ACT

ACT – tough on crims? Not anymore

Yesterday ACT and Mike Williams teamed up to announce it was going to cuddle crims instead.

Prisoners would have their time in jail slashed if they complete literacy, numeracy and driver licensing courses, under new Act Party policy.

Former Labour president Mike Williams, now with the Howard League for Penal Reform, strongly backs the policy – and says Corrections chief executive Ray Smith has expressed enthusiasm.

Act leader David Seymour announced the radical new policy in his keynote speech to Act’s annual conference in Orakei today.

Eligible inmates would earn up to six weeks for every year of their term, depending on the types of courses completed. For example, a person sentenced to three years in prison could get up to 18 weeks deducted from their time in jail.

Act is known for its hardline law and order policy, and was behind the introduction of the controversial three-strikes legislation.

Today’s policy is a significant departure from that approach and focuses on rehabilitation.

I have no problem with rehabilitating those who are capable and willing.  There is no point in destroying more lives for the sake of it.   But it does leave ACT’s messaging confused.

With prisons overflowing and crime up, the electorate wants to hear how more of them are going to get locked up.  And that’s traditionally the area ACT have been strong.  Three Strikes for burglary would be welcomed, if not Three Strikes for anything that has a minimum two year jail term.

Almost 65 per cent of the men and women in prison fall below NCEA level one literacy and numeracy.

A keynote speaker at the Act conference in Auckland’s Orakei is former Labour Party president Mike Williams.

Williams is now the chief executive of the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform, which runs literacy programmes that aim to get prisoners to a competent reading level, enabling them to read books to their children, take driver tests and have a better chance of finding work when they are released.

Last year Seymour joined Williams and Bill English at a prizegiving ceremony at Rimutaka Prison, where inmates who had completed the league’s literacy programme and learnt to read spoke about what it meant to them. Tutors who volunteered in the programme also spoke.

“He came to me afterwards and said, why aren’t more prisoners doing these courses,” Williams said. “I said, well there’s just not the demand. And he said, how would you create the demand?”

Seymour then developed the policy, which Williams said the Howard League strongly supported.

Once again, no problem in principle.  But there is an opportunity cost to this.  And the price ACT is paying is that they are now no longer tough on criminals.   Fake that you’re no good at reading or maths, do some tests and presto – time off your sentence.

Williams said the policy could save the country millions of dollars, given it cost about $2000 a week to keep someone in jail. He said it could cut reoffending by as much as 50 per cent.

Those who want to and can should get the opportunity to so what it takes to stay out of jail.  And if that requires government help, I’m good with that.

Strategically, in an election year, I don’t see this as smart ACT policy.  Not when crime is up, police are straining to keep up, and the public are sick to death of pandering to criminals.

 

– Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald

Why vote for ACT when it won’t be in government at all?

Audrey Young writes

The hybrid political animal Act has become – in government but not part of the Government – is not working for it.

Seymour’s outstanding achievement as the Act leader is that he is not reviled and he has not stuffed up but that is simply not enough.

Seymour’s decision not to take a ministerial portfolio but to remain only an under-secretary has allowed him more freedom to criticise National. But when he does so, he is only preaching to the converted.

Richard Prebble did not take Act to its peak of nine MPs by attacking National. He and his team did it by attacking orthodoxies and wasteful spending and coming up with new ideas.

Bingo.  They got there by being polarising instead of popular.

The party has made pitiful progress since the caucus of 2008 – 2011 tore itself apart and Hide was replaced with Don Brash who was replaced with John Banks who was replaced with Jamie Whyte who was replaced with David Seymour in 2014 when Whyte, sadly, never made it to Parliament.

Whyte’s habit of saying what he believes rather than what he believes people want to hear would have made him immensely controversial if not a popular sidekick to Seymour.

But he is heading back to London to be director of research at the free market think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs.

ACT needs to appeal to 5% of the population only.  But it needs to do so strongly.  As it is, ACT is more like the National people hope National would be.  Leaving people who need an adjustment to wards the right with no home to go to. Read more »

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The state of the electoral nation, according to ACT

From ACT’s Free Press

Elsewhere Up and Down the Country
We have said that this year’s election will be the most strategic ever, and ACT’s strategic importance keeps increasing. No party can govern alone and it is impossible to avoid a left wing, regressive government without ACT. This week Free Press tours the machinations up and down the country.

Ohariu
Peter Dunne’s position in has been made challenging by the entry of Greg O’Connor to the race and the withdrawal of the Greens’ candidate. Dunne’s majority is 710, and there are 2700 Green votes up for grabs. At first blush Dunne is 2000 votes under water. We wouldn’t write Dunne off but it’s a big hill to climb.

It’s not what you can see that’s going to be the problem.  It will be the things that become apparent along the way.  As I like to say:  it’s never the original sin that gets you, it’s the covering up.

The Mana-Maori Deal
[Yesterday] the Mana and Maori Parties announced that Mana will not stand in the six Maori electorates other than Te Tai Tokerau, where the Maori party will give Hone Harawira a clear run in return. It looks likely that Harawira will win Te Tai Tokerau back off Labour, and the Maori Party will win Tamaki Makaurau and Ikaroa-Rawhiti off Labour in addition to Wairiki, which they already hold.   Read more »

After the election, will ACT be the tail that wags the National dog?

David Seymour

ACT will push the Government hard to follow through on tax cuts and road pricing, says party leader David Seymour.

“Steven Joyce made all the right noises on tax cuts anda demand-based road pricing in his speech today. This comes after constant pressure from ACT to adopt these ideas.

“Unfortunately, National has a depressing record of campaigning from the right but governing from the left. They talk about respecting taxpayers and then introduce new taxes. They talk about cutting red tape but then introduce new flawed regulations. Read more »

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ACT better be careful. If National can get there with Winston alone…

Can New Zealanders trust ACT?   ACT that voted for more tax, increased government involvement and will not back decriminalisation of drugs?

Not saying ACT is bad.  I’m just saying that like National, it doesn’t behave according to its charter either

Discuss…

Time to rip off the Superannuation bandaid

Bill English like John Key isn’t keen to rip off the superannuation band-aid because he knows that making the hard decisions will be painful. The longer the superannuation problem is covered up the worse the infection underneath will become. As an economic whiz, Bill English knows it has to be done and the sooner he acts the better.

Andrew Little wants  New Zealand’s Superfund boosted but he wants the retirement age of 65 to remain unchanged so he is not willing to face unpopular economic reality.

Ex -PM John Key pledged to resign if he ever changed superannuation entitlements. Now that he is gone Bill English has taken the pragmatic step of dropping Keys’ pledge to not increase the age of entitlement. Whether he will follow that up with action remains to be seen.

Read more »

Retirement age, National and using ACT as a Trojan Horse

ACT Leader David Seymour is commending Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell for starting the conversation New Zealanders need to have about Super and retirement, and challenging other leaders to put their cards on the table for younger voters to see before next years’ election.

“ACT is the only party in parliament willing to have this debate, with every other leader running a mile from a sensible discussion,” says Seymour, “the figures Maxwell provides speak for themselves, with the number of over 65s doubling, the cost of super tripling, and the number of workers supporting each retiree falling from 4.4 to just 2.4 over the coming 20 years.”

Last year ACT proposed having a referendum on Super instead of the flag, but could not gain cross party support for taking on the issue.

“Ultimately this is about what sort of character we want in our governments. Do we want a Government that looks into the future and confronts difficult challenges, as the Retirement Commissioner is doing, or one that tells younger New Zealanders we’re not even allowed to discuss the future.

While there are a number of possible changes, ACT supports a gradual increase in the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, at a pace of two months per year every year beginning as soon as possible. Read more »

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ACT want to get rid of ‘pretend’ ministries

Following from Rodney Hide’s column on ministries that serve no practical purpose:

Mr Seymour says he is “a little bit repentant” about having stated these ministerial roles serve no purpose, given former ACT leader Rodney Hide has subsequently noted in his NBR column that “they do play an important role – they provide somebody for the government to send to various events for photo opportunities…”

That aside, though, he insists they’re not roles that are “useful to the New Zealand people.”

Take the Minister for Women, for example, a role Mr Seymour singled out in ACT’s newsletter on September 19 (he rejects the idea as “cynical” that he was trolling in floating the idea on Suffrage Day).

He notes that “men are behind in almost all education statistics, most health statistics, men commit most of the crime but they’re also more likely to be a victim of a crime… Read more »

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ACT: Turf out bad teachers by offering early retirement or retraining

bad teacher

Free Press writes

Teacher Unions’ Odd Position
Teachers will strike this week, forcing parents all over the country to make alternative arrangements.  Their concern?  That principals and boards of trustees will be given more flexibility in how they use their funding.  They believe this will lead to fewer teachers being employed, but why would that be?
How it Plays out in Partnership Schools
ACT’s Partnership Schools have total flexibility in their funding.  They have generally used this flexibility to economise on material things and employ more teachers.  It is not clear why the teacher unions believe state schools would use flexibility to employ fewer teachers, unless… Read more »

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Good evening, this is your Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education speaking

David Seymour at Vanguard Military School-PHOTO Vanguard FB page

David Seymour at Vanguard Military School-PHOTO Vanguard FB page

By any objective measure, partnership schools have been a success for this government, and ACT specifically.  And now more could be on the way

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour has announced a fourth round of applications to establish Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (Partnership Schools). The fourth round will open in August, with successful Partnership Schools opening in 2018. Read more »