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ACT's - The Letter Monday 29 November 2004

The Letter Monday 29 November 2004


Most MPs think that the Sunday Star Times has been the victim of a joke. The SIS, which is undergoing a rapid expansion, is preoccupied with Muslim terrorism. Even during the cold war the SIS was reluctant to examine the activities of NZ'ers unless they were connected to foreign governments. The Lange government wanted to know if the SIS had files on Trotskyite organizations. Trotsky advocated violent revolution advising followers to join organizations like the Labour Party, and subvert them. The SIS saw nothing wrong with the Trotskyites. So it seems unlikely the SIS is spying on the Maori party even though some of its supporters are advocating the overthrow of the state. The Letter suspects the ancient eves dropping equipment found on Turia's phone was for a previous occupant.


Commentators are now realizing that 2% in the polls for the Maori party equates to no list seats but a sweep of the Maori seats. The latest poll predicts Labour governing alone. If the Maori party wins more seats than its list vote provides and Anderton wins his seat there could be an overhang and more than 120 MPs. The Letter thinks an overhang is likely and Labour winning a majority alone is unlikely.


The Letter expects Clark, as she did last election, to ask centre right voters to support Labour and save them from having to rely on the Greens or even worse the Maori party. If Brash can convince centre right voters that Labour can only govern in coalition with the Greens and the Maori party, there could be a radical shift of votes to National.


Labour's high support is easily explained by the strong economy. The Letter believes that National's best chance is still the economy. We think Don Brash made a strategic mistake giving the economy away. To say the economy could do better may be hard to sell in prosperous times – but it's true! Brash has the economic credibility to make the argument. Labour is attacking Brash not because he is a weak link but because he's highly credible.


Unfortunately we believe that Winston Peters will easily hold Tauranga. NZ First, despite being a one-man band, seems likely to meet the 5% threshold. While we believe that Peter Dunne is beatable in his seat, it seems unlikely. However, the Destiny Church may stop United reaching its 5% threshold.


Two events last week strengthen ACT's chances. The election of Kenneth Wang and the decision of National to support the Cullen Fund. Having the government save for us is a mad idea. The reason NZ was reduced to the status of a Polish shipyard was National's practice of adopting Labour's policies, like compulsory unionism, after having originally opposed them. A National government without ACT to keep it honest is no better than a Labour government.


The best-kept secret in NZ is the real number of people waiting for hospital treatment. Heather Roy through a campaign of questions and OIA requests has found there are 62,000 awaiting operations and another 110,879 waiting to see a specialist. 22,527 have been waiting more than six months. That's a total of 173,000 - making nonsense of Labour's claims to be reducing waiting lists. As Heather points out, Annette King said while in opposition that 96,000 patients waiting assessment was "criminal".


3,803 people died on the waiting lists under Labour since September 2000. 1187 this year, 1245 in 2003, 850 in 2002 and 521 in 2001. Labour has increased Health spending; yet health outcomes are worse. The Letter wonders how many of Labour's casualties would be alive today had they adopted ACT's idea of using the private sector.


ACT The Roundtable has contributed to public debate by publishing their research into governance issues. The latest publication "Restraining Leviathan" by Bryce Wilkinson examines the Fiscal Responsibility Act, concluding it has been only a partial success. The law, which requires much better public accounts, has seen successive governments remain in the black. The study points out that this has not stopped government expenditure in absolute and relative terms increasing.


Parliament will this week go into urgency to pass the Civil Union Bill. The law will pass easily. Originally there was a companion measure, the "Relationships Bill" that said in effect that civil union was the same as marriage and made it illegal to discriminate. The real meat is in the second bill. Amazingly MPs like Dunne voted against the Civil Union Bill but for the Relationships Bill. Stephen Franks has persuaded the majority of the select committee that a serious rethink is needed in this area of law. The Property (Relationship) Act 2001 that gives couples in de facto relationships the right to claim half their partners property is causing chaos. The Relationships Bill is unlikely to be seen before the election. The Civil Union Bill without its companion Relationship Bill means that a civil union has no legal effects! This won't stop over the top nonsense being said by both sides.


The number of public servants is starting to rise. In June there were 35,645. This is up 6,000 from June 1999 when there were 29,463. What are they doing? The civil service peaked in March 1986 at 89,105. 22,000 were in the railways.


Last week we asked, "Do you support a free trade agreement with China? 62% said yes. This week "Should parliament pass the Civil Union Bill even if it has little legal effect?" We will pass the results on to MPs. http://www.act.org.nz/poll


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