I attended one of Maxim's election panel discussions last night primarily to listen to ACT's number 5 David Garrett. I thought I better have a look at and listen to who I am voting for with my Party Vote.
This is a man who doesn't suffer fools. During the discussion about abortion a poor quality heckler suggested Roger Douglas ought to be aborted. Garrett responded to the elderly man, "I think you are confusing the words abort and euthanase. At your age that could be a very dangerous thing Sir."
On the role of the state he was very good. This came up when a question was put about the importance of non-governmental leadership. Garrett exhorted people to lead themselves. We need very little government, he said. (I noted Darren Hughes can't tell the difference between the state and the non-government sector saying that leadership in the community sector, in organisations like the Women's Refuge and Plunket, is very important and that's why Labour wants to fully fund them. What is the difference between a government agency and a fully-funded-by-government agency?)
Mr Garrett upset Hughes when he described a claim by him as a 'lie'. Hughes didn't like the "big bad ACT Party" language, so Garrett repeated it. I approved. I can't stand mincing words. If Garrett knew what Hughes was saying was a lie he has every reason to describe it as such. And it is ironic that the Labour candidate should object to what he sees as unpleasant language when the hecklers supporting Labour are amongst the most rude. (I spoke later with the Rimutaka United Future candidate who is quite upset at the level of nastiness from Labour hecklers she had been witnessing at Upper Hutt meetings. The same wasn't happening at the Hutt South meetings she and I have done together).
The touchiest subject was yet again the anti-smacking legislation. I thought Garrett needed to take a little more care here. We mustn't fall into the trap of using the left's words. Avoid 'beating' and use 'smacking' - always. In response to that hackneyed objection that children should have the same protection as adults he made the point that the reason you don't beat your wife is she knows not to run out onto the road.
Of course that leaves the inference that it is okay to beat your children. Actually Chris Finlayson described the distinction legalistically very, very well. So well I cannot repeat it word for word. (I was impressed with Finlayson who has improved immensely since I last heard him speak on the campaign trail in 2005.)
But I liked too Garrett's directness, his slightly rough edge by comparison (both are barristers). This contrast helped add weight when Garret closed saying ACT would provide the spine in a National government.
Given Garrett was the only non-MP on the panel his performance was credible and creditable.
(My own liberalism still has me feeling slightly uneasy about the three strikes policy. I back it because I agree that ultimately victims and potential victims must be protected. But I can still imagine situations where somebody's circumstances might explain their violent offending - it may be against the same person and they pose no danger to others - or they might be wrongly convicted of a violent offence, and applying a blanket law may produce a miscarriage of justice. But I am not well-versed in this area and Garrett is.)
Morrison for Mayor
6 minutes ago