Free Press, 28 May 2018


 

VOTING IS UNDERWAY 

 

Advance voting starts today in the Northcote by-election. Those registered to vote in the electorate can find their nearest voting place here: http://www.elections.org.nz/events/2018-northcote-election-0/information-voters-northcote.

 

A MAVERICK FOR NORTHCOTE

 

ACT’s candidate, Stephen Berry, is a maverick. He finished third in the Auckland mayoralty race and led the ‘Len Brown Stand Down’ protest march.

 

Stephen’s also a self-made man. He left school at 16 to work at a supermarket. Now he is one of the chain’s top trouble-shooters and managers.

 

OUR PLAN

 

Stephen’s first action as Northcote MP will be to submit a private member’s bill requiring the Government to complete the Auckland motorway network within a decade.

 

The Auckland Transport Bill will override the bureaucratic rules that slow major transport projects down.

 

The Government will be required to fund it through a combination of raising the age of superannuation to 67 and permitting electronic road pricing at peak times on the Auckland motorway network.

 

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

 

Labour and National have put up near identical candidates in the Northcote by-election.

 

Dan Bidois and Shanan Halbert are offering more of the same, tired ideas that have left Auckland gridlocked.

 

They will also be beholden to their party hierarchies and will need to toe the party line.

 

Stephen will offer a strong local voice from day one.

 

THE CHOICE

 

Northcote voters who want a centre-right Government have a choice: A) Vote for the National candidate and get the same superficial local representation, or B) Vote for Stephen Berry, get a local MP who’ll actually stand up for you, and help grow the centre-right bloc heading into 2020.

 

WELFARE OVERHAUL

 

The ghost of Metiria Turei is haunting the Government.

 

Today it announced the 11 people that will consider an overhaul of the welfare system – the price of the Greens’ support for the Labour-NZ First Government.

 

WHAT’LL IT COST YOU?

 

Official costings of the Greens’ welfare policies during government formation negotiations reveal what the Government’s welfare reforms could cost taxpayers.

 

The Working for Families changes alone would cost taxpayers $1 billion a year and would see more New Zealanders on welfare.

 

Officials warn that the figures ‘significantly underestimate the costs associated with these changes’ which could be ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ higher.

 

That’s because more generous benefits will lead people will work fewer hours and pay less tax, something officials refer to as ‘impacts on labour supply’.

 

This approach completely ignores the importance of paid work to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

 

THE RIGHT APPROACH TO WELFARE

 

In 2010, ACT persuaded National to reform the welfare system. At that time, New Zealanders were being failed – 356,000 adults, or one in eight people of working age, were receiving a benefit.

 

Since then, New Zealanders have been moving from dependence to independence.

 

This Government wants to see an increasing number of people get stuck in long-term benefit dependency.

 

ACT supports a safety net that provides support to our most vulnerable people when they need it, and then helps them to get on with their lives.

 

WINTER HANDOUTS FOR THE WELL-OFF

 

The Government is set to give away about $100 million in ‘winter energy payments’ to well-off older New Zealanders.

 

Almost 9 per cent of superannuitants earn over $60,000 a year – more than New Zealand’s median income and three times the pension.

 

Yet the Government will give tens of millions to this group because it believes they need help to pay their power bills.

 

SPRAY AND WALK AWAY

 

This epitomises a Government that taxes with impunity, sprays money about, and doesn’t think about the objectives it’s trying to achieve.

 

Of course we must help those who are in genuine need. But it is irresponsible for the Government to give taxpayer money to the wealthiest New Zealanders.

 

WHY WE CAN’T HAVE TAX CUTS

 

One of the reasons we haven’t been able to cut taxes in New Zealand is because political parties of all stripes are addicted to giving away handouts.

 

Rather than the Government sneakily taxing New Zealanders and then showering favoured groups with benefits, ACT believes we should allow Kiwis – as far as possible – to keep what they’ve earned.