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Richard Prebble’s The Letter

Richard Prebble’s The Letter

The Letter 26 MAY 2003

LABOUR WOULD LOSE Parliament has begun a two-week recess with the government ministers struggling at question time and Helen Clark going AWOL. A Free Trade Agreement in ashes, Waitangi Tribunal inventing new grievances and corruption in Maori radio. The latest TV One poll wipes out Labour’s coalition – with the Greens at 3% and United at 1.8%

QUESTION TIME Labour is so worried about Clark’s inability to handle question time that Michael Cullen as Leader of the House has begun lobbying United and the Greens for a sessional order to limit question time to one hour. This would enable Ministers to give long answers to patsy questions, raise spurious points of order and limit real opposition questions to less than 20 minutes a day.

NO AGREEMENT The US’ “no” to New Zealand and “yes” to Australia is the biggest foreign policy setback since Britain joined the EC. Over $1 billion a year has been lost. In February Helen Clark told Parliament the US agreement was her No. 1 priority and was achievable. How was it lost? Goff and Clark convinced themselves that the US ring fences trade from foreign policy. It was the claim that trade was ring-fenced rather than the “Al Gore” statement that has made it impossible for the US to grant NZ an agreement. Labour talked us out of a deal.

OILING THE WAITANGI INDUSTRY The Waitangi Tribunal finding that Maori have an ongoing “Treaty Interest” in petroleum is a radical extension of the Treaty. The Tribunal found that Maori should be compensated for the opportunity costs of assets such as petroleum where they are of “disproportionate value”. No matter that in the 19th Century no one knew the value, or even that oil was there when Maori land was alienated. The logic of this Treaty jurisprudence is Maori have a claim for all gold, coal and minerals ever mined. Maori are now asking to be compensated for the economic benefits of colonisation! Treaty Minster Margaret Wilson refused to rule out the claim saying, “She would be a fool to do so”. ACT’s Stephen Franks has observed, if it’s not in the “national interest” to have claims on oil, why is it in the “national interest” to have claims on the foreshore, radio spectrum, flora and fauna, Queen’s Chain

NO BRAINER After four years in government Labour’s solution to the energy crisis is an energy tax. Building standby capacity will surely inhibit the market from investing in new generation. The domestic consumers have been deprived of choice – we must pay an extra $40 a year to guard against a one in sixty-year event. At a much lower cost, all of NZ could be metered with the latest real time, remote reading meters so we could choose either high bills or cold showers once every 60 years.

GOVERNMENT OF PERKS After the latest reshuffle, the Clark Ministry is now the biggest ever. It’s like the Mexican army; there are more generals than privates. There are now only eight Labour MPs, Lynne Pillay, Winnie Laban, Darren Hughes, Russell Fairbrother, Dave Hereora Nanaia Mahuta, Ashraf Choudhary and Mark Gosche, who receive just a backbench salary, all the rest get extra pay – a record 44 MPs out of 52. There are 20 Cabinet Ministers ($162,000 plus expenses) seven Ministers ($143,900 plus exps) one Undersecretary ($112,400 plus exps) Three Speakers (Speaker on $162,600, Deputy, $116,600 and Asst, $98,200), Whips ($124, 950 and $102,900). Then chairs of select committees ($8,200 extra) and deputy chairs ($1,000 extra). The perks of office are worth as much as the pay. David Cunnliffe, the new Minister (who’s created history by being the first Minister to be thrown out of Parliament on his first

NO JOBS, JUST PERKS Labour has more ministers than jobs. Dover Samuels, Harry Duynhoven and Phillip Field have no primary responsibilities (so can not be asked any parliamentary questions!) and they are listed as Ministers of State. It’s less humiliating than Damian O’Connor whose portfolio is Minster for Racing, and less perplexing than Tariana Turia’s job as Minister for the Community!

POLITICALLY CORRECT It’s institutional racism. Maori MPs can now speak in Maori and have their speeches translated. The translation time is added to the Maori MPs’ speaking time. Result: a Party like ACT loses its right to speak. To read the speech Heather Roy was prevented from delivering see http://www.act.org.nz/roybudget

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION Rodney Hide: “How, then, does the Minister square his reply to question for written answer No, 257, in which he stated: ‘I am advised by my officials that there have been no payments of cash by Maori Sportscasting International to any employees of Te Mangai Paho’, with an email dated 15 October 2001 from Maori Sportscasting International to Te Mangai Paho’s radio manager, Mr Tame Te Rangi, which states: ‘Your payment for services will be placed into account this day. Hemana will have with him on his arrival the petrol vouchers/cash/copies of commentators’ instructions.’?” Minister: “It would appear from what the member is saying that I have not been provided with the full information...”

GREENS IN THE RED In the election returns of the Green Party is confirmation that the Party is bankrupt. Some $34 thousand dollars is listed as ‘disputed’ bills i.e. the Greens could or would not pay. See http://www.act.org.nz/money. This message has been brought to you from the ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office

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