Tuesday, 8 October 2019

8 October 2019


Fundamentally, I am someone who doesn’t think the answer to all of societies’ ills is that “the government should DO something”. It makes me really cross when I come across debate on social media where other contributors assume that because you don’t want the government to intervene in something, that you think that thing is fair, or right, or harmless.

This MDMA thing is case in point.  As David very clearly explains in this interview, we don’t need the government to come in and control drug use at festivals, but saying so is not saying that drug taking is a wise choice. There are already a swathe of laws to deal with drug dealing, manufacture, violent or unruly behaviour, reckless driving etc., and yet some people will still choose to use illegal drugs. More laws are not going to make illegal drugs any safer, just as taking firearms off law-abiding citizens doesn’t make us any safer from those who already own them illegally.

This is about harm reduction, and it doesn’t require the government to act or the taxpayer to fund anyone’s poor choices. Know Your Stuff is a volunteer organisation who have offered to test party drugs at concerts and festivals to give users that second chance of making a decision whether they follow through with taking the substance, or not risk it. As a parent, I know I’d like my sons to be safe. Having stated very clearly “don’t do drugs, kids” is no consolation if your child or friend ends up in hospital or worse after one of these experiences, no matter how foolish.


Another place where the subject of government interventionism vs. voluntary compliance arose just yesterday in a Facebook forum I belong to for boating, hunting, fishing and diving enthusiasts. A contributor started a poll asking for views on whether all boats should be registered and skippers licenced, which is currently not necessary unless you are taking paying passengers.

This week I hope to get my boat back in the water after a few months sitting on the trailer gathering leaves and green moss. There’s nothing like the wind in my hair, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the hull skipping across water, and the constant hum of the outboard motor.  It’s one of the last things I get to do without government spoiling my fun by trying to regulate and licence me.  And yet there is talk of introducing such a system to “save lives”. There are also many non-interventionist means to educate boaties about safe practice and I see no need to use more regulations. I’d far rather donate to Coastguard to carry out the great work of marine safety education than give my money to the government to inefficiently manage a system of licencing and regulating. If such a system was introduced it would surely hurt those who cannot afford the licences and penalties but who need to be able to catch a few fish in a small boat to feed the family.


Don’t forget to post your voting papers for the local body elections! In Auckland, as I imagine in most parts of the country, you need to have posted your ballot papers by today, Tuesday 8 October. Failing that take them into your nearest public library before midday on Saturday 12 October.

Occasionally my two worlds of working in local government, and ACT party policy, collide head on. In this article the seemingly eternal problem that councils face of having insufficient funds to pay for infrastructure is raised again. There is only so much that can be saved by operating more efficiently and I don’t think anyone would suggest that that is the silver bullet. Rates alone will never be able to pay for the infrastructure investment this country needs especially in our fastest growing areas. Apart from ACT’s policy of returning a share of GST on construction to councils, and allowing developers to partner with council and/or the crown to pay off infrastructure through a levy over property for 20 or 30 years, what about infrastructure bonds? With interest rates so low at present, savers are looking for other places to put their money and the idea of infrastructure bonds would provide a very tangible investment and at the same relieve councils from having to borrow above or close to debt ceiling limits.


So no Auckland-based national list MP was capable of representing Botany?  Does an electorate MP from New Plymouth travel vast distances at the taxpayers’ expense in order to represent two electorates?  Does she have two offices in Taranaki, or has one (and its funding) mysteriously migrated to Auckland? Let the photo provide the answer... 

Have an enjoyable and productive week.

Beth Houlbrooke

Deputy Leader / Vice President