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ACT - Post Caucus Retreat Paper

Post Caucus Retreat Paper

Friday 21st Jul 2000 Richard Prebble Media Release -- Other

The ACT Caucus, having looked at where New Zealand is today, six years after it was set up, believes what it said in 1994 is still true today. We said in 1994 that New Zealand is at a Crossroads:

Much is still to be done if we are to recoup previous losses caused by New Zealand being worst economic performer in OECD for 30 years, to 1993.

Need to move forward, and accept we are part of a global economy.

Current parties retreating to a dangerous do nothing approach.

No difference between National, Labour, Alliance or New Zealand First, except in matter of degree. - None of them have clear vision of where New Zealand stands and where it should be heading. - All believe in a policy approach where politicians make choices which would best be left to individuals. In other words, none of them are prepared to trust the voter, by giving them the responsibility and dignity of making decisions for themselves. - ACT only party which has a vision for New Zealand’s future and a cohesive well thought out programme to achieve that vision.

ACT only party prepared to trust public, to give public the opportunity to take responsibility for own lives.

ACT is the only party which will provide genuine security for disadvantaged.

ACT is the Only Party with a different approach

ACT is : Internationalist not Isolationist : People Oriented not Government oriented : Concerned with medium cures not Short-term band-aids : Concerned with future not the past.

What Does ACT Stand For?

Individual choice and personal responsibility within a supporting framework of social and economic policy.

Opportunity, security and dignity which come from fair treatment, productive employment, rising living standards and personal choice.

Less Government involvement in the delivery of services to the consumer, but greater concentration on creating an environment where there is choice, freedom, competition and diversity.

Access to a high standard of education for all children.

Access to a high standard of health care for all citizens.

Security of income in retirement.

Security for the needy through an adequate level of income for all citizens in the event of some adverse event such as sickness, an accident or unemployment.

Competition as a means of achieving key objectives and goals in areas such as Education, Health, Retirement Income and Social Welfare.

Consumer power in that there should be no special privileges or assistance to one sector over another.

Income support policies which have as their objective the redistribution of income fairly and efficiently.

This means that – - Assistance should meet the needs of the most disadvantaged. - Benefit provisions should avoid creating severe disincentives for employment: instead they should assist and reward effort and, in a broader sense, self-help, participation and dignity. - Social welfare transfers should be carried out efficiently and, in particular, should as much as possible minimise welfare losses, not inhibit economic growth, and contribute to jobs.

- Tax collections and benefit payments should not interfere with people’s lives and choices more than absolutely necessary. - Transfers should be fiscally sound, that is sustainable.

A tax system which meets the following goals:

The efficient collection of taxes with the least interference in people’s lives, fair and equitable treatment, the encouragement of productive jobs and economic growth.

Lower government debt.

Control of government expenditure.


Any programme of reform has to be about goals, objectives and dreams. These must be capable of being delivered within a reasonable timeframe, and by practical, common-sense means and measures.

The old politics of the economic Left and Right are meaningless – the political landscape has changed. There are new groupings, new divisions. What we have now are internationalists – those who believe in competition and the global economy – and the isolationists – those who still believe in high levels of protection and the virtual monopoly government supply of many essential products such as education.

For many New Zealanders, the pain of waking up to 40 years of mismanagement has been significant – financially, emotionally and intellectually. Instinctively, many have turned nostalgically to a past that never was – a past in fact directly responsible for the difficulties many New Zealanders face today. In order to counter this desire to look backwards, a carefully planned vision of New Zealand’s future is required.

In the final analysis, all the principles, the framework of policy, are not about economic and social theories. They are about and for people. How do you give people a real chance to live successful fulfilling lives that contribute to the country’s economic and social progress.

The foundation of modern wealth is know-how. The driving forces are technology and information management. We have to match the rest of the world in those areas if we want a better future.

In any economy, resources are limited and scare. The challenge is to make the best use of them – a challenge which can only be met if the proper incentives and in place.

New Zealanders, as a whole, have fallen into the trap over the past ten years of looking at the country’s problems in isolation and only in terms of today. Hey need to widen and lengthen their perspective.

The purpose of social policy is to assist those in genuine need – too often the present system puts institutions ahead of people.

On the policy front, ACT will be issuing:

A major policy paper on education, health, accident insurance and industrial relations.

A major publication on how ACT policy would “Close the Gaps” socially and lift New Zealander’s position internationally and thereby encourage our young people in New Zealand.

We have reviewed where New Zealand is going and our own performance.

We are looking at ACT’s role.

The Party holds these reviews regularly.

ACT’s last review was in February when the Labour/Alliance coalition was enjoying record public polling support in a political honeymoon. National had determined that, as an opposition, they could not be effective until after the budget.

The ACT Caucus resolved to take the opposition role in Parliament and to lead the fight against tax increases, ACC nationalisation and the Employment Relations Bill.

Using ACT’s extensive links with New Zealand’s business community and new ways of campaigning the ACT Party has developed, such as e-politics, ACT has mounted very effective opposition.

When the Employment Contracts Act was introduced a decade ago the number of submissions was 445 – the Employment Relations Bill has attracted 18,000 submissions, 75% of the substantive submissions are opposed.

Labour Ministers such as Michael Cullen, have attributed the opposition to ACC nationalisation and the Employment Relations Bill and even the collapse in business confidence to ACT.

We in ACT think poor quality policy had something to do with it.

ACT's vigorous scrutiny in Parliament has been vindicated. This week the Prime Minister's Department has put out its long awaited report into the Waipareira Trust. The report reveals that every government department involved has had significant difficulties with mismanagement of the Trust’s government-funded programmes.

ACT notes that the Prime Minister's Department states that similar problems exist, but to a lesser extent, with the monitoring of taxpayer-funded programmes run by other voluntary agencies.

As the Coalition intends using voluntary agencies to deliver its Closing the Gaps Programmes ACT is calling for urgent action.

The ACT Party has some practical suggestions. ACT has put forward a proposal to Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, that the Auditor-General's powers be extended to enable the office to monitor the effectiveness of taxpayer programmes delivered by non-government agencies.

Last week Dr Love, the head of Te Puni Kokiri, publicly endorsed ACT's proposals for voluntary agencies delivering taxpayer schemes, namely that they must be more transparent, accountable to their own beneficiaries, and be required to publish accounts showing how they spent taxpayers' money.

While in Parliament ACT will continue to be a vigorous critic of measures like the Employment Relations Bill, ACT believes we have a new opportunity.

National does not intend to issue any policy alternatives this year.

There are over 500,000 New Zealanders who can see that in the middle of world wide economic prosperity, that the Labour and Alliance coalition have managed to collapse investment confidence. These are the people who are leaving New Zealand in despair because they can see no vision or fresh ideas from the political parties.

ACT has new, fresh ideas. ACT has practical, workable solutions for the real problems facing New Zealand. ACT has a vision of how New Zealand can close the growing gaps between New Zealand and Australia.

The Caucus has agreed on a programme to propose new policy initiatives.

Opposition parties in the past have not issued policy, except in election year, because they are afraid that the government will either steal the idea, or ridicule it.

ACT would be delighted if the government adopted our ideas.

ACT would welcome a debate about policy.

The Caucus has identified the first two policy proposals.

ACC The Labour/Alliance coalition have only been able to repeal the ACC reforms because National waited eight years to introduce choice into ACC and then only into the Employers account and only after urging` by ACT.

ACT has been working on a new policy, not to go back to last year, but to introduce the advantages of choice into all of the ACC services, such as motor car cover.

Employment Law The ACT Caucus intends to announce our practical alternatives to the union-promoting Employment Relations Bill.

ACT does not propose to simply return to the Employment Contracts Act.

The Labour/Alliance coalition was able to campaign against the Employment Contracts Act because of widespread concerns about the law.

National, in two elections, promised, but were unable to deliver reform to the Holidays Act; an end to bogus personal grievance cases; a curb on bizarre Employment Court decisions and a speeding up of the time-wasting by the Employment Tribunal.

ACT is going to propose a more flexible employer and employee-friendly employment laws based on the principles of freedom, choice and responsibility.

After holding a Caucus here on Auckland’s North Shore, ACT MPs have seen for themselves the traffic congestion.

ACT intends putting forward some fresh ideas to resolve Auckland's traffic congestion. Finishing the motorways would be a good start.

It is the view of the ACT Caucus that the Labour/Alliance programme will not close the gaps or assist the country.

ACT intends putting forward new proposals there as well.

We are holding this press conference here in our new headquarters in Newmarket.

ACT is the only Party whose headquarters is out of Wellington, symbolic of ACT’s belief that it’s people who matter, not government.

The Party has done a complete review under Ruth Richardson since the election.

We have adopted a more regional structure of some seven divisions.

The Party has appointed Bruce Howat, who was one our most successful candidates, as our new Chief Executive.

He has pioneered new ways of communicating, having been a manager of the innovative Kiwimail.

I believe that Bruce Howat’s leadership will see ACT continue to be the most effective campaigning party.

Over the last six months ACT has constantly polled as a leading third party. We have lead the opposition.

Over the next six months ACT intends setting the agenda for the next government.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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