Seymour highlights tax bracket creep

ACT MP David Seymour has highlighted the problem for taxpayers caused by bracket creep. If PAYE brackets aren’t adjusted then inflation means taxpayers gradually pay more tax relative to their income.

Michael Cullen failing to address bracket creep for nearly all of the three terms under Helen Clark was a significant factor in voters getting fed up with Labour.

Stuff reports in Politics briefs: March 20, 2015

ACT revives ‘bracket creep’ campaign

They were last seen in Michael Cullen’s “chewing gum tax cut” Budget – and later dumped – but ACT has revived calls for tax thresholds to be indexed to inflation. Leader David Seymour says average households are more than $1000 worse off in tax payments since 2010 because of “bracket creep”. Had thresholds been linked to inflation, the top 33 cent rate would now cut in at $73,571, not $70,000.

If Bill English ignores bracket creep voters may get fed up with his tax grabbing too.

Seymour’s press release: Time to end stealth tax increases

ACT Leader David Seymour has today called for an end to the stealth increase of tax rates through bracket creep.

“Each year, inflation pushes a larger proportion of New Zealanders’ incomes into higher tax brackets, regardless of whether they’ve had an increase in real earnings,” said Mr Seymour.

“Tax brackets should be adjusted for inflation.

“Even with low inflation this stealth tax of ‘bracket creep’ means that the average household is $1036 worse off since the tax changes of October 2010. An individual taxpayer on the average income is $648 worse off.

Mr Seymour’s focus on bracket creep comes after the Minister of Finance stated low inflation ‘makes it more challenging for the Government because higher inflation pushes up the tax base and enables us to collect more tax in a growing economy’.

“If the government wants to increase taxes, it should do so openly. This is a basic principle of transparency, and honesty in taxation.

“I propose tying tax brackets to the Consumer Price Index, meaning tax brackets would rise with inflation, stopping stealth tax increases and ensuring government revenue collection is open and transparent.

“The best time to act is now – current low inflation means a switch to inflation adjusted tax brackets would have relatively little effect on government forecasts.”

David Seymour profiled

John Armstrong has profiled ACT MP David Seymour – Special report: David Seymour’s rescue Act.

Seymour is talking of Act winning 100,000 votes in 2017 and bringing five Act MPs into Parliament. But he stresses that is a target. It may also be a definition of optimism.

Act had deluded itself on previous occasions that it had not hit rock bottom. In picking up 0.7 per cent of the party vote, Act could no longer be in denial. Its ignominy was complete. It had finished well behind Colin Craig’s Conservative Party and not much ahead of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Seymour has a huge task. A rooky MP establishing himself and an office in Parliament while also taking on Government coalition related duties was a big enough task on it’s own.

But he has also taken over leadership of the ACT Party and has to try and find a way of building it back to relevance beyond being an Epsom electorate oddity.

With Whyte’s resignation, Seymour was thrown in the deep end. He has unquestionably faced the steepest learning curve of any of the 2014 intake of new MPs.

While other newbies were still finding where the toilets are in the parliamentary complex, Seymour and Act president John Thompson were negotiating Act’s third confidence and supply agreement with John Key and National.

And it will have been all on since then.

As the person casting Act’s one vote, Seymour has to wade through a mountain of paperwork as a never-ending queue of National Party Cabinet ministers seek to get Act’s backing for their legislative agenda.

Then there are the regular consultations with the Prime Minister plus meetings of Cabinet committees where detailed policy is nailed down.

If that was not enough, Seymour has a seat on Parliament’s powerful finance and expenditure committee. There is some concern in Act circles that Seymour will get swallowed up by the system. But he is conscious of the danger.

Just to round things off, Seymour has found himself being constantly sledged in Parliament by Winston Peters who detests Act with a loathing.

So it’s going to be an ongoing huge workload, a constant battle with detractors (Winston doesn’t do jealousy over power quietly) and Seymour also has to try and find the time to revive a party on life support.

I’ve heard Seymour speaking in person, at last years ACT southern conference. I also had a chance to speak to him.

My impression was better than I expected. He spoke well and sounded intelligent and interesting.

But Seymours success will depend on how he manages a huge workload, the media glare and an expected bitter and ongoing campaign of attack from Peters and others on the other side of Parliament.

Last term ACT’s sole MP John Banks was relentlessly pursued and unluckily for him his enemies found a slip up in hios previous local political life that ended up trashing his return to Parliament.

Expect the same against Seymour this term. Opposition parties will see the bringing down of Seymour as the potential bringing down of the Key led Government. They will try to undermine, attack and pressure Seymour at every opportunity.

Time will tell whether Seymour has any skeletons that can be used to bash him with, or whether he can withstand attempts to wear him down and force a politically fatal mistake.

Some in opposition who hanker for power put far more effort into trying to bring others down. And to destroy the Government.

So Seymour will be a prime target. He will have a big enough battled surviving himself let alone rescusitating an ailing party.

NZ Herald:

David Seymour

 Age: 31

 Education: Auckland Grammar School; University of Auckland

 Degrees: Bachelor of Arts (philosophy); Bachelor of Engineering (electrical and electronic)

 Political posts: MP for Epsom; leader of Act; parliamentary undersecretary; member of Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee.

 Little-known fact: Portrayed the young Sir Edmund Hillary in TVNZ’s 1997 biographical documentary A View from the Top

 Heroes: Sir Roger Douglas, former finance minister and co-founder of Act; William Wilberforce, 19th century anti-slavery campaigner.

Wikipedia:

David Seymour (born 24 June 1983) is the Epsom electorate MP, and leader of ACT New Zealand. Seymour has previously worked in public policy in Canada and New Zealand for the last 7 years.

Seymour went to the University of Auckland where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronic) and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)

He has worked as a Policy Analyst for five years for Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Manning Centre.

Political background:

Seymour is a long time member of ACT New Zealand and first became involved in ACT New Zealand as a leader of ACT on Campus, and he first stood for ACT in 2005 in Mt Albert against Helen Clark, who was Prime Minister at the time.

At the 2011 election, he stood for ACT in the Auckland Central electorate, which was retained by National’s Nikki Kaye.

Candiate results in Auckland Central 2011:

  • ARDERN, Jacinda LAB 14,321
  • DAVIES, Allen NZF 412
  • GREENFIELD, Stephen CNSP 238
  • KAYE, Nikki NAT 15,038
  • ROCHE, Denise GP 2,903
  • SEYMOUR, David ACT 149
  • AN DEN HEUVEL, Anthony Joseph HR 68

I got a few more votes than Seymour.

After this election, Seymour worked as a ministerial adviser for ACT’s successful Epsom candidate, John Banks, who was appointed an Associate Minister of Education for the John Key-led National government. Seymour assisted with the development of the government’s Partnership Schools legislation

So he gained some experience last term, but his current workload is a huige step up.

Inevitable change of ACT leader

Jamie Whyte quietly resigned as leader of the ACT Party on Friday afternoon. This was not a surprise, it was inevitable. As widely expected MP David Seymour has been appointed as the new leader.

There was quite a bit of criticism of ACT for appointing Whyte as leader and separately appointing Seymour as Epsom candidate. It’s impossible to know whether any other arrangement would have helped ACT’s election chances but I doubt it would have made much difference.

Seymour performed very well campaigning for Epsom and comfortably won the seat. He did this with help from National but also through hard work and ability. It’s hard to see how being leader would have made any difference in Epsom.

Whyte’s performance was much more mixed. He made some early mistakes in media interviews – that was part of a sharp learning curve. His (and ACT’s) problem was that he failed to connect enough with potential voters.

He came across too much as an academic/intellectual, too theoretical. He didn’t impress journalists who usually don’t do ACT any favours anyway. And there was little sign of any favourable impression in social media.

It was a tall order trying to build ACT Party vote up after a series of disasters, especially the Don Brash takeover followed by the installation of John Banks and his subsequent legal problems, plus a sustained targeting of him by political opponents.

Whyte did not step up enough so ACT failed to come close to get enough party support to get Whyte into Parliament alongside Seymour.

If Whyte had got in the arrangement could have made sense, with him concentrating on party organisation and leadership while Seymour has electorate as was as parliamentary duties.

But Seymour is in sole charge with a massive workload – he has to set up electorate staff and employees as well as set up a parliamentary office for ACT with staff virtually from scratch after Banks’ early exit. On top of this Seymour has to learn the parliamentary ropes and National have also given him under-secretary and committee duties.

And Whyte will probably quickly fade into failed political history.

ACT media releases:

Jamie Whyte Resignation Statement

“Today I announce that I have tendered, and the Board has accepted, my resignation as Leader of ACT New Zealand.

“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.”

President Release re Jamie Whyte Resignation

“Today the ACT Party Board announces with regret that it has accepted Jamie Whyte’s resignation as Leader,” said ACT President John Thompson.

“Jamie has proven himself a principled and clear-headed advocate of ACT’s values of smaller government and greater personal responsibility.  Under his leadership, the Party has been rejuvenated and membership has swelled.

“We are proud to have had Jamie serve as Leader, and hope the New Zealand public has not seen or heard the last of him.

“The ACT Party Board has appointed David Seymour, the ACT MP for Epsom, to succeed Jamie Whyte as the Leader of ACT.”

Leadership Acceptance

“I am honoured to lead the ACT Party, I look forward to the challenge and relish the opportunity.

It has been a privilege to work with Jamie Whyte. I want to acknowledge his tireless efforts through the past nine months and during the campaign.  Through his efforts the Party was rejuvenated and our membership increased.  It is a substantial achievement and on behalf of all the members and supporters of the ACT Party, we thank you Jamie.

Once again the ACT Party, with the support of Epsom voters, is contributing the vital extra seat that will assist a National-led government to implement the policy changes which will boost growth and prosperity in New Zealand.

The principles that drive ACT are timeless – freedom, opportunity, choice, competition, personal responsibility and compassion.  ACT believes in small but efficient government, and a low tax burden to encourage and reward hard work and creativity. Only with low taxes will individuals and families be able to get ahead from their own efforts.

The successful New Zealand we know today is significantly due to the policy reforms of the founders of the ACT Party. Those reforms are why we are consistently rated as amongst the freest economies in global surveys. It is this environment that has freed the energy we now see in New Zealand innovation and entrepreneurship. We see it in business, in sport, in the arts, and in science and technology. Cutting red tape and reducing the tax burden further will unleash that energy.

The celebration of entrepreneurship is core to ACT values – it is what drives our economy and incomes forward, creating new industries, new jobs, and higher incomes.

I am excited by the opportunity I have as Leader of the ACT Party, as the MP for Epsom, as well as my Parliamentary Under-Secretary roles in Education and Regulatory Reform.

I look forward to ACT contributing to a stable and successful National-led government, and to expanding our presence in Parliament in 2017.

David Seymour

Small party priorities post election

Small party (and Green) leaders were asked in a The Nation debate what their priority policy would be in post election negotiations.

Summary:

  • United Future: Flexi-Super
  • Maori Party: Whanau Ora
  • Mana Party: the elimination of child poverty within the first five years
  • Act Party: economic growth
  • Conservative Party: binding referenda
  • NZ First: non-committal
  • Green Party: expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives

    Details:

United Future

Right, I wanna talk about relationships in MMP, and I’m coming to Mr Dunne. I want to know that if you get into a confidence-in-supply agreement with the next government, what would be the one thing you would be pushing for in return?

Dunne: I think probably top of our list would be to make progress on our flexi-super proposal, which would see people being able to take a reduced rate of super from the earlier age of 60 or an enhanced rate if they deferred to 70, and with the standard age remaining 65. I think that would be the one thing we’d wanna push most strongly.

That’s a repeat of last election.Dunne negotiated a discussion paper on Flexi-Super with National after the 2011 election and that which was released last year but National are luke-warm on doing anything on it

UnitedFuture’s plan which would allow people to take a reduced rate of New Zealand superannuation from the age of 60, or an enhanced rate if they deferred uptake until 70. The rationale was to give people more choice over retirement income and to recognise that for some people 60 was the age to leave the paid workforce, but that they were currently unable to do so for financial reasons.

Māori Party

Te Ururoa, you say that you could go with either Labour or National, so what would be your top priority as a policy to get?

Flavell: …the major platform that the Maori party has always been on about is final order. We say that if we’re able to consolidate, not only just social—the MSD-

So you would be pushing that if you were with the next government, you’d be pushing to keep–?

Flavell: It’s an absolute must from our perspective that final order will be at the centre of our platform, our policy. It is right now, and it will be.

‘Final order’ is a mistake in the transcript, it should read ‘Whānau Ora’ which is the Māori Party’s flagship policy.

Whānau-ora: restoring the essence of who we are; putting the vibrant traditions from our people at the heart of our whānau

Whānau Ora begins with you. Whānau is the heart of our people, it is the foundation on which our country thrives. It is about reaffirming a sense of self-belief.

Mana Party

All right. Mr Harawira, Mr Cunliffe says that you’re not gonna be part of his government. But you say he’ll pick up the phone if he needs you. So if he rings and says, ‘Hone, I’m offering you confidence in supply, that’s it, no ministers’, what do you want from him?

Do you think he has the vision to lead this country?

Harawira: What I know is this – if the polls keep trending the way that John Armstrong of the NZ Herald says and hit 5% even before the campaign starts for Internet Mana, I’m guaranteed to get a call on the night of September the 20th. And if he asks us, is there one policy, if there’s one thing that we would want to see changed, it would be this – the elimination of child poverty within the first five years.

The ‘elimination of child poverty’ seems idealistic, especially when it is usually a statistical figure based on families below the median income and on that basis there will always be some ‘in poverty’ – below the arbitrary line.

I can’t find a reference to the five year target on the Mana website but they have a range of policy points addressing “economic justice’, for example:

Work towards implementing a Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in. This would eliminate the huge costs involved in administering the current shame and blame WINZ system, and do much to end poverty and address growing inequality.

Act Party

Jamie Whyte, if you had a confidence and supply agreement, what would you be after as your top priority policy?

Whyte: Well, almost all problems, practical problems, are remedied by becoming wealthier. And so economic growth is by far our priority. And so the policies that we’ve been promoting on – cutting taxes and reducing the regulatory burden, which would promote economic growth, those would be our priorities in a negotiation with the National party.

That’s straightforward.

Short to medium term goals should include reducing the level of government expenditure below 28 per cent of GDP and lowering the top tax rate to 24 cents.  ACT’s Regulatory Responsibility Bill should be passed.

Conservative Party

Mr Craig, your policies are almost the same as NZ First. You’re the doppelganger in this room, so why would people vote for you when we’ve got the real thing right here.

What would be your top policy that you’d be after?

Craig: We’ve said publicly that we think governments should not be able to ignore overwhelming vote in referenda. The anti-smacking law, tough on law and order, reducing the MPs, all right quite rightly should have been implemented by government, because there is a point at which people need to know they control this nation. It’s their country.

Craig has already stated a bottom line on binding referenda.

ON OUR WATCH REFERENDUMS WILL BE BINDING

At the heart of the democratic system is the principle of the citizens initiated referendum. It’s when a single issue is thought to be so important, all voters are asked to make their opinion heard.

No specifics are given on exactly what this would entail, Conservative ‘Issues’ or policies are brief and vague.

New Zealand First

Mr Peters, your bottom lines or things that you really don’t wanna budge on are no foreign land sales, no race-based parties, buy-back assets and keep the super age at 65. You’re gonna be on the cross-benches, aren’t you, with that list?

Peters talked about a range of policies but was typically evasive and vague.

Peters: Your assumption is that at six weeks out from the election, we’re gonna make decisions now and tell the public, ‘Forget about you, doesn’t matter what happens in six weeks’. Behind close room deals. Now, I’m gonna leave it to the public to decide who’s gonna be standing there at the election, and it won’t include some parties standing here right now.

Many alluded to but no bottom lines revealed before the election.

Green Party

All right, let’s go to Metiria Turei there. (asked about working with NZ First)

Turei: The Green party in government will be a very large part of that government, and we will have significant influence. We will expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives – a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy. And we will have—we won’t settle like other parties might for a single achievement. We want to see our whole plan, our whole agenda being rolled out.

Turei wasn’t asked specifically about a priority but her answer was more befitting of a medium sized party with potentially a significant influence in a coalition.

Greens are excluded from major party debates despite the chances of them getting half the votes of Labour, and they could be a quarter to a third of a left wing coalition so could reasonably expect to include a number of their key policies in negotiations.

Source: TV3 The Nation – Debate: Multi-party election campaign debate

Guy McCallum explains his resignation

After resigning as an Act candidate – Act candidate resigns over race relations policy – Guy McCallum has explained why he did this on Facebook:

So on Thursday I made a decision to leave ACT because of differences in approach to Race Relations policy. This news has inevitably made it (big deep breath) into the world of public opinion.

This is where I’m coming from.

According to Radio Live, Jamie still likes me. However, that doesn’t change the fact that if Maori had their so-called ‘privilege’ taken away, I would still have mine as a Pakeha male. This is why I believe that indigenous rights are important; in Canada, indigenous rights are enshrined. Indigenous First Nation and Inuit people no longer have to tolerate neglect nor prejudice from governments and from other people. Their individual rights are protected from ethnic discrimination.

In NZ, all of our rights can be changed by law with astonishing speed and arrogance. Despite Maori legal rights being subject to that danger too, they are there to prevent discrimination based on someone’s identification as Maori. It is fair, still, that these rights imply obligations on the authority which violated those rights for so, so long.

Opposition to Maori legal rights cannot be excused by having Maori friends. I have taken this stand to show that one must defend their friends’ rights to be counted the same as I.

Neither can we appeal to voters, reporters and commentators for a civil debate, when we intend to shoot down those who disagree. That is no way to conduct a civil debate about a long and undignified chapter of NZ history.

When this is understood, and the lessons of this moment (and history) are learned, we could right a lot of wrongs and confidently open our worlds to one another. I patiently await the day.

And a big shout out to Dr Janine Hayward. She singled me out in an Indigenous Politics class and said that Don Brash had a lot of explaining to do. Instead, I took that moment to do a lot of thinking. I also want to thank those who have supported me as I enter this vulnerable chapter.

This links to 3 News coverage of his resignation – ACT member quitting over Whyte’s race speech.

There is some criticism in the Facebook comments but a lot of ‘likes’ and support as well

Act candidate resigns over race relations policy

Otago University’s student news Critic has announced ACT candidate for Dunedin North resigns.

ACT Party Board member and Dunedin North candidate Guy McCallum has officially resigned and withdrawn his candidacy as the result of “the development of a race relations policy” that “blindsided” him.

This resignation comes in the wake of ACT leader Jamie Whyte’s shock speech at the ACT Waikato Conference, which called for the elimination of race-based legal provisions. “Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France,” Whyte claimed.

When asked what the aforementioned race relations policy entailed, McCallum noted, “quota systems at universities would be abolished, co management arrangements would be repealed, Maori Television would be scrapped, as well as ending the Race Relations Commissioner role.”

“In fact, I didn’t know the Hamilton speech was coming,” claims McCallum. “Jamie was in Dunedin for a small gathering of ACT supporters on the morning of 20 July, and he mentioned to me that he was in search of a ‘stunt … because you know, the polls.’ A week later ACT rolled out a controversial and obviously unprepared race relations policy.”

McCallum claimed Whyte’s call for Dame Susan Devoy’s resignation was “the final straw … People criticising Jamie for One Country, One Law have only been met with derision; either they haven’t read his speeches, have ulterior political motives, or are, by him, wrong.”

“ACT’s policies are about reminding you of scary burglars, zealous bureaucrats with a hidden green agenda, and resentful Maori of taking an equal placing. This is the imagery the vague words are designed to create. Liberals and libertarians are getting a rough deal from ACT. The positive ideals they represent are used as currency to hedge conservative influence, like the Tea Party. A lot of libertarians have avoided ACT for these reasons. For wanting to change that, I find myself in present circumstances.”

“I have spoken to other members of the Party who are becoming concerned that ACT is focusing more on fear and prejudice to gain votes.”

McCallum has been active in ACT on Campus since 2010. He stood the Dunedin North candidate in the 2011 election (I got to know him then as I was also a candidate).

He became the ACT on Campus Vice President in 2012, and for the past two years has served on the ACT Party Board as a regional member.

McCallum organised the southern regional meeting referred to as “a small gathering of ACT supporters” – I was invited to that and attended as an interested observer (I have no connecting with the Act Party). I talked to him about the upcoming election and  McCallum appeared to be looking forward to standing in it.

This may harm Act – internal divisions are not a good look for a party.

On the other hand it could help Act. The race/Maori gambit played by Whyte was presumably deliberately designed to provoke race debate and attract attention to a party struggling for political oxygen.

This has resulted in a surge of Maori bashing amongst a minority which Act see as potential votes.

A down side is already obvious, media response to Whyte’s attack on Maori ‘privilege’ shows that political journalists are not exactly looking favoiurably on the tactics of the Act leader.

It’s another make or break election for Act. Stirring up racial prejudice is very risky campaign strategy which could get a few votes but time will tell whether it’s enough.

This may also not be helpful for National.

What would “one law for all” be?

If we had one law for all what would that law be?  Thou shall not hurt anyone else? Thou shall not tell fibs (especially in politics)?

ACT Party

Act Party leader Jamie Whyte has stirred up a race debate by promoting one law for all.

He means that one race (Maori) shouldn’t have separate laws or privileges or Parliamentary seats to anyone else. That’s fine in theory, but very contentious and controversial in practice, as Whyte is finding out.

But it’s having the desired effect, raising Whyte’s and Act’s profile on the potential constituency that matters for them to start to make an impression in the polls. See comments at Kiwiblog in Jamie Whyte on race based law.

Conservative Party

This is also one of the Conservative Party’s key policies (from very sparse offerings).

OneLawForAll

One Law For All is one of four very brief policy statements on their Issues page.

Another is the Conservative’s ‘bottom line’ policy “On Our Watch Referendums Will Be Binding’. In the unlikely event that they have a watch in Parliament they won’t get support for this, an issue that seems inspired by Craig’s obsession with getting the ‘smacking’ law repealed.

Craig wants one law for all if it involves Maori ‘privilege’, but he wants parents to have a different law than children when it comes to being hit. One could agree with Craig that there’s some crazy thinking here.

Another of their policies is YOUR FIRST $20,000 TAX FREE THEN A FLAT TAX. Act at least have some consistency, wanting one tax rate for all instead of no tax for those earning under $20,000 and then tax whack the rest of us.

NZ First

NZ First seem to stake a claim to the ‘One Law For All’ slogan but it doesn’t stand out in their policies. Their website doesn’t have a page for ‘Winston Peters Rhetoric’ but their is plenty of that elsewhere, for example in Budget in Reply Speech – Winston Peters.

We believe in one law for all – irrespective of ethnic background.

Not the crumbs of tokenism from the Cronies Club Tables!

New Zealand First believes that we must train, skill, educate and employ our own people first.

There’s no excuse for the hiring of cheap labour from overseas when so many are on the unemployment scrap heap back here.

On the issue of foreigners speculating on housing in New Zealand – we’ve had the courage to say it for years but successive governments have refused to act.

Ok, one law for all as long as you’re one of “our own people” and not “from overseas” or a “foreigner”.

NZ First and one law for all seems to be contradictory.

One Law 4 All Party

There is also a party set up and now registered to address this issue – One Law 4 All.

To keep faith with 1Law4All supporters from across the political spectrum, we have the one bottom line – that of legal equality of all citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, culture or religion.

Should we win a position in government, 1Law4All will take a middle-of-the road position on all other issues or proposals by other parties. Should this be difficult to define or involve highly controversial legislation, we will seek a majority public consensus and vote accordingly. We will not have personal conscience votes.

Legal equality is a bottom line but on anything else majority public consensus will enable the overruling of minority rights and needs.

Several Questions For All

‘One law for all” and legal equality sound fine in theory, but life and legislation can be more complicated than that. How would the above parties answer the following questions?

  • One assault law for all or separate law for parents?
  • One tax for all or different tax rates?
  • One property law for all or ‘one of us’ versus ‘foreigners’?
  • One immigration law for all regardless of race, religion, age, skills?
  • Can anyone put flashing lights on their car and run red lights and speed?
  • No age limit for marriage, sex, voting, firearms, driving, alcohol?
  • Superannuation for all?
  • Early childhood education for all?
  • Domestic Purposes Benefit for all?

And what seems to be at the centre of all the ‘one law for all’ posturing is the Treaty of Waitangi. Should New Zealand declare all treaties invalid – one treaty for all or no treaties for anyone? There’s quite a few, for example see Treaties and International Law.

Or just selected ones?

Back to Act

While Act want no legal or other privileges for Maori…

Treaty of Waitangi and Race Relations

ACT supports the vision of a free society and would seek to remove all race-based appointments in parliament or any other branch of government.

…they sound more reasonable regarding the Waitangi Tribunal:

We would work towards ensuring the Waitangi Tribunal process ends on the basis of full, fair, and final settlements.

But a quick scan through their other policies suggests they support some targeting and don’t propose universal rules for everyone.

ACC: “The one-size-fits-all compulsory, government-owned monopoly insurance provider is failing New Zealanders.” So they don’t support one insurance provider for all.

Crime and Justice: “ACT supports tough, appropriate sentencing for all offences including burglary (three strikes you’re out), livestock theft (weapon and vehicle confiscation) and murder (sentenced by degree).” Selective application of three strikes, which is targeting some offences and offenders differently to others.

One law for all, unless getting tough on (some) crime will get more votes.

‘One law for all’ is a simple political slogan in a very complex real world.

Act Policy – Honesty for Taxpayers (yeah, right)

ACT Party leader Jamie Whyte announced a new policy yesterday that would require the Government to clearly state what policies would cost relative to potentially reductions in tax.

They want the public to be able to judge the value of proposed bills by ensuring they know the tax repercussions of new policy costs – ACT proposes an Honesty for Taxpayers policy.

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%.

I doubt that the Ministers would be keen to do that. Hence the necessity to require it.

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.

If you do not know what something costs, you cannot know if it is worth the price. Good decision-making depends on good information. In a democracy, this means that voters must be reminded of how much they are paying for government activities.

Politicians from the big spending parties will oppose this policy. That shows what a good idea it is. The bureaucracy will also resist it, because voters will be surprised to realise that much new spending is generated by bureaucrats. MPs and councillors will be more reluctant to just wave through spending when the information is publicly available.

By using the tools of the information age ACT seeks to make our elected representatives more accountable and allow citizens to participate in a more meaningful way.

Act would need to ensure that one of the favourite political cost covering lies is not able to be used, as done by Winston Peters in the weekend.

Tax dodgers, GST on food top NZ First hit list

New Zealand First would take GST off basic food items and rates bills and would target tax dodgers to fund the expensive policies, leader Winston Peters said yesterday.

Mr Peters said his policy would save New Zealanders but cost the Crown a whopping $3 billion a year or thereabouts.

Labour recently said to fund policies they would “clamp down on tax avoidance by multi-national corporations because we believe that everyone should pay their fair share.” From their Fiscal Plan:

Labour will close off tax advantages that promote speculation and clampdown on tax avoidance, particularly by multi-nationals.

Labour will set a target of reducing tax avoidance by $20 million a year in 2015/16, rising to $200 million a year in 2018/19.

Governments have been trying to “clamp down on” and minimise tax avoidance for yonks. The current government has been continually trying to reduce avoidance and evasion.

At least Labour has a relatively modest target of $200 million. NZ First look to be blatantly dishonest claiming they can cover $3 billion by targeting ‘tax dodgers’.

Act may find it difficult imposing honesty on government, but they think their small idea could end up being highly influential.

ACT has a new proposal to make our democracy more accountable. The proposal may seem small but it could be the most significant idea in this election.

Policies such as the one I am announcing today, which change the behaviour of politicians, have greater long term effects than any particular proposals for this or that government activity, such as giving school children laptops, subsidising solar panels and the rest of the little tax-funded bribes the other parties trade in.

A proposal to reform New Zealand’s government accounts was hardly noticed in the 1993 election campaign. Yet the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1994 has had a profound effect on how New Zealand is governed. Government accounts are now transparent and neither Labour nor National wants to be responsible for a deficit. The Fiscal Responsibility Act is probably the real reason why the government books will be back in the black by next year.

ACT’s fresh idea could be as influential as the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

It could be influential – but it’s not easy making politicians and governments more accountable, especially when it comes to honestly justifying increased spending.

Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

Contrasting impressions of ACT leader Jamie Whyte in recent interviews.

Brian Edwards said on on Firstline this morning he thought Whyte was “particularly unimpressive as a leader”.

‘Wyndham, George’ commented at The Standard:

Jamie Whyte is shyte. He was interviewed by Michael Wilson on TV3 and was a blithering stuttering mess!

A comment closer to home (from someone who has never backed ACT and is never likely to):

He sounds very thoughtful.

After pointing out some hesitancy in Whyte’s responses:

It looked like he was having to think through questions he wasn’t prepared for, but spoke honestly about what he thought. Not political, no bland bull.

Wyndham, George is a political opponent of Whyte. Edwards trains politicians to speak to the media.

The other opinion was an ordinary person outside of the political arena.

On ACT’s 3 strikes for burglars policy

ACT leader Jamie Whyte has announced more detail on his party’s three strikes for burglars policy. NZ Herald reports Jail burglars after third offence, says Act.

More than 2000 families will have returned home from the Easter break to find they had been burgled, and Act says it is the only New Zealand political party offering a serious solution.

Party leader Jamie Whyte yesterday outlined a three-strikes policy, under which burglars will spend at least three years in prison if convicted of the crime a third time.

Fewer than 2 per cent of burglaries resulted in a term of imprisonment last year, Dr Whyte said, and the Act policy would change this.

“Burglary is a problem that requires strong political leadership. Act is the only party with a policy that can significantly reduce this blight on our society.”

There’s been a wide range of opinions expressed at Kiwiblog in ACT proposes three strikes for burglaries including ‘FE Smith’ with a warning for ACT.

It is sad that a right wing libertarian party has to adopt the policies of the most authoritarian UK government in 100 years, and a Labour one at that, in order to be relevant.

I seem to remember that ACT was doing its best in the polls when it concentrated on economic issues, which is why I have generally supported it.

The Herald summarises ACT’s three strikes:

• Offenders will be sentenced to three years in prison without parole if convicted of a third burglary offence.

• Juvenile offenders will not have their convictions treated as strikes unless they are convicted of a further offence in adulthood.

• The third-strike penalty may be overruled by a judge who believed there to be extreme hardship in sentencing the offender to three years in prison.

PaulL covers the main policy points at Kiwiblog and makes some comments:

Gee, there’s a lot of people talking crap on here today. Luckily some nuggets in there, which include:

  1. The policy only applies to those over 18 on getting their third strike
  2. The policy as proposed is retrospective. That’s a bad idea, and needs to be changed, we don’t want some political parties getting the idea that we agree with retrospective law changes
  3. The policy as proposed can catch someone for three offences all in one go, rather than needing a warning, then a repeat, then a warning, then a repeat. That’s probably also a bad idea and needs changing.
  4. A policy like this is no use without also increasing the clearance rates for burglary investigations. Is it a case of increasing police resourcing, or do they actually know who did most of the crimes and don’t have time/inclination/laws to deal with it? I seem to recall some suggestion that 80% of property crimes are committed by a very small group of people (the ones this law would hopefully lock up)
  5. We also need some attempt to address some of the prompters of crime. That is to say, many people commit crimes to feed their (illegal) drug habit or due to mental health issues. – so both decriminalise drugs, and provide better treatment options for drug and mental health issues.

That would be a reasonable and comprehensive policy. Where’s Jamie Whyte on that?

One comment was that “Three years in jail equals about $270,000″ – would that sort of money be best to go towards more and longer sentences, or towards prevention, apprehension and conviction under the current laws?

ACT links:

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler has added:

I don’t agree that the policy is retrospective.

The law change being proposed is that those with the prior convictions for burglary must receive a sentence with a non-parole period of at least 3 years. The burglary for which this is imposed must be a burglary committed after the law enters into force.

There is no retrospectivity in this proposal.

Not saying I support it, and you could argue everyone should get at a formal warning, like the three strikes for violent offending regime, but it’s not retrospective.

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