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ACT's The Letter

The Letter

All Quiet On The Political Front

The country is still enjoying an Olympic afterglow. The men came through. A politically incorrect thought: where are the Maori athletes? Rowing and kayaking could increase the Beijing medal count if they can make their sport appealing to Maori.


The economy continues to roar along. There is no sign of the Treasury-predicted slowdown. If the Immigration Department's new criteria delivers more immigrants with the needed skills then the economy might keep growing.


National has put out some interesting data on the growth in tax revenue. Since Labour came to office total tax revenue has increased by 38% from $33.8b to $42.3b. The tax paid by individuals has increased on average $2800 a year. Labour's reply: the economy has grown, so has tax. Tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has decreased from 32.5 % to 30.7%. Labour's election promise was "no increase in income tax for 95% of taxpayers". 10% of all taxpayers, including superannuatants, are now paying Labour's 39% tax rate. 20% of all full-time workers are now paying the maximum tax rate.


As Rodney Hide observed, National has set out the problem but not the solution. ACT says that the top rate of company and personal tax could be reduced to 20%, still keeping the 15% lower income rebate. The cost? $5.5 billion, less than this year’s surplus. A lower tax rate would result in more investment, more jobs, more growth and more tax revenue.


The Auditor-General has issued a damning report on Labour's proposed spending to publicise this year's welfare giveaway budget. The Auditor-General notes that the proposal was never costed by the Treasury. As just 300,000 New Zealanders benefit from the Budget it is hard to work out why the Government doesn't just write to beneficiaries. This campaign when it starts will flood our TV screens until the election. $21.15 million is about the same amounts of money that The Warehouse, New Zealand's biggest advertiser, spends each year. While the Auditor- General asked the Government to reconsider this campaign, no Minister in the urgent debate gave such an undertaking.


Subscribers to The Letter read it here first. The latest DigiPoll reveals that the Maori Party is nearly 10% ahead of Labour in the Maori seats and if an election were held today would win all seven Maori seats. The commentators have failed to grasp its significance. First, the pressure inside Labour’s Caucus is huge. Maori MPs see the foreshore legislation will shorten their careers. The Letter wouldn’t be surprised if Helen Clark made one of her sweeping U turns and dropped the Bill. Second, is Labour now electable? The latest polls mean that the Maori Party will hold the balance of power. John Tamihere has said that such a coalition would be a disaster for race relations.


Our politicians have fallen over themselves to express horror that prisoners could receive compensation from the courts. No one has yet to express horror that National and Labour governments have allowed prisoners to be kept in solitary confinement in cells with no windows, not large enough to allow an above-average man to stretch out, for two years. Prisoners weren’t given enough water to wash or enough toilet paper. The Americans excuse in the Iraqi prisoner scandal is to say that they were facing a wartime situation. What’s our excuse? Senior civil servants were told by their own doctors that such treatment would drive many prisoners insane and this has happened. The real problem is that the rules have made our prisons very hard to manage. The superintendents have little discretion and to discipline prisoners they must now be charged. As Stephen Franks says, it is hard to believe giving prisoners $500 a week is the answer and what about contributory negligence by prisoners who refused to change their violent behaviour? The Letter says that Phil Goff should accept that the new corrections bill is going to make running prisons even more difficult and the answer is not windfall gains to either prisoners or victims.


While Winston Peters seems to be losing it, his criticism of the police this week does reflect a lack of confidence by MPs in the police after its refusal to prosecute Helen Clark for art fraud followed by their prosecution of Shane Arden for driving a tractor on Parliament’s steps. None of which justifies an attack under parliamentary privilege of a person whose real “crime” is that he is married to a judge. The Letter thinks that it’s absurd to say that if Phillip Edwards had been prosecuted 55 times instead of 54 times the murder wouldn’t have occurred. If we had “Three strikes and the max” there would be 50 fewer crimes.


We are sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Labour’s Lynne Pillay, one of our favourite flakes, is in danger of being rolled as candidate for her Waitakere seat by Peter Kaiser, Minister Chris Carter’s partner. The two intend to be the first to marry under the Civil Union Bill and be the first openly gay couple to be MPs. At least there would be no spousal travel bill for the taxpayer to pay for.


96% of Letter readers favour a probationary period for new employees. We have sent the result to Mr Tamihere, who we note the CTU believes should join ACT. This week: Is it an abuse of parliamentary privilege to name a crime victim in Parliament? We will send Winston Peters the results.

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