Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington 24/6/2002
Letter from Wellington
Monday, 24 June 2002
Labour Caught Napping
Helen Clark's snap election has caught her own party napping. In most electorates, Labour has not put up any billboards (most of its volunteers are teachers, who are on strike). Trevor Mallard is using last election's hoardings!
Labour has no new policy. Claiming to provide stability when your coalition ally is the Greens or the ever-unstable Winston Peters, is not credible. The Letter has learned that Helen Clark put around a memo to the Cabinet asking for fresh policy ideas for a second term, and she got back zip.
Michael Cullen has come up with no ideas to handle the rising dollar, falling export prices and rising interest rates.
Labour's strategy is to frighten centre-right voters into supporting Labour to keep out the Greens. So far, the strategy seems to be working. Polling by National shows one-third of would-be Labour voters give as their reason "to stop the Greens".
The strategy depends on convincing voters that Labour can get over 50%. David Lange in The Sunday Star-Times is the latest commentator to point out that Labour won't get 50%. As voters focus on issues, and realise that by supporting Labour they are voting for a Labour/Green government, there will be a seismic shift in voters' intentions.
The Labour/Green Unpublished
Labour's agenda can be determined by examining the 94 bills on the Order Paper and published government policy papers. 1. Increase ACC levies. Official information reveals that Labour has been over-levying businesses. The only explanation is the trade union policy of "free health care" for all work-related accidents. 2. Give local councils the power of "general competence" to enter any business in competition with the private sector (the Local Government Amendment Bill). 3. Amend the RMA to give Maori and conservation groups even more power to object (there are two RMA Amendment Bills). 4. Reduce company tax for Maori businesses to 19.5% (Annual Taxation Bill). 5. Amend the ERA to give trade unions more power, and force a company to take on the employees of a rival firm that loses a tender for work (Margaret Wilson's working party report). 6. Carbon taxes (Climate Change Response Bill). Also livestock emission charges (10c a sheep). 7. Half-million dollar fines for employers who cause their workers stress (OSH Amendment Bill).
All these measures are certain if Labour is re-elected.
Margaret Wilson wants to make the Treaty of Waitangi part of the Constitution. Jeanette Fitzsimons said at Waitangi this year that the Greens will recognise the 1835 treaty of Governor Busby with the United Tribes - which the Greens say guarantees a separate Maori nation!
Rod Donald, on the Greens' website, says that in addition to a carbon tax, his party wants: - a resource tax - a tax on capital - a tax on fishing.
Tariana Turia wants separate Maori jails, Maori hospitals - in fact, a separate Maori nation.
The Minister of Maori Affairs wants local body areas to be redrawn to coincide with iwi boundaries, and iwi given the power to levy rates. (National's Hekia Parata also supports this mad idea.)
While Labour says it won't go into coalition with the Greens, Helen Clark is still endorsing Jeanette Fitzsimons in Coromandel. The latest poll in the electorate shows how vital Labour's support is for Ms Fitzsimons. National's candidate is on 39%, Jeanette on 28% and Labour's candidate on 27% Without Labour's support, Jeanette is gone. Clark knows Labour won't be able to govern alone and will need to be in de facto coalition with the Greens - hence the continued endorsement of Fitzsimons.
Yesterday ACT became the first party to issue a manifesto - a substantive document setting out the party's alternative solutions. ACT has put out its policies early because of the huge interest in the election from overseas. ACT's website received 250,000 hits last week, many from overseas voters using ACT's site to get voting forms electronically. You can see ACT's manifesto at http://www.act.org.nz/manifesto.
Polling shows hospital waiting lists to be the number-one issue, but voters believe no party has a credible solution. They realise health issues are complex and need a bottomless bucket.
ACT's policy is that where a public hospital can't provide treatment within a medically acceptable time, the local hospital board will pay for the patient to be treated privately. For example, the recommended maximum waiting time for radiotherapy after breast cancer is four weeks. Today women are waiting up to 15 weeks. Under ACT's policy, after four weeks the women will be treated privately at the taxpayers' expense.
As the private sector is usually more efficient, the long-term cost will be lower. (see ttp://www.act.org.nz/health).
Exams are Vital
ACT will replace the politically-correct NCEA with external exams. Standards without testing are meaningless. ( http://www.act.org.nz/ncea).
Labour, embarrassed by rising crime statistics and international household surveys which show you are more likely to be a victim of violent crime in NZ than the US, has published an extraordinary document to try to show that NZ's crime level is not rising. The problem is, the government six months ago completed a household victim of crime survey which the Letter understands shows NZ crime levels to be horrific. Phil Goff says the survey can't be released because the figures need to be "worked on"!