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ACT’s The Letter 13 June 2005

ACT’s The Letter 13 June 2005


Politics has just got very very interesting. The electorate has realised there could be a change of Government. Voters who usually take no interest in politics have taken the phone off the hook and are listening. Labour has been surprised by the change in the polls and does not know how to respond.


The budget was an electoral disaster. Everyone knows the government has a record surplus - billions of dollars. 20% of working taxpayers know they are paying the maximum tax rate and that they are not “rich”. Even Cullen knew there had to be an adjustment to the tax thresholds. Offering a few cents in three years time is worse than doing nothing.


Those who live by polls die by them. Labour’s polling still says 60% of voters would pay more tax for better health and education. Of course they do not expect to. What Labour’s polling missed is that for those in the workforce who do pay tax the issue has become important as their mortgage interest rates rise. There are thousands of homeowners on fixed interest loans receiving letters each week advising them their interest rate is going up. The more highly geared you are, the more likely you are to take a fixed rate loan for as long a period as you can get. These are the people who need a tax cut now.


In Australia the Liberals managed to persuade the electorate that a change of government would see Labor increase interest rates. A remarkable political feat by Howard. Cullen is trying the same line but he is no John Howard. It is not working. People remember Brash as the man who halted inflation and think National is more likely to lower interest rates.


Cullen cannot cut taxes because of the massive increase in the number of civil servants - 38,000. The treasury paper on health spending illustrates what is happening. More health bureaucrats, (every health board now has a paid Iwi advisory board and staff), wages are rising faster than in the private sector and bureaucrats have $700 million of new expenditure planned for which there is no budget. For all the extra spending there is no extra output i.e. waiting lists are just as long.


In parliament it has been ACT’s Heather Roy who has exposed Health Minister Annette King’s incompetence. A Treasury report last week confirmed everything Heather has been saying. The report is devastating. See There is more to come. Documents inside the Ministry of Health reveal that Annette King thought the pay increase she approved for nurses also covered community nurse. It does not. More seriously the report shows Labour’s return to elected district health boards is a disaster. Ministry of Health officials, under pressure from the minister, are illegally suppressing these reports. Official Information requests are being denied on bogus grounds; such as they are commercially sensitive. There is no commercially sensitive information in health waiting lists! The State Service Commission that claims to be keeping the civil service non-political should intervene and order the release of the documents.


ACT believes it can make health an issue. Health is the electorate’s top concern and no one believes National is any better than Labour. From a practical point of view, for a list party, there is no difference between numbers 1 - 7. With the redistributed wasted vote any party getting over the 5% threshold can expect to get 7 MPs. ACT’s board used the top 7 places to signal two things. Firstly ACT is serious about health, making the health spokesman number 2 and giving the country’s top health economist Graham Scott the number 5 slot. Second, the importance of the Asian vote by promoting Kenneth Wang to number 7.


The former head of Treasury who over saw the Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson reforms is acknowledged as this country’s leading thinker about government. His books are the textbooks on government and he has been an advisor to over 40 governments for the last decade. No one of his stature has stood for parliament. His selection is a huge coup for ACT. For the total list go to


Potentially there are 300,000 NZ Asian voters, 130,000 are Chinese. Last election Labour won 50% of the Asian vote and ACT won 25% of the Chinese vote. ACT’s latest polling of Chinese voters shows Labour has suffered a big drop in support. The on/off/maybe selection of Steven Ching has been a disaster. 49% of all Chinese NZ’ers say ACT’s Kenneth Wang is the MP who best represents them. ACT’s strategists believe National and Labour by not ruling out a deal with the anti-Asian NZ First will see a significant shift of Asian voters to ACT not just enough to put ACT over the threshold but to increase ACT’s representation.


After the Benson-Pope issue was raised in parliament, former woodwork teacher Gerry Brownlee rang Labour and offered a deal, National would ask no questions about Benson-Pope provided Labour did the same about other school teachers. A staffer from Chris Carter’s office rang National to congratulate the party on selecting its first openly gay candidate. After a long pause, “I don’t think it is that open.”


Last week 98% of Letter readers predicted Winston would choose to go into government with National. This week Ken Shirley’s private members bill, which would allow nuclear powered ships to visit was drawn from the ballot. Should parliament vote to send the bill to select committee? We will present the results to parliament during the bills 1st reading. Vote on


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