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ACT's The Letter - Monday 16 August 2004

The Letter
Monday 16 August 2004


Commentators keep insisting the world is running out of oil but oil would have to reach US $100 a barrel to be at the peak price of the 1970s’ oil crisis. And while we’re debunking stories we are reminded that David Bellamy has written that it is a myth that global warming is caused by hothouse gasses. He says a recent scientific paper “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Over The Last Glacial Termination”, proves increases in temperature are responsible for increases in carbon dioxide levels, not the other way round. The short article is worth a read


Media attention has been on the Auckland mayoralty race. The polls indicate Banks has a good lead and the real interest is the fight for control of the council. The swing wards are Avondale/Roskill, where City Vision councillor, Vern Walsh, has a majority of 80, and the Eden/Albert ward. It’s an open race and the left’s poor turn out may see the centre/right keep control. The best website is


A poll taken in NZ's largest city, Manukau, indicates that veteran mayor Sir Barry Curtis faces defeat. Former Olympic medallist, Councillor Dick Quax, is campaigning strongly. In the eastern suburbs Quax leads and in the crucial over-35 vote, Quax is ahead. Labour's Len Brown has carved into Sir Barry's western suburbs’ support. Len Brown has no support in Pakuranga and so has no chance of winning. The issues are transport, crime and feeling that it's time for a change. The Letter, first to pick John Banks’ victory last election, predicts a Quax win.


Don Brash has reshuffled his team. Machiavelli warned against such change. The media highlighted the negative and reported Labour's spin as fact. One spin was that John Key was the first finance spokesman ever to be on the second bench. Not so. Rob Muldoon was finance minister in the Holyoake government and at first seated number 17! John Key at number 10 in his first term has had remarkable promotion. MPs from both sides of the house defer to his knowledge of the financial sector. Key has a lot to learn about politics and the economy is more than just the financial sector. Judith Collins is another of Michelle Boag’s fresh talent who has earned her promotion. Reshuffles upset status conscious National MPs. The public has no idea where MPs sit. What matters far more are the portfolios. There Brash has gone for energy over experience – a good call.


Official statistics indicate unemployment is at 4%, the second lowest in the OECD. While the economy is growing and so are job numbers, the figures are not as good as Labour claims. First is the well-publicised rise in the sickness and invalid benefit numbers. There are now 43,000 sickness and 72,500 invalid beneficiaries – a 37% increase since Labour came into office. There is strong anecdotal evidence of departmental pressure on doctors to classify the long-term unemployed as sickness beneficiaries. Another trend is even more disturbing. Young, female and Maori unemployment is disguised as training. The latest figures show a 26,600 increase in the number of women who say their main activity is studying. For the June quarter there were 294,200 adults participating in formal study. Since 1999 the biggest increase is the numbers attending Wananga (the largest university in NZ is the Maori university!). While government has tightened up on private tertiary providers, it is too politically correct to rein in the Maori tertiary sector – thousands of young Maori attending courses of dubious educational value. Labour’s record low unemployment is being created at the expense of a generation of young Maori who have only got student debt.


International speakers on welfare reform were heard at the welfare symposium at parliament this weekend, organised by Muriel Newman. When the DPB was introduced in 1973 NZ had 12,000 solo parents, today as Muriel Newman told the seminar we have 112,000. One in six solo mothers cannot, or will not, name the father of the child (a 50% increase since Labour’s election). A quarter of a million NZ children (one in three) now live in families supported by benefits. You can hear all speeches at


Leaked cabinet papers reveal Labour is proposing to override your right to admit and exclude whoever you like on your own land. Landowners will still have occupier’s liability and no compensation for damage done. Some owners have developed commercial tourism ventures on their land and will now watch competitors showing people over their property. In a free country no property should be taken without compensation. The Blair government found that anti-rural policies like "free to roam" laws and banning fox hunting are popular in the cities. ACT will be leading the fight. See for comments by Gerry Eckhoff and Stephen Franks and the SST.


Richard Prebble filed for leave to appeal Donna Awatere Huata's injunction. The Supreme Court has so far not granted anyone leave so the case could be the first (that's unless Margaret Wilson's claim the Chief Justice is a shop steward was a hint the court is on strike).


Fahrenheit 9/11 got the thumbs down from the majority of readers. Mr Lough faxed us to say the film contained at least 59 deceits, see for more information. This week: “Should mothers who refuse without reason to name the father of their child get a benefit?” Go to We’ll send the answer to welfare minister, Steve Maharey.


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