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Richard Prebble’s The Letter

Richard Prebble’s The Letter

The Letter Monday, 4 August

CAUGHT FIBBING Immigration Minister Dalziel is in trouble. After an editorial criticising the Immigration spokesman Ian Smith for failing to provide information about the Algerian suspected terrorist, Ahmed Zaoui, he sent his colleagues this email explanation:

“I was let down badly. Everyone had agreed to lie in unison, but all the others caved in and I was the only one left singing the original song.”

Smith’s email can only refer to the Minister who made the original statements to the media. The Service denied to the Ombudsman that the email ever existed. Dalziel has asked the head of the Labour Department, under who the Immigration Service operates, to hold an inquiry. It is a whitewash, as a civil servant will never criticise the Minister or their own administration. Immigration officials leaked the email to get back at Dalziel for saying in parliament (11 October 2000) -

“I cannot take responsibility for something about which I have been misinformed. I was misinformed by the Immigration Service.” What goes around comes around.

WHAT’S LABOUR HIDING? ACT, National and the Greens have all carefully checked the citizenship status of their MPs and are confident none has broken the electoral law. Duynhoven was asked to name the MPs he claims may have breached the Electoral Act. He refused. The suspicion is there is a Labour MP who has, contrary to the Electoral Act, applied for a foreign passport. If it is only Mr Duynhoven then the government’s retrospective bill to declare him still an MP will only refer to him. If there are other MPs who should be expelled from parliament, the amendment will suspend section 55 of the Act for this parliament. While being expelled from parliament would be embarrassing for Duynhoven, as a constituency MP he can stand again in a by-election. Not so for a list MP. Such an MP is out, and replaced by the next person on the list. So if the MP concerned was Dr Cullen (who firmly claims he has let his Br

NICK SMITH’S CASE MPs across parliament are concerned over Nick Smith’s case. The Solicitor-General is prosecuting the MP and TV3 over comments Smith made about a Family Court case concerning a constituent. Family Court cases are secret. In this case Smith attempted to get around the secrecy by withholding details and it was the Chief Family Court judge who issued the details. If convicted, Smith will be expelled from parliament.

National notes how Labour is willing to pass retrospective legislation for one of its own MPs who did an act to help himself but has done nothing for Nick Smith who was helping a constituent.

RATES REVOLT Auckland local body politicians have complained for years that ratepayers were blaming councils for rate rises that were the responsibility of the ARC whose levies had to be passed on in the rates. The new local body legislation means for the first time the ARC is rating independently and some face 600% rate increases. The ARC is in the grip of politically correct planners who have committed the ARC to a passenger rail scheme. The rail scheme will cost billions and carry no more than 6% of all transport journeys.

A private member’s bill by Rodney Hide, proposes that where a council intends a rate increase greater than the rate of inflation, the ratepayers can request a poll. If Labour fails to support ACT’s bill, then it can no longer say “rate increases are for the local people to decide”.

WINSTON’S RISE Mr Peters cannot believe his luck. He has said nothing about the foreshore and seabed issue for fear of alienating his Maori constituency yet sees his poll rating raise him into second position. National has made a huge effort on the issue only to remain stationary.

The answer is to be found in Prof John Vowles' exit poll of 5,000 voters last election. Prof Vowles asked them which party has the best policies on certain issues. Voters, for example, agree ACT has the best policies on tax and law and order. On Maori issues, 82% of all voters think Peters has the best policies. Voters don’t know what NZ First’s policies are on the foreshore but they are sure that Peters “could fix it”.

THE ECONOMY The economy continues to grow. While the forestry sector has fallen out of bed - too much wood and too low prices - even at the lower milk price, dairying is profitable.

The Kiwi has appreciated 18% against the US dollar in the last year whereas the rise against the Aussie is only 2% and the Kiwi has fallen against the Euro by 3%. Annual GDP growth to March was 4.3%. Lower interest rates have seen confidence restoring. But a note of caution: the Aussie economy seems to have stalled and the jury is out on whether the US economy is about to grow again.

GRAND COALITION At ACT’s Wellington Regional Conference, National MP Murray McCully made a thoughtful speech about the need for the centre-right to have expressed to the voters a clear coalition strategy. He pointed out “First we need to win more constituency seats... The centre-left parties hold 46 constituencies and the centre-right, 21...we must substantially increase our hold on regional NZ...Co-operation between National and ACT in this regard has, in the past been too little, and almost irresponsibly late.”

ACT’s President, Catherine Judd, floated the idea in her speech of all the parties on the centre-right agreeing in marginal seats to endorse a single candidate. The speeches are on http://www.act.org.nz/regconference.

MORE REVENUE Since Labour took office the number of minor offence notices being issued, from parking to speeding fines, has increased by 66% to $300 million a year that’s a fine of $78.50 per person.

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