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ACT's The Letter - Monday 14 February

ACT's The Letter - Monday 14 February


MPs have concluded that this years Orewa speech was a disaster. National did no polling. The propositions were not put to caucus. Katherine Rich was consulted and offered to resign before the speech was given. The final speech contained propositions that were not in the agreed speech. The matters of disagreement were actually minor and not needed for welfare reform. Last week opposition parties realised ACT was right about the government's real vulnerability being law and order, and in particular Hawkins.


Outrage has been expressed that police do opinion polling to help direct their resources. There is incredulity that women are more concerned about being killed by a drunken driver than a home invader. This shows that women are more sensible than editorial writers. We are much more likely to be injured by criminal driving than by any other criminal. Implicit in the criticism of police opinion polling is the idea that police should take no notice of the public's concerns. Commentators should ask to see the questionnaires and the answers. We understand the public didn't give a damn if Mongrel Mob members wipe themselves out and are more concerned about burglary.


The police face three problems. Firstly integrating traffic officers into the police force has lead to a dramatic decline in popularity. Traffic officers issue tickets to otherwise law-abiding citizens for offences like speeding. The unpopularity of traffic officers has been transferred to the whole police force. Secondly, the inability of police to handle technology. While having one 111 call centre may be technologically smart it results in police losing local knowledge. Recently an MP called an ambulance to Molesworth Street, where Parliament is located, and despite careful direction the ambulance arrived at the wrong side of the building and had to go around the block again. The operator didn't know what every Wellingtonian knows, that it's a one-way street. The third problem is Hawkins' inability to address the issues as we just have.


Our sources tell us Clark did intend dropping Hawkins in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. He was saved by her inability to reinstate Tamihere. The Labour caucus is factionalised. Dyson does the numbers for the left and Goff for the right. Each MP presents their factions requests to Clark who says yes or no. Once the deal is struck, the vote in caucus is a formality. No Labour leader has ever had such power. The cost of such dealings is that the right could not agree to losing two ministers so Clark stuck with Hawkins who just can't cope.


The weekly newsletter "Wellington Watch" put out by lobbyist "law" firm Chen & Palmer ceased publication last week, saying "because there are now so many other newsletters it is not sure there is a demand for theirs". This is true. Parliaments itself puts out releases describing legislation before the House and select committee. See It's also true that there are many other newsletters put out by Wellington insiders. The TransTasman is the oldest, founded by the "father of the press gallery" Ian Templeton and is worth reading.

Their coverage of Australian news and their heroic share tips make it fun. The newest is Molesworth & Featherston, put out by some former press secretaries. Despite being the first to break the Rich story, the newsletter breaks few news stories. View it online at

What made Chen & Palmer worth reading was you could read pure unadulterated Labour spin and gain real insights as to the progress towards the socialist republic of Aotearoa. What you won't read in the newsletters is an analysis of the political problem most worrying the Labour government, how to hold back the Maori Party challenge for the Maori seats.


Commentators thought the selection of Hone Harawira would alienate 'moderate Maori opinion'. The whole point of the Maori Party is to say "moderation has got us no where". MPs attending Waitangi say it ran smoothly because the Maori Party were in total control. Turia received a royal greeting and her popularity is real. Labour's Maori are completely depressed. Dover Samuels thinks his seat is lost, and despairs for the country.

He is secretly trying to sell his motel, (advertising might help, but access over Maori land is a bit of a problem) and is intending to take his family to Australia. Privately most Maori MPs including Tamihere, have said they think they're gone. Clark's solution is to spend, spend, spend. Brash should have just given his first Orewa speech again.


Winston can't believe his luck in drawing his Principles of the Treaty Bill. Both Stephen Franks & Richard Prebble have had private members bills on the principles of the treaty in the ballot for months. Their bills really try to define the principles of the treaty whereas Winston's just deletes the phrase from about 17 bills, legally having little or no effect. Franks has done an analysis in his newsletter Unfranked. See The bill will get nowhere but will enable Peters to claim to be championing an issue he's never performed in.


Last week's poll went down to the wire - only 5 votes in it. 50.4% were opposed to government promoting first home ownership and saving compared to 49.6% in favour. If Labours not careful any super scheme will be a disaster. Voters tell pollsters they favour savings based superannuation but they have never voted for it. This week, Should parliament give Peters' bill a first reading? We will send the results to the Greens who are saying they will vote no. Go to


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