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Jan 14, 2006


Aaron Bhatnagar

An insightful post. My assessment is this:

Small parties tend to get wrapped up on "the one true way" and have little tolerance for dissenting views, be it in policy or organisation. Larger parties tend to be tolerant of contrarian views, accepting that in a larger party we all have to get along in order to get some or most of what we want when we win elections. Thus Conservatives and the Socially liberal sit alongside each other in National, agreeing to disagree and focusing on moving forward - everyone gets a spot in the sunshine eventually so why cause problems? My previous small party experience saw organisational issues cause schisms of such magnitude that they threatened to shake the caucus and party apart. Policy issues, such as compulsory super, saw a party president go to war with the parliamentary caucus.

Oswald Bastable

You certainly have a good point. The way to change things is from within, not sitting on the outside.

I beleive that parties like libertarianz would do better to foucs their energies on getting into local government.

I hear this is happening in the US.


Small parties tend to get wrapped up on "the one true way" and have little tolerance for dissenting views, be it in policy or organisation.

- that's actually the main reason i wouldn't call myself an ACTivist anymore, i find some conscience issues such as drugs and religious views on homosexuality are no longer really "conscience issues" anymore and ACT is becoming more like the Greens, almost becoming a socialist party especially with its students


National is a reasonably broad church. There are enough parts of the organisation that people with personality conflicts can avoid each other to some extent. I would guess in ACT that you simply cannot avoid getting agitated by people.

at least we have some agreement here. The interesting thing is what effect it has on the outlook for ACT in the long term. If they are unable to retain the likes of Whig there is little hope of keeping the organisational strength that ACT on Campus brought. It is footsoldiers that win elections.

I wonder if Peter would be interested in going into local government. It would certainly chime with his profession. He could start by rationalising planning.

trevor loudon

Good post Sagenz. Although the left fight amongst themselves like cats in a sack, they will unite on the big issues. On our side of the fence, there is a lot more that unites than divides us and we should act that way. I'd rather get 50% of what I want by making alliances than nothing by being "pure".


That is what always destroys the left, they always end up hating each other and that is how they lose elections.

Stan, what is your problem with AoC? I know ACT might not agree with your non liberal social approach, but then again I doubt National does either.

Trevor sums it up well, we are more united than it seems these days. Both parties need to sort this out properly, once and for all. At the next election there must not be any confusion about this.


"i find some conscience issues such as drugs and religious views on homosexuality are no longer really "conscience issues" anymore and ACT is becoming more like the Greens, almost becoming a socialist party especially with its students"

Stan I think you have confused social liberalism with socialism, there's a massive difference. While ACT on Campus has a large number of social liberals within its ranks, it also has a healthy contingent of conservatives. Granted, they are not involved in the same numbers that are involved in the party as a whole but they are most certainly there. In my view this strengthens the organisation as we are not simply written off as a hardcore liberal group within the party, but as a group which mirrors and enhances the party at large.
You are more than welcome to rejoin ACT on Campus, as a few people above have stated, the best way to ensure change within an organisation is to get involved. If you do come back to UC you should consider running for a position on the AoC UC committee.


as andrew says stan, if you disagree with the socially liberal policies of ACT but remain more comfortable with their fiscal policies why not discuss it from within.
some within ACT seem to have recognised that holding authoritarian social views is not necessarily in tune with voters or consistent with describing themselves as Liberals.
your task andrew will be to manage those philisophical differences without developing schisms. good luck.

Nigel Kearney

>"Bill Birch there to squash spendthrift ideas"

Hahahahaha. That's a good one. Just like he did when working for Muldoon. Best laugh I've had this year.

Also, how exactly is ACT not pragmatic? I'd like some details. Are we supposed to endorse the NCEA, RMA or state monopoly of ACC? Maybe we are supposed to support the anti-nuclear policy? National hasn't even promised to undo the proposed welfare benefits for working people.

Several ideas that ACT alone championed are now mainstream.

Of course National needs to occupy the centre in order to form a government, but the location of that centre is even more more important than who occupies it. ACT has had huge influence on which policies are now regarded as centrist.

An ounce of effort in support of ACT is far more beneficial to the country than the same ounce of effort in support of National.


fair shot. Birch in his second incarnation under Bolger rather than his first, deserves some fiscal respect.

In terms of where ACT are now, you might be right, but only in terms of not wasting centre right votes. Once ACT are assured of reaching the threshold the effect changes. Effort spent on obtaining votes for National from Labour rather than swapping National votes to ACT is vastly more productive. Most ACT votes come from National, therefore obtaining genuine new votes for National is more productive to our cause. The extent that ACT or National are obtaining votes from elsewhere rather than cannibalising each others votes determines whose will be more productive. I would concede Brash made a strategic error in pronouncing he wanted to govern alone. Accepting that he did not agree with all ACT's policies but would welcome their contribution to a centre right government would have been a more productive policy.

I would only name the declaration that ACT is unwilling to be part of a government including Winston Peters as an example. NCEA is being strongly fought by Bill English, ACC was utterly changed by Labour & everybody admits the RMA needs change. It is an effective planning control tool in that it is able to provide some certainty, but now misused. There is little point in arguing for it to be scrapped. it would need to be replaced by something, much of which would duplicate the better elements of it. Even Libertarians believe in the rule of law.

The location of the centre is where public feeling determines it to be. Roger Douglas moved it far away from socialism. the Centre right need to start with policies that are acceptable to more than 50% of the population and show them by example once they are in power that moving to the right will produce net benefits.

I strongly agree that ACT has produced some policies which have been adopted as mainstream. That is why my point is that ACT and National should work together to get into government rather than getting too precious about specific policies and holding to publicly unacceptable policies.


' ... RMA is an effective planning tool in that it is able to provide some certainty, but now misused. There is little point in arguing for it to be scrapped. It would need to be replaced with something, much of which would duplicate the better elements of it.'

Bollocks. And to think this comment is an offshoot from a post espousing freedom.

The RMA is pure fascism. You might own your property, but others effectively control its use. Funny bloody freedom.

In its umpteen dozen pages, not once does the RMA mention the term 'property rights'. ACT and even the Nats (at long last) were routinely heard to bleat that 'property rights matter' during the last election. Lord knows it took them long enough to get it. So why on earth would you support legislation that ignores/erodes those rights?

The RMA is in direct contradiction with any notion of 'property rights'. It should be abolished immediately and replaced with property's traditional protector: common law.

'Even Libertarians believe in the rule of law'. Well, of course! Thank you - at least - for that!


sus - i used to work in a meat factory that took water from a nearby stream, used it for processing and expelled the waste into the same stream. about 5k downstream is a baby food factory. We had all sorts of problems with the regional environment organisation. I see no rational reason why the meat company does not bear some responsibility for the effects its operations have on other companies and people in the community. that is not fascism. the RMA provides a planning structure and resource consents provide an agreed set of rules for some years into the future. There is some inconsistency between reasons but this develops in the same manner as common law. What is your point exactly SAS. have you had any actual dealings with the RMA? or do you just think it is equitable that companies/farmers can discharge whatever they like into waterways and never mind the environmental impact?
Should Peter be able to design and build a factory discharging toxic waste into auckland harbour? The point of the post was pragmatism. You have demonstrated exactly what I mean.

No, Sagenz; you miss my point. I'm not excusing the actions of, to use your example, the meatworks. Of course the result would be to pollute water that will adversely affect others, which is wrong.

But the RMA still doesn't prevent situations like that occurring, in spite of its trumped-up rhetoric. There are large companies that pay big dollars to all and sundry; councils and local iwi enjoying much of the largesse; and then carry on regardless. Which makes an expensive mockery of the whole 'environmental' process. But gee, it keeps a lot of bureaucrats occupied, while providing councils with even more funds with which to mind others' business. (Well, they have no option. They've neither the brains nor the balls to run their own).

If property rights were truly respected, the situation that you describe would be simply dealt with. Properties sharing resources such as natural waterways would have to ensure that their activities did not adversely impact upon neighbours, or otherwise face the legal consequences. It's simply accepting responsibility for your actions in requiring you to find alternative solutions.

When the law properly protects property rights, there is no need for superfluous bureaucracy such as the RMA.

Finally, you better believe we had RMA issues. Five bloody years of it. Two councils, one iwi and God knows how many 'consultants' later we wondered if it was all worth it.

As it transpired, the iwi were the easiest to deal with. Even though there wasn't one of them living within cooee of us - so much for any 'environmental impact' - they didn't give a damn what we were up to. They just wanted their cheque.

The whole thing was a crock. But then I subscribe to Ronald Reagan's belief that 'the state never solves problems, it subsidises them'.


Sorry, forgot to sign the above. I have no time for those who post anonymously!


I can understand the frustration with the bureaucracy of RMA. it has become much worse over the last years. its intent was to provide a structure so that the company downstream did not need to take the company upstream to court. government would enforce the rule of law.
My point was that there must be something that performs the better functions of the RMA. I have no time for any iwi consultation on any preferred basis. if they have a marae downstream they are an interested party, otherwise gtfoh.
You are right that the councils have abused their powers. I have to admit to being insufficiently knowledgeable about current practice to give an opinion on whether more efficient to scrap and start again or reform

robert p

If National had won Epsom, they could be in Government today. The largest mandate and all that. :/


I doubt that epsom would have made a positive difference. it would have made no difference to nationals party vote and would have reduced the total centre right vote my wasting that of everyone who voted for ACT


I have actually come to the conclusion that in a one-vote franchise democracy where Parliament has unfettered powers, whoever is in government matters very little. The last National government (with the exception of Ruth Richardson's short tenure) was a shocker. I actually cheered Labour's win in '99, and see little reason to think National would change much of what has gone before.

What then becomes important is protecting and expanding freedoms in New Zealand. There is one party in a position to do this and that is ACT. I have rejoined ACT to participate in the protection of the New Zealand way of live from socialism, statism and wowserism.


ACT is not in a position to do that without the active support of National. My point to both you and Peter is that you can do that more effectively by being within National than on the outside accusing National of being unprincipled.

Why did you cheer the success of a bunch of socialist trade unionites. National had introduced work for the dole and was moving towards an RMA review. Nothing has been achieved in the last 6 years except more bureaucracy more tax and less freedom. why is that a good thing???


I think ACT needs to seek support for its ideas right across the political spectrum, not just from National.

I don't accuse National of being unprincipled at all - I just think that ultimately they are a conservative middle New Zealand party whose values are not necessarily mine.

Labour are about as socialist these days as National are neoliberal, which is not very much. New Zealand remains one of the freest places in the world to live. Why would I be passionate about keeping a nine year old government in office that had lost momentum, become arrogant and run out of ideas? The differing shades of grey between National and Labour hold little interest for me.


completely agree with your first , accept your 2nd but think the 3rd is rubbish.

See Perons response to clark wanting to emulate sweden - Jim peron said "Helen Clark wants New Zealand to emulate Sweden. The high tax, welfare state appeals to her. She even argues that high taxes do not effect economic growth. According to press reports Clark said Sweden's tax rates had not stopped the nation growing rich."

I blogged on how high NZ taxes have gone at

The Wananga debacle would not have happened under National. somebody would have asked what was going on and the rules tightened.

the US economy grew strongly under Clinton because the fecker was so busy defending himself he had no time to intervene in teh economy allowing the tax cuts brought in by reagan (and just blogged on by me) to do their stuff.

You cannot be serious arguing their is little difference between Dr Brash and Helen Clark??


I am not an apologist for Helen Clark's policies in the slightest, although if she emulated the Swedish health and education systems, which offer more choice and are less socialist and centrally controlled than ours, I would be very happy indeed. Nor was I equating Clark with Brash, both of whom come from the far ends of their respective parties. But neither party does more than tweak at the margins when they are in power, and I think that those who see National as a vehicle for increasing personal freedoms are naive.


this comes to the heart of my point about the art of the practical. you can argue that any politician should slash and burn on the way to individual responsibility. ACT policy in the early days was honestly presented on the changes they wanted to make. BUT, the voters do not trust politicians and did not believe the story they were given. This is where I honestly believe the change needs to be incremental. not winning every battle but generally moving in the right direction and taking the voter along with you.

The people at the heart of National believe in their hearts in individual responsibility. They are farmers, small business and people who dont like welfare in principle but will vote for it in practice. some of them have funny ways of suggesting turning principles of individual freedom into actual policy (bring out the drug & social authoritarians) but the policy makes and the voters need to be taken slowly in the right direction. I would love to do all the things that need to be done in a fell swoop, but it is not realistic. Voters need the confidence to keep on spending. businesses need the confidence to keep on investing. when there is massive change a recession can become self fulfilling because the "wait & see" becomes self fulfilling.

imagine trying to bring in civil unions 20 years ago as langes first action. same applies to economics. even labour are now arguing for more home ownership. 15 years ago they did not see it as a good thing. state housing was the way. voters accept change gradually, who can blame them


National will have a coalition with the Maori Party and ACT will not represented in the next parliament. That's why I love John Key because he can make things happen. The guy is just awesome, besides he is a successful business person and also very attractive.

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