Free Press 21/9/15
New Zealanders Watch
Rugby at Pub – World Keeps Turning
The first few games have been watched in pubs across the country. It turns out New Zealanders are not a nation of irresponsible orangutans after all. We’re thoroughly decent people who know how to enjoy ourselves, then go to work. The only thing that should be banned is the All Black’s wobbly start against Argentina.
Last Day for Red
Free Press has campaigned for Red Peak to be included in the ballot. With 69 per cent of New Zealanders opposed to change upon seeing the options, the Prime Minister’s project needs a circuit breaker. The legislation says the final four flags must be identified 60 days before the referendum period begins, and it’s supposed to start on November 20. The PM should sub one of the options that’s created zero enthusiasm off, and sub Red Peak on.
What if he Doesn’t?
We don’t know if Red Peak could save the process but if nothing else changes the current flag will win easily. Then for every real or imagined problem, people will ask; what’s the PM been doing lately? Then there’s the cost. It is a red herring but it gets attention. The Government spends $26 million every three hours and it is 989,880 hours since we last changed the flag. Nonetheless people are intensely focused on this particular $26 million.
What Red Peak Represents
The National Party has tried and failed to present the Red Peak story as an anti-John Key left wing conspiracy. It’s not. Red Peak’s designer works for one of New Zealand’s most prominent cloud based tech companies (Xero) and its main champion is the Founding Chairman of another (Vend). These tech entrepreneurs are hardly reds under the bed.
More Support for Partnership Schools Kura
Sir Toby Curtis of the Iwi Leaders’ Forum writes “At a recent Iwi Chairs Forum hosted by Waikato Tainui at Hopuhopu, iwi leaders resolved to actively support the establishment of partnership schools (kura hourua) in their rohe. We also resolved to advocate that the Government expand this initiative and to advocate the concept publicly, in particular the importance of high-quality teaching, high educational achievement and strong supportive partnerships with iwi, communities and other organisations.” Every month there is less and less question that ACT’s Partnership Schools Kura Hourua are a valuable and respected policy.
Should be Compensated
Under the Public Works Act the government can commandeer your property for a public purpose but it must compensate you. The principle is that the public benefit so the public pay, not just the property owner. The requirement to compensate is an important check on governments trampling property rights. By blocking Stevenson Group from selling Lochinver Station, the government has trampled property rights and should compensate.
What Public Interest?
It is not clear what public interest we are concerned about. We have an immigration department to decide if people can come here. Foreign Investment is when people stay where they are and send money. The best of all worlds, some might say. What about the land? We don’t believe the Chinese can take it home. What about security? Free Press follows Bastiat’s warning that free trade and investment are the best path to peace: “if goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”
The next best deal on offer was $68 million from a local buyer, so Don Brash suggests Stevenson should receive the $20 million difference. That is not a bad starting point. Then there is the question of delay. Much of the difficulty with bad regulation is actually the time lost and Stevenson Group have lost 14 months waiting for an adverse decision. Free Press does not know how to value such a delay but clearly it is costly, for example a 10 per cent return on capital would suggest around $10m.
Property Rights and The Rule
New Zealand is a society based on property rights. We avoid many disputes with a rule that children can understand: you can’t touch that, it’s mine. Without clear property rights, chaos (and environmental neglect) ensue. The rule of law is the opposite of the rule of men. The government cannot simply jerk people around, it is subject to the law. If any other party inflicted such damages on Stevenson Group it would be actionable. Why do we give the Government a free pass?
An Impossible Standard
The Lochinver deal was blocked in part because it was said the purchase wouldn’t be any better than a hypothetical local purchase with the same funds. The whole point of foreign investment is that a foreign investor can inject additional funds into the country. By this new standard, we should never have any foreign investment, just imaginary local investors with the same amount of money.
Reason to Vote ACT
Winston Peters is like Ron Mark with a sense of humour. His life is a quest to be taken seriously and nothing hits the spot like high public office. Make no mistake, Winston Peters wants to be Prime Minister. If you doubt that, watch his interview with Patrick Gower on The Nation this weekend. Like Ron Mark, he is shameless and would happily negotiate to the brink of a new election even if he holds only seven per cent of the vote. ACT’s job is to grow so that National and ACT together can govern without Peters.
David Seymour Everywhere
David Seymour gave two interviews over the weekend reflecting on his first year in Parliament: on The Nation, and on RadioLive, where he featured as one of the year's political winners. You can check out the interviews here and here.
Free Press thanks you for reading, it is now one year since the election and time to start thinking about the next one. If you think ACT’s revival is going well there are two ways you can help. Join ACT. Membership lists are secret but your number adds moral weight. A political party in New Zealand is by definition its members and we want you: www.act.org.nz/join. The second is donate. Even a dollar a week helps, you can set up a one off or periodic investment in ACT here: www.act.org.nz/donate