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ACT's The Letter - Monday 15 March 2004

The Letter
Monday 15 March 2004


The Labour caucus split must be wide when the answer is a royal commission. The last time Labour proposed a royal commission was when the caucus was split over proportional representation and divided over social welfare.

The idea is nuts. Who will the Commissioners be? What judge is going to accept? We can’t have Sir Paul Reeves. Surely not Sir Geoffrey Palmer. Clark is panicking because she was a member of the last Labour government that was destroyed by a similar backlash.


Labour is in freefall since the leader of the opposition said in his well-reported January speech, “National completely rejects the separatist policies pursued by Labour. Our goal must, be over time, to eliminate all legislation based on race…maintain a non-racist stance by pursuing policies that deal with disadvantage solely on the basis of need – not race.” But that was Jim Bolger in January 1990. It is an interesting speech. Bolger said, “It is a cruel con trick to suggest the problems of Maori will be resolved by transferring the spending of huge amounts of taxpayers’ money from government agencies to tribal authorities.” Here is what National promised on the Treaty. “The next National government will negotiate directly with properly authorised representatives of the Maori people to achieve a swift, just, and affordable resolution to all legitimate property claims under the Treaty of Waitangi”. See


In Saturday’s Dominion Post are two most extraordinary tenders. Tender one is to lift and strengthen, on state highway 49, the 95m 3 span Whangaehu Bridge at Tangiwai. The work is to commence in April and to be completed by November “regardless of challenging weather conditions”. The second tender is for a detour and temporary bridge. A multi-million dollar contract to be ready for when the Mt Ruapehu crater lake collapses. The lahar is expected to be twice as large as the one that caused the Tangiwai disaster and occur between now and late summer 2005. The alternative, a relatively straightforward piece of engineering to drain the lake. See for the tender ads.


The new Supreme Court is to start on 1 July. Its first case looks like being Awatere-Huata v Prebble & others. The court is to be in the basement of the High Court for at least three years. There is nowhere to house the judges’ offices. The Letter has learnt the third floor of the law school (the magnificently restored old government building opposite parliament) has been measured up for palatial offices. The Dean, who has no idea what a law school’s role Vs the courts is, is in favour. Problem: the existing tenant, the Institute of Legal Studies has a lease and is very reluctant to go.


ACT MPs were at Auckland Uni during orientation week and amazed by the latest Students Vs the University row. Alumni of Auckland will remember paying a heavy building levy for the students’ assn building. Apparently some socialist student president gifted the building to the university, which has put in a food hall where the association used to have an office. Craccum reports the university collects $149,900 annual rent and pockets the money. The building was erected with funds from students and a crown grant. Auckland Uni justifies its confiscation by claiming it is the crown. Hello, what happened to the universities’ claim that they are independent?


The horror of the Madrid bombing is hard to comprehend. It is a demonstration of how vulnerable open democratic societies are to terrorism. High rise buildings, open cafes, shops, public transport, theatres, stadiums; there are no shortage of targets. International tourism, large-scale immigration and the global economy mean it is relatively easy for terrorists to strike anywhere. But we don’t need to worry because Helen Clark tells us we live in a benign environment. Do we? Israeli intelligence chiefs’ advice is that Israel was in denial over a decade as to how dangerous a threat terrorism is to an open society. Israel’s answer, a fence. No suicide bomber has ever entered Israel from the Gaza Strip because Gaza is fenced. The same intelligence chiefs have warned that terror is coming to the democratic countries of the west. NZ already has a fence, the Pacific Ocean. NZ does not need to let in anyone from the Nations that have supplied Al Qaeda terrorists. Question – are we too PC to debate what our defence to terrorism ought to be? Thought – Britain has just produced two suicide bombers – raised and schooled in England.


Reserve Bank governor Bollard has publicly asked for powers to be able to intervene in the currency markets when the Kiwi is “unjustifiably high” or unjustifiably low”. The Reserve Bank has $3.5 billion reserves. It seems that if Bollard thinks the US dollar’s a bargain he can swap NZ dollars for US now. But even if he spends the whole three billion, it wont make much difference. Just how many Kiwi dollars are traded every year is debatable. A rule of thumb is 10 times GDP – well over $300 billion a year. Some have speculated that Bollard is asking for more money. Even if he spent the $6 billion surplus he could lose it in hours. The Japanese central bank has spent trillions of yen unsuccessfully trying to prop up the greenback. What is the Reserve Bank doing playing politics?


Last weeks poll results - 99% of respondents said government policy should reward responsibility, 1% said needs. This week, do you favour a Royal Commission on the Treaty? - we’ll send results to the PM. If you see a previous week's poll question when you click on the link, press your web browser's "refresh" or "reload" button to get to the new poll.


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