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News Worthy, 3 February 2006 - No. 59

News Worthy

3 February 2006 - No. 59

Agent Orange and our New Zealand soldiers in Vietnam

For the last two years National has battled on behalf of Vietnam vets who have been affected (together with their families) by the toxic effects of Agent Orange.

The Government has not been sympathetic and has instead retreated to a further round of discussions.

Now comes news that the High Court in South Korea has ordered two American companies to pay compensation to thousands of South Korean veterans of the Vietnam war over the use of the chemical Agent Orange.

The court told Dow Chemical and Monsanto to pay over $100 million to the 6,800 veterans.

Taxes on fuel

New Zealand continues to lag behind other OECD nations in the amount it is investing in its core infrastructure like roads, rail, energy transmission and generation, water and public utilities.

That's why National announced as its major policy for transport the moving, over time, of all the petrol taxes that currently go to the Crown account, to the Road Fund. That would mean an extra $4.5 billion will be available for roading over the next decade.

The taxes and levies paid on fuels are well illustrated below:

New Zealand flight

As Don Brash on 31 January 2006 noted we continue to lose over 600 New Zealanders across the Tasman every week as the income gap in average after-tax incomes widens between the two countries.

The income gap means that people can get better healthcare in other developed countries, better education for their children in other developed countries, and better housing in other developed countries.

Immigration is one strategy to stem the impacts of the outflow.

Our immigration policy is an ad hoc collection of constantly changing rules, no better illustrated by the Business Investor rules which are proving a lamentable failure.

Stripped of complexity the rules require that an applicant invest $2 million for five years. The funds are held by the New Zealand Government. It is not hard to understand why investors are staying away in droves.

But worse there is an English language test which requires immigrants to have University-entry English language skills. Many New Zealanders would not pass those tests. For a self-test look at
The United States has no such English language test. Nor should we.

Samuel Goldwyn who emigrated from Poland to New York and went on to create the famous film studio MGM knew nothing of English when he left from Poland.

Political Quote of the Week

"I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic." Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

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