Home' The Wellingtonian : December 15th 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, DECEMBER 15, 2011
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Surely it's time for transparency
Though this year's election
outcome was widely seen as
a foregone conclusion, some
surprising policies -- that had
played no part in the election cam-
paign -- suddenly popped up in the
platform signed off between the
ACT Party and the National
The surprise package included a
pilot programme for setting up
charter schools in three of the
poorest parts of the country, a cap
on Government expenditure
beyond that required by the rate
of inflation, population growth
and natural disasters, and a
couple of other minor conditions.
These were policies for which
ACT had received no democratic
mandate. National, too, had given
no inkling it would consider such
drastic innovations. Quite the con-
Finance Minister Bill English
was on the record as opposing a
spending cap on government.
This year, only 23,889 people
voted for ACT, a paltry 1.07 per
cent of the turnout.
Regardless, ACT has now won
the ability to stop any fresh
spending on public services for the
other 2,233,447 New Zealanders
who voted in the election, via
special legislation that is due to be
passed some time during the next
Those people might be forgiven
for thinking that they pay taxes so
the Government can provide
services for them to use.
At the very least, they might
have expected to be allowed a vote
on whether they wanted a spend-
ing freeze on the provision of pub-
lic services. Apparently not, how-
So far, when questioned on the
lack of a democratic mandate for
such policies, Prime Minister
John Key has blamed MMP.
In fact, there is nothing about
MMP that stops political parties
from revealing their policies and
general intentions before the elec-
In the name of transparency,
some parties even signal which
major party they can be expected
to support, given the policies that
have been announced.
Nor is there anything peculiar
about the MMP system that
enables secret agendas to be
sprung on the public.
Very few people, for example,
who voted for Labour in 1984
under the FPP system would have
anticipated the secret agenda that
was subsequently pursued by
David Lange's fourth Labour Gov-
No voting system can eliminate
However, in this case, there is
nothing about MMP that would
have prevented the National
Party negotiators from rejecting
those elements of the ACT Party
wish list for which there was no
National could have easily said
to ACT: Sorry, but there's been
no public discussion of spending
caps or charter schools during the
campaign, so you can't use us to
sneak them in through the side
The fact that negotiations were
wrapped up so quickly indicates
that National was a very willing
It seems that those Epsom
people who voted tactically for
John Banks to help National form
a government were also unwit-
tingly voting to enable ACT's
more extreme policies to be visited
upon the entire country, without
National being held responsible
If Key wants to blame MMP for
this sort of ruse, he should be
willing to make this lack of trans-
parency part of the independent
review of the voting system next
It should be possible to outlaw
policies that played no part of the
election campaign from forming
part of the next Government's
MMP, after all, does not stand
for Matters Manufactured in Pri-
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Mr Key states charter schools will
be trialled in a couple of areas
initially, conveniently both low
decile. He has no stomach to upset
those from more affluent areas by
trialling them there first, thereby
experimenting with children
whose parents would traditionally
Before the introduction of
National Standards, our
education system was regarded as
being among the finest in the
What it did need was some
tweaking, particularly among
those living in lower-decile areas.
If we could make one major
change in educating our children,
it would be the adoption as seen in
many Cannons Creek schools'
philosophies, of providing free
breakfasts for children before
school -- a hungry child is a
malcontent child, who, as such,
struggles to focus on learning.
MMP vote explained
The referendum on the voting
method favoured retaining MMP,
but Mr Walker (December 8)
should be able to comprehend that
if it had gone the other way there
would have been a second
referendum on the voting method.
The Electoral Commission
wished (as stated in its publicity)
to take into account the views of
all New Zealanders on the
alternative to MMP to be used in
the second referendum. Hence he
was asked the second question,
despite voting to retain MMP in
the first question. JOHN WILSON
in Island Bay
It's exciting to see the roller derby
going from strength to strength in
New Zealand (December 8).
Non-mainstream events like
that are bringing more variety to
what we can participate in around
With these kinds of events in
mind, I'm particularly pleased
that the Ribble St trolley races are
returning as part of the Island
Bay Festival in February.
Trolley racing has been a
childhood pastime for many
adults, but kids don't get much
opportunity to do that type of
The Ribble St trolley race is the
only organised trolley race in the
lower North Island and provides
all family members with the
chance to test their driving skills.
And with the summer holidays
coming up, building a trolley is a
great project for kids.
Your readers can find out more
about this race at the Island Bay
Festival website at festival.island
call race organiser Dave Derby on
387 4548 to register interest.
Thanks to James Lyons,
memories of Eric Tindill during
the 1940s came back.
As a teenager I used to play
cricket at the old Wellington
Technical College. We used to go
to the Boys Institute for practices
conducted by Eric Tindill and
What a pleasure it was to be
taken seriously. Many of us were
selected in Wellington teams
because of the coaching of Eric
and Jack, who took time out for a
small group of girls.
Like James Lyons, I am so
pleased that finally recognition of
all Eric contributed to sports
administration over so many
years has been recognised by
Wellington High School in its
decision to name its new
gymnasium after him.
In defence of
I get annoyed at the Peter Dunne
bashers. Peter, like any citizen
eligible to vote, has the right to
Times change and parties
change and I personally have
changed party votes over the
years, but stuck with Peter as the
man for our electorate.
I often wonder if Peter spends a
night at home as he is at
practically every local event going,
as well attending school and
He has been doing this for
years, representing his people.
Without him we could well be
without the Newlands flyover, the
Volunteer Fire Brigade and the
Community Police Station, to
name but a few. You may recall he
also stamped out the party drug
Kronic and others.
I have had advice from Peter,
and so has my brother. He is open
and available to all, has been for
years and does deserve his salute.
John Key is no fool and has
given Peter Dunne some very
responsible positions in
government, and he has emerged
from them without criticism.
Peter was elected by the Ohariu
voters because he has a record of
solid work, and I think he has
some very good family policies up
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