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ACT's The Letter 14 November 2005

ACT's The Letter 14 November 2005

The Haps

Parliamentary debates start. The PM and Winston Peters are off to APEC. Cullen has signaled regulation to reduce house prices.

The Government's Program.

Commentators miss the importance of the Speech from the Throne. It is cabinet approved. Departments all bid to get their pet projects in. Any new policy not in the speech needs a cabinet approval. (Many new Ministers fail to realise that if they do not get their policies into the speech, they may never get them). If your interest group's pet project has not already had cabinet approval and did not get a mention, it is not a good sign.

Our Observations

• Labour believes it is creating "a dynamic, knowledge-based economy and society"

• "bank lending based on off shore borrowing" is blamed for the high dollar, increased consumption and inflation and is something the governmentt must "brake".

• Labour's solution- "promotion of savings"

• Cullen promises "substantial operating surpluses" which means "no large expenditure increase above those already signalled [acknowledgement the free student loan scheme and the extension of family support is large] or..significant tax cuts." Government will save for us.

• "a whole range of policy initiatives" including "a review of corporate taxation ... to lift productivity."

• More picking winners; "key areas of national research excellence will be identified" - Labour believes they are in "public sector" science.

• "significant adjustment in parts of the tertiary sector" i.e. the axe to private providers

• " a National Energy Strategy" - more regulation for "renewable energy".Energy policy has become very ideological and anti market.

• "completion of Auckland's roading network in the next ten years" A lot of money. • Watch out Telecom "faster broadband uptake".

• A commitment to tackle the rise in sickness and benefit numbers.

• The 1000 extra police has become 1000 extra "staff"

• "continue to support the creative sectors...[and] the sports sector". Popular politics.

• "improve the workings of the Resource Management Act."

• The tone of assistance to Maori has changed from "closing the gaps" to "recognise the emergence of a new, dynamic, confident Maoridom" by an "expansion of the Maori Business Facilitation Service".

• "a final date for the lodging of historical Treaty claims by 1 September 2008" ( the Derek Quigley policy). The speech is worth reading in full at

Lazarus Returns

The Greens now have a choice between the "pot head" Nandor or Keith "red" Locke. The leadership hoped for a while that Nandor could be persuaded not to come back until they realised that Mike (why not plant trees in the middle of roads) Ward was next. Rod Donald has now been elected to sainthood. We remember that it was Donald who promoted the suck up to Labour strategy that almost wiped out the party in the election and failed to get the party office.

We are Opposition MPs- yeah right

NZ First MPs have claimed that but for the confidence motions "we will be more opposition than National." The whole caucus opposed Winston's taking ministerial office. One NZ First MP said the caucus is opposed to the Electoral Integrity Bill but may support it to use on Winston! Peters has told Foreign Affairs that apart from attending APEC he can not travel because he has pressing party matters to attend to. The Tauranga electoral petition is very time consuming. His court case against David Carter was struck out with costs against him and we pick a similar result for his defamation action against Hon Ken Shirley.

Bungling Nats

As we predicted Cullen out manoeuvred the Nats. Unbelievably the National leadership could not decide which of their MPs should chair select committees so Cullen nominated the Opposition MPs Labour would support! The National MPs nominated immediately accepted the extra pay. For full membership see

Hopeless tactics

National put up popular John "Hone" Carter for Assistant Speaker. National also moved that all bills that NZFirst had voted against be not be "carried over". (The carry over motion allows parliament to continue considering bills from the same stage they had reached before the election).

Both were not bad ideas except National forgot it is an MMP parliament and had not consulted any other parties. Labour in contrast did consult. Carter who wants one day to be speaker was humiliated as no other party supported him. (He is in hospital and off for six weeks, we wish him a quick recovery). Labour included third parties private bills in return for support for the carry over motion. Result another humiliation for National.

Endless negotiation

Tim Barnett MP for Christchurch Central and known to the public for his support of gay marriage is a good choice for whip. He endlessly lobbies MPs for his private bills. He has brought the same energy to the whips job and has consulted all parties on everything. In contrast neither Gerry Brownlee nor National's new whip Lindsay Tish returned calls from other parties or even consulted their own MPs. There is real anger inside National's caucus at Brownlee's performance and we won't mention his making a fool of himself in his attack on the Governor-General.

New Format

The Letter has gone onto the web and is now hosted from a new web address Subscribing and changing details is now completely automated. There are new features like send us a story and an archive of old issues. You are welcome to pass on The Letter to new readers.

Our Poll

Just 12% of readers expressed satisfaction with TV One news. We are amazed that neither TV One's nor Suzan Woods' lawyers did not seem to realise how bad public litigation would be. We would like to know why they did not use private binding mediation. This week "Should Cullen seek to regulate the mortgage market?" Vote at we will send your answers to Michael Cullen


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