Another high horse ACT will never be able to ride

The Electoral Commission has referred the ACT Party to the police for failing to disclose donations worth more than $30,000 in the lead up to last year’s election.

The Commission announced it had taken the step today over donations from the party’s biggest backers Alan Gibbs and Dame Jenny Gibbs.

ACT Party leader David Seymour says it’s down to an administrative error.

“These things happen, the rules are quite technical. I don’t think there’s any malice here; in fact I’m certain there’s not. It’s just up to us to cooperate with the authorities and go through the motions,” he says. Read more »

David Seymour has a blinder as he delivers the Sledge of the Day

Loses it a bit towards the end, but the beginning is worth your time.   David looks like he’s comfortable and in the right place.  I think National can take the training wheels off him now.

ACT and the budget Elephant in the Room

The fiscal elephant in the room is NZ Superannuation. Life expectancy continues to rise. In 2006 we had five working people for every one person over 65 years of age. By 2050 we will have just two people for every one person over 65. In just 15 years’ time NZ Super costs, as a percentage of GDP, will rise by 50%. We are just fiddling with the fiscal levers if this is not addressed.

Most people understand that we need to make some changes. NZ Superannuation is one of the simplest retirement income systems in the developed world. So long as we make the necessary changes to keep it affordable and fair across the generations, it is an effective pension system. But it is also a political football, and politicians have proven incapable of making these vital adjustments.

An ACT budget would signal that the future structure of NZ Superannuation would be decided by referendum. An expert committee would be formed to consult with the public and come up with reform options which, together with a no-change option, would be decided by the voters. I am confident that common sense and a sense of fairness would see the public support changes allowing NZ Superannuation to remain a sustainable pension system for all New Zealanders through this century. Oddly enough we have a process for this, but we are only using it to decide on a flag design.

David Seymour’s saying (writing) what we expect National to be saying.  Voters expect leadership in this area, and it is very obviously absent.  Instead we’re bickering over a flag, throwing in a few more cycle paths and bridges.  And if we let them, some spending money for Grant Dalton and a shiny convention centre for SkyCity.

Not looking flash, is it? Read more »

Seymour: Auckland rates reaching crisis point

Things are getting surreal with ACT has to tell Len Brown and Auckland Council off for making decisions that will hurt the poor.

[Thursday], the Auckland Council budget committee voted for an additional targeted rate of 4.4 per cent to top up spending on transport, leading to an overall rate increase of 9.9 per cent.

What is the inflation rate in New Zealand? Effectively nil. Just 0.1% in the past year.

This huge increase in rates can’t be blamed on inflation. It is driven by spending. And this is just the first of many instalments. Auckland ratepayers are being set up for a beating through the next decade.

There are various features of the council rating plan that result in a wide range of rate increases across greater Auckland, from negligible to massive.

You either pay now or, via debt funding, in the future.

Grandiose capital spending plans are driving projected rate rises of 4-5% a year through to 2022. The draft annual plan has capital expenditure running at over 10% a year from 2017 to 2020. Operating expenditure is projected at 4-5% a year.

The Council’s debt level is set to nearly triple in just ten years, rising from $4.8 billion to $12.5 billion by 2022. This mountain of debt will still exist in 20 and 30 years’ time. What happens when global interest rates start rising, as they have been in recent weeks?

…   Read more »

Here’s something unexpected: ACT calling for a new tax


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. Read more »


Will ACT chuck in the Northland by-election?

At least David Seymour isn’t saying one thing and meaning something else, like Angry little Andy.

ACT is considering telling its supporters in Northland to vote National – although it has its own candidate in the field.

The help might not amount to much – in last year’s election the ACT candidate won just 200 votes – but leader David Seymour says he’ll do what he can to maintain a stable government.

“Last weekend I was telling people they should vote for the ACT candidate,” he told reporters …

“However, we are monitoring the situation very closely and it’s important people think about the strategic realities – that means retaining the seat for National.”

Mr Seymour says if Winston Peters wins Northland, the National/ACT alliance in parliament will depend on United Future’s Peter Dunne or the Maori Party for a majority.

“That wouldn’t be good for Resource Management Act reforms which are critical for Northland, or reducing taxes and returning to surplus,” he said.

It’s a little amusing, but the truth is that for some time now ACT voters have been better served by a National government.  At least this time it’s obviously stated as such.   Read more »

Trouble in coalition land?

We’ve had two terms when the National-led coalition government did a pretty good job at presenting a united front.  With the exception of Peter Dunne, who already went troppo over the last few years (did this coincide with legal highs?), the other partners didn’t openly defy National.

That has changed.  In spite of National being returned with a record-breaking 3rd term majority under MMP, its coalition partners and indeed National itself are now openly fighting in front of the kids.

There won’t be a referendum on national super while John Key is Prime Minister.

He has shot down ACT leader David Seymour’s call for the people to decide how superannuation should be funded.

Mr Seymour told his party’s annual conference on Saturday the current scheme wasn’t viable in the long term and there had to be changes to make it financially sustainable.

He wants an expert group appointed to come up with options for a referendum, and says raising the age from 65 isn’t the only one available.

Mr Key isn’t interested and says Mr Seymour, a government ally, didn’t talk to him before raising the issue.

“I read about it in the newspaper,” he said.

“There won’t be a referendum. The National Party is clear on super – the age should stay at 65 and the entitlement at 66 percent (of the average wage).”

During the 2008 election campaign, which he won, Mr Key pledged that if there was any change to national super under his watch he would resign from parliament.

There you go.  “Don’t broadside me in the media, son”, says Key to minnow David.   “We do these things behind the scenes where I can tell you to stop playing games.”

Says one commenter:

John Key has no problem spending $26 million on flag referendum but unwilling to spend any money on one as important as the future financial security of our country and how to fund superannuation.

But add this to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party being extremely vocal against sending New Zealand troops to Iraq, and in public at least, this coalition government looks far from a cohesive team.

I don’t get a sense this is by design.   Key’s having trouble with his back bench, can’t see eye to eye with Joyce who wants to keep giving money away to SkyCity and Team New Zealand no matter the public opposition, had to pull the plug on Parata’s charter schools, is getting constant static from Bill English over delivering a surplus, and he’s now bickering with coalition partners through the media.

To seasoned observers, these are interesting developments.

– NZN via 3 News

Read more »

Government expected to force a no-vote debate on troops to Iraq

They simply don’t have the numbers.

New Zealand is poised to join the war in Iraq with the deployment of Kiwi troops to the region to train local forces.

Cabinet is expected to agree in principle to the deployment on Monday after concerns were eased over the Iraqi Government’s refusal to sign a “status of forces” agreement setting out the legal status of the New Zealand troops.

Alternatives including “diplomatic passports with guns” or special military or official passports are understood to be under discussion and sources say they should provide the level of legal protection demanded by the New Zealand government as a condition of sending troops.

But the deployment is deeply opposed by Opposition parties who have warned that it could drag New Zealand into another long and bloody conflict, just two years after Kiwi troops were pulled from Bamyan, Afghanistan, a decade after the American invasion.

The divisions over Iraq are so deep Prime Minister John Key is likely to seek a Parliamentary debate without a vote, in stark contrast to 2003 when Helen Clark sought Parliament’s backing to send the SAS to Afghanistan. Read more »


ACT want to be hip, cool, groovy and with it

The ACT Party says they’re getting rid of their tired old grumpies in favour of a bright and breezy future.

“Maybe we should be handing out a bit more dye like they do in the National Party,” [David Seymour] joked.

And while a youthful band valiantly tried to up the tempo, grey locks easily outnumbered wrinkle-free faces at the annual conference.

Political commentator David Farrar had predicted the party’s demise, declaring ACT clinically dead three years ago.

“The fact they actually got through when you consider everything they’ve had in the past in the way of scandals, you know I was totally wrong,” said Farrar.

Wrongly David Wrongson also didn’t get much right.  Of course, ACT has died.  It’s on life support via Epsom.   Let’s be real here – Kim Dotcom, Laila Harre and Hone Harewira got more votes for their sideshow than ACT did.  Helps to remember that, you know, as a reality check.   Read more »

Now ACT want a referendum

What is it with referendums?  Colin Craig wants to run the country by them, John Key wants to change the flag, and now ACT want a non-binding waste of taxpayers’ money for one as well.

The ACT party is calling for a referendum on whether the retirement age should be increased.

Leader David Seymour told the party’s annual conference it wasn’t tenable to keep paying out super payments from the age of 65.

ACT received less than 1% of the party vote in last year’s election.

ACT Leader David Seymour closed his speech to the party’s annual conference by challenging political leaders to support a referendum process to determine the future of New Zealand’s superannuation system.

“If the public can vote on the New Zealand flag, a matter that is largely symbolic, why not follow the same process for another intractable problem, one that politicians have been dodging for decades.

It is actually an occasion where a referendum may make sense.  No political party is likely to push the retirement age up, in spite of it being sensible to do so as we become healthier and live longer.  Labour tried to run on such a policy last time and was caned for it.  A referendum would take the decision away from any political party and it can then be implemented as the ‘people’s will’.

If they have such a will, of course.   Read more »