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Right Talk - Weekly Comment from Bill English

Right Talk - Weekly Comment from Bill English

28 March 2003

The War

Helen Clark will never again visit Washington as New Zealand Prime Minister. She's too proud to go where she will no longer be allowed through the door of any senior official or politician. Her argument that New Zealand's position on the Iraqi war will have no cost might go down well with the media, but it's wrong. Her break with Australia, Britain and the US is a hugely significant shift in our foreign policy, made worse by the Labour Government's statement to the UN on Thursday. It was a disgrace, making no distinction between the two sides of the Iraqi war. Saddam has to be disarmed and our friends are losing soldiers' lives doing it. We should be supporting them at the UN, not indulging in an academic dirge on aid.

The Worst Kind of Intervention

The energy market is sending a clear signal -we're too short on gas, water and coal to generate enough electricity to meet demand at current prices. This is the market working - but it would work better if the Government sorted out its policy on Kyoto, carbon tax, electricity and gas regulation, and its purpose in owning 60% of the electricity industry. That should be plenty for an activist Government to do. It could even get on with opening up the Government-owned Kupe gas field.

Instead the Government made the worst type of intervention. Helen Clark announced the Government will intervene some time to do something [about what - the rising prices? Gas shortage?]. As a result investors no longer have any certainty about what the rules are and the following day shares in two power companies lost $100m in value. Until there is some certainty, investment in this sector will be avoided.

Sports Revolution

Local sports clubs might be the incubators for the talent of the future, but their money is drying up. Kids' sports teams can't get the grants they used to. Local adult sports, like social cricket and touch rugby, are losing their funding. The Government has plans to put an extra levy on pokie machines, effectively taking money from local organisations and giving it to the Lotteries Commission [or the Lottery Grants Board?] and local bodies. The idea is to reduce funding to mainstream sport, redirecting the money to politically favoured projects. The new national sports organisation, SPARC, looks politicised and unwilling to be an advocate for sport. It's got so bad that national sports bodies met on Thursday in an unprecedented show of unity to protest government's anti-sport policy.

The spread of political correctness will leave nothing untouched: Labour plans to get its hands on every aspect of national life.


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