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Free Press: ACT’s regular bulletin

20 August 2018

ACT Forces Winston’s Hand on Māori seats

ACT’s Smaller Government Bill has forced Winston Peters to propose an amendment to a Labour MP's bill that would put the Māori seats to a referendum. Peters has been in Parliament for 40 years and the Māori seats have long been a so-called ‘bottom line’ for him. Now just a week after ACT revealed its detailed plan, he has finally decided to act. No wonder voters don’t trust him.

Coalition Makes the Case for Smaller Government Bill

Just over a week ago, ACT launched the Smaller Government Bill which would cut the number of MPs and ministers, and remove the Māori seats. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Now even ACT’s political opponents are making the case for the Bill. Two cases of bloated government in just the last week make clear why the Smaller Government Bill is needed to roll back the state.

Bloated Government #1: What’s Kelvin Up To?

One of the new positions created after the election was the Crown-Māori Relations portfolio. Late last week, it came to light that its Minister, Kelvin Davis, has been without a job description for 10 months. If we don’t even know what a minister does, how are New Zealanders supposed to hold them to account? The Smaller Government Bill will rationalise the number of portfolios from 76 to 35, and restrict the number of high-paid ministers to 20. The result will be more accountability and more focus on actually solving problems.

Bloated Government #2: What Will Jones’ New Agency Achieve?

The coalition’s big idea for closing the so-called 'infrastructure gap' is a new government department. But if a new infrastructure agency is needed, what are the NZ Transport Agency, the Ministry of Transport, the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Unit, and local government for? Jones’ new quango simply adds to the alphabet soup of agencies responsible for delivering infrastructure. It’s wasteful and blurs the lines of responsibility. It will do nothing to deliver better infrastructure.

Nutty Regulation #1: Plastic Bag Ban

The Greens’ nutty ban on single-use plastic bags is lose-lose. It will lead to worse economic outcomes: jobs lost, Kiwis having to buy higher-cost bags, and less convenience. And it will hurt the planet as people are forced to use bags that have a higher impact. Aside from virtue-signalling, it’s hard to see why this product has been singled out. It’s not the bags that are harming the environment, it’s the way people are using them. Besides, single-use plastic bags make up just 0.01 per cent of landfill waste. The Government should be focused on win-win policies that help both the environment and the economy, not lose-lose propositions that harm both.

Nutty Regulation #2: Foreign Home Buyer Ban

The foreign home buyer ban that passed last week will do nothing to help housing affordability. It was a rushed law. The Government was forced to backtrack on various occasions and make a number of exemptions. The law is again about virtue-signaling - showing that the Government is doing something, anything. Foreign buyers only make up 3 per cent of house sales - they don’t represent a big problem. And we need foreign money to build houses. The fact that foreign investors will now need to go through the cumbersome Overseas Investment Office process will discourage overseas capital from flowing in to build new houses. Not until we replace the vandalous Resource Management Act will we achieve more affordable houses.

Praise for Performance Pay

Two opinion pieces in the past few days have echoed ACT’s view that good teachers should be paid more. Damien Grant and John Roughan both point out we have an education system that doesn't reward excellence and protects the weakest teachers. Because of rigid union-imposed collective agreements the best teachers get paid the same as the worst. This has created a shortage of ambitious, high-quality teachers entering the profession. ACT would enable schools to opt out of union contracts giving them the flexibility to recognise great teachers by paying them more.


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