Don Brash Writes - No. 44, 17 November 2004
NZ National Party
Don Brash Writes
No. 44, 17 November
National Party Policy
An uncritical media has been suckered into accepting a line of Government spin which suggests that National has not released any policy, or is holding everything back until the election. Candidates and MPs are regularly challenged about this.
This notion is pure Beehive spin, as a moment's reflection would show.
Consider our stance in relation to Treaty/Maori issues, and on law and order. I have addressed each of these crucial issues in major speeches this year, and made it absolutely clear where National stands.
What nobody knows is just where Labour stands, particularly on Treaty issues. The constitutional review Labour is proposing is nothing more than a device to provide a smokescreen around its real agenda and to obscure the situation until after the election.
I have also spelt out our policy direction on tax (and there is plenty more to come on this issue), superannuation, local government, transport, industrial relations, environmental issues and energy.
I have had a continuous series of speaking engagements around the country on all of these issues.
The National Party has also previously released significant discussion documents on welfare and education and I have outlined my broad thinking on these issues in countless speeches.
While the Beehive is keen to see the rest of National's policies - to either borrow them or attempt to neutralise them - most New Zealanders with an ounce of political understanding will understand that some key policy announcements must be held back for election year.
For all opposition parties there is a temporary cost in this: for a short period of time, public opinion will reflect the awareness of current Government policy judged against caricatures and misrepresentations of National Party policy. That is just the reality of politics. I will be dealing with these misrepresentations in the coming few months.
As we near the election, National will be unveiling a comprehensive package of measures designed to take New Zealand forward through the next two decades. These policies will stop New Zealand incomes falling behind the rest of the world, and help us catch up, while addressing the rampant political correctness which is stopping this Government deal with entrenched welfare problems, with an education system failing far too many of our children, with vicious recidivist criminals being released on parole to prey on the community, and with a Treaty industry that is out of control.
But here I want to deal with the Beehive spin: the following is a brief summary of policy announcements made so far. There will be more to come before the end of the year, and in 2005.
Put an end to the Treaty grievance industry and to race-related political correctness, abolish separate Maori electorates, and ensure that all New Zealanders have the same rights before the law.
Law and Order
We stand on the side of victims, not criminals. We will recruit and resource additional police, record the DNA of all convicted criminals, abolish parole for all violent and repeat offenders, and change the Proceeds of Crime Act to help the police deal more effectively with gangs.
An initial focus on tax relief for low-to-middle income working people, particularly families, a cut in the corporate tax rate from 33% to 30% to at least equal the Australian rate, and a steady reduction in the top personal income tax rate.
An absolute commitment to maintain the age of eligibility and the level at which superannuation is paid (relative to the average wage) for those aged 50 and above. But I have also signalled that any government, regardless of the existence of the New Zealand Superannuation fund, will have to have a discussion with the public about the age of eligibility by 2020 to ensure the viability of the scheme through the balance of this century. But ours will be a much wealthier society by mid century and changes, if any, would be small and gradual - New Zealand Superannuation will continue to be available to all New Zealanders.
National is pledging to work with local government to reduce costs for ratepayers. We propose establishing a joint working party between Local Government New Zealand and an incoming National Government to review the full range of local government legislation and to reduce the cost to ratepayers.
National will remove the regulatory and political roadblocks which are creating gridlock in our cities. The consents process must be speeded up, and that requires reform of the Resource Management Act - National will introduce the appropriate amendments within three months of taking office. National will simplify the agencies responsible for roading decisions, and move over time to put the funding of the roading network on a sound basis.
National will restore the balance between employer and employee and loosen the union stranglehold that is stifling productivity. We will repeal legislation that stops our most capable workers on individual contracts from negotiating a better deal than their co-workers who belong to a union.
National will not impose a carbon tax on New Zealand businesses when that would put them at a disadvantage against our main international competitors. New Zealand is involved in the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol until 2013. We will review future participation at that time, in light of the developing scientific understanding of climate issues. National is committed to the conservation and protection of our unique environment.
National will change the law to give electricity lines companies the ability to generate more power than regulations currently allow. That will increase investment in the energy infrastructure which we need for economic growth. National will also fix the Resource Management Act to ensure new generation capacity isn't held up by frivolous objectors. National is committed to ensuring transparency in billing for electricity consumers. This will allow people to see what actually makes up the cost of their consumption each month, and will ensure that electricity retailers are honest about the reasons for any price increases.
National will end the cycle of welfare dependency. We are exploring options for "work for the dole". We want to restore the work test for those on the DPB when their youngest child reaches school age and we want to work on getting down the number of women who refuse to name the father of their child - often for purely financial reasons. It's simply not fair to working New Zealanders.
We have to ensure every child leaves school able to read and write, no matter what their parents' income or where in the country they live. We want a system that allows good teachers to be rewarded and we intend to end the culture of waste on low quality/no qualification courses.
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