I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I am writing this last newsletter of the year in a plain email text format to make sure that it is safely delivered to those of you who have difficulties receiving the NZCPR Weekly. As Internet Service Providers upgrade their security systems to protect clients from spam, newsletters like ours with images and links are increasingly being blocked. So if you haven’t heard from us for a while please let me know so we can sort it out.
A special thanks to all who have taken the time to share your views with me – while I’m not always able to reply to the hundreds of emails that I receive each week, I can assure you that I read every message and take on board your feedback. In addition, your excellent contributions on the weekly polls and newsletters, ensures that your values and views on the important political and policy issues of our time is available as a wealth of strong grassroots commentary on our New Zealand Centre for Political Research website to influence Members of Parliament and policy makers. The NZCPR Forum, where feedback is archived and daily debate encouraged, has become a favoured destination for commentators and media who like to keep their finger on the pulse of contemporary public opinion.
Politics is the battle of ideas. Ideas influence people and the NZCPR plays a pivotal role in informing public opinion by speaking out strongly and fearlessly on crucial matters that in today’s politically correct world many others shy away from tackling. Through our publications – and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our weekly Guest Commentators and bloggers – we challenge the administration and advocate policies that promote individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government. As the NZCPR is funded entirely by newsletter readers I would like to make this end of year appeal for a special Christmas donation: if you have followed our work this year and believe we have made a worthwhile contribution to public affairs, then please help to empower our voice in 2012 with your support.
Some huge challenges lie ahead. In a country where all New Zealanders, irrespective of racial origin should have equal status and equal rights, the Maori Party – once more a partner in government – wants to take the country further down the path to racial separatism. Using the fallacious argument that they have special governance rights as Treaty ‘partners’ with the Crown – a view that is already endemic within the government service – the Maori Party wants to enshrine the Maori seats and the Treaty of Waitangi in a new New Zealand Constitution. This would give superior rights to the Maori elite in the governance of New Zealand, turning them into a permanent ruling class and everyone else into second class citizens.
Their plan must be derailed. The NZCPR will prioritise strong opposition to the dangerous race-based ‘capture’ of their Constitutional Review as a major component of our 2012 work programme. In doing so we will utilise the superior campaigning ability that our planned website upgrade should deliver.
Another strategy being used by the Maori Party to make the case for special race based treatment is the newly established Ministerial Committee on Poverty. Their coalition agreement states: “National and the Maori Party agree to establish a Ministerial Committee on Poverty to bring a greater focus to, and improve co-ordination of, government activity aimed at alleviating the effects of poverty in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Ministerial Committee will be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Bill English, with Hon Tariana Turia acting as Deputy Chair. The membership of the Committee will be determined by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, but will include the Vote Ministers of Education, Health, Housing, Maori Affairs and Social Development and Employment. The Committee will publicly release update reports no later than every six months, with the first update report being released mid-2012.”
While it appears that the Maori Party intends making the case for special treatment in the form of additional welfare support, history has shown that it is the free market and private enterprise that enables people to improve their lives, not state welfare. As Milton Friedman explained in his iconic book Free to Choose, “A free society releases the energies and abilities of people to pursue their own objectives. It prevents some people from arbitrarily suppressing others. It does not prevent some people from achieving positions of privilege, but so long as freedom is maintained, it prevents those positions of privilege from being institutionalized; they are subjected to continued attack by other able, ambitious people. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process, enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life”.
The NZCPR will enter the poverty debate in 2012 by establishing an NZCPR Committee on Poverty to mirror the Ministerial Panel. We will gather evidence to show that the poor are better off today than they were in the past and we will make the case that increasing welfare will entrench disadvantage, showing that the way to help the underprivileged is through education, jobs, and self reliance, not dependency on the state.
The reality is that today’s poor are far better off than their forefathers. Human progress lifts all sectors of a society. As the OECD found in a recent report on poverty in member countries, while the rich might be getting richer, so too are the poor – and at a faster rate.
As we look ahead, New Zealand is going to face some tough challenges. Prime amongst those is the perilous state of the global economy. Taking an objective point of view, a government has the power to change the way our economy works – making it grow faster or slower through policy settings. Reforming welfare, lowering taxes, reducing the regulatory burden on small business, and restraining government spending, will all help the economy to grow faster. The NZCPR will be advocating for bold measures in all of these areas.
The NZCPR will also be scrutinising not only the dozens of new Treaty of Waitangi claims that are ready to be passed into law, but also the expected flood of tribal customary rights claims for our foreshore and seabed under the new Marine and Coastal Area Act. Like many of you I still feel a strong sense of grievance at what the previous government did in sacrificing public ownership of our coast. After almost 200 years, the iwi elite has no moral right whatsoever to steal the coast from the wider New Zealand public through legislation. That’s why we took a stand against the law change by launching our Citizens Initiated Referendum to restore Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed. And with our major CIR promotion on hold until February (to be clear of the Rugby World Cup, the election, and Christmas!), I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who are working so hard to help us gather the 320,000 signatures of registered voters that we need by June next year if we are to succeed in forcing a Referendum.
On Tuesday New Zealand’s 50th Parliament will sit for the first time. Lockwood Smith is expected to be elected as Speaker and Members of Parliament will be sworn in. Ministers in the Executive received their warrants last week. The State Opening of Parliament will take place on Wednesday when the Governor General delivers the Speech from the Throne, setting out the new government’s priorities for the next three years. This will give us all an opportunity to assess whether John Key is as serious as he says about getting the country back onto a path to growth and prosperity. The Address in Reply debate which follows will give us a glimpse of the new forces in Parliament – the newly elected Leader of the Labour Party David Shearer, Winston Peters who against all odds brought New Zealand First back from oblivion, and John Banks representing the ACT Party. Parliament is expected to rise on Thursday for Christmas and will resume in February.
Now on a lighter note, from our Facebook page – in response to the absurd new pronouncement by New Zealand’s ‘thought police’ that golliwog wrapping paper should be withdrawn from the shelves of a popular chain store – Michael writes: “Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres is, and has always been, a complete WASTE of space! He didn’t feel Margaret Mutu’s comments wanting to restrict “White Immigrants” to New Zealand was inappropriate, but fun Golliwog doll wrapping paper is. Give me a break!!!!”
And an old favourite from our Christmas Cheer file: A British ambassador to the US was living in Washington. One December, a radio station phoned him to ask what he would like for Christmas. He tried to think of something small and not too expensive. In the end he said, “A small box of crystallised fruits would be lovely, thank you very much.” On Christmas Day the radio station had a special International Christmas Programme. “We asked three different ambassadors what they wished for at Christmas,” the reporter began. “The Russian Ambassador wanted world peace, the French Ambassador wanted an end to hunger, and as for the British Ambassador …well he said he wanted a small box of crystallised fruits!”
Last week our poll asked whether, since National already had the numbers to govern with ACT and United Future, you supported them entering into a Confidence and Supply agreement with the Maori Party – 83 percent of respondents opposed the deal with the Maori Party. Our summer poll asks you to share with us the issues you would like us tackle in 2012.
The NZCPR’s regular newsletter service will resume in mid January, but our NZCPR.com website, Forum and Breaking Views Blog will all be updated on an on-going basis.
Finally, the NZCPR could not exist without your support. Together we have a very big year ahead. I hope I can count on your backing. And please be absolutely assured that frugality is our middle name so every contribution goes a long way.
Thanks so much for your valuable support, and please accept my very best wishes to you and your family for a great Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!
Dr Muriel Newman
New Zealand Centre for Political Research