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ACT's The Letter - 12 December 2005

ACT's The Letter - 12 December 2005

The Haps

Parliament's last week for the year. TVNZ's Colmar-Brunton polls that predicted National would win the election continue to place National ahead. The Reserve Bank has raised interest rates again. The Greens accept baubles without office.

Brakes are on

With the highest interest rates in the OECD and a dollar that keeps on climbing something has to give. 93% of Letter readers agree with the OECD that the economy is headed for a hard landing. Just 3% have confidence in Michael Cullen's stewardship.

Spinning Reports

David Benson-Pope's attempt to spin the police report lost him everyone's support. Lianne Dalzeil was fired for one lie but his repeated lies produce no disciplinary action from Helen Clark except to blame his press officer. Rongo Wetere also leaked the report into the Wananga. The Auditor-General is an Officer of Parliament and the premature release is a serious breach of privilege but having refused to send Benson-Pope to the committee the Speaker cannot act against defiant Mr Wetere.

Quite an ACT

Both the above issues where the government has displayed poor decision making were raised by ACT MPs, Rodney Hide and Ken Shirley. The ACT MPs Rodney, The Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Bill and Heather, a bill to subject Pharmac to the Commerce Act, won the private members' bill ballot. The odds were improved by most MPs failing to have a bill in the ballot.

Party Line Wins Conscience Vote

Ten days ago we reported that Labour believed it was facing defeat on the Marriage Bill, to declare that a marriage is between a man and a woman. The bill was easily defeated. As we correctly stated all Labour MPs "consciences" turned out to be the same as Clark's, (except Phillip Field's). Don Brash suggested to his caucus it would be good politics to support to select committee the United Party bill. A dozen National MPs decided their consciences would not let them including would be leader Simon Powell who voted against the Civil Union Bill and then opposes the Marriage Bill. Go figure.

A Blood Bath

The Greens website contains no fewer than 10 job vacancies with Nandor Tanczos, Jeanette Fitzsimon, Sue Bradford and Keith Locke all advertising for new executive assistants. The party is also advertising for a Wellington Youth Outreach organiser, a communications/publications officer, a media officer and an advisor. This is nearly a complete clean out of existing staff.

Baubles without Accountablity

Winston Peters, minister without collective responsibility, is not the only new constitutional arrangement. The Green website also contains an advertisement from Ministerial Services for two staff to work in the Green Parliamentary office. (MPs staff are funded by Parliamentary Services accountable to the Speaker).

"One advisor will provide high level advice to Jeanette Fitzsimons in her role of leading government projects in energy efficiency and solar energy, and in her portfolio areas of sustainable economics and transport. The other advisor will work with Sue Bradford on a government buy-Kiwi-made programme". Neither MP can be questioned in parliament or at select committee as to how these taxpayer funded employees are being used. In the UK to prevent the executive simply bribing MPs for their support, a Member of Parliament who accepts any positions from the Crown, must resign. If it looks like a bribe the answer often is because it is a bribe.

More Maiden Speeches out of 10

*Chester Borrows Whanganui National (5) Former Policeman now lawyer won the seat from Labour at his third attempt. "I walked up to this scrap thinking, where the hell are you now - Prebble" Interesting speech.

*Jacqui Dean Otago National. (2) Only just won back the safe seat. Self satisfied speech. She says water is the biggest issue facing New Zealand. (Oh that it was.)

*Craig Foss Tukituki National. (3) Told MPs he had signed his first taxi chit.

*Jo Goodhew Aoraki National (4) Registered nurse. Got the country's biggest swing to dump Sutton. A constituency speech. Spoke out for community volunteers who "petty rules hold …to ransom".

*Colin King Kaikoura National (4) Something rare, a real farmer. Sound constituency speech.

*Nathan Guy National List (3) another constituency speech. He came very close to winning Otaki. Another real farmer. National has got back a rural caucus.

Assessment of new MPs

Labour's new MPs are more feminist ex trade union officials. Shane Jones is what they need, an able articulate Maori businessman. National has had the best infusion of talent since 1975 but all the speeches could have been better. They were Academy award speeches. Nathan Guy named 33 people in his 15 minute speech. Too many speeches gave pointless geographic description of electorates e.g., "The Otaki electorate combines the districts of Horowhenua and Kapiti" - Guy again - that's why it's called Otaki. Over the top praise of the leader should be saved for party conferences. Most speakers had included far too much material about themselves. For example, Jo Goodhew said "my ancestors were known as De Caillot, Huguenots who fled from France", - so what was her point? Giving irrelevant information left very little time for them to tell us what they want to achieve. With a little guidance most could have scored most a pass mark.

Leadership Lobbying

National MPs like Bill English have been seen in the lobbies being very solicitous to new MPs but we doubt he told Nicki Wagner that her speech was awful.

This week's poll

This week's poll is not whether Bollard should but whether he will raise interest rates again in January. The Reserve Bank will be very interested in what readers pick. Give your prediction at


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