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Heather Roy's Diary - Reinforcing Success

Reinforcing Success Is The Right Choice
Since the formation of the new Government the pace of briefings, introductions and information flow has been relentless. Parliament will be formally opened on Monday December 8, and there will be two sitting weeks - probably under Urgency - so that the Government can deliver on its campaign promises.

While National and ACT have much in common, there are also many policy areas where we are markedly different. When it comes to managing differences politics is no different to business, sporting or other groups: participants can choose to spend most of their time focussing on differences, or on the things they agree upon. I intend to run a positive and pro-active three years, and thought it useful to highlight areas where ACT and National can reinforce policy congruence and create excellent outcomes.

Consumer Affairs
There is considerable common policy ground between ACT and National when it comes to Commerce, Consumer Affairs and the Economy. Our Confidence and Supply Agreement recognises that - in order to promote strong growth in investment, employment and incomes - stable government and high levels of business confidence are required.

Both Parties also intend to reduce the red tape and regulatory interventions that are reducing investment and depriving New Zealanders of jobs. We will establish a taskforce to carry forward work on the Regulatory Responsibility Bill considered by Parliament's Commerce Committee in 2008. Taskforce membership is to be jointly agreed by National and ACT.

I will be emphasising that good consumer policy should not be anti-business, and that the benefits of any intervention must outweigh the sum of producer and consumer costs.

Education
National's Education policy states that it will 'work, over time, to increase the education choices available to parents and pupils so families have more freedom to select schooling options that best meet the needs of their children.' School choice has always been a major element of ACT policy and it is pleasing that ACT and National have a level of alignment on this.
In pursuit of this mutual goal, National and ACT have agreed to set up an inter-party working group on policy options relating to the funding and regulation of schools that will increase parental choice and school autonomy.

National's plan to introduce a 'voluntary bonding' scheme that offers student loan debt write-offs to graduate teachers, doctors, nurses and midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff communities or subjects aligns well with ACT's Voluntary National Service model - which was included as part of our national security policy.

Defence
ACT and National are in broad agreement that the New Zealand Defence Force must have sustainable capabilities that are suited to our regional risks. There will be a comprehensive assessment of the security situation and a Defence white paper in this term of government.

While ACT's preference is for a whole-of-government National Security framework, we understand that current issues in Defence cannot wait. Likewise, relationships with our traditional allies and finding solutions to recruitment and retention problems in our Defence Forces all mean a very busy work programme in terms of keeping Kiwis safe.

The detailed approach I will be taking to reinforce policy congruence will be determined once my briefings are complete and delegations for Associate Ministerial roles are finalised. I expect this to be in the next week or two.

Lest We Forget - Operation Restore Hope (Somalia)
On December 3 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 794 authorising the use of 'all necessary means to establish as soon as possible a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia'.

Unified Task Force (UNITAF) was a US-led, UN-sanctioned multi-national force that operated in the Republic of Somalia from December 9 1992-May 4 1993 - and codenamed 'Operation Restore Hope'.

In the context of current Somali-based piracy, we should reflect on how much effort can have so little effect when making our foreign aid and security commitments.

ENDS

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