Prebble Speech: Freedom & Choice - The Real Issues
Freedom And Choice - The Real Issues
Thursday 9th Sep 1999
Richard Prebble Speech
Speech To Canterbury University 12.00 Noon Thursday 9th September 1999
Hon. Richard Prebble, Mp Leader Of Act New Zealand
Freedom And Choice - The Real Issues
Thank you for the invitation to speak at Canterbury University today. Your letter of invitation states:
"Please feel free to speak on a topic of your choice, although students are most likely to be interested in tertiary education issues such as fees, loans and allowances."
I think that sentiment expressed the real issue of this election. I will come to tertiary education, fees, loans and allowances - let me deal with the first statement: Feel free to speak on a topic of your choice - freedom and choice.
The ACT Party's whole raison d'être is freedom and choice. The ACT Party is the only party in Parliament that believes that you should be free to choose. Of course there are limits, but in essence the limitation is that with freedom to choose comes responsibility for your actions.
ACT says adults must be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions. If your actions cause harm and loss to your neighbours then you should make good.
A society that is based on the belief in your right to choice must cherish free speech, must uphold the sanctity of contract and the right to own property and, provided you are liable for consequences, the right to do what you like with your own property. If you can't, you don't own it, the state does.
Only ACT in Parliament believes that you should have the freedom to choose.
This election is a choice of the school teacher or the mother telling us what's good for us, taking our choices for us. The school teacher Helen Clark versus the mother Jenny Shipley.
Why any educated person, why any person who wants to be free to choose would vote for either is a mystery. All the other parties are just imitations of Jim Anderton's belief in the collective, that the state should and can take our property and make choices for us.
Today in New Zealand the state takes 40% of all that we earn every year. We keep just 60%. The state in income tax, GST, fuel taxes, duties and user charges, takes just under 40%. That's more than the state took to fight World War II. It's more than the state took in the sixties. Up until 1973 the state, in New Zealand, never took more than one dollar in four, now it takes more than one dollar in three.
To listen to the media you would have the impression that New Zealand is some sort of wild west capitalist state - nothing could be further from the truth.
To confiscate by law more than over one dollar in three of everything produced, requires police state powers. The IRD can enter your home without a search warrant. The IRD can access and empty your bank accounts - and does - without a warrant and no court can stop them.
By law you earn what the Inland Revenue Commissioner says you do. You can't challenge that ruling until you have paid half of the tax that the Commissioner says you owe. Under this Government the Commissioner told a small Christchurch businessman that he owed a million dollars. No explanation.
"But I have never earned a million dollars, this is a ghastly mistake - how do you reach this view?"
"We are the IRD - we do not have to explain. Pay half a million and you can challenge."
"I don't have $500,000."
We are the IRD it's our job to be fair - we will bankrupt you!
The businessman, Dave Henderson, went to every MP in Christchurch - National, Labour and the Alliance.
Not one would help.
Perhaps I should be more exact. Gerry Brownlee wrote a letter that was of no help. The Labour MPs did nothing and Jim Anderton made it clear to Mr Henderson that he thought that Mr Henderson was a tax avoider and he had a moral duty to pay the IRD half a million, which left Mr Henderson completely depressed.
Then ACT got elected.
It took Rodney Hide a year of Parliamentary Questions, official information requests, bombarding the Ombudsman, the Commissioner and the Minister.
He eventually discovered that Dave Henderson did not owe a million dollars.
The IRD owed Dave Henderson $60,000.
The ACT Party has forced the first ever review of the IRD.
We have had an Inland Revenue Department for over 150 years and yet MPs have never had a Parliamentary Inquiry into its activities. MPs have dozens of inquiries into liquor and what New Zealanders do with their leisure but never into a department responsible for collecting the money.
That committee has found there are many Dave Henderson. People who out of the blue - or rather out of the IRD - got a demand for an impossible sum of money. When they could not pay, their companies were seized, their assets were confiscated and they were bankrupted. As bankrupts they became social outcasts.
National. Labour and the Alliance not only did not lift a finger - they have passed new police state powers for the Commissioner. If you make a mistake in filling out your tax forms - the Commissioner levels penalty compound interest. Interest a mafia loan shark would be embarrassed to charge.
I have had, in my constituency office, people with debts to the IRD of over $100,000. The original debt - less than $20,000 - which the IRD said was not taxable.
Four years later the IRD changed its mind, which by law it can do, even though its advice was in writing, and then the IRD can say - now we want compound interest.
There is no way that the state can take 40% of all we earn without these police powers. You are not free to choose, if the state is going to take 40% of all you earn.
Of course - in your case it won't - it will be over 50%. 40% of the adult population gets more from the state than they ever pay in taxes. One in three is on state assistance. Thousands more get more from programmes like family support than they pay in taxes.
A third of the country - most of you in this room, for the rest of your life - will pay over 50% of all you earn for all your life to pay for it. At least 10% of you will refuse and become economic refugees.
Why should any person vote for either the school teacher or the mother to tell us what to do? We all know that they waste much of the money they take from us. Millions of dollars of our money is now being wasted on politically correct Waitangi claims. New Zealand has become the only country in the world to say that a race of people own the electromagnetic spectrum. As the dissenting judge said - that's a claim to own sunlight.
Yes, the claimant said - sunlight has great spiritual significance to Maori.
Of course ordinary Maori don't see any benefit - we are just financing an elite. Maoris are yet to see a snapper.
Now Transit is paying Maori to bless new roads. A constituent of mine in the in the suburb of Kelburn had to get an expert to write a report that there were no Maori spiritual values involved in his application for a new driveway. His private property. No evidence that Maori had ever lived anywhere near it ever.
No report, no driveway. He does not own his own home.
Only ACT opposes this nonsense. Only ACT says let's resolve all the real grievances, then close down the Tribunal. All settlements must be fair, full and final. Let's remove all racial discrimination from the statute book - let's have one law for all.
Yesterday I spoke to some Wellington Polytechnic students - and some politically correct student - who looked as if she is planning a career in the Treaty industry - said what about new grievances?
If you don't know about it after 160 years - it's probably bogus.
Only ACT says that people do not have the right to retire at 18 on to social welfare. ACT supports a social security safety net not a social welfare hammock - social security has become a way of life. Adults do not have the right to bludge off you.
Nor do criminals have the right to live off you. Burglary is a crime in New Zealand that pays. Just 200 professional burglars, the police estimate, did over 50,000 burglaries. They stole goods worth over a billion dollars. Very few have even gone to jail and those who did rarely served more than a third of the sentence.
ACT says - if you do the crime you should do the time.
There is a freedom issue in involved in opposing red tape and bureaucracy. Over 5200 new laws and regulations have been passed affecting business in the 1990's. Hong Kong has got just one thousand.
Why should a taxi driver pay $300 a year to renew his license?
We need these laws because no-one is responsible for their actions anymore.
We need OSH Act inspections because you can no longer sue people or businesses who cause you harm.
Since no-one is at fault - even for criminal negligence - the accident rate has rocketed.
Freedom and choice are at the heart of every political decision.
You must decide whether you support freedom or whether you support the collective making your life decisions for you.
ACC is a good example.
ACT has advocated that employers should at least be able to choose who they insure with. The state-owned ACC monopoly was wasteful and inefficient.
This year 95% of all employers chose a private insurer for ACC. In my electorate ACC premiums have halved. Some companies have saved a million dollars.
Labour has announced that the private ACC insurance will be re nationalised without compensation. The insurance companies will lose $100 million. Companies will have to pay at least $500 million more. Because Labour does not believe that you have the right to choose.
Labour's industrial relations policy is also opposed to choice. Today you can choose whether to join a union, or choose a bargaining agent or represent yourself. Under Labour, by law only unions will be able to represent you in a collective agreement. By law, you won't be able to receive the wages or benefits without joining the union. Compulsory unionism by the back door.
The average trade union charges $500 a year in fees. You will find that you have to pay it. ACT says it is wrong in a free society. I would remind you that some 300,000 workers have left trade unions since they became voluntary.
Forcing 300,000 to re-join trade unions will give the unions an extra $150 million a year.
Labour's industrial policy has nothing to do with fairness, freedom or choice. It's all about giving trade unions, who in turn finance the labour party, another $150 million a year.
It's the equivalent, for a worker being forced to join a union, of a 1% tax increase.
ACT does not support the tyranny of the majority. Others can't exercise your choice for you. So we do not support compulsory unions - or compulsory student associations. If just one person does not want to join your association - I support their right.
ACT is the only party to make that stand.
I promised to cover today education, fees, loans and allowances. It's an issue of freedom and choice.
ACT supports all tertiary institutions - whether state-owned or independent - being treated the same. We see no reason why we should not have independent universities as we now have private and very successful polytechs. ACT believes students should pay full fees. There is no such thing as a free education. It's just a question of how we pay. Some - such as pilots, hairdressers and truck drivers - already pay full fees.
Of course, university fees are not based on the cost of tuition. Over 40%, and in some cases 50%, of the cost is research. Research is a public good and should be met by public taxes.
Which brings me to loans. ACT supports the student loan scheme - without it, many students would not get access to tertiary education. ACT is opposed to Labour's silly idea that student loans be interest free while you study.
About 50% of all students do not have any loan. If it was interest free every student would borrow to the limit - if only to take to the ANZ to put into an interest earning account. It's a silly idea. You really have a choice.
On the one hand, the Alliance says universities should be free - trouble is, you can never leave because there won't be an economy.
On the other hand you have ACT, who says government and students have a moral contract. You pay the costs of tertiary tuition and government ensures that you have a job and a tax rate low enough so you can easily repay your investment.
Labour and National are just pale imitations of the Alliance.
Now we have National Ministers wanting to direct you as to what you should study. Maurice Williamson does not know you. He does not know what you want to do with your life. He is talking tripe. If investment in science was the guarantee of success then the Soviet Union would have won the Cold War. Prosperity comes from hard work, thrift and enterprise.
Wealth is created by the private sector and never by government. Countries built on freedom and choice are the countries that are wealthy and the only ones worth living in. You can only have freedom if you choose it and accept the responsibility that comes with it.