Libertarianz party president Craig Milmine welcomed an enthusiastic group of activists and supporters to the election year party conference in Auckland over the weekend. Here's a lightly edited copy of his welcoming speech:
My name is Craig Milmine, president of the Libertarianz Party, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2008 Libertarianz Annual Conference.
I am proud to preside over Libertarianz because it seeks to protect individual rights and works to reduce government interference in all aspects of our lives. Since I'm a teacher in my professional life, I would like to present this morning an NCEA report card in individual rights for the parliamentary parties, and offer the only sane and rational alternative available: Libertarianz.
Let's look first at the Labour Party's result for 'Helping the Poor: 101,' which will assist in showing you that at this 2008 general election the Libertarianz Party is effectively the only opposition party around.
In an upcoming election where there is no discernable difference between Labour and National, or Labour and anyone else, Libertarianz is the only party that in this election will be offering tax cuts and cuts in government expenditure. We do not have our heads in the sand and think we can have our sand and eat it too; unlike every other party we understand that cutting taxes means cutting government expenditure. We are the only party that knows that cutting taxes and government expenditure is a good thing, and why.
- We know that reducing people's dependence on the state promotes independence and cooperation. Living on a state benefit would have to be one of the most soul-destroying and ambition-destroying lifestyles there are. It offers no incentive to improve your lot; it leaves beneficiaries at the mercy of the bureaucracy; and it actively punishes beneficiaries for earning money by imposing an incredibly high marginal tax rate on any earnings you might make.
- We know that at the same time as having supposedly record low unemployment levels, the Clark Government also has a record high number of people on state benefits. Along with the usual array of benefits, there is Working for Families where families on the government benefit are given an incentive not to work because (once again) the marginal tax rate actively punishes families for earning more money.
- We know this too: that Labour is determined to have more beneficiaries stuck in poverty with barriers preventing their ascent, because Labour needs a poor class who they they rely upon for votes.
Cutting government expenditure is a fantastic thing and Libertarianz are proud to say it. Cutting government expenditure allows us to cut taxes. Cutting government expenditure allows people to keep their own money in their pocket, or their savings account. Cutting government expenditure means that government consumes less, while businesses can invest more. To everybody but Michael Cullen and Bill English, it should be obvious which is more productive.
As a transitional policy, Libertarianz will happily support moves to remove all income tax below $10,000, effectively making this a tax-free threshold for everyone. This will reduce the high marginal tax rate that beneficiaries face when they look for paid employment. This simple act will do more to help Labour’s underclass of poor than anything they have offered up in their eight and a half years of born-to-rule power.
With the value of the surpluses that Labour has been taking, they could have gotten rid of GST altogether. This would have directly helped the poor of New Zealand because the poorest in New Zealand have to spend the highest proportion of the income on GST. I am brought to the conclusion once again that Labour needs the poor to stay poor so that the Labour Party can maintain their block of gratefully miserable beneficiaries.
At a time when low-skilled jobs are being exported overseas, the government has raised the minimum wage –- effectively driving these industries out of the country even faster. As the market responds to a more expensive labour market, the results are a smaller manufacturing sector, automated supermarket checkouts, low numbers of restaurant serving staff per customer and highly automated factories .
We are seeing all of these in New Zealand but we still have record beneficiary numbers and the largest drop in people in paid employment in 19 years. These are the people locked out of earning a wage by the government making their labour too expensive. Price fixing of low-skilled labour through minimum-wage laws is causing unemployment, poor service and the flight of New Zealand industries overseas.
If elected Libertarianz will move to reduce or preferably remove minimum wage laws in New Zealand.
So by Labour’s declared standards of “we must help the poor,” Labour themselves are failing abysmally. Only Libertarianz will remove the government barriers that are keeping New Zealand’s poor poor.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the Labour Party. Perhaps its time to give them some NCEA gradings. Being a secondary school teacher I have to give out the grades of Not Achieved, Achieved, Achievement with Merit, Achievement with Excellence and Not Yet Competent. At this point I must ask you all to stop laughing.
For all the reasons already stated, I’m going to give the Labour Party a Not Achieved for 'Helping the Poor: 101.'
For their grade in 'TAX:101,' you will recall that in 1999 the Labour Party pledged no tax increases for 95% of the population. With over 15% now in the upper income tax bracket -- inflation caused by government expenditure has pushed incomes into higher tax brackets -- while new taxes on petrol, and increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol have added to this effective tax increase, I think it is fair to give the Labour party a Not Achieved for 'TAX:101.'
Michael Cullen has been promising tax cuts since 2004 – perhaps in this instance we should take him at his word about promised upcoming tax cuts and say that it is Not Yet Competent for 'TAX:102' – however missing the assessment deadline by four years would normally count as a Not Achieved, even under NCEA's low standards.
In 'Economy:101' -- the Labour Party upon taking office promised to turn New Zealand into a knowledge economy and raise our incomes up into the top half of the OECD. That’s a pretty straight forward Not Achieved.
In 'Education:101' – literacy rates are appalling. Not Achieved.
In 'Health:101' – Not Achieved doesn’t even begin to describe the mess that is the public health system.
In 'Free and Fair Elections:101,' the Labour Party initially did not achieve, but in an unprecedented revision of the course through retrospective legislation, Labour managed to Achieve with Merit in the newly named course of 'Protection of Incumbency:101.' This course has recently awarded a scholarship to Robert Mugabe, so the Labour Party is in good company. Of course in passing 'Protection of Incumbency:101' they automatically failed to achieve in 'Rule of Law:101' and 'Lack of Corruption:101.'
In fact, looking at Labour’s record of achievement – there are only two things a libertarian can find favour with; these were the passing of the Civil Union legislation and prostitution legalisation. That is all I can find in nine years of rule. On that basis, it is well and truly time for them to go.
But what of the alternatives.
Let’s take a minute to count all the ways that the National Party policies differ from the Labour Party’s.
- The Labour Party has bought a big train set. National has pledged not to sell it.
- National is looking to reintroduce Think Big for telecommunications. Labour is looking to Think Big with Rail.
- Labour will continue to grow New Zealand’s bloated bureaucracy. National will keep our bloated bureaucracy as it is.
- The Labour Party will not charge interest on student loans. The National Party will not charge interests on Student Loans
- National will bring in tax cuts without any cut in expenditure. Labour will bring in tax cuts without any cut in expenditure.
- The National Party supported banning Party Pills. The Labour supported banning party pills
- The Labour and National party will not get rid of the Maori seats
- Labour and National both supported the prohibition on smacking.
- Labour will introduce policies to destroy New Zealand’s economy in order to have no actual impact on global warming. National has berated the Labour Party for delaying the introduction of policies that will destroy New Zealand’s economy in order to have no actual impact on global warming.
- Both National and Labour support the Resource Management Act, which is preventing new, cheap electricity generation. The RMA is now restricting housing development in New Zealand so much that we have some of the most expensive housing in the world as a proportion of income. The mortgage interest payments alone on the average house price in New Zealand is nearly twice New Zealand’s average income. That is without paying any of the principle off. Both Labour and National’s response to this has been a mixture of more rules and regulations about forcing developers to build cheaper housing.
- The one thing to National’s credit is that they will get rid of the Electoral Finance Act – the largest assault on Free Speech that New Zealand has seen since the Muldoon era of controlling the media. For this National should received an Achieved – which could rise to an Achieved with Excellence if only they would get rid of taxpayer funding of political parties, and remove the law that prevents political parties from spending their own money on election broadcasting.
So, while I will be thrilled to see the Labour Party go because I believe that politicians should be changed as regularly as nappies– and for the same reason -- National offers absolutely no alternative.
What of the other parties?
The report card for the Greens reads as follows (in language that would not be deemed "supportive" enough to go on an actual school report card):
- 'Legalising Marijuana:101' - the Greens show a general disinterest in this subject – which is a shame because it was the only thing they were good at.
- 'Transport Efficiency:101' – The Greens opposition to any transport initiative except highly subsidised, often empty, wasteful, carbon dioxide spewing buses and trains indicate that they have no fucking clue about the environment whatsoever.
- 'Energy Alternatives:101' – The Greens's opposition to electricity generated by hydro, coal, gas, wind or nuclear indicates that for the Green Party, the lights are not on, and there is nobody home.
Moving to New Zealand First:
- In accepting the 'Baubles of Office:101' Winston has done exceptionally well and he has continued to excel in the course 'Typical Xenophobic Rant Against Anyone Slightly Foreign:101,' managing to just outdo the Maori Party.
In 'Being a Member of the Labour Party without Actually being in the Labour Party:101,' United Future and Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party have done very well this year, andhave excelled in Lapdog:102 and 103. However they will need to maintain this level of achievement in the course of 'Being a Member of the Labour Party Without Actually Being in the Labour Party:101' if they want to be a member of the National Government next year.
Out of the parliamentary parties – that leaves the ACT party. What have they been up to?
When Labour, United Future, the Greens, Jim Anderton and NZ First were rorting the electoral system, Rodney Hide was busy showing off his new body. The leader of the Libertarianz got over showing off his body years ago and (much to the consternation of Dunedin’s letter posters) and has moved on to showing up the government. While Rodney Hide was busy dropping his dance partner on dancing with the stars, Bernard Darnton was dropping off papers in the high court challenging the Labour party’s 2005 election pledge card rort. An action that Bernard would have won, had the government not retrospectively changed the law.
However in doing so, Labour started the electoral slide that they are now experiencing. Labour’s slide continued with the passing of the anti-smack law. Libertarianz were right there in the organisation of opposition to this law. Mitch Lees organised a march on parliament. Where were ACT?
My understanding is that the ACT tax policy is that the total tax take will not rise beyond the level of inflation. This makes ACT the only party in parliament not offering a tax cut!
If any one of these parties offered a consistent message of freedom and rolling back state interference in our lives then we could dismantle Libertarianz right now and join them. However, there is no sign of that happening. Libertarianz has been around 12 years and we are here to stay.
We are effectively the only opposition party. We have been in amongst all of the important political questions of the day from the freedom of speech, free and fair elections, through to providing real solutions to government caused problems such as housing unaffordability and a failing health system.
When we make submissions to parliament, our principles are recognised and the politicians occasionally take heed of what we say. The “nanny state” argument is reported as being a “huge” factor by government insiders in preventing the government from introducing even more draconian legislation than we have already seen.
At the Last election, all of the small parties were squeezed by a close election between National and Labour, and the Libertarianz vote was squeezed by a National leader with visible libertarian leanings.
All that has changed. The National Party is the Labour Party is the National Party is the Labour Party. One party has a lot of teachers, gays and unionists, the other has a lot of farmers and middle class businessmen. The people may be different. The policies are not. They are statist from top to bottom.
Libertarianz have very different policies. Our policies are radical in that they will get the state out of our lives and allow human ingenuity, ambition and compassion to flourish. We offer an enormously positive and liberating set of policies. In contrast to every other political party we are offering to hand back control of your life – to you.
Libertarianz has developed a number of transitional policies that show how we can reduce government in a step-by-step process – always with the libertarian goalposts in sight. Today we will hear another of the transitional policies being presented.
We have some strong advertising campaigns well into the planning stage. Today we will present Libz.TV and Libz in Print.
This election, Libertarianz will be putting up more candidates than ever before – both in electorates and on the list. Nominations are still open but we already have more people putting their name forward to stand as electorate candidates for Libertarianz than stood in 2005.
Many of these candidates are first-time candidates and we will be hearing from a number of them as well as some experienced ones throughout the day.
We plan to fight this election as serious contenders. Our ideas are interesting, principled and they work. This makes a huge contrast with the other parties. If we can get the necessary publicity and funding -- and our programme for both is already underway -- we can make a realistic go at getting Libz in parliament. Electoral success in New Zealand is not that hard, despite the Electoral Finance Act.
I hope that by the end of today that you will come away with ideas, confidence and networks to enable you spread the freedom message this election.
Well, that completes the report card, so it is now my great pleasure to declare the Libertarianz Conference open for business. . .
UPDATE 1: A video of Craig Milmine's report card for the National Party's performance -- part of what got you all so excited here -- is now up at the Libz TV site.
UPDATE 2: We said earlier in commenting upon this post that
If we are under some misapprehension [about ACT's tax policy] Rodney can simply stand up in Parliament this afternoon and announce ACT's tax policy is to cut taxes to [?]%.
He can then announce a long list of freedom related policies, legislation ACT would repeal, spending cuts ACT would manifest and all other measures that [former] ACT supporters desperately want.
And it looks like Rodney and Roger were listening. Today at lunchtime, Rodney and Roger held a press conference to announce at least the first of the two points above. Reports Stuff:
ACT would immediately make the first $10,000 of income tax free, which would give an average wage earner an immediate tax saving of $50.
Then it would abolish the 39c "envy rate" and make the whole system as low and flat as possible.
ACT will release details of its tax and other policies on Sunday.
Do you see now what honest criticism can do? I look forward now to seeing announced on Sunday the long list of freedom related policies, legislation ACT would repeal, spending cuts ACT would manifest and all other measures that [former] ACT supporters desperately want to see.