Free Press Monday 26 March -A Popular ACT Policy


The Government’s legislation of a fuel tax in Auckland continues its weird habit of punishing the poorest New Zealanders. Just like Tobacco Taxes and Fees Free tertiary education, this policy is highly regressive. Poorer New Zealanders live further out so have longer commutes, drive older cars that use more fuel, and earn less income to cover fuel taxes with. They will be hurt by the Government that was supposed to help them.

A Simpler Solution

Before its spending spree, this Government had $18bn of surpluses coming down the line over four years. It could easily have afforded to give half the GST on construction to councils who issue resource consents, as per ACT’s policy. There is a problem with funding infrastructure in New Zealand, but it does not require new taxes, merely better using the taxes Government already collects.


A Popular ACT Policy

ACT commissioned independent polling to test the popularity of Partnership Schools. As one of our former leaders likes to say, politics is hard slog in the fog, then suddenly you’re out in front. After six years of battling everybody, including the National Party half the time, ACT’s Partnership Schools have gone mainstream. Sixty per cent believe the Government has handled the issue badly, fifty-seven per cent believe the schools should stay open.


Government Overture Fails

Jacinda Ardern wants to get rid of Partnership Schools because they’re a failure, but wants them to stay open because they are a success. Her strategy was to avoid closing them by inviting operators to turn their Partnership Schools into state schools, but Ardern admitted this week only one of the eleven schools has applied, and only two more are ‘close.’ She can’t close them, so what now?


How you can Help

Ardern says she will meet anyone and work across partisan lines to achieve more for New Zealand. We like this style and have written asking her to meet signatories to a petition to save Partnership Schools. You can help by signing here If you have already signed, please use your email and social media to share it with more people. Stay tuned for the presentation date.


Where’s the Report?

The previous Government commissioned Wellington policy shop Martin Jenkins to do a three-part report on the Partnership Schools policy. It cost over $400,000. The first two parts are public and highly complementary of the policy. They say it promoted innovation in education and engaged marginalized kids well. The public deserve to see the third, due since the change of Government, but it has been suppressed.


Aussie Cricketers Would be Proud

Chris Hipkins has claimed in Parliamentary Questions that he has not read the report. We find this extraordinary as it has existed for months. Free Press predicts that Hipkins’ staff have read it and are busy trying to get Martin Jenkins to recast it with the schools in a less favourable light before the Minister reads it. Australian cricketers would not attempt such brazen tampering.


Government Ghetto

Let’s start by complimenting Phil Twyford for recognizing that the housing market is a problem, and it is a problem of supply. But his plan to cram 4,000 homes onto 29 hectares of Unitec Land in Mt Albert is nuts. It is reminiscent of the 1960s projects that British and American Governments are now pulling down.


The Numbers in Context

At Unitec, Twyford wants to put 4,000 homes on 29 hectares. A hectare is roughly the size of a rugby field. The densest area of Auckland at the moment is the Waitemata Local Board Area, taking in Parnell, the CBD, and some western inner-city suburbs such as Freeman’s Bay. It has a density of 19 dwellings per hectare. The Albert-Eden area has a density of 12 dwellings per hectare. Twyford’s proposal puts 138 dwellings per hectare. The new development will have seven times more homes on a given area than anywhere else in New Zealand. It will be nearly twelve times denser than the surrounding area.


Density Problems

Many Free Press readers maybe spending or will have spent two years in London or perhaps North America, and they probably loved living cheek by jowl. That all changes as life goes on, something we see in the Epsom Electorate daily. Dense living is living with parking disputes, noise, traffic, and other unexpected incidents. Council compliance officers privately admit their jobs are growing because of the Council’s push for density. It is no exaggeration to say that the Government risks creating American-style projects with its plan for Mt Albert.


What ACT Would Do

Regular Free Press readers will be able to rehearse it with their eyes closed. If only the Government would replace the Resource Management Act with pro development legislation, give councils better incentives to issue resource consents by funding infrastructure properly, and get councils out of the building consent business, the Government would not need to get into the property development game because the private sector would be doing it. Alas, Phil Twyford has admitted that the Government hasn’t even discussed the RMA in Cabinet yet.


Research Shows Students are Rational

A new study from Motu Economic Research shows us what happens when students stop getting free money. In one of its better ideas, the previous Government took Allowances from post graduate students in 2013. Did this stop ‘poorer’ students (those who had been eligible for an allowance as undergraduates) from doing Masters’ Degrees and Doctorates? No it did not. They simply borrowed more on their loans and studied at the same rate.


Government Waste in the Billions

Free money doesn’t affect whether Postgraduate students’ study or not. They’ll laugh all the way to the bank if offered it, but they won’t stop studying not. Free Press predicts that wiping fees for undergraduate students will have the same effect on studying. None. There won’t be any more students studying, but they will happily bank the taxpayer’s money.


What ACT Would Do

There actually are kids who need help, but it’s not the ones who get into Tertiary education and earn millions more for the rest of their lives as a result. It’s the kids who never make it to the starting line who deserve any extra education spending. If a Government was going to spend more taxpayer money on education, it should pay good teachers more but only if they leave the union. There is nothing more powerful we could do to give poor kids a chance in the current system than flushing out bad teachers and rewarding the good ones.


An Even Easier Solution

Of course, a much easier solution would be to leave Partnership Schools alone. They are getting more kids a high school qualification than sate schools for the same cost. Please don’t forget to add your weight to our petition and share it


More Government Waste from ‘Demographic’ Ministers

We are no fans of ‘demographic’ ministers. The ministers for Seniors, Youth, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Communities, Women and Pacific Peoples cannot point to one achievement for their respective types of human. Their real job is to provide a lot of photo ops with said humans for the various Governments they’ve served. They are an enormous waste of taxpayer money.


Foot in Mouth Disease

Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter has proved these positions are useless at best and hazardous at worst when she told a group of intermediate-aged girls and boys that old men in senior positions should ‘move on.’ Had a male MP gone and said women dominating, say, the education sector should move on to give men a chance, there would be outrage. What message does it send to the little girls in the class? That they should be ashamed to succeed? Did Genter think of the boys she was addressing?


Incredible Silence

People wonder why traditional media outlets are in trouble. The answer is right before us in this mini-saga. Not a single journalist has asked Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy how Genter’s comments square with her #givenothingtoracism campaign. This would not be difficult, and lots of people would love to know, but there you go.