Free Press, 23 October 2018

A Sad Situation
As pornography has distorted a generation’s expectations of sex, a generation of politicians have grown up thinking that political dramas House of Cards, West Wing, In the Thick of It, and Yes, Minister are real. We could say a lot more about National’s various problems but they are in plain sight.

A Not So Minor Concern
We do not know the circumstances of Jami-Lee Ross’ ‘sectioning,’ involuntary admission to mental health care, and we feel for him and his family. However, the lack of a Police explanation is a serious constitutional concern. The people have a right to elect representatives to hold Government to account knowing they will not be interfered with by that same Government. This is parliamentary privilege and goes back to the 1689 Bill of Rights. The Police should show respect for our constitutional arrangements by explaining who initiated the complaint that led to his sectioning.

The Real National Party Scandal
The real scandal is National’s voting with Labour on horrific bills over the last month. Free Press predicted that the Government would pass bad legislation during the week of scandal, but we had no idea that they would be joined by the Nats. The Pay Equity Bill effectively allows the courts to set wages for whole industries. The Commerce Amendment Act allows the Commerce Commission to unleash itself on whole industries with greater powers than the Police but no need for a specific allegation. Before that, the Child Poverty Reduction Bill institutionalised government tax and spend as the way to tackle child poverty.

ACT stood alone against the pay equity bill. Wages are a price in the economy and only socialists believe that prices should be set by bureaucrats. Yet that is what the pay equity bill proposes. If you think your industry is underpaid you can go to your employer and start a negotiation that may end in court. You can claim that your industry should be paid the same as another, based on the gender of the employees. Regardless of what you think of gender issues, setting prices through bureaucracy rather than markets is economic madness.

118-1 Again
ACT stood alone against the Commerce Amendment Bill. Here is David Seymour’s speech to the House. The Commerce Commission now has the power to carry out ‘competition studies’ where it has greater powers to demand information than the Police, but does not require an allegation to investigate. Either the Commission or the Commerce Minister can turn themselves on an entire industry. Creating this kind of arbitrary power is an invitation to corruption, and the Prime Minister has already promised to use it in the retail fuel industry, which she has predetermined is ‘fleecing’ the consumer. National voted for this.

ACT stood alone against the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, which basically says fewer children will be in poverty if the income distribution is narrower. The fastest way for any Government to reduce child poverty is not to promote personal responsibility, invest in education, and remove regulatory distortions from the housing market, it is to tax higher income earners and give money to lower income families. How has this approach worked to reduce poverty for the past 80 years? National voted for this too, after pathetically negotiating that the Bill have one extra measure added, to be decided by a Labour Minister at a later date.

Also in Parliament
The Government legislated to eradicate Partnership Schools. David’s speech is here. The Select Committee continued its truncated process of hearing submissions on the oil and gas exploration bill in four weeks instead of the usual six. ACT made a submission to the Committee which can be viewed here.

In Summary
The past week has been one of the worst in years for making bad policy in Parliament. Almost none of it has been reported due to the Nats’ implosion dominating the headlines. A larger scandal, also overshadowed, is the Nats voting with Labour on the most damaging legislation. ACT meanwhile has fought for free markets, due process, personal responsibility and private property rights in a principled way. There has never been a better time to volunteer for, join, or donate to ACT