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Anderton – the Minister for Anti-Development

29 April 2005

Jim Anderton – the Minister for Anti-Development

This may seem like a preposterous idea for a minister – but trust me, in the case of Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton, it’s not. Yes, his gang at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have told a Kiwi business it would be better off moving overseas.

I wonder how many other businesses have been given this advice from Mr Anderton’s officials, and how many have followed that advice. What remains to be seen is what he is planning to do about this appalling advice.

If you look at Mr Anderton’s voting record, it’s plain to see he has voted in favour of every piece of anti-business legislation that Labour has introduced. I don’t have the space to list them all, but to name a few – Employment Relations Law Reform Act, Holidays Act, Building Act - you get the idea.

Everyone knows Labour has been making it increasingly difficult for businesses to survive in New Zealand. You only need to look at our taxation regime and the increasing compliance costs to see that, but that’s no reason to leave.

When you add these factors together, the results of the National Bank business confidence survey should come as no surprise. The results released this week show confidence is down a net 48% and the drop is widespread and across all sectors. This trend looks likely to continue unless something is done to make New Zealand an easier place to do business.

Labour is all spin and no substance when it comes to business. Four years ago they commissioned the highly respected Auckland businessman Alan Dunn to report on business compliance costs in New Zealand. He identified 120 compliance requirements that could be wiped out immediately with little problem.

But what has been done following this report? Nothing. It sits on Helen Clark’s bookshelf gathering dust. Beyond the election National will dust off this report and put many of its recommendations into action.

Helen Clark puts her foot in it

This week some media outlets have suggested that former Police Commissioner Peter Doone is considering suing Helen Clark for defamation. The issue arises from Mr Doone’s departure from the Police Commissioner’s job in January 2000.

The background is that, on election night 1999, Mr Doone and his partner were stopped by police officers. It was alleged Mr Doone told the young constable it would “not be necessary” to breath test his partner who was driving the car.

On the January 15, 2000, the Sunday Star-Times featured a story attributing that remark to Mr Doone and subsequently said Helen Clark had confirmed that he made the statement.

But investigations by the then Assistant Commissioner, Rob Robinson, and the Police Complaints Authority, showed the comment was not made.

This looks to be very messy for Helen Clark, and has all the hallmarks of the ‘Paintergate’ issue , in which she became entangled before the last election.

There was no secret among Labour Party members that Helen Clark wanted to see Peter Doone out of the Police Commissioner’s job. She had, of course, run a campaign opposing large payouts for people exiting state sector positions.

The publicity that resulted from the Sunday Star-Times story left Mr Doone with little option but to resign as Police Commissioner, although he had at all times claimed it was untrue.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in the weeks ahead.

Defence issues

The news at the beginning of the week was dominated by Anzac Day commemorations. Don Brash addressed the dawn service in Wellington where he remembered those who had fallen.

Many in Labour’s ranks took exception to him mentioning the lack of funding for our defence forces. We cannot allow our defence forces to atrophy in what is clearly an unstable international environment.

New Zealand spends only 0.9% of GDP on defence. When you compare that with Australia, which spends about 2%, you can understand why many across the ditch think we are not willing to pull our weight when it comes to regional defence issues. John Howard never does anything without thinking of the implications of his actions – and people wonder why he didn’t go to the commemorations at Chunuk Bair. You do the maths.

New Zealand should be working towards a peaceful and safe region. The best way to do this is to maintain a strong defence force and to work with our allies. Labour is doing little towards this. They have delayed the Orion upgrade. They have delayed the upgrades of the aging Hercules fleet (which have a nasty habit of breaking down, putting lives at risk). They have bought 105 LAVs, at a cost of $670 million, only to find they are two years away from having the personnel to man the vehicles.

When are they going to wake up and realise we don’t live in the benign strategic environment that Helen Clark claims we do? Our defence forces are in a mess and we must tidy them up.


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