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ACT's The Letter Monday 8 March 2004

The Letter
Monday 8 March 2004


The ACT party held a very successful annual conference in Christchurch over the weekend. ACT believes the next government will be centre-right and ACT will go from being a party influencing policy to implementing policy. The adoption of ACT policies has made members feel they have been publicly vindicated.


ACT's own focus group polling indicates the public polls are right. Voters do not agree with the old parties' race-based policies. Voters feel race relations have deteriorated and welcome a chance to vote on the issue. ACT is confident its vote will increase. Voters recognize that what Don Brash is saying has always been ACT policy. Brash seems to have done a Winston Peters on National and voters are voting for Don Brash rather than for the party and are indicating they will give a vote to ACT to keep them all honest.


Richard Prebble in his keynote address set out ACT's alternative agenda. "The issue is this. Are all citizens equal before the law regardless of race?...Don Brash is right in his call to end race-based policies. But he is wrong to call for policy to be based on need. We have all been looking at the first part of his proposal and not at the second.

The left winger Chris Trotter, in his column, mused that it was Karl Marx who said 'From each according to their means to each according to their needs'". When we reward people according to need, then people will just make themselves more needy. "ACT says 'Lets reward responsible behaviour.'"


Our media in New Zealand no longer reports what politicians say but what the media interprets what they say. There were a number of very important speeches last week. Helen Clark's Cathedral speech, http://www.act.org.nz/cathedral, Don Brash's Treaty-Madness speech, http://www.act.org.nz/madness and Richard Prebble's ACT Leads speech at http://www.act.org.nz/actleads. All are worth reading in full.


Richard Prebble,"Tax is a distinguishing issue... Lowering the top rate to 30 cents won't do it. Most working families would miss out...The best tax cut is...low flat tax."

Don Brash, "Successive governments have believed that a 19th century treaty…has something to say about today...this is simple madness and it must be stopped."

Helen Clark in her party political speech in the cathedral again attacked the Orewa speech saying, "That does not call for a U-turn by Labour and there will not be one". The speech revived her claim that the policies of the 1990s failed even though the OECD's latest report attributes last year's growth to the policies of Ruth Richardson and Roger Douglas.


Former Labour cabinet minister, Michael Bassett, writing for The Dominion, asks whether Labour can survive Clark's panic attack. He points out the Lange Labour government never really recovered from Lange's famous cup of tea. The Letter observes that the Palmer government never recovered from his cabinet reshuffle. Taking over a new ministry in between elections is like taking over a moving train. By the time you have your hands on the controls you have already gone past a number of stations. In a three-year parliament the new ministers have no time to implement new policy and instead will struggle to get on top of their portfolios.


Labour's reliance on spin is now their undoing. Clark, in the last five weeks, has gone from describing those who advocate no race-based law as rednecks, to being "genuine people...expressing genuine concerns" and to saying, "I hear those concerns and I am going to satisfy myself that we are meeting their needs". In a remarkable piece of copyright piracy Minister Maharey said "I've been thinking...Past wrongs must be set right and it is perhaps time to set a timetable when all grievances must be settled so we can all move on." Labour is delivering different spin to different audiences and losing credibility with everyone.


Steve Forbes – tax is the cost we pay for working. If we want more investment and production we need to lower the cost of doing these things. Flat tax is an idea that has come out of America but is being implemented with great success in Russia, the Ukraine, and Slovakia and of course for years in Hong Kong. His article is on http://www.act.org.nz/forbes.


ACT's president Catherine Judd set out ACT's strategy, ACT MPs set out ACT's ideas on tax, welfare, education, health, justice, ANZUS and property rights. The speeches are all on ACT's website http://www.act.org.nz/conference2004.


New Zealand engineer and businessman Alan Gibbs gave an address on his amphibious car, the Aquada. It is the first genuine amphibious car capable of motorway speeds and 30 mph on the water. Car manufacturing is the world's largest engineering activity, has been for 100 years. Yet it has taken a New Zealander to make this break through. There has been no new car company in America for over 50 years, which gives some idea of the regulatory barriers. It is a remarkable achievement. Gibbs believes that in 20 years 5% of all cars will be amphibious, by then that will be 5 million cars a year.


Last week we asked should the Labour Maori MPs split to form their own Maori party. Answer: Yes: (67%) No: (33%) We are sending the results to John Tamihere who we see has already held the first Hui.

This week's question: Should government policies reward you for having more needs or should they reward you for taking responsibility for yourself and your family? Vote at http://www.act.org.nz/poll - we'll send the result to Don Brash.

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