National undermines Working For Families

National’s economic package, including their proposed tax cuts, has been released. Overall it is fairly sensible stuff, a range of tax cuts across the board that is funded by tweaking Kiwisaver, and removing the tax credit for research and development – both policies can be criticised certainly, and I need to look more into the R&D issue before I can conclude this is ok, but remembering we are in tough economic times I think they are probably being reasonable.

But the policy also includes an “Independent Earner Rebate” for people not receiving Working For Families tax credits.

The package would cover those earning between $24,000 and $50,000 and would give workers $10 a week in the first year, eventually rising to $15 a week.

The whole point of Working For Families is to give extra help for families as opposed to single people. If you give similar tax rebates to single people as well, you destroy the entire point of having tax rebates in the first place. If they are going to treat everyone the same they may as well just ditch WFF and cut tax by an equivalent amount in a way that will benefit low-income earners. Far less paperwork, same result.

Furthermore, they are adding more bureaucracy and more central government expenditure around the tax system, when they claim to be trying to reduce bureaucracy. And instead of just working families being on a benefit, now pretty well everyone in the country would be on a benefit. This is actually more socialist than Labour’s policy.

This shows why we need a National-led government rather than a Labour-led one, because on the whole National should be better at managing the economy. But it also shows why we need National in coalition with minor parties, ideally The Family Party and Act, rather than ruling alone, to keep them on track and ensure they don’t have free reign to do whatever they like.

EDIT: They may be more cunning than I thought. If they canned WFF they may risk losing the election, but if they give an equivalent tax rebate to everyone they could get people used to this then propose in a few years canning both and introducing an equivalent tax cut, thus getting rid of WFF while retaining public support. Hmmm, in that case we really need The Family Party in there pushing for income splitting to ensure families aren’t forgotten about.

National and Maori Party making deals?

One News has stated that at least one National candidate is telling voters if they won’t vote National, vote for the Maori Party. Winston Peters is chasing the Maori vote too, to try and get over 5%. This is concerning, because if Mr Peters gets over 5%, being ruled out of a coalition deal by National, it makes a change of government less likely.

No National candidate should be recommending people vote Maori:

  • The Maori Party is likely to gain more electorate seats than they would be entitled to according to their party vote, just as in 2005, so even though they will have seats the party votes will be wasted.
  • The Family Party has strong appeal to many Maori and Polynesian voters, and we could actually use these votes to get more candidates, to strengthen a National-led government.
  • Failing that, at least the votes could have been used by National or Act to change the government.

If we want to fix the poor policies of Labour over the past few years, Maori voters must vote for The Family Party, or failing that National or Act. Voting for the Maori Party will waste votes, and a vote for NZ First is a vote for Labour.

The arrogance of Labour (and National)

I had a very interesting time at Cafe Conversations on Sunday. This was a “meet the candidates” meeting in Christchurch East, but not all of us candidates were standing in that electorate. Candidates there were:

  • Lianne Dalziel – Labour (current Christchurch East MP)
  • Aaron Gilmore – National
  • Mojo Mathers – Green
  • Dr John Pickering – United Future
  • Matthew Gardiner – ACT
  • Nick McIlraith (I think, lots of names to remember though) – Democrats for Social Credit
  • Myself – Family Party

Lianne Dalziel seemed a nice woman but came across as extremely arrogant in one question. We were asked how our party would deal with “powerful self-interest lobby groups”. Ms Dalziel launched into a spiel about the Exclusive Brethren, and went on about how we needed state funding of political parties to ensure parties didn’t have to listen to such groups. Hang on a minute – did she really say that? Do they want state funding so they don’t have to listen to lobby groups like Family First, Federated Farmers, Greenpeace, even Unions? Can you get more arrogant, a politician wanting state funding so they don’t have to listen to the will of the people?

I said we would listen to what they had to say, as they know the needs of those they are representing better than we do, and would weigh it up against Christian principles and the level of apparant public support for the group. The National candidate (Aaron Gilmore) agreed with me. I really don’t see how any other view could be anything but arrogant. We must get rid of Labour this election.

However, Aaron Gilmore did himself no favours on the issue of National funding Herceptin for 12 months. The audience immediately saw through this for what it really is – state interference in Pharmac and politicians deciding which people get health treatment and which don’t (Pharmac has limited resources to allocate) – and he was seriously booed. I was quite surprised at this, because National is obviously taking this position as an emotive issue to buy votes, not scare people away. He then accused everyone who didn’t want Herceptin to be funded for 12 months of being in favour of letting women die – at which point he was shouted down by the entire room and Dr John Pickering (United Future, a medical researcher) stormed across the room and nearly came to blows with him! Matthew Gardiner (ACT) put it best when he said something like “you can’t accuse everyone who disagrees with you of wanting to kill puppies”. Whatever the merit of funding herceptin for 12 months may be, Mr Gilmore needs to rethink how he promotes it!

Dr Pickering (UF) came across as a very likeable man, with very wishywashy policies. I already knew Mojo Mathers (Green) previously, and she came across as very sincere, it is unfortunate that she supports a load of nutty Green policies, otherwise she’d make a good MP. She is profoundly deaf and does an excellent job of speaking to a crowd for someone with that disability. Matthew Gardiner (ACT) came across as a sensible guy who was prepared to listen to the point of view of others.

The Democrats for Social Credit candidate (I think his name was Nick McIlraith) didn’t really come across at all. No-one could understand what he was talking about. Instead of answering the questions he would launch into a long-winded spiel about the evils of the money system which lost everyone after 5 seconds. I felt rather sorry for the guy, as far as I could gather he thought we would be better off under hard-line communism, and I would have been interested to know why he thought communism was such a good idea, but he didn’t manage to convey this at all. Very confusing. People aren’t interested in the money system, they want to know how policies will actually affect them, and he didn’t answer this for any question at all.

After some initial scepticism from some of the audience about my stance on global warming, I got some excellent applause for our environmental policy – once I had explained that the ETS would actually do absolutely nothing for the environment yet cost an arm and a leg to do that, points that Ms Dalziel and Mrs Mathers had conveniently neglected to mention when they had spoken just before me. There also seemed to be support for funding following the child, based on the amount of nodding heads. I also got a great response when I was unable to give a straight answer to a question (that we have no policy on yet) and bluntly said so while pointing out that no-one else had given a straight answer either because we were all politicians!

I had some good discussions with people who had come along afterwards, it was a great afternoon. The food and drink looked and smelt great but I spent so long talking I missed it… My 3-month-old son James was very happy, squealing away down the back, until Sarah had to take him out and walk up and down the road with him because he was so happy he couldn’t contain himself!

We have an ETS

Labour’s emissions trading scheme has been passed into law. This is a sad day for New Zealand. And virtually no attention was given to this massive law, the biggest reform since Rogernomics, by the TV media – everyone was focussed on the Winston Peters scandal. That scandal is completely unimportant by comparison, it just made good headlines.

National could have prevented this law being passed, at least today, as they could have delayed it until tomorrow by which stage Winston Peters may be fired. But they appeared to make little effort to do this in parliament today, rather allowing it to go through.

This means New Zealand has ended up with a terribly faulty piece of rushed legislation, that could do immense damage to our economy. National may modify it somewhat, but it will still do a lot of damage.

But National allowed it to be passed today probably because this means they can blame any problems with it on Labour, rather than taking the blame themselves as they would have to if they introduced one.

This is blatant politicising, not working for the good of the country.

If you want this legislation repealed, as every person who cares about the environment and the economy should, there are only two parties that will push for this – The Family Party and Act.

I mention both parties, rather than just pushing the Family Party, because this issue is far too important to just use to gain votes. It could be the biggest issue affecting the country today. There are two parties who will seek to have it repealed, and together we may achieve this. It is too big for one minor party to tackle on their own.

But a vote for National is a vote to keep this disasterous legislation, with some minor tweaks.

EDIT:

Family Party press release on the ETS.

EDIT2:

Federated Farmers are justifiably annoyed with this, read their response here.

Keeping politicians away from climate change

Gareth Renowden has an interesting, if biased, assessment of ACT’s view of climate change. ACT is presenting a rather mixed message, with a carbon tax in their official policy but the ACT MPs individually appear to disbelieve climate change, so it is hard to know where they stand.

Gareth certainly has some interesting stuff to say:

“Time for Hide and the ACT party to front up. Do they accept the IPCC report in full? If they do not, why not? I assume that if ACT is adopting the latter position that they have conducted a proper review of the evidence. If they have, I’d like to see it. And if they haven’t then they should shut up. Climate change is too serious an issue to leave to the political whims of parliamentary windbags. From any party.”

Now I highly doubt ACT have conducted a “proper review of the evidence”. For that matter, I highly doubt the Greens have – as they seem to disregard the opinions of plenty of scientists on this issue as “deniers”. Nor has The Family Party – we have neither the expertise nor the resources to do so. And although neither Labour or National will have conducted such a review, they may each have conducted research into which position would gain them most votes.

I fully agree that “Climate change is too serious an issue to leave to the political whims of parliamentary windbags. From any party.” This is a massive issue – if it is true it is the biggest issue affecting the world today. If it is false it is the biggest misconception (scam?) affecting the world today. We can’t trust parliament to make the correct judgement on such a massive issue.

This is why The Family Party, alone among all the political parties, is proposing to put this issue to a Royal Commission of Enquiry. We need to know:

  • Whether humans are causing global warming
  • If we are, what we should do about it

There is a lot of controversy around the accuracy of the IPCC reports on climate change. We do not know whether we can trust these reports or not, so need an independent review that takes into account both the IPCC line and the views of those disputing this position, and can tell us whether we should use the IPCC reports when designing policy.

Then, if humans are causing climate change, we need to know what we should be doing about it. Should we be reducing emissions to prevent it, or is this futile? Should we be adapting to it? Should we be doing a bit of both? What are the costs and benefits associated with each measure?

These are massive issues. Politicians do not have the expertise to sort this out. They must be worked out by scientists, economists and other experts.

If you want sensible policies on climate change, based on science rather than hype, only The Family Party is promising this.

Broadcasting allocations

The Family Party and the Alliance are currently contesting the broadcasting allocations for the election. There has been some discussion of this on Kiwiblog, where David Farrar has rightly pointed out that minor parties already receive a higher allocation per voter than the major parties, according to current polls.

The problem is not that the Family Party wants more free money, as some have suggested. The problem is that you cannot spend more money on broadcasting than your broadcasting allocation, to quote the Elections website:

Registered parties may only use funds allocated by the Electoral Commission to advertise for the party vote, together with any free time allocated for party opening addresses and closing addresses.

This means that the Family Party allocation of $10,000 is also the limit as to what we can spend on broadcast advertising, which is a major impediment in campaigning. By comparison:

  • Act, Progressive and United Future can spend $100,000 each
  • Green, Maori and NZ First can spend $250,000 each
  • National and Labour can spend $1,000,000 each

All of which is paid for by the taxpayer. As you can see this places the Family Party at a major disadvantage to, for example, Progressive, even though we are polling higher than them. And National and Labour’s massive allocations will ensure they have a much better chance of doing well this election than anyone else, regardless of whether their policies are any good. Each of these two parties has a similar allocation to that of EVERY minor party put together.

In a completely fair system no party would receive state funding, and there would be no limit on spending. This would put all parties on a level playing field, rather than subsidising the incumbents. However we must work within the system we have, and so we must seek a higher allocation if we wish to spend more on broadcasting.

Hopefully the judge can see the logic in this position and will favourably consider our application for more funding, comparable to those parties we are currently polling at a similar level to (Progressive, Act and United Future).