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Free Press: Popular Measure Passes

Free Press

ACT’s new regular bulletin

Popular Measure Passes
ACT’s Bill to extend pub and club licensing hours has passed into law in time for the Rugby World Cup. Parliament voted for the Bill five-votes-to-one so that people will be able to watch the rugby when games (held in the UK) fall outside normal licencing hours.

The Wowser’s View

Opponents approached the two week debate on the Bill as if New Zealanders should only have rights if they could justify having them. The common refrain was, you don’t ‘need’ to watch the rugby in a pub. If you really ‘need’ to do so then you don’t ‘need’ alcohol. It was a view that people are inherently bad and must be restrained by default.

A Victory for Freedom
We started from the opposite position, that people should be free to do as they please unless restraints on their freedom could be justified. Nobody strictly ‘needed’ this Bill, but by that logic we don’t need pubs, alcohol, rugby or the RWC either. It would be a dreary life if we could only do what the busybodies believe we need. Thankfully Parliament overwhelmingly voted for freedom.

The Most Authoritarian Party
Three quarters of votes against the bill were cast by Green MPs. The Greens have cultivated an image of being the party of the young and free. This is mainly thanks to the lingering suspicion they all smoke a lot of pot, and slick graphics campaigns featuring models standing in front of nice scenery. In reality they are the party of aging professional politicians who have a rule for everything (where you live, how you get there, what you eat, how you feel about the Treaty, what kind of school you attend, what sort of industries we should all work in, and now where you can watch the rugby).

Not as Authoritarian as Muldoon!
When called authoritarian, new Green co-leader James Shaw didn’t deny it. Instead he tweeted that at least they’re not as authoritarian as Muldoon! It’s a start.

Internal Chaos
In two weeks on a simple bill, the Greens were opposed, supportive, then opposed again. All of their concerns about the bill were sincerely considered at Committee Stage – what was going on? Free Press wonders if there is not already a power struggle in caucus between Kevin Hague, who lost the leadership and bitterly opposed the RWC Bill, and James Shaw who won it.

Just Legislate Easter Sunday Trading
The National Party has decided to make Easter Sunday Trading a problem for local authorities. No doubt this will lead to the kind of local wrangling that made it necessary for Parliament to legislate the Rugby World Cup opening times over local bodies’ heads. IfFree Press was in charge, we’d just legislate that folks can open on Easter Sunday. It shouldn’t be complicated that in a free and open society, some go to the altar, others to the gardening centre. Peace.

Paid Parental Leave
David Seymour debated Sue Moroney on Q + A this weekend. Moroney favours extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks, then 52 weeks, then…. who knows? It is classic Labour playbook, more tax and dependency. Seymour is negotiating with the National Party for premature babies, multiple births, and babies with special needs.

Social Insurance
Prem, multiple, and special needs babies are perfect candidates for the taxpayer to give something extra to. Why? There’s no moral hazard, unlike many state benefits (think claims to ACC for a ‘bad back’) there is no way to deliberately take advantage of the scheme. It is easy to tell if the event has happened (count the weeks, count the babies, diagnose the condition). The event is unexpected so difficult to plan for.

Vote Buying
The opposite of social insurance is showering an ever increasing amount of money on a particular cause or group. Labour introduced PPL in 2002 (an election year) then extended it in 2004 when National’s polling recovered. Jacinda Ardern claims it was fiscally responsible to do so because the Government of the day was in surplus, but Sue Moroney introduced her bill for 26 weeks PPL when the government was $9 billion in deficit. There is no fiscal responsibility or principle behind Labour’s demands, but they know that it’s a feel good measure that will win votes.

Greatly Exaggerated Importance
60,000 children are born in New Zealand every year but only 26,000 parents take paid parental leave so it is not even close to universal. Even if it was, having kids is now a 20 year proposition and an extra four weeks of $500 payments does not address the main challenges faced by would-be parents. The real challenges are the ongoing costs of tax and housing.

Income tax, GST, petrol tax, and company tax drag a third of all money out of the economy. Behind housing, tax is the largest expense that young couples face. The irony is that Moroney-style tax-and-spend politics is one of the greatest burdens faced by young couples.

Since the early nineties the price of housing vis-à-vis incomes has doubled. This is the greatest challenge young couples face and, of course, Labour has Little to say about this issue other than proposing the government build 100,000 houses (where?).

Generational Fairness
The PPL proposal is a band-aid on a generational grievance. If Free Press did support extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks ($130m), it could be paid for by raising the age of entitlement to Superannuation by two months (i.e. you’d get it at 65 years 2 Months instead of 65 years). How many grandparents would work another two months to allow their children to stay home with their Grandchildren? How many parties other than ACT support raising the retirement age? (Hint: not National, Labour, NZ First, the Greens, the Maori Party or United Future.)

Handouts or Dividends?
Late last week David Seymour put out a press release saying, “It is incredibly arrogant, even by their standards, for Auckland Council to include the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust in its asset review as a ‘potential asset’.” He went on to note that "It would be manifestly unjust for Auckland Council to expropriate that asset and redistribute it to Aucklanders who did sell out of their respective trusts years ago – especially as this year’s dividend to each AECT household is increasing to $345." For some reason this seems to have upset and excited long term Auckland resident Brian Rudman, who emailed David apparently distressed that he “and other interlopers” keep helping themselves to “my money”, getting what he described as “handouts” (FYI Brian, they are dividends from an ownership right, not handouts, which is why the council shouldn’t be trying to knick them).

What Determines the Ownership Right?
The owners of the AECT are all people living in the area. The benefit is bundled with the property ownership in the area. You don’t need to have been living in the area since 1993, when the old power board was privatised. You effectively get the benefit from it when you sell a property, and pay for it when you buy a property. It’s simple Econ 101. If we followed Rudman's logic to its conclusion, any trust, company or co-op is fair game for nationalisation if any of its ownership has been transferred. That would include Fonterra, the entire NZX, and all electricity trusts, but that's Rudman's logic for you!

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