Newsworthy - July 14, 2005
Newsworthy - July 14, 2005
Police numbers - the true position
The Labour Government Minister of Police has made it clear on a number of occasions that the Government is satisfied with the number of frontline police. His comments have included: - "The Police are well resourced" - Question for Oral Answer 3/2/05 - "The Commissioner and I often talk about resources and he is very pleased with what I get him" - Question for Oral Answer 15/2/05 - "I am satisfied that the Police are very well resourced under this Government" - Question for Oral Answer 4/5/05 In fact, when it comes to country comparisons, New Zealand has the poorest population-to-police ratio in the English-speaking world.
When compared to countries such as France, New Zealand comes out having 117% less officers per head of population (255 people per police officer in France - 554 in New Zealand) while it has 72% less than Scotland, 41% less than England/Wales, 30% less than Australia and 26% less than the USA based on police officers per head of population ratios.
The burgeoning bureaucracy
The core public service has grown by around 25% in the past five years. When Crown entities and other state sector organisations are taken into account, the growth is even larger.
There has to be real concern that:
- Overall growth in the public sector has been excessive relative to the growth of the economy and the level of growth in the private sector.
- Too much of the additional resource has
been allocated to bureaucracy, with little additional
funding finding its way into the provision of additional
- There is massive waste and inappropriate expenditure.
- There has been a loss of focus on the efficient provision of core public services and an undesirable focus on political correctness.
- Since 2001, the annual cost of the public service has risen by over $700 million. The trend is simply unsustainable. We need to arrest the unmanaged growth of the public sector and impose a greater focus on the delivery of core public services.
National's horse racing policy
Horse racing aficionados will have seen on the New Zealand race tracks in recent weeks the work of an action team which has stencilled "fair taxes" on the rumps of the competing horses.
There are significant inequalities in the different way racing and casino profits are taxed. National has agreed to deal with that disparity
Racing, breeding and horse ownership are facets of a unique agribusiness that contributes to our overall economy through employment, exports and related industries.
New Zealand racing contributes $1.5 billion per annum to the economy, supports 18,300 full-time jobs and exports $130 million worth of horses.
But thoroughbred racing and standard-bred racing have been in relative decline for some years. In part at least this is because the gaming duty takes about six times as much out of the average dollar bet on racing as it does out of the average dollar bet in a casino.
National's policy for the sector includes a plan to bring gaming duties paid by the racing industry into line with those paid by casinos, at an estimated cost of around $25 million annually.
The Anti-smacking Bill
The Government has decided to support a Members Bill to remove the defence of "reasonable force" in section 59 of the Crimes Act. The section currently reads: (1) Every parent of a child and ...every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. (2) The reasonableness of the force used is a question of fact. The effect of removing the provision is to criminalise parents. They will commit an offence under section 194 of the Crimes Act of assault on a child under the age of 14. The penalty for the offence is two years in jail.
No one doubts that child abuse is an issue that must be addressed by society but criminalising parents is not the answer.
Some have suggested that reasonable force should be defined but that is in fact very difficult to do. I noted on a recent "Eye to Eye" programme that the sort of issues which would arise would be whether there should be a statutory ban on weapons, head blows, striking with closed fists etc.
Veterans Gold Card
For the period that I was Defence Spokesman I pushed the concept of a Veterans' Gold Card.
It now forms part of our policy for the next election. The Gold Card will provide a range of benefits where there is established need, including priority access to hospital services, such as surgical treatment, and access to Housing New Zealand accommodation and other services.
Veterans with appropriate qualifying service and who receive New Zealand Superannuation, or are entitled to a war disablement pension, will be eligible for the Veterans' Gold Card.
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Political Quote of the Week "[A politician needs] the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen." - Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister
15-18 July NZPTA conference in Epsom 16 July NZ Society for Music Therapy Annual Conference 17 July Memorial Service for Bhagubhai Vaghela Ethnic Media Press Conference 20 July Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Oceania hosting 2005 Regional Conference dinner
21 July 2005 Inaugural Hope Foundation Fundraiser 24 July NZ 2025: Discussions on the Future of NZ at Holy Trinity Church 25 July Richard opening Panacea Arts Exhibition "A World of Difference" 26 July House resumes sitting 27 July 52nd Anniversary NZ Korea Veterans Annual Cease Fire Parade 28 July 184th Anniversary Peru Independence reception in Wellington 1 August Switzerland National Day celebration in Wellington and farewell to Ambassador 2 August Parliamentary reception for Michael Campbell - 2005 US Open Golf Champion 3 August Kings College pupils visiting Parliament
5 August Memorial Service for Admiral Sir Gordon Tait at Holy Trinity Church 6 August Chamber Music NZ National Final at Auckland Town Hall 7 August NZ Guangdong Assn hosting Hong Kong Yip's Children Choir concert 11 August Auckland District Law Society panel discussion on justice issues House adjourns at end of day today 15 August Auckland War Memorial Museum holding commemoration of the End of 2nd World War in the Pacific 16 August Richard guest speaker at Rotary Club of Epsom