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Gerry In The House September 16 2005

16 September 2005

The first ten things

Many people up and down the country have been asking me what would National do if they became government? So here they are, the first ten things National will do after we win...

1. To provide the right incentives for people to stay in New Zealand, work hard and get ahead, we will reduce Labour's $7 billion surplus by implementing our Fair Tax Plan commencing 1 April 2006, and cutting personal income taxes so that 85% of taxpayers pay 19% tax or less on their incomes. Check out what the Fair Tax Plan will mean for you at www.taxcuts.co.nz

2. To recognise childcare costs and student loans as legitimate working expenses for mainstream Kiwis we will legislate to make them tax deductible (childcare up to $5000) from 1 April 2006.

3. To ensure New Zealand builds a road system and other much-needed infrastructure to allow us to remove congestion and get ahead as a country, we will introduce a substantive RMA amendment bill before the end of 2005, and pass it before July 2006. This will ensure planning applications are processed quickly and costs are reduced.

4. To ensure every child has the chance to reach their potential we will introduce nationwide maths and English standards in 2006, hold schools accountable for achieving them, and provide maths and reading vouchers to parents whose children are struggling.

5. To reverse New Zealand's drift towards racial separatism and put the Treaty grievances behind us, we will require all historical Treaty claims to be lodged by the end of 2006 and use direct negotiations and an accelerated settlement process to complete Treaty settlements by the end of 2010.

6. To keep New Zealand safe from career criminals we will introduce and pass legislation to abolish parole for all violent offenders by 1 July 2006.

7. To ensure school-leavers receive valuable and meaningful qualifications, we will overhaul NCEA before the final exams in 2006, and introduce Plain English Report Cards so parents and students are given easy-to-understand grades.

8. To reduce the waste of having 300,000 working-age New Zealand adults on benefits and to ensure all of those on benefits really need help, we will introduce more thorough medical checks for those on invalids and sickness benefits by 1 April 2006, and we will implement a comprehensive work-for-the-dole scheme by 1 April 2007.

9. To ensure government focuses on providing taxpayers with value for money, we will increase our investment in frontline education, health and police services in the 2006 budget, while cutting Labour's culture of wasteful programmes like radio sing-along courses, Treaty information advertising and prisoner compensation.

10. To ensure one law for all, and to make sure government acts on the basis of need not race, we will remove all references to the "Principles of the Treaty" from relevant Acts of Parliament by 1 April 2008, and we will abolish the Maori seats in Parliament before the next General Election.

Labour's student loan deception

Wednesday saw the unprecedented spectacle of the Chief Ombudsman instructing the Minister of Finance to release Treasury papers costing Labour's student loan policies. And what an embarrassment for Labour it was, too - annual operating cost rising to $390m by third year, and to $500m after six years, and by 2019 it will be $924m.

Trevor Mallard, Michael Cullen and Helen Clark have consistently lied about the cost of their student loan policy, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. This deception has been so calculated and deliberate that it almost defies belief. In interview after interview those three have claimed their irresponsible policy would have a maximum cost of $300 million.

This is not just a policy that is aimed at reducing student debt, it will also effect the size of the country's debt. The impact on gross debt is a rise of $2.4 billion by the third year, rising to $5.1 billion after six years, and rising to over $10 billion after only 11 years. If people are worried now about student debt, which under the current scheme will reach $14.2 billion by 2020, under Labour's ludicrous policy debt will blow out to $19.2 billion by 2020, according to Treasury's estimates.

It is not so much the cost of this policy that is the scandal - it is the fact that the costings were withheld from the public. It is little wonder that Dr Cullen refused to release these damaging documents. Even though Labour knew of the Treasury estimates, they attacked the integrity of market economists who made very similar estimates on the total cost of the scheme which, it now turns out, were in line with the advice from Treasury.

The alternate costings that the Minister requested, using his own political assumptions, are simply preposterous and defy belief. He wrongly believes that the decision to offer interest free debt will lead to almost no increase in borrowing behaviour.

Labour's scheme has no incentives to keep debt down, so who could blame someone who had the money in the bank for taking out the full entitlement on their student loan and keeping their hard-earned money in an interest-earning bank account. The more than 100,000 students who haven't taken a loan out have a strong incentive to do so under Labour's scheme.

The rank dishonesty of this saga has meant that thousands of students and their families have been deceived by Labour who had shouted from the roof tops that they wanted to fight this election on trust, integrity and experience. This fiasco shows Labour for what they really are.

The Maori Party jumps on the Orewa bandwagon

The Te Tai Tokerau candidate for the Maori Party, Hone Harawira, chose his last campaign rally to be a speech at the Orewa Rotary Club, the venue Don Brash has recently made famous.

Harawira used this precious time on the campaign trail trying to wrest the seat off Labour's Dover Samuels to launch an attack against National and Labour, accusing both parties of using Maori as a political football, and creating fear and anger amongst Maori.

One of his assumptions has been that even the most conservative Maori are worried about National's policy to abolish the Maori seats in Parliament. Quite apart from the fact that many of the Maori Party policies are radical to the point that many Maori struggle to agree with them, I believe that the Maori Party's posturing that they represent all Maori is a bit of a stretch. I suspect that many of the Maori Party MPs are going to Parliament for the wrong reasons.

Even Willie Jackson, the former leader of the Mana Motuhake Party, came out this week and said "I don't believe that the Nats are in any way as bad as our people think,". He also said that "if they get into power, they will work and engage with Maori." Nice to think that after interviewing myself and Don countless times, Willie has finally got the message - National doesn't mean to relegate tikanga and te reo Maori to the history books. In the words of Lt- Gov Hobson, He iwi tahi tatou. We are one people.

Jackson did, however, say he thought National's policies were probably just political wind. I have news for you, Mr Jackson - we mean business.

Final word

This may well be the last time I bring this newsletter to you from the Opposition benches. But, fingers crossed, I will remain the dedicated member for Ilam come Saturday night.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for support and feedback since beginning this newsletter last year (and indeed before its inception). I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you.

Remember one thing when you go to the polls tomorrow - it's the Party vote that will change the government.

ENDS


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