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News Worthy

News Worthy

5 August 2005 No. 39

Student Loans

On 19 July 2005 the New Zealand Government in a press release said that "all Labour's pledges would be responsible and fully costed". Not so with the Government's policy on interest-free student loans.

It represents a sharp reversal of Mr Mallard's comments published in Salient on 28 February 2005 when he said :

"Major changes in student loan policies were only likely to happen if the country struck oil, and we were guaranteed economic security for the next 50 years".

Currently tertiary students are able to borrow from the Government for compulsory fees or tuition fees, course related costs, and living costs ($150 per week while studying less any net entitlements). Loans are interest free while studying, but revert to a market rate of interest (currently 7%) once studying is complete.

Two of the banks have come out strongly against the scheme - Westpac and the National Bank.

The Government costed the scheme at $338m per year. Westpac has calculated that if students borrowed to their maximum capability (as most surely would when offered free money), the stock of student debt could blow out by an additional $10.9b over 10 years and the annual cost would be as high as $1.1b.

New Zealand's net worth will be reduced by approximately $1.7 billion, or $400 per person, after 30 June 2007, if Labour's proposal to change the student loan policy is in fact implemented.

Scatological nonsense by ACT The realities of the MMP electoral system mean that if ACT voters want a centre-right government they should tick National twice on their voting paper.

Advertisements from ACT claiming Don Brash needs Rodney Hide to win Epsom are nonsense.

My hope is that centre-right voters will return me as the Member of Parliament for Epsom to continue my work for our constituents and will also Party Vote for National.

In an earlier newsletter (No. 25) I made the point that if a minor party fails to win a constituency seat and gets less than 5% of the Party Vote, that Party Vote is redistributed proportionately amongst the other parties.

Voting redistribution could actively work against the interest of the major parties. If for example an extreme right party failed to get a constituency seat and failed to secure more than the 5% threshold, then a redistribution would give a proportion of those failed votes to the left.

Fines defaulters and the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act has its critics and whilst some of the criticism is misdirected there is little doubt that information which should be in the public domain is often wrongly protected.

Take the case of fines defaulters. New Zealand's top fines defaulter owes $1.8 million.

The amount owed is for infringements handed out over two years in 1997 and 1998. The defaulter "cannot be identified for privacy reasons".

Surely he should not have the benefit of anonymity.

Government profligacy and waste

There are many examples of waste of taxpayer money. Here are a quickly gathered 18 with the associated costs:

25% more bureaucrats - $700,000,000
33% more sickness benefits - $125,000,000
39% more invalids benefits - $266,000,000
Te Wananga o Aotearoa - $239,000,000
Te Wananga clean-up job - $1,400,000
Te Wananga bailout - $20,000,000
"What's a Family?" advertisements $670,000
Hip-hop tours - $26,000
Hip-hop tour wind-up party - $32,000
Treaty information campaign - $6,475,000
Radio singalong courses - $10,000,000
Letter campaign for re-election - $350,000
Cool IT courses - $15,000,000
"Working for Families" advertisements - $15,000,000
Homeopathy for pets - $180,000
Whanau development - $10,500,000
Prisoner compensation - $160,000
Kyoto carbon debit - $500,000,000

Driver age

The car crash which killed four Hastings teenagers last Friday has raised issues about increasing the minimum driving age from 15 to 16.

According to Land Transport New Zealand surveys excessive speed accounted for about 40% of fatal crashes involving drivers under 24.

By way of comparison the minimum driving age in a number of countries (this is the age you can first get a learner's licence in the countries where a graduated system applies) is set out below:

Australia - 16-18 (depending on the State)

United Kingdom - 17

Ireland - 17

United States - 14-16 (depending on the State)

Canada - 16

Germany - 18

France - 18

Finland - 18

The unfinished business of Parliament

Parliament was scheduled to sit next week but the Government has decided for political reasons to shorten the session.

At the time of dissolution there will be a substantial amount of unfinished business before the House and committees. On my count there are 32 Government Bills and 4 Members Bills. Much of the material is controversial and the Government does not want public debate on the issues.

What happens to these Bills?

In 2005 the Constitution Act 1986 was amended because the practice of carrying business over effectively imposed an agenda on the newly elected House. All business before the House and committees now lapses at the time of dissolution but can be reinstated by the new House at the same stage it had reached in the previous Parliament.

The politics around our nuclear policy

In 1987 the then Government passed the New Zealand Nuclear-Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act. It was controversial legislation establishing a nuclear-free zone and prohibited visits by nuclear powered ships.

It has become iconic legislation in the minds of many New Zealanders.

It is not an election issue. All of the parties except ACT are agreed that the policies should remain in place. It would only be altered by a public referendum and there is clearly insufficient support for such a change. Neither Labour nor National have any plans to carry out such a referendum.

Political Quote of the Week

"My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right!" - Carl Schurz- American politician 1829-1906

Upcoming Events 5 August Memorial Service for Admiral Sir Gordon Tait at Holy Trinity Church Richard participating on Shine TV - Law & Order Debate 6 August Chamber Music NZ National Final at Auckland Town Hall Inaugural launch of KOWIN (Korea Women's International Network) 7 August NZ Guangdong Assn hosting Hong Kong Yip's Children Choir concert 10 August Remuera/Eastern Bays CAB 29th AGM Live Radio debate with Rodney Hide 11 August Auckland District Law Society panel discussion on justice issues House adjourns at end of day today 13 August Auckland Indian Assn hosting Independance Day celebrations 14 August Auckland City hosting Commemoration ceremony for 60th Anniversaries of VE and VJ Days & 65th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain Auckland Pakistani Community celebrating Independence Day 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 17 August Richard speaking at Hamilton lawyers meeting 21 August Launch of National Partry Campaign 22 August Remuera Branch Campaign Launch 23 August Epsom Baptist Church candidates meeting 25 August Eden/Epsom Campaign Launch Sommerville Presbyterian Church Candidate Debate 26 August Richard speaking at Criminal Bar Assn dinner 27 August Eden Roskill RSA Market Day Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Arts Assn Members 2005 Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Exhibition Opening 28 August Politician Sunday at Eden Assembly of God Church

Richard Worth

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