14 Mar 2011

ACT leader attacks National's 'separatist policies'

6:45 am on 14 March 2011

ACT leader Rodney Hide says mining on conservation land and one law for all will be the main policies his party will campaign on at this year's election.

At the party's annual conference in Auckland, Mr Hide said the National Party had walked away from its one law for all campaign and embarked on what he calls racist and separatist policies.

He says if ACT had more MPs, National would never have signed the United Nations declaration on Indigenous Rights, established the Maori Statutory Board on the Auckland Council or drafted the Marine and Coastal Area Bill.

Mr Hide also says the Pike River mine should resume operation with open cast mining and there should be prospecting on Schedule 4 conservation land.

Mr Hide says the country is facing a huge economic challenge following the Christchurch earthquake and the Government's already borrowing $300 million a week.

He says the Government must look at developing the country's mineral resources which could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mr Hide says open cast mining is a pin prick on the landscape which can be repaired. He says the coal at Pike River is worth $10 billion.

Party criticises National's financial management

Deputy leader John Boscawen told the conference the Government is living beyond its means by borrowing $300 million a week, and the situation will only worsen following the Christchurch earthquake.

Party president Chris Simmons said the quake could provide the springboard the Government needs to create a better New Zealand.

A former leader, Richard Prebble, said policies such as interest free student loans, Super Gold cards and free childcare were unaffordable before the quake and are unaffordable now.

Finance spokesperson Sir Roger Douglas told the conference the Government needs to introduce a zero tax rate for the first $35,000 earned, a flat tax after that and replace company tax with 1 or 2 cent tax on assets.

About 100 party members gathered in Auckland on the weekend for ACT's two-day annual conference.