Stock rustling set to continue under lax laws

The theft and illegal slaughter of farm stock can only be expected to continue if tougher laws are not introduced, said ACT Leader David Seymour today.

NZ Farmer today reported on David Searle, who found three dead ewes on the edge of his property yesterday morning, with another six missing.

“It makes for a grim read, but what’s grimmer still is that this is an ongoing problem for rural New Zealand,” said Mr Seymour.

“It’s a crime that often goes unreported, but is estimated to cost farmers $120 million each year. One Southland farmer had 1200 ewes stolen in July alone.

“Stock thieves are comparable to burglars in that they are rarely apprehended, offend repeatedly, and have little regard for the sanctity of property.

“ACT would have equipment used in the theft confiscated, as is the case for fisheries offences, and increase maximum jail sentences to reflect the harm done to farmers and their vulnerability in remote areas.

“Farmers have called for tougher laws, as has the national association Federated Farmers. ACT won’t let stock rustling and other property crime become a career option in New Zealand.”

Newsletter - Partnership Schools

Partnership Schools: The Path to Quality Education
November 11, 2014

You may find this recent newspaper article on Partnership Schools of interest.

I did, and for this simple reason.

The article fairly presents the difficulties some schools are having in this early establishment phase. As common-sense would suggest, and as recent research shows, the average quality of schools improves over time (e.g. see the US National Bureau of Economic Research: The Evolution of Charter School Quality). Rome was not built in a day.

The article also fairly presents some of the undoubted successes so far in New Zealand.

For many students these schools are proving truly transformative, turning around lives, rescuing them. It is profoundly moving to read of this, even more so to be privileged – as I have – to witness it.

In my Maiden speech in Parliament I mentioned a visit to one of these schools where, as I chatted to the students about their experiences in other schools compared with their experiences at their new Partnership School, one young girl said “I didn’t know I was smart until I came here”.

Who could fail to be affected by that?

Now, consider these accounts of lives being transformed, and weigh that enormous positive against some of the negative comments in this article and elsewhere by opponents of these new schools. For opponents to describe Partnership Schools as part of an “ideological drive to disestablish public education” is not just wrong, it’s childish and daft. Most of our public schools provide excellent educational opportunities - just not to all children.

I am sure these opponents are good people, committed educators, but some of their attitudes are appalling.

Fancy giving parents options; giving them choices which might dramatically improve their children’s chances in life. We should be doing everything possible to facilitate this, not block it.

The opposition to Partnership Schools reflects politics and ideology. Opposition political parties would close down these schools no matter how good they might be. And just tough luck for the kids caught in the crossfire of politics.

That can reasonably be described as an extreme ideological view, one that is hard to defend on any moral or fair-minded basis.

Would those politicians be prepared to visit these schools, and tell the children and their parents, face-to-face, that they intend to close the school? And tell them why.

David Seymour
Leader, ACT New Zealand

Newsletter - Stocks and Flows

Social Housing: Stock and Flow Confusion
November 7, 2014

This is the first issue of what will be a regular newsletter, commenting on and reacting to political and other issues. On this occasion, the topic is the debate over social housing reform, one where opposition politicians and many commentators seem hopelessly confused over what is, and is not, important.

It’s been interesting watching the responses to National’s planned reform of social housing. The political responses are not just steeped in ideology, but almost drunk on it. Nobody seems interested in debating the real issue – of how best to provide for the housing requirements of those most in need.

One tactic is to try and frame it as a case of asset sales, as if that is some sort of gotcha – pretty feeble from an ACT perspective, of course.

Governments are always selling things – used cars, old office equipment, farms, and even surplus houses – so it’s hardly a big deal; and of course governments are always buying and investing in things, typically far more than they should.

But secondly, and most importantly, nobody seems to have a clue about the distinction between stocks and flows; between assets and their income flow (or financing cost).

For example, your term deposit is a stock; the interest income is a flow. If the term deposit interest rate is 5%, and I promise to give you five dollars a year for ever, you are in the same position as if you had a $100 of your own to deposit.

When you reach retirement age and start receiving NZ Superannuation payments, you receive a “flow” of income for the rest of your life. Instead, and equivalently, the government could borrow and give you a one-off (a “stock”) payment sufficient for you to buy an annuity giving the same flow of income. Either approach has exactly the same expected outcome.

Stocks can be converted to flows, and vice versa.

It’s the same issue in housing. The government can buy a house (it will be borrowing a “stock” of cash to do so, to buy the asset) and let you live in it at a subsidised rate, giving you a “flow” of rental subsidy.  Or the government could sell a house it already owns (an asset that is effectively funded by a “stock” of debt) and just pay you a “flow” of rental subsidy to rent from some provider on the market, whether a purely commercial or a social provider.

What matters is access to the housing: whether that is done via government owning a stock of assets or funding a flow of rental subsidy is entirely a second order consideration, essentially just a financing decision.

Another confusion that springs from not understanding stock and flow distinctions is to argue that the cash from any houses that are sold, should immediately be spent. Absolutely not. Selling the stock and spending that as a flow would be wildly irresponsible. Spending just the flow equivalent of that stock (roughly the interest income, or debt servicing cost of it) would be broadly neutral.

The real issue here is how to get the most effective structure of social housing assistance to those most in need.  To start shifting from a system overwhelmingly dominated by the government owning a massive stock of houses, and move at the margin to increase the proportion funded by a flow of rental income support, seems like a total no-brainer.

A healthy system is one where we try lots of approaches, where there is experimentation, competition and a range of options.  That is why markets are so effective, because it is a relentless process of experimentation to find out what works best.

We need more of this in social housing, in education (which is why partnership schools are so important) and in the health sector.

When you see responses to these social housing proposals that focus obsessively on whether or not they represent asset sales, you know that the response is entirely ideological – that person is not thinking, not interested in the real issues.

The same applies when people complain that a property developer might make a profit out of building or providing social housing.

That represents another form of ideological ignorance – in fact one even worse than not understanding stocks and flows.

Businesses are funded by a mix of debt and equity: the business pays interest to the owners of their debt (that might be to a bank, or to those who have purchased the business’s bonds in the debt markets); and it distributes profit (the residual, high risk part) which is paid to the owners of the equity in the firm.

Would you seriously expect people to provide equity for no return? Profit is just the label for that highly uncertain return, just as interest is the label for the more secure (because it gets paid before equity owners see anything) stream of interest income from a business.

The proposed reforms show that the government is doing some serious thinking about how best to provide social housing to those most in need. It’s time opposition politicians started thinking too.


David Seymour
Leader, Act New Zealand

Housing Affordability

Andrew Atkin explains, step by step, how housing affordability has been destroyed in New Zealand. 
There is a special focus on the impact of Metropolitan Urban Limits.

Speech: Reply to Prime Minister's statement on ISIL

Delivered by ACT Leader David Seymour to Parliament, 5/11/2014:

I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in support of the proposals announced this morning.

My party believes that the first and most important role of the State is to protect citizens against thugs. This duty applies whether the thugs reside overseas or within our borders.

Given this extraordinary power, however, the State does have a tendency to overreach. Over the past century, much of classical liberals’ attention has been rightly focused on resisting the overreach of the State. That was right, I say, because those Governments did suppress freedom of movement and freedom of contract. Many of my remarks are directed at civil libertarians, of whom I count myself as one, but my remarks will be unlike some of the more ostentatious appeals to that constituency made earlier.

Actually, I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition on very fine speeches. I began to appreciate some of the opponents of MMP until I saw that Peter Dunne made a very fine speech too.

We support the intention to ensure that proper parliamentary processes are followed, and it is even while we, for very good reason, are speeding them up a little.

We support the moves to tidy up inconsistencies between the powers of the police and the Security Intelligence Service, inconsistencies that unduly hamper justified monitoring of internal threats.

The other moves—the funding boost to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, the changes in respect of passports, the narrow changes to emergency surveillance, and the sunset clauses—all appear to be measured and restrained in scope.

But the issues being considered today go well beyond those internal matters, and they do so because it is not always the State that is a threat to liberty, or even other States that are a threat. The contest in the Middle East and the threats of global terrorism in recent decades are coming from Stateless entities, or at least currently Stateless entities, as their ambition is to create their own State.

We need hardly debate whether there is a contest of values at stake in respect of ISIL. That entity represents the antithesis of civilised values—values of liberty, the rule of law, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and democratic institutions. But the question is whether we should get involved at all.

As a country we have throughout our history played our part in defending not just the borders but also the values of free and democratic societies and of modern civilisation. It is true that the military contest in the Middle East is not our fight in so far as they are not our borders, but the contest about the kind of society that will prevail in that region is of profound interest and concern to free societies everywhere. Here the issue is very much a contest of values, the spread of those values around the world, and the threat those values are to free and open societies.

We do not need to document or list the brutalities of ISIL. We have seen it on the news most nights. ISIL does pose a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria and the broader Middle East. Their current operational threats are in the Middle East and North Africa, but their declared threats are global and specifically directed at the Western liberal democracies.

They are not just theoretical threats. As we have seen in Australia and Canada recently, their adherents and supporters are capable of random acts of violence. The scale may so far be small but their aspirations are not. One option might be to sit back and wait to see what else they are capable of, wait until their capability either wanes or others more directly affected work to ensure ISIL is defeated, or wait until they succeed in a violent provocation of sufficient scale that a military response becomes the only option. But it is not at all clear whether for free societies generally a purely defensive posture is possible, at least not if we wish to maintain a free and open society in our world.

A purely defensive posture would be a garrison State, the wagons circled, a wall put up, with extensive and intrusive surveillance within. That is not the free and open society so painfully built and fought for through the past century and before. And that simply is the case for playing our part and contributing.

We would all much rather that none of this was necessary. New Zealand is a small country well away from the immediate theatre of struggle in the Middle East. In a direct sense, this is not our fight. They are not our borders at threat. But the values at stake are our values. The aspirations of ISIL do not reach our shores, but they affect our way of life. So the case for playing our part, however small that might be, is a strong one.

Is helping those directly at threat from ISIL a worthy goal and the morally right thing to do? Yes, it is unambiguously so.

Is stopping ISIL achievable? With a broad international contribution the answer must surely be yes, because it has to be.

To allow a street-less gang, one utterly pitted against our freedoms and way of life, to dominate a large swath of territory in the Middle East as a launching pad for broader aspirations is unthinkable. In that sense the situation in Iraq and Syria has direct relevance for our domestic security, our values, and our economy as a small trading nation dependent on international trade and the rule of law internationally.

For New Zealand to make a small contribution to international efforts, to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening and to support the capabilities of those directly in the firing line, seems a justifiable and proportionate response entirely in keeping with our traditional values.

We must, of course, be aware of unintended consequences, of mission creep, as they say. From what the Prime Minister has said, no more is being contemplated than humanitarian aid and capacity building for crucial Iraqi institutions, including the army. The ACT Party can support these limited and proportionate measures. They signal a willingness by New Zealand to play our part.

The question that matters is whether this is a struggle that is warranted. From what we know so far, it is. Thus we support the limited moves announced today, the intention to seek broad political support for them, and to pursue due process in implementing them. Thank you.

David Seymour answers reader questions for the NBR

Yesterday ACT Leader David Seymour took part in an Ask Me Anything session with the National Business Review. He answered questions on a variety of subjects, including Landcorp, Auckland transport, Working For Families, ACC, dating, and more.

It was an excellent session, and can be read here:

Employment Relations Amendment Bill 3rd Reading Speech

Video of this speech can be viewed here.

Delivered by ACT Leader David Seymour to New Zealand Parliament,


Mr Speaker,

I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in support of this Bill.

I’d like to congratulate the Minister in charge, the Select Committee, the submitters, and the officials involved in getting the bill this far. I’d also like to acknowledge the work of my ACT predecessors in improving this Bill.

Most of all I’d like to thank my fellow Epsom electors. This Bill, more than any other, has acutely demonstrated the role that the Epsom electorate plays in ensuring stable centre-right government for New Zealand. This bill has been advanced, stalled, and now advanced again, in each instance due to the presence or absence of an ACT MP from Epsom.

I can hear the Labour MP’s frustration, Mr Speaker, not only can we move toward best practice public policy without them, but ACT has total certainty about the identity of its leader.

This is also a teachable moment for public policy.

Listening to the opposition, during the latter part of this debate, they seem to assume that human relations, such as employment relations, are static. They seem to assume that they can shift outcomes by legislating the conditions under which people work, and that people will never change their behaviour in response.

An easy way for the opposition to see the fallacy might be to imagine some of this Bill’s provisions in reverse.

We might imagine that employees should not be able to abandon a so called “vulnerable employer”.

Perhaps we’d propose that an employee would be compelled to keep working for such an employer regardless of what a poor employer they turned out to be, and regardless of what other opportunities presented themselves to the employee.

Fanciful? I ask members to think carefully, what is the logical difference between that scenario and the situation in which large employers continue to be placed under this act.

Or we might imagine an Act wherein employees were thought most likely to tire of bargaining, but require them to conclude an agreement unless the ERA saw fit to absolve them of this default obligation.

Or we might imagine a world where it was the norm for employers to partially withhold payment when dissatisfied with employment conditions, and to expect no partial reduction in work effort.

Mr Speaker, this bill, even after amendment, let alone the kind of Bill the opposition would have passed, is about giving rights to employees by imposing duties upon employers.

The thought experiment of reversing the roles of employer and employee shows how misguided it is to attempt to improve outcomes by interfering in the contractual arrangements that employees and employers would otherwise enter into.

The opposition, and any sensible person, would reject these hypothetical laws.

It’s plain to see, I’m sure they’d say, that employees either wouldn’t take such jobs or would expect to be paid more in return for accepting such duties.

They might even say that such rules would be silly. Far better to relieve employees of such draconian duties and allow them to negotiate their own conditions.

Why, then, do the opponents of flexible labour markets in general and this bill in particular not see the futility in trying to legislate a different outcome in the labour market and the damage it is likely to do?

Why, indeed, has the National party compromised on the vulnerable worker clause and the requirement to conclude bargaining when these should have been removed entirely?

The answer lies in another fallacy, over 150 years old and disproven every single year since, that labour will fall in value vis-à-vis capital. It’s the failed hypothesis, most recently resurrected by a French populist, that we are heading for hyper capitalism and the revolution. In reality it is labour, not capital, that have risen in value since Marx wrote.

These economic trends have real implications for politics and policy today. They explain why the Labour Party has lost its base, and why new members of the Green Party who understand economics could make such good leaders.

But the reality is that employers in the Epsom electorate and up and down this country are fixated on the challenge of attracting and retaining staff. Competition for workers amongst employers is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than competition for jobs amongst workers.

Those employers must look askance at the opposition’s assumption that workers have no other options, are a dime-a-dozen, and are easy come easy go.

That simply is not the reality of the New Zealand workplace in 2014. It is a market place where competition works both ways.

I say all of this as someone who entered the workforce working 60 hours per week for $7.50 an hour.

I support this bill because it is a step in the right direction towards more flexible labour markets.

Like all attempts to improve public policy, this amendment is imperfect.

Economic reality and experience suggest it should have gone further. Governments cannot legislate market outcomes, but can influence them.

Let me leave the opposition with two initiatives that might better help New Zealanders achieve better pay and conditions.

Nominal pay rates are only worthwhile to the extent that they are useful for buying real goods. The price of houses have doubled relative to incomes over the last two decades, overwhelmingly due to local authorities prescribing an urban development pattern incompatible with the housing people actually want.

Far more could be achieved for working New Zealanders by improving the responsiveness of housing market supply than by futile attempts to shift bargaining strategies in the labour market.

Another contributor to the outcomes in the labour market is the skill level of employees. Employees with greater skills earn more, and this factor is growing in importance.

Indeed, increases in inequality of market income in the western world can be attributed to increasing returns to skills – you can earn more and more if you are more literate and more numerate.

The real work achieving the opposition’s purported objectives is being done on the supply sides of the housing and education sectors, and I’m proud to support and encourage this government in this work.

In conclusion I am proud to support this bill and hope that this government will one day pursue best practice policy by confronting the fallacies that underlie too much of our labour law legislation.

The duty to enter into and conclude bargaining should be gone.

The duty to retain staff under Section 6A almost unconditionally dependent on the type of employee, and now the type of business, should be gone.

Doing so would put us in touch with the labour market of the 21st century, whose businesses succeed or fail based on their ability to attract and retain workers.


Submissions needed for reduction of red tape

Dear members and supporters,

One of ACT's goals is the reduction of "red tape" in local and central government. I recommend that all members complete the questionnaire in the following Government post on the internet.

Kind regards,
John Thompson

Maiden Speech to Parliament - David Seymour

Video of this speech can be viewed here.

Delivered by ACT Leader David Seymour to New Zealand Parliament, 21/10/2014:

Mr Speaker,

I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

“I never knew that I was smart until I came here.”  For the avoidance of doubt I’m not referring to this house, Mr Speaker, but quoting from a student I met last week at the Vanguard Military School, a Partnership School, or Kura Hourua.

There could not have been a better entre to my first speech in this house than meeting that student.

Before I return to that quote, allow me to visit some of the journey to that meeting and to this house today.

I represent the communities of Epsom, Mt Eden, Parnell and Remuera.

A look at our electorate might explain why we collectively made this choice.  Epsom is typecast as wealthy, and that may be true in many cases, but it is not universal.

The largest industry in our electorate is education.  Our 30 schools including many of the largest in the country.  We host one large tertiary campus and are adjacent to three more.  Education is aspiration.

You can tell everything you need to know about a person’s politics by acquiring their sincere answer to a simple question: Is it possible for anybody to create new wealth?

Unfortunately, the sincere answer of many in this house would be no.  They lay a litany of elaborate excuses and set about constructing an even more elaborate web of rules to reallocate finite wealth to the most deserving.  In practice that means those whose special pleadings resonate loudest in the theatre of politics.

My answer to the question is yes.  My fellow Epsom voters elected me, if not in full support of my philosophy, then certainly with knowledge of it.  It’s because we are aware of the dangers that the zero-sum game brigade present.

Our communities are leafy and our schools prestigious.  If people want more Epsom the answer should be to create more Epsom.  More good schools, more good suburbs. 

But the opposition would cram more people into smaller denser dwellings, changing the character of our communities and putting intolerable pressure on burgeoning school zones. 

When it comes to wealth, for too many the answers are higher tax rates, and taxing the same dollars one more time with an envy-fuelled capital gains tax. 

When many of us voluntarily invest our time and talents in helping others, those who think there’s only so much to go ‘round want to crowd out even these efforts for their tax-funded schemes.

Small wonder then, Mr Speaker, that we voted the way we did.

The people of Epsom did not vote for a mere abstraction, or even a political strategy.  Not many, if any, of those who say I’m here due to the latter can say they came to this house by way of 13,000 doorsteps, 85,000 personally addressed letters, nearly 1,000 attendees of private house meetings, or 300 hours of waving signs at traffic. 

Most of that was done by my extraordinary team who accompanied, delivered, hosted and waved.  I acknowledge many of you who are on the floor, in the Gallery, and those who couldn’t be in Wellington today.  In each and every case, thank you.

Those people supported me because their answer to the great dividing question of politics is yes.

Those of us who believe that wealth creation is a positive sum game are interested in a different question:  Under what conditions can individuals best create wealth?

The answer lies in the use of knowledge in society.  Since the total inventory of that knowledge is never given in its totality to a single mind or group of them, it must be grown and applied through a widespread process of conjecture and refutation.

This is the creative power of a free society.  The power to try new things and find what works.  This power is greatest when the role of government is not ‘whatever the government defines it to be,’ as one former Prime Minister put it, but clearly defined to maximise individual freedom.

That definition relies heavily on an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of government as an institution.

Governments have the extraordinary power to legally coerce.  In some cases this power brings great goods.

Chief among them is an environment where we can safely go about our business in our various communities.  That in turn requires rule by law rather than arbitrarily rule by men.

We meet at the pinnacle of several centuries of progress towards that goal.

We have moved towards the light of liberty by removing distinctions in law that once treated people differently depending on their religious conviction, gender and race.  Most recently, this house decided to remove sexuality from the Marriage laws.

Many countries have never achieved that.  But it is extraordinary that, as if engaged in some form of historic shuttle run, we who were first to touch the cone are now rushing back to create new distinctions in law. 

I refer to those who claim that the only way to achieve material equality between the Maori side and the British side of my family is to create more legal inequality.  No doubt they have noble intentions but public policy should be measured by results.

Beyond the rule of law, there are other public goods that a good government might employ its extraordinary powers to provide.

Believe it or not, the outcome of private action is sometimes inefficient, and government regulations can improve matters.  We see this in our fisheries and our atmosphere, where well-crafted regulations protect us from the ruin toward which all men would otherwise rush.

Insurance against genuine misfortune, of birth or catastrophic events is another role that a good government might cautiously assume.  Funding, but not providing, education regardless of parental wealth is an example of such insurance.

When used beyond these limited roles as protector, regulator, and insurer, government’s extraordinary powers corrode the creative powers of a free society.

The problem is one of knowledge and politics.  It is fatal conceit to believe that one mind or group of minds can know enough to plan the myriad activities of the very society that they themselves are a product of.  There is ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas but politics has a tendency to narrow human endeavour into what is visible to only a few actors.

The alternative is spontaneous activity coordinated only by a few general rules.

Perhaps the most literal examples of new wealth from finite means are found in the field of engineering.  I am one of two engineers in this house and I come from a family of engineers, several of whom are here today.

IWhile a generous person could barely call my own engineering achievements modest, what my profession has achieved is anything but.

Suffice it to say that when the member seated to my right gave his maiden speech, calling somebody when they were not at home must have been rarer than a bow tie. 

The challenge is to create the conditions wherein this kind of wealth creation is most likely to flourish.

Thankfully, nearly 200 nations have unwittingly carried out a vast natural experiment on this question.  We now have several decades of data showing which public policies work and which don’t.

It’s an adherence to low government expenditure funded by low-rate broad-based taxes, monetary policy targeted at price stability, a liberal approach to trade and investment abroad, flexible labour markets and secure, predictable property rights.

Countries that adopt these principles don’t just achieve greater wealth.  They also make for better environmental custodians, and achieve better civil liberties.

Interestingly, when countries are ranked according to these five measures, New Zealand is consistently in the top five and often in the top three amongst 200 nations.

I returned to New Zealand because it is my home.  And it is easily among the most prosperous, pristine, diverse and yet harmonious societies that the world has ever seen. 

The desire to go back to the mono-cultural, isolationist, intolerant and interventionist New Zealand of the 1970’s is forgivable only in those who weren’t actually there.  In any case, we ain’t going back.

When confronted with an opposition promising to unpick years of consensus on monetary policy, trade, tax, electricity markets, the role of government in the housing market, the people of New Zealand said a resounding NO.

New Zealand today is a country that has adopted, since the mid 1980’s more of ACT’s market liberal policies than all but a couple of other countries in the world.  To paraphrase another former member, we won, you lost, but, hey, enjoy it.

Much of the credit must go to Sir Roger Douglas, who is here on the floor today.  Roger’s reforms occurred at a unique time in our demographic history.  Sir Robert Muldoon’s World War II generation gave way to the much larger generation they produced in what must have been a ravenous reunification after that war.

In their entry to public life the boomers created a society in their image, and symmetry demands that their exit will be similarly disruptive.

My generation, which I share with a growing number of recent entrants to this house, also faces a number of acute challenges in the wake of our parents’ reign. 

In the news this week, and for the past decade, has been housing affordability, an entirely supply side, entirely regulatory problem.

For the first time in our equalitarian society, parental assistance has become a prominent factor in home ownership, and there is a hereditary element to property.  I look forward to supporting this government’s efforts to increase the supply elasticity of housing.

Fiscal sustainability should interest our generation.  Treasury predicts that, on historical trends, government debt will reach double GDP by the time we might think of retiring circa 2060.

We can only lament the advanced auctions in stolen goods that pass for elections every three years and wonder how the various spending promises would add to this burden.  With the demographic headwinds we face, fiscal discipline must be a mantra of our generation.

The best thing about New Zealand is our pristine natural environment.  Sadly our history as environmental custodians is far from perfect, but again we must think carefully about the role of government.  It’s no coincidence that the countries that have been farthest down the pathway of government intervention also produced the worst environmental catastrophes.  Modern environmentalists should practice the four P’s. Pricing, Property Rights, Prosperity and Private Initiative.

We pride ourselves on being an equalitarian society.  However we must be honest with ourselves about the success of the 80 year old promise to look after our most vulnerable citizens from the cradle to the grave.  Welfare and education reform are essential to maintaining an equalitarian New Zealand.

I began by quoting a student I met last week at a Partnership School.  “I didn’t know I was smart until I came here, she said.”

Her story matters because in a global and technologically sophisticated economy, the value of skills is ever increasing.  We cannot afford to have smart people wasting their potential.

The school she now attends does things differently from the ones she previously attended.  The Principal leads the school differently from the one he used to teach at.  It is not a pedagogy for every student, but such universality does not exist in a country of nearly one million students.  What matters is that it works for her.

The school draws together all of the strands I have spoken of today.  Like all human endeavour it is imperfect, but by conjecture and refutation it grows and applies the store of knowledge about educating children.  Government plays a role, but a limited one. It brings the creative powers of a free society to bear upon one of our most urgent challenges as a nation.

I am honoured to represent my fellow Epsom electors and lead the ACT Party in this house.  It is my hope that I will contribute here to improving public policy for all New Zealanders so that prosperous and free individuals may flourish in this green and pleasant land.

Thank you.


Open letter from ACT President John Thompson

To all members and supporters,

Today, Parliament opens and the new Government gets down to work. We will be providing confidence and supply to the new Government, in return for their support for our policies in education and regulatory reform. We will be working to persuade the Government to also support our other policies on the economy and on law and order.

While we are disappointed that we couldn't get Jamie Whyte into Parliament, we held Epsom, and have David Seymour as an ACT MP in Parliament, and as Undersecretary for Education and Undersecretary for Regulatory Reform. David will also be a member of the important Finance and Expenditure select committee and a member of the Appointments and Honours committee. We are confident that David will be promoted to Ministerial rank in the not too distant future.

Within the Party, the Board has appointed David as Leader, following Jamie Whyte's resignation from that position. Understandably, Jamie has to focus on his career and family now that he will not be in Parliament. However, he intends to remain involved with ACT and I am sure he will continue to make a valuable contribution to the future of the Party.

We will also be working hard to continue rebuilding the ACT brand and the Party, lead by David Seymour. We have recently held a major candidate forum and will shortly begin member forums on what we can learn from Campaign 2014, and our strategy going forward to 2017 and beyond. We will be continuing our support for members and candidates in your electorates as we work towards a more successful outcome in 2017.

Thanks for your support with Campaign 2014, whether as a candidate, a volunteer, or a donor. As result of your efforts ACT is in good heart and we are not going away. We want to earn your continued support and we encourage you to contribute to candidate and member forums in the coming months, and help us to regroup and rebuild for the future.

John Thompson
ACT Party President