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ACT's The Letter Is In

The Letter


As we predicted, media stories of amendments to the Civil Union Bill were just stories. All amendments were defeated. Richard Worth, who tabled the most amendments, didn't even stay to argue for them. This convinced MPs he hadn't actually written them. The referendum was similarly defeated by a wide margin. With the PM known to be strongly in favour of the Bill, no Labour List MP was willing to vote against it and with the support of the Green party the Bill was always going to pass.


United used some of its taxpayer funds to campaign against the Bill. Paul Adams starved himself. This resulted in a 1% fall in the polls. Any old testament prophet could have told Adams that you don't get a clearer sign on the eve of the Bill, than when the vote on a confidence measure is tied 57/57. It was United's vote that enabled the government to survive. Every person who believes that the Civil Union Bill is the most serious measure passed by Labour knows that Adams didn't need to stop eating to stop the Bill. All he had to do was stop voting Labour.


Fifty years ago, an important part of Labour's vote was Catholic. Michael Joseph Savage was Labour's first PM. Discrimination against Irish Catholics made NZ's Irish community overwhelmingly Labour. However, now, practicing Catholics in Australia are moving away from Labour to the Liberals. So too in NZ. National has had two Catholic leaders, Jim Bolger and Bill English. It's hard to see Labour ever selecting another practicing Catholic as leader or to a list seat. Helen Clark was diplomatic in her response to the Bishops' message read in churches. Her MPs were not. Minister Chris Charter described the church as "an archaic institution promoting bigotry".


Parliament's big guns know that no one wins from conscience votes - so few speak. Helen Clark was keen not to be seen. Labour MPs who normally don't get speaking time got to lead the debates. It quickly became clear why MPs like National's John Connell, NZ First's Bill Gudgeon and Labour's Lynne Pillay are backbenchers. Their rhetoric was partisan, extreme and not designed to win votes. Words they spoke are on parliamentary record and can't be withdrawn.


Even his opponents recognise that Tim Barnett, the Chair of the Select Committee, has had a real victory. Although he represents a constituency seat, Barnett is an MMP phenomena, a single-issue politician. In his case, gay rights. He has never held a ministerial portfolio, but has achieved far more than most ministers. He is a dramatic example of what can be achieved, and perhaps can only be achieved from the backbench.


First National copied ACT's one law for all, then it's call for a tougher approach to crime, and now ACT's last election policy "A tax cut for every worker". National only ever adopts the issue not the solution. ACT, pointed out last election, that by lowering the base tax rate from 19.5 to 18 cents it was possible to give every full time worker a tax cut. ACT's policy as always was costed with figures. Don Brash's speech recognises ACT's point that working NZ'ers are over taxed but National will not acknowledge that real tax reform requires recognition that the 39 cent rate is doing the most damage. The 39 cent rate is in effect an attack on investment. Due to imputation credits, the company tax rate is more of a withholding tax. Tax cuts must target the surplus and expenditure. When National signed up to the Cullen fund it signed up to higher taxes.


Rodney Hide has asked a series of parliamentary questions which have established that the after tax income of the average household, adjusted for inflation, is exactly the same as it was when Labour took office. Not $1.00 of extra prosperity has reached the average working person. The average household income in June 2000 was $60,560, tax $11,510, net income $49,050. In June 2004 the average household income was $68,284 up 12.8%, tax $14,260 up 23.0%, net income $54,024. When the 2000 net income is adjusted for inflation of 10.1% we get $54,024. The exact same figure! The standard of living for working kiwi families has not altered.


The government has it! Higher nominal wages put people into higher tax brackets. Household spending is up because the wealth effect of higher house prices has caused NZ households to be, in relative terms, one of the most indebted in the world. A crash waiting to happen. Cullen's claim that our social wage has increased is for most part nonsense. Few working people are in state houses, fewer watch Maori TV, fewer still race Americas Cup yachts, and even fewer still get to wine and dine at the expense of Jim Anderton's job machine. As the Treasury report shows extra spending on health has had no effect and we believe education standards are declining. The quality of life as measured by things like the time it takes to get to work is getting worse.


Labour's 'right to roam legislation' that was expected to be introduced this week has hit two problems. Gerry Eckhoff's successful bus tour and the Greens! Apparently Green leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons has had real problems with trespassers on her Coromandel property and wants more talks on Labour's Bill.


Last week we asked, "Do you support a free trade agreement with Thailand?" 38% said no. This week; Helen Clark is about to reshuffle the cabinet. "Which minister would you most like to be reshuffled out of a portfolio?" Go to our website and give us your pick. We will send your answer to Helen Clark.

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