in colour and a new format. The new software enables us to make other innovations. It will be much easier to subscribe, unsubscribe and to change your email address. With 30,000 subscribers we have dozens of changes a week - sometimes hundreds when we outrage our readers - well now you can cancel at the click of a button and resubscribe in time for the next issue. We will also be able to do reader surveys to find out what you want to read in The Letter in 2003.


Don Brash’s speech on abolishing the dole is worth a read as is ACT Leader Richard Prebble’s State of the Nation .

Remarkable u-turn

ACT MP Gerry Eckhoff, hearing rumours of Labour’s plans to force farmers to let the public wander at will on their land, put in a series of parliamentary questions to Jim Sutton on 20 December 2002. The reply: “This Government has not formed any intention to legislate for public access to private land” and “there are no proposals to consult on”. In January, government announced a task force examining “the right to roam”. Is it not good to know that there must have been a cabinet meeting on Boxing Day? It’s a bit of a worry that Gerry put this idea in Sut-ton’s mind?

You can’t make hay while the sun shines

A sign of how government legislation is just a cost on business is 12 pages of regulations passed by LTSA on 1 July, the effect of which is to ban haymaking vehicles from state highways mornings and evenings. The first contractors knew of this was when police started issuing $375 fines. The hay won’t wait so the contractors just get fined – it’s a “cost of business” that is passed on to the farmer.

Chatham Islands

What’s the attraction of the Chathams for Labour MPs? Locals were bemused that no fewer than five Labour MPs turned up over Christmas looking at sites of environmental interest. Margaret Wilson stayed on telling locals she was examining a Moriori Treaty claim! (Are we going to have to pay out twice?) The Labour MPs also visited the site where the taxpayer is building a $1 million plus Marae – per head of pop – the most expensive ever built.

Christmas goss

The Letter can reveal that Helen Clark’s secret holiday was a visit to the UK to see her husband’s elderly parents. Beehive wags claim she said she could not move in London without bumping into a Labour MP and finally returned just to escape from yet another meeting with Jonathan Hunt.

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