Title: Chris Finlayson - National Credit: Christopher Finlayson Features Thursday 22nd March 2007 - 12:00pm1174521600 Article: 1643 Rights
I have been asked to provide an opinion piece for and am pleased to do so. I have read the recent opinion pieces of the Labour MPs and found them negative and visionless. I am tempted to respond in kind but I think your readers deserve a better quality of debate from their politicians. After John Key was elected Leader of the Opposition, he confirmed me in his shadow cabinet as shadow Attorney-General and gave me full responsibility for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Arts, Culture and Heritage. These are three very challenging areas which enable me to build on the work that I did prior to entering Parliament. In this article, I plan to focus on two of my big portfolio responsibilities, Arts and Culture and Treaty negotiations. Over the past few weeks I have been trying to visit as many parts of New Zealand as I can to speak to people in the arts, culture and heritage sector. It is a case of National re-establishing links with this sector. Traditionally National has had a very good relationship with the arts sector. After all, we were the Party which established the Historic Places Trust, the Arts Council, the Film Commission and Te Papa. My ambition is to be the best Minister of the Arts since Allan Highet. I am delighted about National's new tax policy on charities which is going to give a big boost to the giving tradition in New Zealand and encourage a culture of giving. In case you haven't heard about it, this policy removes the existing cap on charitable donations. Donations of any amount, up to an individual's total net income, will be eligible for the 33.3% rebate. In addition, we will remove the 5% cap on the level of donations that can deducted by companies and Maori authorities and all businesses will be able to claim deductions. This is hugely significant for the arts as well as for charities like the AIDS Foundation. The benefits for the charitable sector are huge given that for every dollar rebated, the charitable sector gains three dollars. This is the most important announcement for the arts sector for many years. I very much enjoy my work in Treaty Negotiations. National's record in this area in the 1990s was outstanding and I want to bring to this area the same enthusiasm, energy and idealism that Doug Graham brought to it in the 1990s. I am working on ways in which to resource the Waitangi Tribunal and the Office of Treaty Settlements so that just and durable settlements may be achieved far more quickly than they are now. This will benefit all New Zealanders. These are the things that interest me and caused me to enter Parliament. I am not interested in the abuse, nastiness and petty point scoring that consume my opponents. If anyone wishes to discuss these issues or any other issues with me please feel free to contact me:  Christopher Finlayson - 22nd March 2007    
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