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Newman Speech Extract - Sunrise Rotary Club

Newman Speech Extract - Sunrise Rotary Club

Monday 4 Apr 2005
Dr Muriel Newman
Speeches -- Other

All the signs are there that the 2005 general election is just around the corner: select committees with no work, the new speaker losing control of the House, and Helen Clark getting rattled. An election will probably be called after the budget, before the downturn in the economy worsens.

Last week's Colmar Brunton poll signalled the beginning of the sea change in New Zealand politics with a ten percent swing towards the number of people who feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. This turn-around, with pessimists now outstripping optimists, is bad news for Labour but good news for the opposition.

Having said that, the National party has no cause for complacency. Their claim that they can govern alone, not only smacks of a born-to-rule arrogance, but is simply not credible.

In all the years that MMP has been used to choose governments around the world, there hasn't been a single case of one party governing alone. Any new government will be made up of a majority party, which wins most of its seats at electorate level, and a minority party, which wins support through the party vote.

Under MMP, voters have two votes: their `electorate' vote for the candidate who will best fight for their electorate, and their `party' vote. The party vote can be given directly to a minor party, or to one of the two old parties. The problem with giving it to one of the major parties is that it can lead to disastrous outcomes, as shocked National Party supporters found in 1996 when National used their party vote to give them New Zealand First.

In comparison, centre right voters who have used their party vote to support ACT have ensured that our New Zealand Parliament continues to have representation from a Party that relentlessly campaigns for lower taxes, less welfare, a reduction in crime, more choice in health and education, improvements in family law, and one law for all.

Although ACT has never been a party of government, without a doubt, the power of our ideas has influenced the direction of the country. For example most political parties are now promising time limits on Treaty claims, we even have left wing MPs calling for tax cuts, and the Family Court is now far more open than it would have been if ACT had not pushed for reform.

It is interesting to see that in the present political party battle over the allocation of the Electoral Commission's $3.4 million of taxpayer funding for television and radio advertising time, the two old parties are colluding, claiming that the lion's share should go to them. They understand that parties that are able to dominate the nation's television and radio waves during an election campaign will dramatically increase their voter support. As a result, they are very keen to marginalise parties like ACT.

What is even more bizarre about this debate is that censorship rules have been put in place, that prevent political parties that are only allocated a pittance of taxpayer funding, from being able to purchase advertising airtime themselves from their own budgets.

As a former Assistant General Manager of Michael Hill Jeweller, a Whangarei-based company that became a household name and one of New Zealand's most successful retailing companies through television advertising, I find the situation, where the major parties have conspired to prevent smaller parties from sharing with voters their vision of the future of the country through electronic media, absolutely unacceptable. I look forward to the day when both taxpayer funding of electioneering and this extreme form of censorship - like the recent proposal to ban television reporting of parliament - are scrapped.

The decline in our sense of national well-being, that is at the heart of the rise in pessimism about our future, is being driven to a large extent by the nation's pocketbooks. New Zealand families are amongst the most indebted in the western world and the recent interest rate rise and petrol tax increases have hit them hard.

High interest rates, high taxes, high petrol prices, high house prices, high student loan debt and high consumers costs - caused by Labour's massive regulatory zeal - are causing financial pressures across the board.

In particular, the present record levels of sustained over-taxation have pushed our national surplus to over 5% of gross domestic product (the country's total production of goods and services) for the first time ever. As a result, more and more working families are feeling impoverished, but rather than giving the $7.4 billion surplus back to those who earned it through tax relief, in a cold and calculating move, Labour is seeking to disguise the surplus.

For the last 15 years - ever since the last Labour Government was found to be using cash flow accounting to cook the books and hide a massive deficit - governments have been using accrual accounting practices as a means of keeping them honest. Now, in order to hide the surplus, Labour intends to change back to cash flow accounting.

The reason for this planned deception is no doubt so that in the lead up to the election, in response to calls for tax cuts to give the surplus back to those who earned it, the Prime Minister can claim that the country can't afford it.

But the reality is that tax cuts are very much affordable. ACT's proposals to reduce top personal tax rates of income tax from 39 cents and 33 cents in the dollar down to 25 cents, to cut the 19.5 cent rate to 15 cents and lift that threshold to $38,000, and to cut company tax from 33 cents to 25 cents, would cost just over $5 billion dollars. The last time New Zealand's taxes were reduced significantly was in the eighties, when the top rate of tax was cut from 66 cents in the dollar to 33 cents. Within two years, the amount of tax collected at the lower rate exceeded that collected at the higher.

Lower taxes now would create a dynamic growth effect that would become the catalyst to reducing the 30 per cent standard of living gap with Australia. Surely that is a goal worth fighting for!

Finally, I worry that another three years of Labour's politically correct agenda will irreparably damage the `Kiwi way'. Already their social engineering has undermined the family, which is one reason that I suspect they are unscrupulously spending a whopping $17 million on the feel good family advertising package that is presently being used to promote their Working for Families election year bribe (that doesn't even need to be applied for) and which, on analysis, works out to be no more than a simple inflation adjustment!

Their costly promotion of privilege for Maori has deepened the racial divide in this country with their ill-advised Foreshore and Seabed legislation now creating a brand new Maori grievance industry.

Small business continues to be attacked with a plethora of anti-business laws and regulations that are undermining competitiveness, including the Employment Relations Act, Accident Compensation, Occupational Safety and Health, the Resource Management Act, and now the new Building Act. These are making it more costly and more difficult to do business in New Zealand and it accounts for why so many enterprising Kiwis have taken their innovations offshore.

But Labour's pathological desire to control our lives is most obvious when it comes to the erosion of our personal freedoms. That is now under serious threat, and the introduction of anti-smoking laws to treat smokers like second-class citizens is just a first step in using the socialist `divide-and-rule' strategy to pit one group of New Zealanders against another.

However this is only the tip of the iceberg. Soon there will be new regulations outlawing smoking at home, then laws to ban the smacking of children, and to restrict the supply and purchase of alcohol, fast foods, health foods and alternative medicines.

If the Labour Party is returned for a third term, there is no doubt in my mind that this country that we all love so dearly, that grew strong on our number 8 fencing wire pioneering spirit, will be transformed into a socialist stronghold. I hope voters who value the freedom and choice that we all so much take for granted, recognise this before they vote!

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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