Mainland Report MAY 2003
Vol. 5 May, 2003
Marc Alexander MP
Welcome to another edition of The Mainland Report. Plenty has happened since my return from Santiago including the announcement of one of our core policy objectives; the Commission on the Family. The primary function will be to advocate for the role of the family, collect data, conduct research and promote public awareness of the importance of stable family relationships.
Whilst receiving a warm welcome by family support groups it was interesting to note that the Greens' Sue Bradford predictably decried the Commission by calling it an affront to families (Dominion Post 1st May). My thought however, is that coming from a Party that supports anti-family policies such as prostitution decriminalisation and the legalisation of marijuana, it was hardly surprising!
United Future has secured a $28 million funding allocation for the next four years.
The legislation was introduced this week, and the Commission will receive $7.9 million in its first full year of funding next July.Congratulations to Judy Turner, Jenni LeLeivre and Anthony Walton for all their hard work!
Dunne celebrates Families Commission Bill United Future New Zealand leader, Peter Dunne, said today the introduction to Parliament of the Families Commission Bill represents the highly satisfactory culmination of years of effort by party members and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. "It is with great pleasure that I can say to all those thousands of concerned New Zealanders who responded positively to United Future's message at the last election of making families the cornerstone of New Zealand society that this Bill is a giant step forward to making that dream a reality," he said. "From July 1 next year, we will have an Commission capable of advising the Government with authority on policy relating to the New Zealand family in all its diverse forms; a Commission that will undertake significant original research into family issues with the goal of making this a better society." Mr Dunne paid tribute to the Labour-Progressive Government and the officials who had worked in a co-operative and helpful manner with United Future in making progress on the Families Commission. "The $27 million of funding means the Commission has a realistic, without being profligate, four-year budget that will allow it to plan its work in a commonsense manner. "In the years ahead," he predicted, "we will wonder why we took so long to recognise the value of a Commission like this. Our goal is healthy kiwi families, meaning strong vital communities and a progressive, healthy, prosperous New Zealand. With the establishment of the Families Commission, we will have taken the first vital steps towards that aim." Alexander: Private prisons work - end of story! United Future law and order spokesman Marc Alexander today accused the Government of putting ideology before common sense in opposing privately run prisons. Acting Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson spoke of the Government's opposition to the principle of private sector prison management at the weekend. Mr Alexander said she was simply being doctrinaire.
"She admits herself that she has no criticism of the job being done by Australasian Correctional Management in running Auckland Central Remand Prison, yet she says they shouldn't have the job. It is a completely ideological response. It's the old line, okay, it works in practice, but does it work in theory?" Mr Alexander said. "I thought we had grown past that."
"The facts are very simple: the only privately run prison in the country is better than most of the public prisons. It is the only one to have achieved an international quality accreditation and it saves the money of taxpayers, some of whom are crime victims. It provides more efficient staffing levels while maintaining quality care of inmates, and it costs the taxpayer just $43,000 per inmate per year, as against $72,000 for a comparable remand facility.
"This country spends $51 million a year on remand services, and yet that privately run prison gets just $11 million of that total, while housing more than 40 percent of the country's remand prisoners. The Government has to get over this namby-pamby 'society must do it' thing. Standards and costs are the measuring stick, not who holds the key that turns the lock at night."
"I don't think the average prisoner is as concerned about who locks them up as are hand-wringing liberals."
Mr Alexander, deputy chairman of the Law and Order Select Committee, called on National and New Zealand First to support changes to the Correction Bill that would allow continued use of private prisons. MTS PC should be KO'd not OK'd by Marc Alexander MP Marc Alexander, United Futures Broadcasting spokesman, laments the appalling lack of 'intelligent' debate on Maori issues (such as Maori TV) when, to question policy is seen as necessarily anti-Maori, while its unquestioning acceptance is never regarded as anti-pakeha. It's a sad reflection of today's climate that informed public debate is often cloaked under the skirt of an ideological mistress trussed up by political correctness and giving birth to dim-witted legislation. Problem is.we all end up paying for it at the expense of legitimate issues that could use the resources to better effect. Maori TV is but the most recent example. In 1993 the Privy Council told the Crown that it had a duty to actively protect Maoritanga, which includes language and culture. No problem with that. As a nation, not only do we have an obligation but also an ethical requirement to protect our cultural heritage for both its own sake and for future generations. We have an implicit responsibility and duty to safeguard and nurture the wider interests of Maori as an integral part of the unique cultural heritage that is New Zealand. But these interests can never be absolute. No good can ever come from trying to rewrite history by token gestures that unfairly penalise one segment of our population in favour of another. This ideological tactic driven by well-meaning but deluded apologists will always result in added social tensions and will inevitably undermine the very point they are trying to make. Late at night after a couple of chardonnays in an office in Parliament, Maori TV probably sounded like a great idea and a possible vote-catcher. But the public has never demanded it. From a broadcast point of view a stand-a-lone Maori Television station makes not one iota of sense. Aotearoa Television Network was a prior attempt. It failed.and suffered ignominious demise in 1997. Unfortunately, some bad ideas don't rest in their graves quietly and like a phoenix on a bad hair day, the blueprint for Maori TV part 2 was resurrected in 2001. But this is the kind of thing that happens when a flock of ideologically driven non-Maoris think they have the answers to a problem of their own creation. Where in the Privy Council ruling was there a broadcasting directive? If we really wanted to protect Maori language and culture, we would empower Maori to make their own decisions so that if there really were legitimate needs for Maori TV, then it could be funded by Maori, accountable to Maori shareholders, with the same economic rules of the game as every other player. The whole process could be driven and supported by Maori at large. There should not be any doubts about that! The problem is that Maori TV has succumbed to business practice error number one; and that is in identifying a need that isn't there. The second mistake is to fund the venture by the deep pockets of the taxpayer so that there are no market incentives to succeed. How else can anyone explain the tsunami of practical blunders that has earned its architects and advocates an industry raspberry and a black mark on their respective resumes? This approach would surely have wiped out any other enterprise into the realms of oblivion. The Canadian chief executive officer who was initially appointed through a woefully inadequate vetting procedure was discovered to have falsified his CV and he ended up bankrupt and in prison. He has since turned up in Afghanistan persuing some other employment possibility! Learning nothing from this folly, Derek Fox, one of those engaged in the interviewing process for a new CEO, suddenly switched chairs and assumed the position himself! Apart from all the accountability and transparency issues, could we really not find one person who was experienced and competent and who also wanted the job before looking inward? Isn't there a red flag in all of this? To cap this, two people from a key supplier to the enterprise were at the centre of a scandal at Aotearoa Television Network involving the spending of around $8000 each on clothes, travel and five-star hotels. One of these was later given an additional $1.6 million to make yet another documentary series (Hawaiki) for MTS and even more for another series (Rongoa). And so it goes on.the latest audit on accounting practices of Aroha Films has thrown up more questions. Two production companies allocated as much as $700,000 have collapsed leaving bad debts; signatures obtained in advance of cheque payments; original invoices made out to outside parties; photocopy, printing and stationery costs nearly three times that budgeted; and $270 spent on speeding fines disguised as 'equipment rental'. Aroha Films Ltd has paid out $152,000 in consultancy fees; has been billed for home renovations; has $24,000 of payments to employees in dispute; and has paid out the whopping sum of $94,835 in petty cash in the five months between April and August! National got it wrong the first time, but even with the benefit of that experience, we now have a Labour Government hell-bent on following the example of lemmings with Maori TV. Experience has seemingly taught government nothing. Rather than treading warily, Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey says that MTS will be "one of the most exciting public broadcasting projects ever attempted". And yet.the Minister claims there will only be a niche market for it. If that is the case, then why not let that niche pay for it. Why should anyone else have to pay for what they do not want, will not be apart of, nor will benefit from? We could underwrite struggling regional television and require the inclusion of targeted Maori programming. At the very least money would not be wasted on infrastructure but would create new employment possibilities and a talent pool for the future. Taxpayers have other, more important priorities. If we really want to do something positive for the social, cultural and economic development of Maori, we could put resources into early interventions and stem the appalling rise in crime, health and unemployment statistics. Only those divorced from any sense of reality and fiscal responsibility could forge ahead in the light of the inevitable collapse of MTS. In my many attempts to highlight the extreme recklessness of Maori TV as an example of irresponsible broadcasting tokenism, I have received much communication to suggest widespread support for my views. The one negative note I received by email is as follows: ******************* "Subject: You dick head Can you spell your name correct you have an attitude problem you call yourself a Politician Where do you getof with what you are sending to intelligent people that crap that you are writing I understand your language I have one advantage over you I have a brown fist and a white fist to fight with you have only a honky one. It's people like you that give this country a bad smell you are nothing but an over stayer in this country. P*** off to where you come from that's under the stone you have just crawled out from Kia kaha to Maori TV you are nothing but a mother f***** do you know who your mother is. Hey all of you dick heads you put this bastard in his position what were you thinking" ******************* Not only is the lack of basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation obvious but also the general tone is evidence that, at least for the writer of this complaint, it isn't Maori TV that's needed, but a basic education. What is most worrisome is that it comes from a local Maori Trust.the very people who should be most concerned about the real issues facing Maori rather than flying an empty gesture on an ideological flagpole. Instead of advancing the argument in favor of Maori TV, she has unwittingly advanced mine. I would like to point out that rather than being a heated moment inadvertently captured on an email, the writer said that, "I personally didn't think it was strong enough.(Press, 1st May)" A head of another leading Christchurch Trust concluded that if she used such language she herslf would be asked to step down while another individual commented on whether the email was actually written by a patient rather than the Director. For my own part, I would just like to observe that she does not speak for Maori, many of whom are as appalled as I that someone entrusted to be a Director of a Government supported Maori mental health organisation should lower herself to use 'gutter language instead of reasoned debate. This should be seen, I believe, as an isolated and unfortunate example of an individual unsuited to their role and in no way as representative or indicative of the wider Maori community.
The main points:
* Just because the Crown has an obligation to protect Maori taonga and te reo, it does not infer any sort of a broadcasting directive let alone the establishment of a TV channel
* The Privy Council ruling was not this specific - if we were serious about protecting Maori language and culture - we'd empower Maori to do it themselves. * The function of the Service is supposed to have been to promote te reo through a high quality and cost effective service - this will never happen because there are no real market incentives for it to operate in such a fashion. * A clause in legislation telling it to operate efficiently will not simply cause it do so unless there are real incentives, incentives that ONLY private enterprise could properly exploit. * We all know the inevitable outcome - a tax dollar black hole * The Service is supposedly to remain independent of Ministerial interference from programming. Yet would it really air anything likely to offend a politically favourable government lest it lose the taxpayer dollars it feeds off? * Competence; The Board of the Service has the authority to operate the service - it does not have the competence. Look at its performance since its inception:
I. Its first CEO- John Davies - a fraudulent CV - now in Afghanistan II. The appointment process for the next CEO III. The new CEO - hasalready had a falling out with the Government over the transmission platform. IV. He can't stand the democratic process - hates Select Committees and when forced to show up - he winds up abusing them V. Stated initially that it would cost $100 million to start up - how does he think he is going to do the job with a third of that? VI. Key programming supplier Aotearoa Television is hardly a shining example of cost effectiveness - VII. Aroha Films came out of an audit looking foolish - has been billed for someone's home renovations? - And managed to spend $94,000 on petty cash in 5 months VIII. None of this makes for pretty reading, or provides confidence to the tax-paying public about funding this loose risky venture.
* The transmission platform chosen for the service was one of the worst possible decisions - * Not only was it bitterly opposed by the Service itself who wanted CanWest's TV4, but is now confined to transmitting on an outdated UHF frequency receivable by only 22% of the present potential viewer audience * As a final kick in the teeth - those who are actually interested in watching the service and who can't receive it, will have to fork out at least $200 to have a suitable aerial installed.
This bill is the single worst example perpetrated by non-Maori apologists and is nothing more than taxpayer funding tokenism. It is, in fact, a slap in the face of Maori, paid for by the slapped faces of taxpayers.
Tax Laws made simple (This was found on the Internet but its very good!)
Suppose that every day 10 men go out to dinner. The bill for all 10 men totals $100. If they paid the bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this.
The first 4 men the poorest would pay nothing, the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh would pay $7,the eighth $12,the ninth $18, and the 10th man the richest would pay $59.
So that is what they decided to do. The 10 men ate dinner in the Restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the owner threw them a curve (in tax language, a tax cut).
"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your meal by $20." So now the dinner for the 10 men only cost $80.
The group still wanted to pay the bill the way they paid their taxes so the first 4 men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other 6, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the windfall of $20 so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
The 6 paying men realized that the $20 divided by 6 was $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share the fifth and sixth men would end up being paid to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.
But once outside the restaurant the men began to compare their savings, "Hey, out of the $20 savings I only got a dollar, but he got $7!" declared the sixth man pointing to the tenth.
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . .It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "Why should he get $7 back when I only got $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first 4 men in unison that had never paid for anything, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth man and beat him up. The next night he did not show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. When it came time to pay the bill, they discovered a little late something that was very important. They were $52 dollars short of paying the bill!
And that is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.
Housekeeping: * Congratulations to Paul Adams & Bernie Ogilvy for the opening of their offices! * If you know someone who would like to receive 'MARC my Words' and the 'Mainland Report' please send us their email. You do not have to be a member to receive them. * Starting next month we'll publish a feedback column so we look foreward to your comments. * A huge congratulation to Sheree Adams (Pauls' daughter) who is the new Miss New Zealand!