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ACT's The Letter - Monday 17 November 2003

ACT's The Letter - Monday 17 November 2003

Monday 17 November 2003


Report from the US.


It is open. A year out from the election, US President George W Bush’s approval rating is higher than that of Reagan and Clinton at this point – but lower than that of his dad. Iraq is the problem. The US public believes 60%-30% that the war was right, but the public does not think Iraq is worth American lives. As allies won’t send troops, the US will “Iraqize” the peace-keeping.

The key issue is the economy. No US president has lost when consumer confidence is positive, and the US economy is on the way up as the Bush tax cuts work. Ads offering work are everywhere.


The Democrat challenger will be Howard Dean, the “outsider”. The former Governor of Vermont, Dean is winning the three keys of politics: policy, people and money. Policy: of the Democrats, Dean alone always opposed the war. He also has a good record in healthcare and is pro-gun ownership (an important issue in the US). A former doctor and a fiscal conservative, Dean is not an easy target for Bush. People: Dean has enrolled more than 400,000 supporters via the internet. Money: last week, Dean refused taxpayer campaign funding so he can spend with no limit. If Iraq goes wrong, the isolationist Mid-West – which was pro-Bush in the last election – could go Democrat.


A gerrymander will mean few congressmen will lose, and both houses will remain Republican. After the 2000 census, many Democrat states – like New York – lost seats, while mainly Republican states – like Texas – gained seats. The politicians draw up the boundaries and, using computers, gave themselves all safe seats. Barring a landslide, the Republicans will hold the House until 2012. The founding fathers gerrymandered the Senate. Although more voters supported Gore, Bush won 60 states. As southern Democrat senators retire, they are replaced by Republicans. The Republican majority is likely to increase.


The success of the Bush tax cuts means that, if re-elected, Bush will go on cutting tax – towards an ACT Party flat tax. The good news for New Zealand is that a Republican congress is more open to free trade. Movements like school choice, and the privatisation of social welfare – savings-based super – will continue to grow. One idea that this country could look at is a Treasury proposal to make savings accounts tax-free. The argument is that savings come from tax-paid income, and interest rates are so low they really only compensate for inflation. Tax-free accounts would increase the savings rate.


News coverage of Iraq is totally different from the reports in the New Zealand media – eg electricity supply exceeds pre-war levels: 4,400 mega watts against 3,300 in January. Oil production is almost at pre-war levels – nearly 2,200 million barrels a day, versus 2,500 million pre-war. More than 3.6 million children are in primary school, and 1.5 million in secondary school. University registration is 97,000, versus 63,000 pre-war. Healthcare is at pre-war levels and improving rapidly (Source the New York Sun).


The ACT Party has written to Speaker Jonathan Hunt asking him to rule that, by leaving the ACT Party, Donna Awatere Huata has triggered the Electoral Integrity Act. Under the Act, a Member of Parliament who changes the proportionality of Parliament must be replaced by the next candidate on the list (ACT’s Kenneth Wang). As ACT has lost a vote in Parliament, lost its seating, lost its speaking priority and lost a place on Select Committees, it is impossible to imagine that the proportionality of Parliament has not been changed. Mrs Huata is now applying to use her new taxpayer funding as an independent MP to take the ACT Party to court! Speaker Hunt is the same person who decided that he could not rule on whether a Labour MP had lost his seat, and procrastinated so long that the Labour Government had time to re-write the law. What do you think? ACT is holding a poll on its website, and we will send the result to both Speaker Hunt and Mrs Huata. To vote, go to


ACT has begun its campaign to promote parents’ right to choose which type of school they send their children to, public or independent. The Party is getting a huge response. School choice is going to be the education issue in the next election. Voters truly care about what ACT’s new MP has to say about parents’ right to choose. No wonder Deborah Coddington is the MP that the Left loves to hate.


Labour’s much vaunted local say on health has never eventuated. District Health Boards have been limited to implementing Health Minister Annette King’s royal decrees and carrying the can for any adverse publicity (lest it should rub off on Labour). Labour’s latest move is to abolish local wards for all health boards.

This has all been done with a minimum of fuss and media exposure. The clear purpose is to remove local say and politicise local health board elections. Labour strategists believe they can dominate the health boards by abolishing local community wards and de-personalising health board elections. You only have until Wednesday November 19 2003 to make a submission. Check out proposals at

Send your submission, to retain local wards and keep local health boards politics free, to


Helen Clark should just resign.


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