Free Press, 11 June


Cowboy student politicians


Just when we thought the decision to ban offshore oil and gas exploration couldn’t get any worse, it does.


The former student politicians running the Government have ignored the important principle that significant and controversial issues must be decided collectively by Cabinet.


Without any advice and without talking to those affected, three party leaders have decided the fate of an industry. That is no way to run a government.


Where’s the upside?


We already knew there was no cost-benefit analysis, no assessment of whether emissions would fall or if gas prices would rise, and no consultation with industry.


Now we have learned that the Government’s officials told them an offshore oil and gas exploration ban would likely: risk security of energy supply; increase costs to consumers; increase global greenhouse gas emissions; decrease economic activity in Taranaki; and, reduce royalties to the Crown.


As Fran O’Sullivan has put it, the decision put the PM’s desire to tackle her generation’s ‘nuclear free moment’ ahead of any credible plan to move New Zealand to a low emissions economy.


More amateur hour


The three strikes law provides further evidence the student politicians are flying by the seat of their pants.


Andrew Little made a song and dance about the fact he would scrap the law only to be forced into an embarrassing backdown when it became clear Winston Peters wouldn’t support the move.


Does the left hand know what the other left hand is doing?


A wish list for Acting PM Peters


In case Winston wants to do more than just enjoy the view from the ninth floor of the Beehive while he is Acting PM, there are a few more radical edges he could take off the Arden Government.


Reversing the oil and gas ban, allowing charter schools to remain open, beginning RMA reform, and allowing all businesses to keep 90-day trials would form the start of our modest wish list.


A pricey Zero Carbon Act


Climate Change Minister James Shaw released the Zero Carbon Act discussion document this week, showing that New Zealand households and businesses could be faced with massive costs.


In a ‘net zero emissions’ scenario in which people shift to low-emission energy and transport, average GDP per year between 2017 and 2050 is $37 billion – or 9.5 per cent – lower.


In another net zero emissions scenario modelled by NZIER, per household gross national disposable income falls by $10,000 or 4.3 per cent.


Government must be transparent 


In contrast to their approach on oil and gas, James Shaw and other government ministers must be open about how much this legislation will cost Kiwis.


Transparency is necessary in order to have a robust debate, and it’s what taxpayers deserve.


Vindication on Super


ACT is the only party advocating for real changes to superannuation to ensure the scheme’s sustainability and fairness between generations.


Gabriel Makhlouf – the government’s chief economic adviser – vindicated that position when he said earlier this week that our superannuation age must rise.


A fiscal time bomb


The Budget documents show that the annual cost of superannuation will rise by $3.7 billion in the coming years – that is alarming.


Other parties are either too timid to make real changes, or in denial about the cost of superannuation.


New Zealanders are living and working longer. We can either increase taxes and borrowing, cut other programmes, or make sensible changes to superannuation now.


Bolger appointment shows Nats, Labour identical 


The appointment of Jim Bolger to a Labour Government’s working group shows National and Labour have become indistinguishable.


The major parties have now agreed on the rules of the game. Labour has a slightly more caring face. National says it can do the job just a bit more efficiently.


But the similarities are striking. On tax, spending, corporate welfare, superannuation, the RMA, and spending on social services, Labour and National are almost identical.


A real choice


Voters do have a choice. ACT is committed to cutting wasteful spending and taxes, dealing with housing costs and superannuation, and fixing the structural problems that plague our social services.


Does National believe anything when it comes to tax?


Two tax flip-flops in seven days from National shows it can’t be trusted to stick up for Kiwi taxpayers.


A few weeks ago, Simon Bridges said it would be too difficult to roll back Phil Twyford’s regional fuel tax. Now he says it would be gone ‘in short order’ if a National Government was elected.


This follows Amy Adams asking Grant Robertson last week whether it was acceptable that the average earner would be pushed into the top tax bracket by inflation in 2022.


National had nine years to index tax brackets to inflation. They chose to do nothing, taking an extra $2.1 billion from the taxpayer in stealth tax hikes between 2011 and 2017.


Tired thinking


Phil Twyford is exhibiting a pre-housing crisis mentality by setting up a new housing ministry.


Bureaucracy – in the form of the 900-page Resource Management Act – got us into this mess. It won’t help us fix it.


Conspicuously absent from Phil Twyford’s housing agenda is any move to reform our planning rules to make it easier for the private sector to build houses.


Land use regulations – rules that determine what can be built and where – are choking the ability of the private sector to build new homes. In Auckland, they could be responsible for up to 56 per cent, or $530,000, of the cost of an average home.


If the PM can’t build a fence…


Last week, Newshub revealed that the Prime Minister is struggling to get resource consent for basic tasks at her new property.


How does Phil Twyford believe New Zealand can build the thousands of homes we need if our head of government can’t even put up a fence?