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ACT's The Letter 1 September: It’s Clarkgate


1 September 2003


Helen Clark, during the last election said: Labour had a “zero tolerance” GE policy; “There was no GE contamination”; John Campbell’s TV3 interview was “unethical ambush journalism”; “I believe in total disclosure on this. The government has nothing to hide. All government advice will be made public”; and the government had released “all the documents” 10 days before the election. Last week we learnt that Ruth Wilkie, an adviser in the PM’s department, told Helen Clark in a memo dated 8 December 2000 -

1 Officials did not know if the corn was contaminated or not;

2 The official zero tolerance to GE policy “runs counter to reality”;

3 “There will need to be close attention paid to managing the communication of this issue”.

4 Then Ms Wilkie said in a memo 10 days before the election,” I wish to register formally the concern I expressed to you... about the decision to withhold from public release DPMC notes to the PM on the management of potentially contaminated corn seed in December 2000.”


The real issues are these:

1 Helen Clark has publicly claimed until last week that all documents were released.

2 That claim is false.

3 Helen Clark knew it was false.

No doubt Helen Clark and Dr Prebble were careful never to discuss his decision but there is no way the PM would not have realised this damaging document had not been released.


Helen Clark even had the nerve to ask that TV3 be taken off the air for twelve hours. The Broadcasting Standards Authority’s upholding of Helen Clark’s claim that the John Campbell interview was “unfair” because the PM was not told of “specific allegations” during the interview now looks very foolish. They completely swallowed the government’s line that Helen Clark knew nothing and now they look ridiculous in light of the Wilkie memos. A credible Broadcasting Standards Authority would reopen the issue and ask the PM why she didn’t tell the tribunal or John Campbell about the Wilkie memo.


The Authority also ruled it was unlikely that Clark “would have declined an interview had she been appraised of the allegations contained in the book”. But Helen Clark’s strategy is to run away - she rarely shows in parliament and thanks to the United party’s vote won’t appear as a witness to the Corngate Select Committee. (We know she won’t front to her government’s Maori hui. She’s prepared to climb any mountain to avoid the foreshore.) Last week PM Tony Blair voluntarily fronted up to a commission of inquiry in Britain. Blair said that if he had misled the nation he would have to resign. In NZ Clark takes no ministerial responsibilities for her own department or for misleading the nation for over a year. The Wilkie memos are at http://www.act.org.nz/clarkgate.


There were 100,000 extra hits on ACT’s website this month, meaning more people watched Edward’s interview with Rodney Hide on the ACT website than saw the original broadcast. Journalist schools are downloading it. See http://www.act.org.nz/hideshow.


Two chief executives (fraud and personal issues!), $55 million, flash Newmarket office, expensive stuff and no TV. Clark vowed the channel would be on air by June 2002. Maori TV’s latest problem is the discovery that its allocated UHF band will interfere with thousands of home videos and SKY UHF machines requiring an expensive tuning. Today cabinet must decide whether to proceed with the original channel or switch to SKY at a cost of $4 million.


Government speeches to parliament did not clarify what is meant by “public domain”. All that became clear is the ever-subservient United party looks like providing the votes for the legislation. Labour proposed consultation. It seems only Maori will be consulted. ACT wrote asking for a briefing from officials, which Cullen refused.


The latest Pacific Island to be bankrupt is Niue. The Island owes Shell Oil $500,000. The lights are about to go out - literally! Niue is an anomaly. The people are NZ citizens. Niue has internal self-government but NZ is responsible for international relations. Helen Clark’s solution was to send failed Alliance MP Sandra Lee as High Commissioner - not what a friend would do.


The Letter has learnt of a serious cabinet row over Kyoto. Officials have begun outlining the real cost of the Treaty - carbon taxes and impossible to meet restrictions on manufacturing and agriculture. The two Jims, Anderton and Sutton, responsible for manufacturing and agriculture, have asked Pete Hodgson why NZ ratified So much cost and erosion in living standards for so little gain to the environment. Hodgson is now pressing Fonterra and the Meat Board to agree ‘voluntarily’ to fund methane research so he can call off the FART Tax before Gerry Eckhoff and the farmers arrive with their tractors.


The government has announced that it is to drop the income tax paid by employer subsidised super schemes from 33 cents to the rate paid by employees. An employee earning $9,500 (if there exists such a person belonging to this sort of scheme) pays 15 percent tax but 33 percent on the employer contributions to the scheme. It won’t work. There are now just 520 employer-subsidised schemes in NZ. Compliance costs are killing them, and the cost to employers of adjusting for each employee’s tax is crippling.

The answer is of course a low flat tax!


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