INDEPENDENT NEWS

ACT's The Letter – 19 December 2005

Published: Mon 19 Dec 2005 01:28 PM
ACT's The Letter – 19 December 2005
The Haps
Liberty is safe as parliament is adjourned for the summer. Peters loses his electoral petition. The Herald poll puts Labour ahead.
All I want to be is MP for…
Peters lost his electoral petition but it was close. Clarkson believed he had just $10,000 of reportable expenditure. The court ruled he had spent $18,500, just $1,500 from the limit. The court ruled that 25% of the cost of an advertisement run by the local paper was an electoral expense. If it had said it all must count or even 60% Clarkson would have been out. With 10 days to go Peters warned Clarkson he would challenge his expenses - so he stopped all spending.
Devastated
The one article of faith the NZ First caucus has is in the infallibility of their leader. The MPs are even more shattered than Winston. They all know that without the safety net of an electorate, the party would have been gone after their last time in government. We think Winston looked unwell during the election, fought a bad campaign, made a serious mistake taking the Foreign Affairs Ministry and has now lost a court case, which had he said nothing, he would have won. Maybe that lifestyle is catching up with him.
Bad news for Labour
Peters knows that no third party in coalition has made the 5% threshold in the next election. His incentive is to leave the government before the election. Labour has only governed in a booming economy reinforced by a good lead in the polls. The last time an MMP coalition faced a difficult economy and poor polls was Jim Bolger during the Asian crisis and his coalition collapsed. It is doubtful that MMP minority governments can survive an economic downturn. The moment the Clark government seems in trouble, Peters and Dunne will be the first to the life rafts.
Pessimism rises.
A massive 65% of readers think the Reserve Bank will raise interest rates again in January. Our predictive polls have a good record for accuracy. We are not so sure. There is clear evidence the economy is slowing. The US Federal Reserve has signaled that its interest rate rises will stop and the fall in oil prices is easing inflationary pressure.
Those Polls
TVNZ says National are 9% ahead, the Herald says Labour ended the year slightly ahead. As TVNZ said National would win the election and the Herald picked Labour, the paper is more likely to be correct. Telephone polls are no longer accurate. Too many people just have cell phones.
Parliament
Labour is pleased with the way the session ended. The government managed to get its significant promises either legislated, (student loans interest free and working for families) or introduced, (waka jumping bill). Peter Dunne who opposed the original legislation voted in favour. Despite being a minority the government did not lose a vote.
It is all done
The government's program for next year is for parliament to resume on 14 February and meet for just 30 weeks, nearly a month less than usual.
Question Time
Prior to the election Labour Ministers were exposed to a crossfire from National and ACT and on the days that Peters was anti Labour, shots from NZ First. Ministers have found it much easier to answer predictable National questions than the questions out of right field from ACT and out of anywhere from NZ First.
Invisible
Before the election Don Brash was criticised for never being in parliament. When Brash has been in parliament he has failed to take the lead on any issue. The media has decided that he is an interim leader and the real interest is the contest between John Key and Bill English.
It is no contest
Build English up as they will, it is no contest. The public has decided already that it is Key. He is not ready but then neither was Brash.
Final Maiden Speeches out of 10
*David Bennett, National Hamilton East (4) National's youngest MP at 35. Spoilt by the Academy award list of thanks, learning his younger brother is a lawyer was too much information. But the speech shows promise.
*Dr Jackie Blue, National list (5) the country's first breast physician and another of National's influx of doctors. "The public health sector, despite having billions of dollars poured into it, has become bloated, overly bureaucratic and bogged down with ever expanding waiting lists." Frustration at the failures of the health system has seen an unprecedented number of doctors stand for parliament.
Recycled MP
Eric Roy, who won Invercargill, came up with a new way to campaign. Just as the decline in religion has led to the new occupation, marriage celebrant, the local funeral director approached him asking if he would conduct funerals. In the 18 months before the election Eric was speaking to up to three hundred people a week who in their grief were vulnerable to his charm.
Happy Christmas and New Year
Like politics we too take a break until late January.
Here is a number of interesting Internet sites for summer reading. For news, www.economist.com http://www.economist.com/ www.rodneyhide.com http://www.rodneyhide.com/ http://stuff.co.nz http://stuff.co.nz/ - read the nations newspapers.
Then for fun www.en.wikipedia.org http://www.en.wikipedia.org/ the online encyclopedia, which you can help, edit, grow and maintain. www.imdb.com http://www.imdb.com/ database of old and new movies, includes the top 250 films of all time as voted by website visitors. www.trademe.co.nz http://www.trademe.co.nz/ NZ's most visited website that is transforming the country into a single market.
You can buy or sell anything from a Winston squeaky dog to earthmoving equipment, a must visit. www.gutenberg.org http://www.gutenberg.org/ -7,000 classic books, free to download from Sun Tzu to Edgar Allen Poe www.politicos.co.uk http://www.politicos.co.uk/ - books on politics, public policy and political philosophy. The widest range on the net and enough to keep you going until we return.
ENDS

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