ACT wants world cup matches easy to view

August 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

David Seymour has announced:

ACT Leader David Seymour intends to introduce a Bill to let people watch the 2015 Rugby World Cup in bars and function rooms.

“For such an important one-off event as a Rugby World Cup on the other side of the world, outside our time zone, I think sports enthusiasts should be able to celebrate the occasion in the same way they would if these matches were within normal New Zealand hours,” said Mr Seymour.

“I know many Kiwis overseas who watched the last World Cup from the UK, in pubs that were able to open and screen live matches. In England they changed their licensing laws to accommodate viewing the English matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil.

“Current licensing arrangements are too inflexible to allow for this special occasion. Bars seeking special licenses are having to jump through all sorts of ridiculous nanny-state hoops. Police have indicated to licensees that they will oppose applications unless the licensees agree to conditions like ticket-only sales, fancy dress, live music, quizzes, guest speakers or themed food.

Totally support this. requiring every bar in NZ to get a special liquor license just so they can screen Rugby World Cup games after their normal closing time is silly.

“On the first sitting day after recess (11th August) I intend to seek leave to table a short Bill allowing bars and function rooms to open for the broadcast of any Rugby World Cup matches.

“I will seek advice from the police on how best this should be monitored.

“I have asked the Clerk’s office to assist in drafting a short Bill which will accomplish this.

“If my motion to table a Bill is accepted by the House, I will ask the Prime Minister to advance this as a government Bill, so that the Bill doesn’t languish ineffectively at the bottom of the order paper until the World Cup is over.

Hopefully no MP will oppose such a sensible bill.

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ACT’s Budget Wish List

May 21st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

ACT would like:

  • A referendum to decide the future structure of NZ Superannuation

  • Indexation of tax brackets to inflation so “stealth tax” increases don’t unfairly cut into household incomes

  • An eight-year programme of annual one percentage point reductions in the corporate tax rate

  • Fundamental RMA reform to remove its anti-development bias, freeing up land for affordable housing and boosting investment

  • Expanding the partnership school (charter school) model by allowing state schools, if their boards choose, to convert to the partnership funding model.

 

They all look good to me. And unlike some ACT wish lists in the past which were unobtainable without a major shft in government policy, this is all reasonable stuff that can be done.

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Reduce company tax by 1% a year?

May 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT proposes:

ACT Leader David Seymour is proposing a programme of one per cent per year reductions in the company tax rate.

Company tax would drop by a percentage point each year for eight years, to a target of 20%.

“In Budget 2015, the Government should be signalling continuous improvement in our business environment, and this proposal does that,” said Mr Seymour.

ACT’s proposal would reduce revenue by around $170-180 million each year, which could be funded by a share of existing planned net expenditure growth and the phase-out of existing corporate welfare.

The Government has an allowance of $1 million a year for new initiatives. It should not all go on extra spending, but some should go on tax relief, and this is a modest and affordable proposal.

A company tax rate of 20% would attract more investment to NZ, which means more jobs and more income.

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A rail tax?

April 15th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

David Seymour said:

The Government’s largesse into rail is so big it deserves its own tax, the Railtax, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

In response to Bill English’s admission Kiwirail may sink another billion dollars [1], Mr Seymour has called for a very simple transparency measure: a separate tax to pay for it.

“One billion is equivalent to the cost of knocking a percent off the company tax rate for the next four years, so let’s make the government’s choices transparent,” said Mr Seymour.

“Of the 28 per cent company tax rate, New Zealand’s businesses will pay 27 cents on the dollar for company taxes, and one cent for bailing out Kiwirail. We should separate out that one percent and call it the Railtax.

“Who knows, the business community may decide that’s a good deal.

“On the other hand, the Railtax would make it clear as day that if we stopped ploughing money into the nostalgia industry rail has become, we could cut the company tax rate by a whole percentage point.

That’s a great idea. Make people aware that their taxes are funding Kiwirail.

I suspect passenger (not freight) rail may end up as a 20th century curiousity. Driverless car in the next few decades may transform public transport.

I’d like Kiwirail to survive, but not at the cost of billions of dollars. We should have never brought it back from the private sector.

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Small on ACT’s tax policy

April 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

Sound like a good idea? Tick.

It’s fair. Tick.

It’s a tax cut. Where do we sign?

It’s a politician’s dream policy? Ah, maybe not so much.

ACT and leader David Seymour have in recent weeks hung their political hats on promoting the thoroughly commendable policy of indexing tax thresholds to inflation. 

True, it’s not exactly a Roger Douglas-esque call to arms. “Trash that wussy progressively tax and bring in a flat rate across the board!”

But for a party that must choose carefully when to kick the Government in the slats – and for one that believes in less tax and a smaller state – it is a canny option.  

I agree. It benefits basically everyone who is in employment.

ACT is right on a couple of scores, though.

If it is to be done it’s better it is done now when inflation is low and the impact on the Government’s books is small, though not cost free. English has recently lamented how the low inflation rate, and therefore the lack of extra inflation-driven tax revenue, has made it harder to reach his surplus target  

And the nice thing about a law indexing the tax rates to inflation, is that a left Government can’t use high inflation as a back door way to boost tax revenue.

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Bracket creep

March 20th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The average household is more than $1000 worse off in tax payments since 2010 because of “bracket creep”, the ACT Party claims, amid a new push for tax brackets to be linked to inflation.

Today the party’s sole MP, David Seymour, released research showing how much the current tax brackets would have moved if they had been linked to the Consumers Price Index (CPI) – the most commonly used measure of inflation – since National cut income tax and raised GST in 2010.

Inflation has been generally low since then. However, adjusted for inflation, the top tax rate of 33 cents in the dollar would have risen to apply from income above $70,000 to above $73,571 from July 1 2014, research by the Parliamentary Library shows.

The threshold for the upper tax bracket, charging 30 cents in the dollar, would have risen from $48,000 to $50,449.

Over time, households which see their incomes rise around the level of inflation pay more tax as they are pushed into higher tax brackets, meaning their spending power actually falls.

A number of areas of government spending are already tied to inflation, from NZ Super and Veterans’ payments to social welfare payments.

According to ACT leader David Seymour, bracket creep was costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars a year.

Parliamentary Library papers showed that someone earning the average income of $51,674 was now $648.91 worse off over four years. The impact builds over time, with the average income earner $356.10 worse off in 2014 alone.

For the “average” household, those with the average income ($88,956 in 2014) had paid another $1036.07 in tax compared to what they would have if tax brackets were adjusted for inflation annually.

Due to low inflation the impact of fiscal drag or bracket creep has been relatively minor. But over time it certainly does add up, as more and more of your income moves into higher tax rates.

Seymour said this afternoon that the increases amounted to “substantial amounts” and increased tax by “stealth”.

The issue needed to be debated because taxpayers were probably not aware of the way tax was increased.

“We believe we should have the argument, rather than stealthily increasing taxes in a way that most people have never consented to and may not even be aware of,” Seymour said.

While he conceded there would be an impact on tax receipts if tax brackets were increased with inflation,  he said the Government could make the change  because of the range of other spending which was linked directly to inflation.

“Anyone who says the Government is unable to do this is being disingenuous.”

Speaking in the House today, Seymour asked whether the current period of historically low inflation was the “perfect time” to introduce indexing to tax thresholds.

Acting Finance Minister Steven Joyce said the Government had previously announced it would consider a tax cut package in 2017, and indexing tax thresholds could be considered as part of that.

Governments generally don’t like legislating for automatically changing tax brackets because it restricts their options for future tax cuts or spending increases.

But that is one reason I do support it. If the Government is unable to increase its tax take by having a high inflation economy, then they need to maintain tighter spending restraint and also have less of an incentive to have higher inflation.

A lot of the surpluses in the 2000s came from ever increasing fiscal drag, as households every year ended up paying more and more tax as nominal incomes rose.

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David Howells on immigration and prosperity

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

ACT had a competition for people to submit their vision or views on what we could change to make New Zealand better. The five finalists presented their essays to the ACT conference, and delegates voted on the one they most thought deserved to win. There were questions from the audience, to which the five finalists had to answer and respond to.

All five did well and won $500, with the winner getting $3,000. That was David Howells for his speech. He probably got the most hostile questions but answered them well, and still won the vote. I thought his essay deserved a wider audience.

More Immigration, More Prosperity

New Zealand is a country built on immigration. We have more ethnicities in New Zealand than there are countries in the world – quite an achievement for a population of only 4-and-a-half million.

Our immigration regime has come a long way:

In 1944 New Zealand abolished the poll tax, which for decades was a discriminatory tax imposed on all new Chinese immigrants. In 1987, New Zealand came to the realisation that not just British citizens would make good immigrants. We have now stopped accepting immigrants based on British heritage, and now look at ones skills, and family connections when considering new immigrants.

This has led to people from a much wider range of nationalities being allowed to become New Zealanders.

But despite this, today in our schools, in history and social studies classes, it is always taught that New Zealand is bicultural nation.

Perhaps this is a useful description of New Zealand society in the 1800s. But history can only explain how things were – it is not a guideline for how things ought to be.

The idea of New Zealand being a bicultural society is outdated. We need to recognise New Zealand is home to diverse range of cultures. 

In our economy, immigrants bring skills to the workforce that New Zealand companies need. 

With technology advancing and more free trade agreements accelerating the process of globalisation, it is impossible for governments to be able to predict our future competitive advantages or even what skills will be in demand in the future.

In a globalised world it is now more important than ever to have flexible labour markets. An open immigration system is key for future New Zealand business to be able to get the skills they need to grow.

Immigrants also own businesses that employ New Zealanders. They work hard, sometimes in multiple jobs, to give themselves and their family opportunities that they might not have in their home country.

There are many opponents to our current, relatively open, immigration regime. The objections are not unique to New Zealand – the same arguments are used as justification to oppose immigration all over the world.

 On the surface the opposition to immigration often comes across as plain xenophobia. But underpinning what on the surface looks like simple xenophobia, are some of the oldest economic ideas around.

It is often expressed in the form; if an immigrant gets a job, or purchases some capital asset – it is at the expense of a local. This is the same kind of economic thinking that views the economy as a finite amount of pie, where for someone to get a bigger slice, someone else has to have smaller slice.

Immigrants do not take the “pie” from locals – they help grow it for all of us. 

The benefits immigrants bring are not just economic. Diversity enriches society by exposing us to a broader range of people with backgrounds, perspectives and languages we might not otherwise encounter. (And my god – fantastic food!).

And while we should be proud of our relatively open immigration system – there is more to be done.

I know of small businesses having to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops with immigration services to prevent good employees from being sent back to their home county.

I recently met a man who has lived and worked here in New Zealand for two years. He is seeking a better quality of life for himself and his family. But he has not even seen his wife or son for two years – waiting for immigration to grant them visas.

This kind of sacrifice is admirable – but it shouldn’t need to be made.
If you are willing to come New Zealand, stand on your own two feet and work hard, you should be allowed to come, bring your family, and stay.

I want New Zealand’s immigration system to become even more welcoming to immigrants and new-New Zealanders. An open immigration system will be a cornerstone of future prosperity and enrich our communities.

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DPF at Act Conference

February 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by Kokila Patel

David presented to the Act Conference over the weekend.  It was an overview of where the party had come from, the last election, and the possible policy stances Act can advance.    

So let’s take a look at where your support currently is.   ACT got 0.7% nationwide but this was actually 1.4% in Auckland and 0.4% in most other places. And in Auckland you had 2.4% in the Eastern suburbs. So the challenge is to expand from being an Auckland party to a party that can get at least 2.4% everywhere. That would get you almost four MPs.

Polls have shown that you get twice as much support from men as women. One fifth of your support comes from the self-employed and business owners which is significant, and one quarter from the under 30s – well done ACT on Campus. 

In the last three years 25% of ACT supporters cited the economy as the most important issue, followed by taxes on 10% and jobs on 9%. These are of course all linked so almost a half say the most important issues are economic.”

So how can Act gain more voters to increase their representation in parliament and decrease their reliance on the Epsom electorate?

However I think a clear message of opposition to most forms of corporate welfare has potential appeal to not just economic liberals on the right, but also to many on the left. It would make it hard for the left to paint ACT as the party of big business, if they are signing up to your campaigns against corporate welfare. 

Turing to social liberalism, the issue I would suggest ACT focuses on is euthanasia. Is anything a more fundamental human right than being able to choose between quantity of life and quality of life?

This is not some abstract issue. Sadly for many families, they have been through the horrors of a loved one who was unable to make an informed choice to reduce their suffering.  I actually used to be against euthanasia until I listened to the speech Rodney Hide made in 2003 about the death of Martin Hames. It reduced me to tears and made me realise how harmful the current law can be, and converted me to favouring a law change.

It is an issue that is both very real to many, but also very popular. The last public poll on this issue saw 61% in favour of terminally ill people being able to choose when to end their lives and only 18% opposed. A 3:1 ratio in favour is about as good as it gets.

Labour has banned their MPs from advancing this issue, because it may distract them from their core mission of getting more people to join a union. National MPs are discouraged from doing bills on conscience issues. In fact I think National discourages their MPs from doing any bills that haven’t been written by Chris Finlayson for them. The highlight was the West Coast MP’s bill on reforming the law of habeas corpus.

NZ First are generally against euthanasia, except for immigrants. The Greens are admirably supportive, but the suspicion is they see it as a way to reduce carbon emissions. 

More seriously there is an opportunity for ACT here to lead on this issue, and connect to New Zealanders on an issue that resonates, as well as clearly position themselves as the only party not wanting the state to interfere in decisions that belong to individuals.

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A binding referendum on superannuation

February 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACT wants a binding referendum on the future of New Zealand’s superannuation and raising the retirement age.

Leader David Seymour says a public vote would end the “Mexican stand-off” between National and Labour, as pressure on the system grows. He believes it is untenable to keep paying out super from aged 65.

In a speech to his party’s annual conference yesterday, Seymour pitched the idea of an independent body to oversee a series of referendums on future of superannuation. And he pointed to an upcoming public poll on changing the flag.

“National won’t address the issue, Labour tried and are now backing away. This is a political Mexican stand-off, with the guns pointed at the younger generations,” he said. 

I’m very supportive of the ACT proposal, especially because it is not just about the age of eligibility.

The idea of a two stage referendum, as we had with MMP and upcoming with the flag, is very sound.

Let an expert panel put up say four different future superannuation schemes, each fully costed. Then New Zealanders can vote on which of the four we prefer and have that go up to a final vote against the current scheme (which is unaffordable).

A key aspect is the current scheme would remain in place for current retirees, and those near retirement. A new scheme would apply say to those aged under 50 only.

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NZ The Way You Want It

January 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

ACT have borrowed a phrase (but not a policy!) from Sir Robert Muldoon and are running a competition for people to state the ay they want New Zealand.

At the Love New Zealand The Way You Want It website, you can submit a video of up to five minutes or a wirrten submission of up to 500 words saying how you would like NZ to be. The top five entries will win $500 each (and present their ideas to the ACT conference) and the overall winner wins $2,000.

Entries close on 7 February.

Some examples of what people might want are:

10 million people? More money? More dolphins, fewer rednecks? Cheaper houses? Old values? New ideas? Better careers? Finally finish off tall poppy?

My vision would be a New Zealand with no tax avoidance as the top personal and company tax rates are no greater than 25%, and with full employment due to the influx of investment.

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Seymour replaces Whyte as ACT Leader

October 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Jamie Whyte has resigned as leader of the ACT.

ACT’s Board has appointed Epsom MP David Seymour to succeed Dr Whyte as leader, president John Thompson says.

“Today I announce that I have tendered, and the Board has accepted, my resignation as Leader of ACT New Zealand,” Dr Whyte said in a statement.

“Clearly I make this announcement with regret, however the election result is clear, and I must now turn to my career and my family.

“I stood to lead ACT because I believe in the party’s ideas.  I will continue to advance these ideas both inside and outside the Party.  I do not rule out returning to a substantial role with ACT in the future.”

It is the right decision.

I may be wrong, but at 31 is Davvid Seymour the youngest party leader in NZ?

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A Minister and an Under Secretary

September 29th, 2014 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

National has announced two confidence and supply agreements – with United Future and ACT.

The United Future one is basically:

  • Agree to work on  the next iteration of the National Medicines Strategy, improving water quality, giving recreational fishers more opportunities. re-affirming the use of public private partnerships for major roading projects and other United Future policies
  • Peter Dunne appointed  Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Sits on  Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee, Cabinet Social Policy Committee, and the Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control.
  • National will give Dunne some of their question slots and speaking slots

The ACT one is:

  • National and ACT to continue with partnership schools, regulatory reform and RMA reform
  • David Seymour appointed  Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform. Sits on Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee and Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee
  • National will give Seymour some of their question slots and speaking slots

I think making David Seymour an Under Secretary rather than an Associate Minister is a smart move. It allows ACT to be involved in the implementation of policy in areas of importance to them – charter schools and regulatory reform, but doesn’t see a new MP made a Minister straight away. It is quite possible that if Seymour does well, he may become a Minister at some stage.

I imagine they will soon announce an agreement with the Maori Party, but that may be delayed due to the Maori Party’s need to do consultative hui. And then we should get the appointment of the National Ministers.

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McCaffrey on ACT

September 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter McCaffrey writes:

Tomorrow I will cast an absentee vote for ACT from Canada because I thinkJamie Whyte would contribute significantly to New Zealand’s Parliament, and of all the various party’s list candidates who are on the margin of getting elected, he is by far the best.

Having said that, ACT’s campaign has been woeful.

David Seymour and Jamie Whyte were the fresh faces the party needed, and have done well in their various media appearances, but for some unknown (and ultimately devastating) reason they decided to leave the campaign strategy and organisation to the same people who have failed the party miserably since about 2009. 

As most will know, I served on the ACT board for several years.

ACT never has been able to decide whether it is a libertarian or conservative party because despite almost all of the membership being libertarian (or at least liberal), for several elections ACT relied on many conservative voters come election time.

However, since Colin Craig set up the Conservatives, ACT has lost its few remaining conservative members, and almost all of its conservative voters.

This reality presented the party with a fantastic opportunity to finally become properly liberal, to campaign on some new policies (drug reform, civil liberties, etc) and look to slowly and steadily grow the party.

In short, the party was too risk averse, too worried about the few votes they might lose, and never considering the votes they might win – a disappointing ignorance of Bastiat’s principles of the seen and the unseen, for a supposedly economically literate party.

Rather, the senior party strategists believed they could win back conservative voters from Colin Craig, which was clearly never going to happen. …

David Seymour will win Epsom, and will be fantastic in Parliament.

If he is ACT’s sole MP, he will have some hard decisions to make about the future of the party. …

In short, you still probably should give your party vote to ACT, in hopes of getting Jamie elected.

Once the election is over, the caucus run the party again, not the campaign strategists.

But I don’t blame you if you can’t bring yourself to do it.

I would like to see Jamie Whyte in Parliament, and see ACT operating as a clearly classical liberal party.

 

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Armed dairy owners – no thanks

September 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACT says shopkeepers should be free to keep guns under their counter, but National leader John Key has dismissed the policy as “dangerous.”

Leader Jamie Whyte said today his party would strengthen the law for self-defence and ensure it is not illegal for a dairy owner to keep a weapon on the premises.

However, Key immediately ruled out implementing the policy, should both parties get back into government.
“If ACT thinks the solution is to give a shopkeeper a shot gun, that could end very very badly,” Key told reporters in Whangarei.

When I go into a dairy, I feel safer if there isn’t an unsecured loaded firearm sitting below the counter, thank you..

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ACT vs Conservatives

September 10th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

ACT have set up a page dedicated to fact checking the Conservatives. They highlight that the tax cuts proposed by the Conservatives would leave a $6.4 billion revenue shortfall – and that the Conservatives are promising even more spending.

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Jamie Whyte’s hard hitting speech

September 7th, 2014 at 12:03 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte’s campaign launch speech is here. It is simply superb. Some extracts:

National is well ahead of any other party in the polls. But the parties of the left, including New Zealand First, could still get enough votes to form a government.

A Frankenstein Labour-Green-Internet-Mana-New Zealand First government may be unthinkable, but it is not impossible.  

It is over to us again.

The people of Epsom are doing their bit.  David Seymour is door-knocking his way to victory.

Now we need get a number of ACT Party list MPs elected.  We need just 1.3% of the party vote – 28,000 votes – for me to join David in parliament. Another 16,000 votes will add Kenneth Wang. 

If ACT succeeds, New Zealand will have three more years of stable center-right government. If we fail, New Zealand faces the prospect of a chaotic left-wing Frankenstein government.

ACT is my preferred choice of coalition partner. I hope they get at least two MPs.

Jamie looks at the alternative:

It’s not pretty, but we should look at that monster.

Part of the monster – the crazy tangled mess of hair stitched onto the scalp – is the Internet-Mana party.

This is a party of hard-left socialists – Hone Harawera, Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto – funded by a convicted fraudster wanted for copyright violation in America.

Their lunatic policies include shutting down all the prisons (perhaps on the suggestion of their fugitive sponsor).

In a televised debate, Hone explained that prisons are unnecessary because if boys are sent on Kapa Haka courses, they commit no crimes.

If only they had Kapa Haka in Germany, Kim Dotcom would not be a wanted man!

As I said to Hone at the time, it’s a very nice idea. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Why don’t you send all the boys for Haka training and then, after the crime rate falls to zero, we will close the prisons. In the meantime, let’s keep them open – just in case you are wrong about the transformative power of Kapa Haka.

What a great expose of the lunacy on the left.

The Greens are the monster’s face, grinning inanely below its swivel-eyes.

In the nicest possible way, they intend to force everyone to live as the Greens prefer. They will tax the things they don’t like, such dairy farming, and subsidize the things they do like, such as solar panel manufacturers.

The Greens are not so much a political party as a religious movement, worshipping snails and ferns and all that makes up Gaia, except us humans of course.

For the Greens, humans fall into two categories: the helpless, who smart green politicians must save, and the wicked, who smart green politicians must stop.

In virtue, and intellect, Russel Norman and Meteria Turei are so vastly superior to everyone else that it is their moral duty to subjugate us.

I agree with the Greens in a few areas, but Jamie Whyte nails it again. Fundamentally the Greens think us human beings make very bad choices. They think they are the enlightened ones who must pass laws to stop us making such bad choices.

The big flabby torso of the monster is the Labour Party.

It was briefly a thing of beauty and strength. We have the Labour government of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble to thank for the fact that New Zealand is not now a basket-case like Argentina.

But the Labour Party has gone horribly to seed.

Nothing reveals this more clearly than its finance spokesman, David Parker – the man who now occupies the position once held by the great Roger Douglas.

Mr Parker fancies himself the smartest boy in the fourth-form. But he has not even the weakest grip on basic economics.

At the recent Queenstown Chamber of Commerce political debate Mr Parker explained his party’s desire to reduce immigration to New Zealand. He claimed that economic output requires increasingly little labour to produce. So immigrants cause unemployment.

This nonsense has been peddled by economic fools since the invention of the weaving loom. In fact, I imagine it got started when someone first thought of killing animals with a sharp stick instead of bare hands.

Ouch.

For the sake of Mr Parker’s education, here is what really happens when workers become more productive. People produce and consume more.

And not just more of the same, but entirely new things. Even Mr Parker has surely noticed that, over the past 30 years, as worker productivity and the population have both risen, unemployment has not increased.

Labour once used to be a pro-immigration party before they got desperate.

Finally, we come to Winton Peters and his New Zealand First, the stumpy little legs of the monster. Little legs that remain idle for 2 years and 10 months out of every three years and then spend two months running around furiously kicking everyone in sight – foreigners, journalists, bankers, you name it: everyone except pensioners.

Best line of the whole speech.

Winston’s big economic policy for this election is removing GST from food. That would reduce government revenue by 3 billion dollars.

But Winston has no plan to cut government spending by 3 billion dollars. On the contrary, he plans to increase government spending massively.

Where will he get all the money?

Winston’s answer: by cracking down on tax evasion.

Honestly. He claims that he can raise 7 billion by cracking down on tax evasion.

That’s not sense, common or otherwise. That’s bollocks.

When a politician tells you that he is going to fund his spending promises by cracking down on tax evasion, you know he is either a fool or a charlatan. And Winston ain’t no fool.

Bang.

Jamie also has swipes at National and the Conservatives.

I wish I had been there to hear the speech. People have been saying that Dr Whyte is too much a philosopher, and not enough a politician. Well I think he has caught on well. And I mean that in a good way – politicians need to be able to not only make the case for their own parties, but also forcefully point out why the other parties are wrong. His critique of the left is devastating.

I encourage people to share his speech far and wide.

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Stephen Berry on discrimination

September 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

ACT candidate Stephen Berry blogs:

I was an audience member at Auckland’s LGBTI meeting last night. …

Unfortunately it was a poorly attended and largely dreary affair. In 21st century New Zealand politics, homosexuality is so acceptable as to hardly be an issue at all. We watched politicians from across the political spectrum largely agree with each other and Jamie set a new record for being in full agreement with Kevin Hague.

I’m not surprised.

Jamie’s message was spot on when he said that there should be no discrimination whatsoever by the state for any reason. I was glad when he bravely pointed out that this shouldn’t be applied to the sphere of individual’s private lives. Everyone, every day, discriminates against others for a host of minor reasons. If you’re approached by a man in a bar who you find physically unattractive you’d be likely to reject their advances based on that. I would hope nobody would suggest that you’re obligated to accept someone’s physical advances. The Human Rights Act could not possibly list all the different reasons private discrimination should be banned and it shouldn’t even begin to start. Freedom of association is far more important than hurt feelings at your company being rejected.

The difference between state discrimination and private discrimination is crucial.

I’m a proudly gay man at number 6 on the ACT Party list. I don’t know if being gay in itself is anything to be proud of, but I’m very good at it.

Heh.

Assessing some of the answers that were given at the LGBTI forum, I think the biggest danger to the “Rainbow Community” in terms of future discrimination is from itself.

Labour’s Kelly Ellis not only wants discrimination against transgender people banned under the Human Rights Act but the impression I got from her address is that she considers jokes about transgender people to be a form of discrimination in itself. I have to ask, how much freedom of speech does she want to eliminate in order to spare her feelings?

Beware candidates that think removing rights is how you protect rights.

Internet Mana’s Miriam Pierard suggested Parliament have a special representative from the “Rainbow Community” in Parliament (like a Gay Statutory Board?) and said she wanted feedback from others about the idea. I retorted it was a terrible idea and she said, “Well you don’t want a Ministry of Women’s Affairs either.” Exactly Miriam! 

ACT are consistent!

What the aforementioned politicians fail to grasp is the total invalidity of collectivism. I encountered it myself when I took part in a debate at AUT earlier in the day. The pro-compulsory student group politicians were complaining that students have lost their voice under voluntary student membership. I pointed at individual students watching in the quad and said that there is no way that student, and this student, and this other student all have one voice. They are individuals with their own hopes, dreams and visions for their own lives. They are not a blind block of drones standing in formation waiting for their leader to tell them what to say and think.

“We’ve all individuals.” … “I’m not!”

On a private social level, Government can never and should never try to eliminate discrimination. The only moral way to tackle discrimination at a private level is through social pressure and sanction. It is an approach I take myself. It will never be one hundred percent successful, but no measure ever taken by the state ever will be either. It is the moral way to deal with discrimination and leaves our right to decide who we choose to interact with intact.

Discrimination in employment and business services I view differently to discrimination by individuals.

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ACT wants family and youth courts opened up

August 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Act Party leader Dr Jamie Whyte said the party wants to see Youth Court and Family Court open to public scrutiny.

Dr Whyte said in a policy announcement today that there should be a right to access Youth Court and Family Court records.

Media should be able to report on cases through the Youth Court and Family Court in a similar way they can report on District Court proceedings, he said.

“The Act Party is campaigning to end secret courts” Dr Whyte said.

“There is no way of analysing and understanding what is going on in the family court.

“There are disturbing stories that evidence in Family Court cases is unreliable.”

Dr Whyte said the “secrecy” of the Youth Court was the biggest problem in the youth justice system.

“It is a wholly unjustified violation of the principle of open justice.”

The party supported names and identifying details of parties remaining suppressed, Dr Whyte said.

As I understand it the default mode for these courts is not to be public, but media can apply for access. ACT seem to be saying they would reverse the default setting so that access is the norm.

So long as names are suppressed, I favour all courts having a default setting of being open to the media.

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A cheaper way to increase cycling

August 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte announced:

“The National party yesterday announced a $100 million cycle-way that just happens to go through the marginal seat of Hutt South,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.

“The Greens want to spend many hundreds of millions on cycle-ways. ACT’s contribution to this bidding war for the cyclist vote would double cycle use and cost nothing,” said Dr Whyte.

“We need only abolish the law that makes wearing a cycle helmet compulsory. Since 1994, when Parliament established an instant fine of $150 for failing to wear a helmet, cycling has declined by over 50%. Overseas experience also indicates that laws making it compulsory to wear a helmet dramatically reduce cycling.

In fact a study from The Netherlands found that not having a compulsory helmet law has led to much higher levels of bike use.

“This nanny state law does not even save lives,” said Dr Whyte.

“On the contrary, it costs lives. Before the legislation, few people died from cycling accidents and, of those who did, only 20% died from head injuries alone.”

“Research reported in the New Zealand Medical Journal (see http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2012/vol-125-no-1349/article-clarke) shows that, over a 10 year period, only 20 Aucklanders were killed in cycle accidents and only 4 might have been saved by wearing cycle helmets. This same New Zealand Medical Journal article concluded that life years gained from the health benefits of cycling outweighed life years lost in accidents by 20 times” said Dr Whyte.

This is what The Netherlands study found also.

“The diminished health resulting from the reduced cycling caused by compulsory helmet-wearing costs 53 premature deaths a year. ACT would simply abolish the $150 fine for not wearing a helmet. That would save $100 million on cycle-ways in marginal seats, double cycle use and save 53 lives a year,”  said Dr Whyte.

I’d do both.

Note there is a huge difference between saying helmets should not be compulsory, and saying that people should not wear them.

One day I suspect someone will try and mae helmets compulsory for skiing!

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Rankin for Epsom

August 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Conservative’s chief executive Christine Rankin has confirmed she will stand as the party’s candidate in Epsom. 

The party published the move today on its Facebook page, saying “Let’s support her and see her as the next MP for Epsom.” It was also announced at a public meeting in Auckland.

This is a reasonably cunning move.

At a minimum it gets publicity for the Conservatives as there will be considerable focus on Epsom.

It also means that it could throw the outcome of the seat in doubt. By this I don’t mean Labour or National winning the seat, but is it possible the Conservatives could win it?

Think about this scenario. It is two weeks to go and ACT is polling 1.1% and Conservatives 2.8%. National looks like it will be say three or four seats short of a majority.

Conservatives point out a vote for Rankin gets 4 of their MPs into Parliament while a vote for ACT gets just one MP. Regardless of what National has said, Epsom voters could decide to vote for the smartest tactical option.

So it will be a very interesting seat to watch.

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ACT’s tax cuts

August 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACT says it can boost economic growth by a third with a policy to cut the company tax rate to 12.5 per cent.

Leader Jamie Whyte says this will increase investment, and job and GDP by one third, leading to higher wages.

He would fund the tax cut by slashing “corporate welfare,” worth about $1.5bn a year, and carbon trading, worth $164m.

Excellent. That would attract investment.

European and American studies suggest cutting the rate by 10 percentage points will make economies grow by between 1 and 2 per cent extra a year. Each 1 per cent reduction in the rate boosts wages by between 0.3 and 0.5 per cent, he said.

“No single policy proposal from any party in this election can do more to increase economic growth, create jobs and lift wages,” he added,

Company tax is a “terrible drag” on growth and wages while raising “relatively little” revenue, he argued.

Treasury estimates that every 1% reduction in the company tax rate has a fiscal loss to the Government of $220 million which is relatively modest.

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Jamie Whyte on race based law

July 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has done a speech on the place of race in the law. Some people will react kneejerk against it and say it is Maori bashing, but I actually think he makes his points by avoiding inflammatory rhetoric, and focusing on principles and outcomes.  Some extracts:

David Cunliffe recently apologised to a Women’s Refuge symposium:

“I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man … because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

The Prime Minister accused Cunliffe of being insincere. Maybe he was.

Or maybe not. The apology conforms to Labour party thinking. Whereas we in ACT believe in personal responsibility, the Labour party believes in collective responsibility.

Those who believe in collective responsibility see people not so much as individuals but as members of groups: men and women, gays and heterosexuals, the rich and the poor, Maori and Pakeha.

For example, the Labour Party has a rule that half the people on their list must be women. This is intended to ensure equal parliamentary representation for women.

Labour believes that a man cannot represent a woman in parliament, even if she votes for him. And that a woman automatically represents other women, even if they did not vote for her or disagree with her. All that matters is group membership.

Similarly, Cunliffe believes he is responsible for sexual violence, even though has never perpetrated any, simply because he is a man.

This “identity politics” comes easily to many people. It is a way of thinking with ancient roots in mankind’s tribal history.

Nevertheless, it is ugly. It is the mindset that lies behind such obscenities as collective punishment and clan feuding.

Identity politics is one reason I could never vote left. I am socially liberal on a fair few issues, but I firmly believe in treating people as individuals, not just as members of a gender, race or other identity.

Alas, the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand. Even today, after any number of equal rights movements, New Zealand law makes a citizen’s rights depend on her race.

The reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are NOT an example of this. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They are recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

Good to have that stated. I strongly support them also.

Many people have opinions about what other people should do with their property. Under the Resource Management Act, how much weight your opinion carries depends on your race. If you are Maori, you have a say on these matters that others lack.

Some state run or state directed organisations openly practice race-based favouritism. I know a woman who has raised children by two fathers, one Pakeha and the other Maori. If her Pakeha son wants to attend law school at Auckland University, he will have to get much higher grades than her Maori son.

That’s a good example. They are raised by the same mother in the same household, with the same access to opportunities. But the blood line of their fathers gives one of them a privilege the other does not have.

The question is why race-based laws are tolerated, not just by the Maori and Internet-Mana Parties, but by National, Labour and the Greens.

I suspect the reason is confusion about privilege.

Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.

But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower. Average educational achievement is lower.

Again it is good he stated this. Overall Maori are not privileged. They do worse in most areas we deem important. But just because they are under-privileged in many areas, does not mean it is incorrect to say they have some special legal privileges.

Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage.

Absolutely. The argument is you use legal privilege to try and compensate for the lack of privilege in other areas. But is that a good idea?

Apparently, many people do need to be reminded why the principle of legal equality is important.

It is important because, without it, society becomes a racket.

When people are equal before the law, they can get ahead only by offering other people goods or services that they value. We are all playing to the same rules, and we do well only if we “deliver the goods”. This promotes not only economic growth and prosperity but civility. It forces people to attend to the preferences of others.

Where people enjoy legal privilege, by contrast, they can get ahead without doing anything of value for other people. Because the system is rigged in their favour, they don’t need to “deliver the goods”.

Suppose, for example, that the government decided that Japanese women deserved a legal privilege. They should be allowed to erect barriers across the roads they live on. Anyone wanting to proceed down the road must negotiate with these women to get the barriers lifted.

This would provide Japanese women with an opportunity to make easy money by charging people a fee to lift their barriers. It would thereby divert them from productive occupations. It would drive up the cost of travelling around the city, as people either took longer routes or paid the fees. And it would create feelings of resentment towards Japanese women.

This may sound fanciful. But it is precisely the situation that the Resource Management Act (RMA) has created with regard to resource consents and iwi. If you want to proceed with developing land near iwi, you may well have to pay iwi for permission to proceed. That easy money diverts Maori from more productive activity, drives up the cost of developing land and creates resentment towards Maori.

This is sadly true. It incentivises some Iwi to make money from opposing developments, rather than encouraging them to be involved in their own. Of course not true in all cases, such as Ngai Tahu.

Nor does legal privilege do Maori any good over the long-run.

Allow me another analogy. Imagine that SANZAR, the body that administers the Super 15, decided that the Blues deserved a legal privilege. Whereas all the other teams will continue to earn 5 points for a try, the Blues will earn 10.

This would benefit Blues players over the short-term. They would win many more games than they now do. But giving the Blues this advantage in the rules would reduce their incentive to work hard on their skills and fitness. After a while, standards of play at the Blues would decline. Fewer Blues players would be selected for the All Blacks.

Return to those half-brothers I mentioned earlier: one Pakeha who will need an “A” to get into law school, one Maori who will need only a “C”. Which one is more likely to work hard at school? Which one is more likely to make the most of his potential?

Such scheme are very well intended, but I share the concern that they do more harm than good in the long run.

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ACT on Honesty for Taxpayers

July 21st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has proposed:

On this policy, regulatory impact statements, cabinet submissions and ministers’ introductory speeches for Bills in parliament will need to state clearly that “but for this proposal, your income tax rate would be X percentage points lower”.

When taxpayers visit the website of any government agency or local council and any programme of that agency, they should have a clear idea of the price of that agency in their taxes or rates.

Government departments and agencies should be required to declare on their home webpage “but for this agency, your income tax rate would be X% lower”.

Similar rules should apply to local governments. They should be required to reveal how much lower rates would be if not for a particular new policy proposal or existing service of the Council.

If a minister, department, agency or local council believes that the programmes it administers do indeed offer value for money to taxpayers, they should be proud to say how they are putting taxes to work in the clearest way taxpayers can understand.

For example, the government should be keen to alert taxpayers that, without Working for Families:

·      the 17.5% income tax rate would be 12.5% OR

·      the 10.5% income tax rate would be 3.5%.

The Minister for Tertiary Education should be keen to remind everyone that, if not for interest-free student loans

·      the 17.5% income tax rate be would 16% OR

·      the 28% company tax would be 25% OR

·      the 33% top income tax rate would be 30%.

That’s a great idea. The public will be able to judge the worth of spending programmes more effectively, if they know the opportunity cost of the spending – the reduced taxes they won’t be getting.

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The ACT Party List

July 13th, 2014 at 2:32 pm by David Farrar

ACT have released their list. The top six are:

  1. Dr Jamie Whyte
  2. Kenneth Wang
  3. Robin Grieve
  4. Beth Houlbrooke
  5. Don Nicolson
  6. Stephen Berry
  7. Dasha Kovalenko

If they get 1.2% of the vote (they got 1.1% last time) and retain Epsom, then Jamie Whyte comes in. At 2.0% they also get Kenneth Wang. They would need 6.0% to get Dasha Kovalenko in, which sadly will not happen.

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ACT advocates vouchers for education

June 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte said:

If a supermarket fails to provide its customers with the food they want, it will go broke. Other supermarkets that offer these dissatisfied customers a better deal will win their business. 

The same goes for the farms that produce the food. Fail to provide what your customers want as efficiently as your competitors do and you will eventually go bust.

This ongoing competitive market process explains why the quality of food has improved so much over the last 100 years while the cost has declined.

By contrast, if a state school fails to provide educations that satisfy the parents of their pupils, it will not shut down. Its income does not come from the parents it is failing to satisfy. It comes from taxpayers with no choice in the matter.

Indeed, if a school performs poorly, it is likely to attract extra government funding. In the private sector, resources flow into success; in the public sector they flow into failure.

There is a large degree of truth to this.

We do not get a variety of educational offerings tailored to the different needs and preferences of children and their parents. We get a standardized, one-size-fits-all educational model.

And, as always with one-size-fits all models, state education in New Zealand now fits only a few children.

Who are those children?

They are children with well-off, well-educated parents.

Parents who can afford to buy a house near to a school that will do a good job for their child.

Yep our current system gives wealthy families a choice, but not poor families.

ACT thinks education should be provided in a market of competing suppliers. That has always been our position.

It does not mean that we are opposed to the state funding of education. Not at all. We share the almost universally accepted idea that all children should get a decent chance in life, whatever the circumstances of their birth.

But that doesn’t mean that the state must provide educations, that it must run schools.

This is key. There is a different between the state funding something, and providing it.

Government should make sure that every child gets an education by providing all parents with a voucher, redeemable at any school of their choosing. 

Vouchers would be a radical reform of the education system. And to a degree the results are unknown. In theory the choice should end up with much better outcomes for poorer students. But are all our schools set up to be self-managing and competing? What if half of them collapsed?

That is not a reason to reject vouchers. It is a reason to trial them. Then make decisions based on the evidence of whether or not they improved educational outcomes.

How about we pick three cites and towns. Turn those cities and towns into fully competitive voucher funded educational centres. And after five years assess the performance of students in those three cities and towns compared to the rest of NZ (in terms of relative change). If they have not improved, then scrap the trial. If they have shown significant improvement, then extend it to some further cities and towns. Make the decision based of actual evidence, not ideology.

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