Saturday, April 21, 2012

ACT conference - a cursory comment

Unplanned, for a while today I listened to live streaming from the ACT Party conference. The unexpected opportunity presented and it was convenient (just finished mowing the lawns and cleaning the car, and was checking  e-mail). My interest was initially desultory. However, I've never attended  a Richard Prebble speech that didn't engage. And that's where I joined in, minutes before he was introduced. Prebble quoted a scale of measures necessary for freedom eg competition, and tested them against recent major speeches by main party leaders Key and Shearer. Did those measures rate a mention? Key just did better, but Prebble said his could easily have been a Labour leader's speech. He referred to Key's claim  that National was continuing to increase productivity and growth (gets a tick for mentioning 'productivity' - one of the prerequisites for freedom) but said it would have been more convincing if Key hadn't used the word 'continuing'. When did they start asked Prebble?

And then he made amusing comparisons between various historic big name leaders who wanted NZ to be like another country ( as per Shearer and Finland). For Norm Kirk it was for NZ to be the Switzerland of the Pacific. (My comment - not forgetting that ACT has cited Ireland and Singapore enviously in past times). Or the many versions of a 'smart' economy  promoted over the years culminating in Clark's 'knowledge' economy which had Prebble envisaging the "E = M whatever it was......"  floating over the country. Notably Prebble did describe Key as possibly the "most talented politician" he has witnessed.

But when it came to Banks, I  gradually lost interest. Nothing new was canvassed (although to be fair, the content  might be new for him). What he said about his adopted children and the merits of "unconditional love" was winning. That came early and warmed for whatever followed . But he failed to move beyond the usual ACT travail of slumping economic relativity (in fairness he may have later but I'd switched off.)

Thinking about Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne, no party yet has rebuilt from one, although Winston Peters overcame even worse odds. I am not going to make a prediction about whether or not ACT can. Prebble talked about a book which had tested 80,000 (that sounds high? May be misheard) political 'expert' predictions which found that in the main, tossing a coin would have been more accurate. And I don't wish ACT ill.

My husband wasn't hanging on Banks' every word  and wondering why I was tuning in.  As I said to him, we will have to vote for someone next time. And this is one of limited options.


Hamish said...

With Act being run by a conservative, we desperately need a no confidence vote. I would rather have a seat constantly voting no to increases in spending and government control along with (as rare as they are) cuts to the above than John Banks.

thor42 said...

ACT badly needs a complete revamp.

Their policies (good though very many are) are spread too thinly.
IMO, they should focus on (say) three core policies and absolutely hammer them without respite.

A critical part of that should be chasing after (and undermining) the Labour vote. Yes, I'm serious. I am **convinced** that it is possible to put together a solid right-wing policy
package which can show low-income people that they would be much better off if they voted for ACT. If this means poaching policies from other parties, then so be it. If I were Banksie, I'd be pushing as the core policy having the first $15,000 of income tax-free. Yes, that is from Labour, but you differentiate yourself with the other couple of core policies. Promise to keep the "3 strikes" law, for example (Labour would repeal it).

With just those two policies, you *already* have a different policy mix as neither National nor Labour are offering both of those policies. One comes from each of them.

Bottom line - **don't be afraid** to praise (and to nick) a policy from another party if it is good enough.

Anonymous said...

low-income people that they would be much better off if they voted for ACT

who the fuck wants "low-income" people to be better off? WFF DPB student allowances (not loans) free schools free hospitals - most of 'em already pay no tax whatsoever thanks to Labour?

making low-income low-value low-worth "people" (your term, not mine) even better of than under labour is a receipt for complete disaster.

There are no good policies from Labour and the Greens. Aboslutely None.

ACT does need two or three simple policies, and must progress them relentlessly, and above all they must be believable, and must make things better for high-value, high-worth, high-income Kiwis! For me, top five policies remain
* Armed police (and legal backing to use them)
* End to unionism
* Wage freeze in dollar terms for all state jobs & contracts (except police & armed forces)
* Full charter school roll-out.

and most of all

* one percent off the TOP tax rate for every percent of the vote for ACT

Frankly, ACT would do even better with just that last policy, and nothing more.

But losers earning 15K or 30K - who wants them to be better off?

Anonymous said...

And anon12.25 you are part of the problem Act has. The only way to generate votes is to appeal to a wide proportion of voters. Your rabid musings will certainly drive away thinking people from all sides of the debate - including those who you think should naturally vote for Act.

BTW armed police is not an Act policy. The last thing we need is armed police. If they were armed the Northwestern motorway shooting would be a daily event. True Act policy is community policing. After all the police are only paid full time to do what is every citizens duty. Then we would see some real reduction in crime.

Also just think about the cuts in spending that would be required for ALL New Zealanders to have the first $15k tax free.