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The National government’s ‘ACT’ priorities

The Editor, The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland
26 August, 2013

Dear Editor:

Rod Oram (Full-speed Reverse, 18 August) rightly identifies that the National government’s current succession of “quick fixes, shortcuts and deals” aimed at damage control is running amok over good governance and democracy and suggests even that they undercut their own policies. Oram gives seven examples of these contradictions including housing, Kiwi Saver (for saving or home buying?), “no subsidies” policy and asset sales (Rio Tinto Aluminium), ultra-fast broadband (discouraging competition by favouring one provider, Chorus), Resource Management Act (difficulties, not speed up, for local bodies), and trade (apologise to China for Fonterra!?).

But Oram’s list of government priorities is too long. The government’s top priority of asset sales is ruled by its desire to advantage the big buyers, mostly corporate, so subsidy for Rio Tinto is peripherally consistent with that. That the expected price of a Meridian sale is depressed is irrelevant because the government’s purpose in selling is not primarily revenue raising, but the ideological desire to privatize public assets and to justify their previous tax cuts for top earners.

The government’s second top priority is to cut back the current primacy of public education and the education unions in NZ schools, through Charter Schools, and this succession of quick fixes has not harmed this priority. Perhaps their third top priority is to snuggle up to the USA’s so-called “War on Terror” through the GCSB. It must be noted that the GCSB originated as a branch of the USA National Security Agency’s Five Eyes network and
is not primarily a New Zealand organization. The shortcuts and deals have only served to distract attention from the new GCSB legislation. So we should see National is not trampling on their own policies so much as trying to keep their eye on their top ideological ACT inspired (remember ACT?) priorities.

Sincerely,

Richard Keller

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