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Upton-On-Line: Time for ACT to come clean

Emissaries from Labour and the Alliance have come to upton-on-line pleading for one day's relief from the stinging attacks they and their policies have received from this site.

It's true we have been unrelenting.

There is another party out on the hustings that could bear a little scrutiny: the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, nowadays known as ACT.

ACT plans to cut the top tax rate from 33c to 20c over five years, or more quickly, if possible. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by the Employers Federation, says "the success of ACT's tax proposals relies on severe cuts in government spending".

Surprisingly, finance spokesman, Rodney Hide, didn't like the sound of that and told last weekend's Sunday Star Times that virtually all the money needed could be found within existing baselines. He concluded, "you could do it without cutting into any existing government programmes".

What's there to be ashamed of? ACT is the party of small government. It wants to reduce government expenditure as a percentage of GDP drastically. Hide should be proud that his party would make severe cuts to government spending.

As a party that by its own boast puts policy before politics, ACT should be forthright in nominating the areas it has in mind for its spending cuts. After all, Bill English has made it clear that for every dollar of tax cuts there will be a dollar of increased social spending.

ACT should be leaping to inform voters that there will be no room for new drugs or shorter public hospital waiting lists. Its ambivalence is inexplicable, but it's not new. Last time they faced the voters, at the King Country by-election, the slash and burn party was suddenly into saving rural hospitals flat out. Richard Prebble's communications to Wellington Central voters have stressed his strong support for a new Wellington hospital and the need to save the green belt.

Saying one thing while preparing to do another was the election strategy Roger Douglas used with such devastating skill in 1984. It is a discredited technique. ACT should be up-front. It should say how it is going to reduce government spending sharply and let the voters decide.

It is not possible to maintain public expenditure and administer radical tax cuts. At least the Alliance's barmy spending plans are matched by gigantic tax hikes.


ends

Marginalia:

*upton-on-line has learnt of an incident at a public meeting in Nelson on Saturday, 16 October, involving the Libertarianz leader Lindsay Perigo that bears relating. Nick Smith was invited to the function but was absent on urgent constituency business. A well placed source, however, tells us that having lectured the audience on the virtues of property rights, Mr Perigo, then proceeded to draw attention to Nick's absence by brandishing a "Stick with Nick" hoarding. Sadly, it appears that the sanctity of property rights does not extend to the campaign signs of one's opponent.


ends

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