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Helen Clark's government head for the bunker

Gerry In The House
21 December 2005

Helen Clark's government head for the bunker

Parliament ground to a close for the year last week, one week earlier than usual. It won't resume until the 14th February, one week later than usual. And then the programme is pretty much three weeks on and three weeks off for the rest of 2006.

In the few short sitting weeks following the formation of the Clark/Peters Government, they took an absolute pounding in the House. Michael Cullen clearly wants to minimise the amount of time the Government is exposed to scrutiny from the opposition. It's very clear that this Government intends doing very little over the balance of it's term and it makes you wonder what they are there for!

Carbon Tax: Gone before it began

The government has just announced plans to ditch the carbon tax. A treasury report released today was damming of the proposal . National has never supported the tax and launched a campaign on December 1 to 'axe' it. Today Don Brash offered to work with the government on a range of measures to reduce green house gas without undue disruption to the now fragile economy. Our emissions amount to just 0.4% of the global total. A carbon tax would have increased the cost of living, undermined the competitiveness of business and would achieve nothing for the environment.

A dangerous precedent

A grave and controversial standard has been set regarding the foreshore and seabed after Nelson iwi instructed police to serve trespass notices on boaties using an area of estuary, the ownership of which is currently being challenged in the High Court. The Huria Matenga Wakapuaka Trust says it has long owned the estuary. It is astonishing that the police would issue trespass notices on land when no title has been issued.

The Chief Surveyor from Land Information New Zealand has clearly stated that Maori do not presently own the land. The matter is currently before both the High Court and Parliament's Local Government and Environment Select Committee. These trespass notices should be withdrawn, the estuary and the bay are public spaces. Labour claimed that no one would be charged with trespassing when accessing the foreshore because of Maori claims. This is clearly not the case, and once again Labour's fantastical assurances have been proved false.


NZQA is leaning on markers to make unofficial changes to NCEA results in order to ensure that more students pass. The variability of results was the single biggest issue for the education sector in 2005 and saw hundreds of top students fail. New Education Minister Steve Marharey has been forced to own up to a dozen exams which have already had to be re-marked this year. It is a huge concern is that a proper system for changing marking schedules is not in place. It is impossible to ensure national consistency when markers are being instructed to manipulate outcomes on a whim. Parents, pupils and employers should be worried.

Student loans to have no ill-effect on the economy.....yeah right!

After lamenting the problem of personal debt on the economy, the Government's irresponsible student loan policy will actively encourage students to borrow more and repay less. Treasury predicts that there will be 27% more new debt each year and that voluntary repayments will drop by a whopping 80% as a result of the policy. This shows just how desperate an election year pledge this was. Labour has no credibility left on this issue. This is a hugly expensive policy and the Government has been extremely sensitive about the real cost to the taxpayer. It initially denied Treasury had prepared any costings and then tried to hide them until after the election. They simply do not want people to know how much this will cost.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

May I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the next few very special days and the year ahead. I will be doing a bit of fishing, a bit of reading and a lot of catching up on sleep after what has been a very big year.

I look forward to 2006 which will begin with Don Brash giving his annual address to the Orewa Rotary Club. This will be Don's fourth Orewa speech and I anticipate it will set the agenda as it has on all previous occasions.

Gerry Brownlee

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