ACT's The Letter is Posted
Parliament resumes this week with Labour hoping the recess has allowed it to regroup. We will be watching to see if National MP Murray McCully turns up and Don Brash decides to participate. The Hansard record shows last week's story was factual. We could have said that National's performance was better without them. We didn't (not us). National will only be a viable alternative when they decide to all work as a team.
LAW & ORDER
The announcement that if you don't signal you are turning right as you enter a roundabout physically moving left you will be fined and lose demerit points adds to the perception that Labour sees traffic laws as a revenue earner. Fines have risen from $31.9 million in 2000 to $59.9 million last year. Roundabouts are unsafe because most are badly engineered and are too small.
As The Letter predicted, officials have declined Clark's invitation to resign. The government has been forced to admit that the discrepancies in NCEA results are just as bad in levels 1, 2, 3 & 4. The Minister has widened the inquiry to cover all results. The statistical variations, many over 20%, show NCEA is not a valid standard. National needs to decide whether the problem is the implementation or is NCEA fundamentally flawed?
Ministers decided over the recess that burying the Wananga's extraordinary expenditure in an audit inquiry was not working. Ken Shirley knows too much. So, another inquiry. Again the problem is systemic. Labour's deciding tertiary education by Maori providers was a treaty claim is the reason for the Wananga's exponential growth and lack of accountability. If it is true that Maori have a treaty right for taxpayer-funded universities it follows it is their money to spend as they choose. The government having agreed to pay millions cannot renege without being exposed to a legal claim. Labour ministers will continue to express concern to convince taxpayers there is accountability while continuing to pour out our money.
PROBLEMS IN TERTIARY SECTOR
Under Labour, the number of tertiary students has increased by 130,000, helping to reduce unemployment. Many students are doing worthless courses and end up with nothing but a student loan. There is a nationwide shortage of tradesmen with just 7000 on the modern apprenticeship scheme. In the 60's we had over 20,000 apprentices, acknowledged then to be too few. There are now 28 institutions accredited to train teachers. Just like NCEA there is a growing concern over the standards in the tertiary sector.
Minister Steve Maharey has announced the government will implement a single welfare benefit. The Letter is sceptical. Maharey has a history of announcing bold reforms that come to nothing. Remember "Jobs Jolt". A single welfare benefit is based on the socialist idea that there are no values, just needs. Maharey is saying the position of the widow with 3 children is the same as a woman who has chosen to have 3 children by 3 different men and marry none of them. Labour needs to remember, "Whatever you pay for, you will get more of." If all benefits should be the same, then why is there a different payment for passing 65? Officials have told Maharey that the complexities created outweigh any advantages of a single benefit. It is easy to work test the unemployed, but is any government going to work test people with infectious diseases? If you do not, how do you discriminate when there is just one benefit? The cabinet paper shows the proposal was written by political appointees, not officials. There is no costing from Treasury. It is 39 pages of intellectual mush. See http://www.act.org.nz/msd. Maharey's claims it will save $20 million, together with his absurd claim that it is possible to have a single benefit, save money and no one will be worse off are untrue. Benefits are fixed in legislation so claiming Labour will trial a single benefit this year is also a lie. The so-called trials appear only to be testing different case management techniques, something the department is constantly doing. It is a post Orewa PR exercise to assure the electorate Labour is tackling the problem of growing welfare rolls.
GOT THE GLOBE COVERED
Last week Progressive MP Matt Robson praised Cuba as a model. He had a wonderful trip and claimed the US was engaged in terrorism against Cuba. His leader Jim Anderton told his audience on Saturday night he had a wonderful trip to Taiwan and the country was a model. The Progressive Party exists in name only. Anderton's Wigram seat is vulnerable. Last year his wife Carol, a 3-term city councillor, lost her safe seat. Anderton's majority against a weak Labour candidate fell last election. His once formidable organisation is a shadow. A strong Labour candidate will beat him, perhaps even a weak one will. Anderton, who qualifies for national super, must be thinking of retiring.
Today Stephen Franks launched ACT's open justice policy to end the ability of All Blacks and the famous being able to escape open court. His speech can be viewed at http://www.act.org.nz/openjustice.
Register online for ACT's Annual Conference being held at Sky City, Auckland on 11-13th March. Go to http://www.act.org.nz/conference2005 .
ACT has invited an interesting range of speakers including one of our favourite political commentators Jane Clifton.
Last week we asked "Do you have any faith in NCEA?" 97% of readers said no. This week "Do you think courts should be able to grant offenders name suppression just because they are famous?" We will send your answer to Minister Goff. Vote at http://www.act.org.nz/poll .