Monday, September 15, 2014


There have been so many polls I missed the Colmar Brunton poll that has ACT on 1.2%.

That'll do it. I feel I can safely give them my party vote without wasting it.

I recall too the 2005 election when ACT's support plummeted to a level that delivered only two MPs - Rodney Hide and Heather Roy. I think that is ACT's very core support and will turn out again (conservative Banks repelled too many).

Though when I think about it I am not into law and order tough talk, and sit on the fence over Maori and privilege. But ACT has the best welfare and tax policies.

Ran into a young guy campaigning for Chris Bishop yesterday and promised him the candidate vote. What I have come to appreciate about John Key is his connectedness to globalisation and his excitement about where it can take NZ.

Labour is the past. I think they will be overtaken by the Greens. The old socialist, unionist, brother's keeper stuff isn't relevant. The child poverty and inequality focus has backfired for the left because most thinking people see a country that provides opportunity and a strong safety net.

Tariana Turia is gone. I like what I've seen of Te Ururoa Flavell and think the Maori Party have a much better grip on what Maori need than Mana, so even briefly considered giving them my party vote. But, no, I'd like to see what Seymour and Whyte can build together.

Here's a speech Whyte delivered yesterday:

ACT will hold the balance of power after the election on Saturday.
In every poll taken last week, ACT has gone up. Not in every poll published last week mind you but in every poll that was taken last week.
In the latest Colmar Brunton poll – the most reliable of the pollsters – ACT is on 1.2%.
Our messages are getting through. We are winning support. 1.2% (28,000 votes) means I will be elected as a list MP, giving ACT two MPs and allowing John Key to be Prime Minister again without the “help” of Winston Peters.
In a week’s time ACT will be in a position to give the country three more years of stable Centre/right government.



Anonymous said...

three more years of stable Centre/right government

Stable? Sure.

But there's no way you can call a government that borrowed sixty billion dollars and spent the lot on welfare anything other than far left.

Jigsaw said...

Simply can't understand just sitting on the fence about Maori and privilege or supporting Flavell who was just incredible stating in the minor leaders debate that the right to separate Maori seats in parliament came from the treaty. Its exactly like sitting on the fence over apartheid.
One law for all is a topic that will have the most lasting effect on this country unless addressed.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Because 'privilege' and 'Maori' are terms too broad.

Privilege (advantage) is piecemeal and Maori is a label on a diverse group of individuals.

And I no longer believe that 'one law for all' is the most pressing priority for NZ, despite it being theoretically a worthy principle.

Apartheid in practise, for example, black men being made to live away from their families in work camps, is just not comaparable to positive discrimination or reverse racism.

Mark Hubbard said...

Nice post Lindsay. I've moved to a position against one law for all: if Maori want self-determination, then within grounds of do no harm, who am I to tell them what's good for them, so long as a tax surveillance state doesn't force one man's or group's need on me via the tax take.

That's not to say I don't want Whyte and Seymour in Parliament, I do as they are the only two who will have a commitment to limited government and the small state. But I feel ACT's campaign was dreadful, specifically targeting redneck policies on race, and on tough justice, which has connotations in peoples minds of big authoritarian government. I wish they had rather targeted farmers and business via small state policies on tax, regulation, etc.

Disappointed sums it up for me.

Anonymous said...

good for ACT!

Jigsaw said...

Exactly-Maori is a word for a diverse group of individuals-that's the whole point-they are hardly any more diverse than the rest of the NZ population but they are given extra rights because of this perceived 'specialness'. The next big push has already started-the appointment of unelected Maori to councils,in spite of the electorate clearly signalling their disagreement.
I am still appalled that people use terms like 'redneck' to stifle debate.
We may solve the welfare issue but by then we will have embedded Maori privilege in a way that may mean its impossible to remove.
How can any sane person be against 'one law for all'? It strikes at the heart of our democracy.

Anonymous said...

I feel ACT's campaign was dreadful, specifically targeting redneck policies on race, and on tough justice, which has connotations in peoples minds of big authoritarian government.

Look on the bright side: With both Conservatives and ACT in parliament - and the SST siding with the Conservatives - ACT will be able to abandon its borrowed authoritarian clothes and return to its libertarian roots. I've never understood why property crime (theft, burglary) should be an issue for the state, when in practice in NZ today it is prevented, detected, handled and resolved privately in almost all cases (people buy locks for their doors, surveillance cameras, security guards, and insurance).

The incoming National + ACT + Conservative government (with a huge side order of Whale Oil :-) should be able to make some real moves on welfare, unions, MSM bias, corruption, employment laws, etc.

To quote John Key: Helen's government surged "communist" in their third term: let's hope our next government is as "libertarian" as Helen was "communist". Of course, Key kept all Helen's communist policies, so there's a long long way to go!

Anonymous said...

It seems a bit weird that ACT get given a seat, poll 1.2% and that's all OK while the Conservatives polling at 4.5% may get nowt? All unfairness is equal but some unfairness seems more equal than another.


Anonymous said...

It seems a bit weird that ACT get given a seat, poll 1.2% and that's all OK while the Conservatives polling at 4.5% may get nowt? All unfairness is equal but some unfairness seems more equal than another.

Yeah well. Remember that every party except National agreed to drop the coat-tail rule and the threshold down to 4% - which I said at the time would guarantee a National+ACT+Conservative govt.

But Key decided to gamble the other way.

Anonymous said...

I've got to agree with Jigsaw, if we are going to accept the validity of the rule of law then it needs to be applied equally. Separate laws based on skin colour or claimed ancestry are already having measurable negative economic and social affects. There is nothing 'positive' about positive discrimination - it does huge damage to the self confidence, competitiveness and mana of those it purports to help. Ultimately divisive laws eventually split people into irreconcilable groups, the world currently abounds with case studies of the long term results of this.

I completely agree that labeling entire groups of people as 'Maori', 'Asian' and 'European' as if people all think, live and act as groups is high divisive. Which is exactly why I want the government to start treating people as individuals and stop legislating based on something as nebulous as ethnicity.

I've read Mark's thesis on Maori self determination and admire the original thinking therein. The fundamental problems are first, that Maori self determination isn't going to happen without large amounts of tax payers money, on past events it would be a bit naive to think that it could ever be otherwise. Secondly, once one group of people can simply opt out of the rule of law and setup a separate system within the same country then why not other groups once they attain suitable size and political influence? What happens when these alternative law systems (eg. Sharia) trample all over basic human rights? The more thought I give it the more it becomes a moral relativism quagmire.

I would have thought libertarians would see minimal government and individual self determination, subject to a small universally agreed set of laws, as the solution? Not more government driven partitioning of people on arbitrary lines.

Lindsay, if you reject comparisons of Maori party inspired laws with apartheid as being not comparable to reverse racism (a somewhat valid point), and then also state that you had considered voting for the Maori party are you not implying that you are okay with reverse racism? How do you square that with voting for ACT a party fundamentally against this idea? Not trying to be adversarial - just trying to understand your perspective on this.

Sorry for the long post, I'm just a bit shocked to see two of NZs most thoughtful bloggers seemingly indifferent to such a basic and important issue!

- Tom

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Tom, I couldn't provide an answer that would satisfy you. I can see the arguments both ways. From the perspective of those Maori who promote collectivist concepts and traditional cultural processes eg rangatahi (separate Maori and Pacific youth courts) and whanau ora...

...and from the anti-separatist perspective that says we should all be subject to the same legal systems and processes.

Theoretically I can agree that the Maori seats should go. But that development - along with the huge race row that would precede it - could have consequences that outweigh any philosophical correctness from the decision. Hence I can't prioritise it.

I believe NZ is actually making progress right now. Maori social stats are steadily improving. When we (Pakeha) talk about 'One law for all', rightly or wrongly it is percieved as a return to forced assimilation (very un-libertarian) - as incongruous as that may seem to you.

Historically some laws disadvantaged Maori and they still feel the need to redress the damage and re-assert their own autonomy. I find that sentiment understandable.

Tom, I am quite happy to cede to you the rightness of your position. But it doesn't necessarily follow that I am comfortable with it.

Jigsaw said...

Lindsay-I think that is really the sad thing-that a whole generation are being taught a version of our history that supports the Maori view that everything that happened to them was the fault of the pakeha. I get that again and again in debates. The altering of history is a process that is very active in our country at this time and it's encouraged and fostered by the 'historians' who appear at the TOW tribunal -paid to produce the 'correct' result.
I think that saying that there would be a huge row over the abolition of the Maori seats is- if you don't mind me saying so-a huge cop-out.

Sam P said...

Each of us has their own sense of priorities -- shame though as my ones are right.

#1 here is simply getting Whyte into parliament. If you're for small govt & respect of private persons & property you're unlikely to get this chance again for sometime.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, I appreciate your response and can see the reasoning behind your pragmatism, it is good to be reminded of how important perception can be when grappling with these issues from a purely idealogical perspective.

I've always maintained that one of the most appealing features of small government and personal liberty is that you don't need to be a individualist to enjoy the benefits of not being told how to live, it is a system that should be able to accommodate voluntary collectives of all kinds, religious, tribal and alternative lifestyle.

The argument could be made that too much government interference has always been a problem for Maori, well meaning or otherwise. Land confiscations, clumsy attempts to convert land to freehold and, as you mentioned, forced cultural 'integration' (I have a friend who is still rightly angry about being beaten by a school teacher for speaking Te Reo in the '50s!)

Unfortunately I have to agree with you that 'one law' has become synonymous with 'one culture' and is now perceived by many as an attack on Maori culture. Perhaps a change of presentation emphasising cultural freedom with shared laws would be a better approach.

When I say one law for all I'm referring to criminal law, specifically the ones with actual victims. I'm not suggesting that there should be laws that force people to live by 'western' culture, wear a shirt and tie, work nine to five at a desk, speak only English and eat fast food. That's all culture, a personal choice and no business of the government. I am suggesting that there is a basic set of criminal laws that all rational cultures and individuals tend to agree on, the prohibition of murder, theft and assault being obvious examples. Make these sort of universal concepts the body of law and leave the rest well alone. Devolve education and health to private or cultural providers subject to basic standards (which is already happening with charter schools and to some degree with Whanau Ora).

After more thought I suppose civil or youth crimes could be devolved to cultural courts if they are open to all cultures or groups who are willing to run them, meet sensible standards and most importantly all involved individuals consent to the court jurisdiction.

None of this requires special rights in law for just one culture or ethnic group and at least to my mind is compatible with individual (and collective) freedom.

I think most people who advocate equality before the law are not inherently against some degree of cultural devolution. The problem they have is laws that favour just one specific culture. There is a big difference between a law such as for charter schools (thanks ACT!) that allows any group, religious, cultural or otherwise to run a school providing they meet the standards, and a law such as for Whanau Ora that allocates large amounts of public funding for just one cultural group to the exclusion of all others. Whanau Ora is arguably a good thing in that it delivers healthcare in a way that increases uptake among it's targeted demograph, this approach could also be beneficial for example, to migrant groups who often have difficulty accessing healthcare services and also have poor health outcomes. Unfortunately the Whanau Ora act is specific to one cultural group despite being funded by all taxpayers, with more thought it could potentially have been a step towards more decentralised healthcare provision, but instead it's another race based law that will be around for years to polarise the country.

It's sad to see that at the abstract level libertarians and Maori culturalists want the same thing - control over how they live their lives, raise their families and interact with with others, yet we now have 'sides' which have fallen on cultural rather than philosophical lines.

Maybe this is a gap that could be bridged by a more nuanced ACT over the next three years.

- Tom