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ACT's The Letter - 21 March 2005

The Letter
21 March 2005

Optimism about the economy fell 10% in TV One's poll and the pessimists outnumber the optimists by 3%. The right way/wrong way poll is the most accurate electoral predictor. Don Brash will not criticise the Reserve Bank so National failed to pick up support. In parliament only ACT has pointed out it is the labour unions' inflationary wage demands that have forced interest rates up. If the unions do not stop their campaign, interest rates will rise again. Now if former governor Brash were to say that it would be news.


Parliament has recessed for Easter to Labour's relief. The media has also decided to test out Margaret Wilson. If she takes no action on TV3's flouting of the rules for cameras her personal standing will be irreparably damaged among MPs and if she enforces the rules the media will give her hell. The Speaker's job is not for the faint hearted or ministers who have become a liability. Look at it this way Margaret, at least today you cannot lose your head just your self respect if you buckle to the media.


The confirmation that Rodney Hide's claim the Waipareira Trust had used false invoicing has ended any chance Tamihere had of returning to cabinet, now or after the election. Any defended court case will not be over by October. PM's do not like being lied to by ministers. The electorate may forgive Tamihere for taking a golden handshake when he said he wouldn't but Clark won't. There is a lot of feeling in Maoridom that Mike Tolich is taking the fall. The Maori Party's Pita Sharples is going to win the seat and Clark will not have John on Labour's list.


After using Parliamentary privilege to make an attack on Jim Peron and to describe his philosophical bookshop as "porn" Winston Peters told the press gallery that he had plenty more information and promised fresh revelations last week. The result, nothing. We thought we should fill the gap. How much do the media think the taxpayer paid Winston's brother, Wayne Peters, for advising on NZ First's coalition negotiations? The government made a six-figure payment to Winston's brother. Why should the taxpayer pay anything for what are party negotiations? When the coalition fell apart did Wayne Peters make a refund?


This week the Electoral Commission will be determining how time and money for broadcasting will be allocated. Only the Labour and National parties are represented on the Commission. The Commission has always allocated Labour and National equal time and money. The official opposition is grossly over funded and third parties are handicapped. Both old parties supported a legal ban on parties buying their own TV time. Third parties are prevented from using the most powerful medium to challenge the two party club. The Commission colludes in this by refusing to allow parties to spend their funding as they wish. The Commission buys the parties' time on state TV paying the full rate. (Which is why TV never criticises state funding). However, the Internet may break TV's importance. Bloggers were influential in the US election. See http://bhatnagar.blogspot.com for the first election campaign video.


Retired Speaker Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt is still in parliament. He is doing very little except taking the pay. He has been given a seat among the executive in the House; previous Speakers have retired to the backbench. He does not intend to resign till 30th March when he flies to the UK to take his position as High Commissioner. Hunt, who qualifies for the maximum parliamentary super and national super will be out of work one day! MPs had put this arrangement down to Jojo's love of the good life. Labour sources give a different explanation. Helen Clark wants Hunt to keep Labour's next MP, Lesley Soper, out of parliament until the list has been finalised. Ms Soper's election could have given her publicity and a good maiden speech might have seen her get a high list place. Soper's crime? She is pro life.


Treasury's independence has been compromised. In their most recent press release about the surplus, Treasury highlighted the so-called cash surplus. This is an accounting nonsense. Treasury is saying if you ignore capital spending that results in extra assets then the surplus is not $6 billion but only $1 billion. Try that on the IRD. Treasury is not responsible for Dr Cullen trying to argue that he is not over taxing us, but they are responsible for the accounts and how they are presented. Like Enron, Treasury is now cooking the books and, as National MP John Key says, if they will do that for Labour, how will they cost National's policies? Good point. ACT will still submit their proposed tax cuts for Treasury costing. The McLeod Tax Review said a flatter tax rate was both desirable and affordable.


Labour and its allies have been publishing OECD tax figures to show we pay less tax than the French. The same tables show the tax we pay is going up. What has not been published is that Poland has just announced it is joining the growing number of eastern European countries to adopt a flat tax. Germany said it will consider a flat tax. France like Cullen, is unmoved by the evidence. For ACT and National's response see http://www.act.org.nz/oecd.


98% of readers agree with Rodney Hide and support dropping the company and top rate of tax to 25 cents while lifting the 15-cent rate up to $38,000. This week "Should political parties be able to advertise as they wish in their election campaigns?" Vote at http://www.act.org.nz/poll. We will present your views to the broadcasting commission when ACT gives evidence on Tuesday.


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