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The Letter: New leadership, Williamson, Collins

The Letter - 5 May 2014

New leadership

Jamie Whyte’s new leadership and getting back on to the message of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers is the reason for the dramatic turn around. Members and donors delivered a message to the ACT board, “get new leadership and get back on message”. At the conference ACT was broke and in danger of going under the 500 party membership threshold. What a difference 66 days have made. Membership is rising. The Party has raised nearly half a million dollars. The Party still needs to raise another half a million dollars but is increasingly confident. Those donors who said “Come back when you are back when you have a new leader and are back on message” are coming through as they promised.

ACT’s on 2.7%

Victoria University’s iPredict now forecasts that ACT will win 2.7%, (that is 3 MPs) and is forecasting an 80% probability that David Seymour wins Epsom for ACT.

Solutions to problems we have not got

Commentators keep saying New Zealand has an international trade deficit. Not so. Since the Douglas/Richardson reforms New Zealand has earned more from our exporters than our imports. Then we add the invisibles and there is a deficit. “That is because we are not saving enough and must borrow overseas”. Not true. Dr Bryce Wilkinson has done a study that shows that the reason New Zealand has an invisibles deficit is because we are still paying for the Muldoon debt from the years when New Zealand did have a trade deficit. Labour is setting out to solve a problem we do not have.

It is Social Credit

David Cunliffe claimed to a financially illiterate press gallery that if government compels workers to save 8% of their salary “wages will rise, the cost of housing will be lower, rents will fall, employment will increase and interest rates will come down”. We are surprised he did not promise a chicken in every pot. It sounds like Social Credit. There is only one way to increase wages and that is to increase productivity.

But it will lower interest rates

Like Don Brash The Letter thinks that letting the Reserve Bank force everyone to increase their contributions into Kiwi Savings accounts will lower interest rates. Rising interest rates are a sign the economy is growing. Falling interest rates is a sign the economy is contracting and unemployment is rising. Just the possibility of sudden, unpredictable increases in Kiwi Saver contributions on those who live pay cheque to pay cheque would be catastrophic. We would all have to put aside savings in case there was a sudden increase in Kiwi Saver contributions. You can take out a fixed interest rate loan but how to protect against a sudden increase in forced saving? Bank managers will be saying “We cannot lend to you because you may be forced by law to make extra payments to your Kiwi Saver account”. Even the possibility of forced extra contributions will so damage the economy that the Reserve Bank will have to lower interest rates.

It is a beltway issue

MPs can make representations to the Police. Some of the most famous parliamentary campaigns have been to get the Police to prosecute. A significant number of British MPs are practicing barristers. Ministers are also MPs. Maurice Williamson’s call was to check on the status. That is not a breech. The Cabinet Manual sets a very high standard. Minister’s may not be “perceived” to have breeched. Maurice did not seek to get the Police to review the prosecution but that is what they did. If the Police had just told Maurice the status of the case he would have been OK. The PM realised because the Police did review whether to prosecute there is a perceived breech and Maurice had to go. Good judgement by John Key. Good judgement from Jamie Whyte too in resisting media invitations to contest Pakaranga.

Good news for Judith Collins

The latest Official Information release was good news for Judith Collins. The media who are now working with Labour to try to make this a scandal failed to point out the documents support her version of events. Cabinet Ministers before they can travel overseas must get permission from cabinet. The ministerial application to travel must set out the Minister’s itinerary. Judith Collins itinerary set out both that she would meet Oravida and that she was having a private diner. (In the Letter’s experience many Ministers itinerary’s just say “private time” so Judith filed a very full and open application). If officials who know the Minister’s husband is a director of Oravida thought that the Minister’s program breeched Cabinet guidelines they would have said so. We think Judith Collins was unwise. But if being foolish was a breech of the cabinet manual there would be daily resignations.

Aussie lifting super to 70

What National cannot explain is how Australia which is a richer country cannot afford to pay super at 65 but we can. Bill English’s statement to the National Party Northern Conference that super at 65 is not a problem today is saying it is OK for the government to deliver an unexploded bomb to a future government. The Letter agrees with Jamie Whyte’s press releasewww.act.org.nz Labour is right on this issue.

Jamie Whyte’s Alternative Budget

The public is going to hear Jamie Whyte’s first major economic address when he delivers his alternative budget at the Belgian Beer Café Mt Eden Rd this Saturday 10 May at 1.30 pm (Click here to register) . The Letter likes Belgium beer but not Belgium economics so we hope the budget’s quality is more like the country’s beer than its economics. The Letter is just pleased to see ACT back on substantive issues.

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