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ACT's The Letter Monday 7 March 2005

The Letter

Monday 7 March 2005

We pass over National's promise to keep Kiwibank, and the Cullen fund, etc. Labour is in continuing trouble with NCEA. Mallard is about to discover that having a Crown representative sign cheques for the Wananga will not help. The Crown already has four representatives. Rongo Wetere only agreed to the Crown representative when Parekura Horomia assured him government funding, predicted to be quarter of a billion dollars this year, would continue. We are sure Mai Chen, of lobby law firm Chen & Palmer, will have told the Board that the Crown representative must continue honouring all existing contracts. Mallard's appointment of a Pakeha to sign the cheques may satisfy the media but will not stop Ken Shirley. There is more to come. The Wananga is now a global commercial empire. Ken's speech to the ACT party conference this weekend will be very interesting.

As Lenin famously observed those closest to you on the political spectrum are your biggest enemies. The public campaign by the Engineers Union for an across the board 5% wage rise is creating a fear of wage inflation and election year interest rate rises. The Letter believes the union's statements were motivated by falling membership and a desire to be seen to be doing something. Employers are aware of skill shortages. Unions are afraid that employers are increasing workers' pay before the unions ask. It is the government's 20% increase for nurses that has started wage inflation. Other health professionals will demand the same. The rapid increase in election year spending and massive rises in state wages must be causing the Reserve Bank to review interest rates.

When MMP was introduced it was thought the Speaker would be parliament's man. The Standing Orders were changed to introduce a unique procedure whereby each MP must vote individually. Fond hope. The vote on Thursday followed strict party lines and only confirmed a backroom deal. In December the PM stunned Cabinet by announcing she would propose Margaret Wilson as speaker. Mark Burton thought it was his job and Annette King also wanted it. Only Cullen and the surprised Wilson knew of Clark's decision. There was no cabinet discussion. At the caucus Clark announced there had been four candidates, a sop to Ross Robertson who does know the Standing Orders, and that she and Cullen had decided on Wilson. No discussion. The United party's Peter Dunne was then told and reminded that under their coalition agreement he had agreed to vote for whoever Labour put up. A similar meeting followed with the Greens. Again no discussion as to whether Wilson, who has never asked a question in parliament, was qualified. Speeches given by Dunne and Rod Donald about how their parties keep the government accountable are hollow. If third parties combine they can ensure the Speakership is a non-party independent position.

It is a very unhappy caucus. On present polling only Dunne seems likely to be returned along with up to three others. The jockeying for list placing is intense. United's Deputy Leader was Anthony Walton, the head of The Rock church, who got too friendly with members of his congregation and left hurriedly for Australia. Dunne, who never wanted to fill the position, persuaded his caucus to do the closest thing to keeping it vacant and appoint Judy Turner. Caucus does not believe she deserves to be number two on the list. Next problem, the Outdoor Recreation NZ party, who got 1.28% last election. They merged with United last year on the understanding that three of their candidates would get high list placings. United MPs are threatening to bolt if that happens and the Outdoor party is threatening to leave if they are not accommodated. Dunne's repeated claims that United is not a Christian party also upsets MPs like Paul Adams. His church is profoundly unhappy that United is supporting the godless civil union promoting Labour party. Six of United's MPs have taken to holding prayer meetings before caucus.

No Green MP has ever retired or lost their top nine list placing. Donald's assurance to ambitious party members that being number ten gaurantees them a seat in parliament lacks credibility. Pressure is mounting to drop non-entities like Mike Ward. (Truthfully, you did not know there is an MP called Ward.) The Letter predicts that if they make it back there are likely to only be six Green MPs. Competition for list placings is brutal.

The Mayor of Middlesbrough, Ray Mallon, is speaking at ACT's Annual Conference this Saturday, via video link. As Chief Constable of the crime-ridden city he introduced "zero tolerance for crime" policies and dramatically reduced crime. The public were delighted. The Labour party was horrified. He was suspended, so he ran for Mayor and won.

As part of ACT's policy to have world-class speakers Charles W Baird, Professor of Economics at California State University is also speaking. Baird is a leading free market thinker. We believe he might be the highlight but others will think we are too modest as Richard Prebble is the dinner speaker on Saturday night. You don't have to be an ACT member to register for the conference, being held at Auckland's Sky City this weekend.

Last week we asked if you thought that courts should grant offenders name suppression just because they are famous. 96% said no. This week "Do you think National will have any policies by the election?" Vote at we will send the result to National's caucus.


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