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Judith Collins Clevedon MP Newsletter

Judith Collins Clevedon MP Newsletter

24 October 2006

Our Charities are facing unfair scrutiny. As of 1 February 2007, the Charities Commission will have the power to de-register organisations that are becoming too “political”. This means charities that lobby for law changes and advocate for others could face the loss of their tax-exempt status. I spoke against the Charities Act when it was passed through Parliament in 2005. At that time, I said that charities could be bullied and that now seems to be about to happen. It is absurd the Government would want these charities monitored in case they voice disagreement with Government policy. These charities hold together our communities and have the right to be independent advocates. Organisations like Plunket need to lobby to keep their vital services going. Earlier this year, Government funding for Plunket’s 24 hour phone line was cut. Plunket lobbied hard to keep its funding but to no avail. With the draconian Charities Act, Plunket could well be penalised for taking such a stance. This new law will make it more difficult for charities, including health groups like Diabetes NZ to campaign for better funding and programmes. Most charities rely on volunteers to undertake much of their work, including their "paper work". The imposition of much larger compliance costs on charities and those who give of their time freely is simply bureaucratic bullying. Now we have charities under threat if they advocate for the very people that they were set up to help.

Government’s Day of Shame. A law to legitimise over one million dollars of unlawful election spending was rushed and passed through Parliament last week. Not content with spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on advertising its policies before the election ($15million on Working for Families advertising alone), Labour ignored warnings from both the Auditor-General and the Chief Electoral Officer and misspent over $800,000 of taxpayer's funding. In the process, it breached the election spending cap by half a million dollars. At least Labour has finally promised to pay it back. New Zealand First has only promised to pay back what it "legally owes". After rushing through the Bill last week making legal, what was clearly illegal, New Zealand First removed any legal obligation for it to pay back the $160,000 it owes. The National Party tried to amend the bill by making the bill conditional on the debts being repaid. Unfortunately, the Government and its allies voted against it and the amendment was lost. There was no appropriate select committee procedure, which meant the public was shut out of the debate.

What is the Labour Government doing with its $11.5 Billion surplus? A person on $40,000 per year will pay a third of their income in tax. If they have a family to support they will struggle to pay the bills. This person will pay over $250 per week in tax. At the same time the Government is sitting on an enormous $11.5 billion budget surplus. Labour has been hiding this money from the public, yet they say they can’t afford to give hard-working people tax-cuts. The majority of New Zealander’s would be able to earn around $200 more per week in Australia, which is probably why around 700 Kiwi’s make their way for Australia each week. The argument is not about tall poppies who think they’re too good for New Zealand. It’s about bringing our country to the top in all areas, so that our children will not miss out on living in this fantastic place. Already New Zealand has fallen to the bottom half of the OECD rankings. Tax cuts encourage productivity, education and hard work. Visit www.wastewatch.co.nz to see just what the Government is doing with your taxes.

National’s vision for New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud has long been known for its pure, clean and very green environment. The bush, the snow, the mountains and our generous coast line are unique parts of our lifestyle. But sadly issues such as air pollution, climate change, and the erosion of our rivers and lakes are becoming all too familiar in our beautiful country. National has just released a discussion paper entitled: “Bluegreen Vision for New Zealand” to talk about a new direction in environmental policies. Please have a read of the paper on our website www.national.org.nz and share with us your feedback and opinions.

I attended the Alfriston School Performing Arts Centre ceremony last Friday. What a wonderful facility this Centre is. An amazing amount of hard work to fundraise for this project was undertaken by the school, parents, Board of Trustees and the community over the last three years, and it is still ongoing. It was a delightful opening ceremony with just a taste of the obvious talent of pupils at the school. As Alfriston School is a decile 10 school, much of its fundraising is directly from the local community and parents.

Consultation starts on Transpower’s revised transmission upgrade proposal The Electricity Commission has received a revised North Island grid upgrade proposal from Transpower to construct a 400kV-capable overhead transmission line between Whakamaru and South Auckland. It is proposed that the line would be operated initially at 220kV then converted to operate at 400kV at a future date. The proposed line includes connection into Pakuranga via 220kV underground cables.
Today, the commission published Transpower’s proposal on its website to start the first of two consultation periods about the proposal. The commission’s first consultation period, over the next four weeks, gives interested parties the opportunity to make initial written comments on the proposal, including consideration of the possible alternatives. This consultation period closes at 5.00pm, 22 November 2006. Written comments can be posted to: Electricity Commission, PO Box 10041, Wellington 6143; or emailed to: info@electricitycommission.govt.nz.
The second consultation period will follow the commission’s announcement of its draft decision about whether to approve or to decline the proposal. The commission hopes to announce its draft decision either in late December this year or early in the New Year. The commission plans to conduct a full public consultation process about its draft decision during February and March 2007. More information is available on the commission’s website at:


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