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The Letter - 24 March 2014

The Letter - 24 March 2014

Policy not politics

“If only the media would give coverage to policy” says Labour apologists. No one could accuse us of being a gossip mag so we have examined Labour’s latest policy release to see why it has been almost totally ignored. On examination we agree that the policy deserves much better coverage.

Apartheid; no whites apply

“Forestry and Wood Products: Economic Upgrade” is a boring title for a policy. We have a new title “Only Maori can apply”. See, you are already interested. (We are not making this up. Labour proposes a tree planting programme costing $20 million a year that is only open to Iwi).

Anti-New Zealand Steel ?

“Labour is pro-wood” says David Cunliffe. Boring! Why not say “Labour is anti-steel framed houses?” Now we want to know why. Does Cunliffe know that much of the steel framing for housing around the world is made in computer driven mills invented and manufactured in New Zealand? New Zealand has three steel frame mill makers and they dominate the world market. The steel used in New Zealand buildings is manufactured in this country too.

More leaks

Labour could have got far more coverage for their forestry policy by saying it is Labour policy to force up the cost of home building. If the country had used more steel framing the leaky homes scandal would have cost less. Steel framed homes are now being exported to the islands because they are easier to erect and have less maintenance issues. But surely what material you use should be your choice ?

Policies have consequences

The biggest loser from the leaky building scandal is the Ministry of Education. It is going to cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to fix all the leaky schools. The fault is not the use of wood but a government policy to accept the lowest tender. The worst leaky schools were designed by the same cheap architect. Requiring all government building four stories or less to be built of wood will have unintended consequences like a five storey school because it is cheaper to build.

Increased petrol prices

Buried in Labour’s “pro wood” policies is a proposal that companies needing to buy offsetting carbon credits must purchase 50% of their carbon credits from New Zealand forestry owners. It is called global warming for a reason. A New Zealand carbon credit is no better for the environment. Labour admits New Zealand forestry owners will increase the price of ETAs but then say “COST: This measure will be revenue-creating rather than a net expenditure”. That is like saying a tax increase has no cost because it raises government money!

Some goss

Where does this nonsense come from? The transfer of the Central North Island forests to iwi has made Maori the nation’s biggest forest owners. A new generation of Maori leaders whole work experience has been that wealth comes from the government. How to increase the value of their forests? Get the government to change the rules to force the country to use wood. Iwi have lobbied Shane Jones who has been the driver of this potentially multi-million dollar gravy train.

Forced Consumption

Jamie Whyte in his daily blog put the issue rather well.
“Yesterday my 10-year-old told me she had a brilliant idea to boost economic growth. She had learnt at school that much of the money earned in New Zealand comes from the food industry. So, she figured, if the government just forced people to buy more food, then even more money would be made from food and we would all be richer.
Only joking. My daughter isn’t that stupid. But apparently David Cunliffe is. On Wednesday, in a speech to ForestWood 2014, a gathering of the forestry industry, he began by observing that forestry is a big part of the New Zealand economy. He then claimed that he could make it an even greater source of wealth to New Zealanders by forcing us to buy more wood. He would do this by using taxpayers’ money to build government offices and 100,000 “affordable homes” out of wood.
Many of the assembled wood growers must have been thrilled. How delightful to hear a politician’s plan to force people to buy your products! But I hope that at least a few of them were disgusted. Mr Cunliffe’s policies are not merely a path to national economic decline. They appeal to immoral and anti-social urges: vote for me and I will prey on others for your benefit.
Benjamin Franklin said that democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Mr Cunliffe should be ashamed of confirming this cynical view of his job.” www.act.org.nz

Fairfax media thinks ACT will do well

The Dominion last week ran a beat up that John Thompson, the president of ACT, has a conflict of interest because he is a Kiwi fruit exporter who supports the opening of the export market. The story only makes sense if you believe ACT will hold the balance of power. Actually it still does not make sense. The President of the Labour Party is often a trade unionist. Labour was founded by trade unions to promote their interests. The Fairfax papers have never claimed Labour having a trade unionist as their president is a conflict of interest. Someone needs to tell the Dominion that ACT is a free market party.

Govern Alone?

Maybe the Fairfax media is right that ACT will do exceptionally well. In the Herald poll ACT has gone from zero to .8%. As a percentage increase that is an infinite increase. Projected forward at that rate of increase ACT could govern alone. That statement is no sillier than the commentary the Herald has run on its poll. We are not trumpeting ACT’s spectacular rise because the margin for error in the poll is 3.5%. so ACT might already be on 3%.

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