Free Press is Back
After a seven-month hiatus, the Free Press is back on a Monday. If you previously received Politics in Full Sentences at the end of the week, we are bringing back ACT’s forward-looking weekly for election year. If you like Free Press, please forward it to your contacts, so they can subscribe at this link.
Media took the bait hook, line and sinker, going nuts at the title of our Waitangi Day State of the Nation Address (Make Aotearoa Great Again). As the week went on, smart commentators pointed out their good-people-and-bad-people, with-us-or-against-us reaction was Trumpian. Meanwhile, if you want to have a pleasant brunch at a fun and informative event to kick off election year, please join us by registering here.
What’s at Stake
This year will decide whether we are governed by spin or substance. The current Prime Minister’s idea of an election year kick-off announcement is that she’s changing the Labour Party’s Facebook settings. The real issues remain untouched. Productivity growth is woeful, education test scores are sliding down the international rankings, and we still can’t build houses at prices the average person can afford.
Will we return to restrained government spending, or give an emboldened Labour government a blank cheque? Before the last election, Treasury forecast the government would spend $86 billion in 2020. After three years of this Government, Treasury now forecasts this year’s spending will be $94 billion. Revenue forecasts have risen fractionally, but in three years the Government has turned a forecast $6 billion dollar surplus into a $1 billion deficit. ACT’s 17.5 per cent flat tax is the antidote, putting new and dopey spending off the table in favour of the private sector.
Free Press predicts Trump will be re-elected. His fiscal policy of running deficits in good times is insane but he’s delivering for his voters. The hangover from this binge will be nasty, but he’s exclusively focused on re-election. Ironically, Jacinda Ardern also needs the global economy to stay rosy until election time later this year, so she’s counting on him. She’s also running the well dry in election year, and the private sector is paying for it.
Will the constant regulatory assault on business in general and the rural sector in particular be turned back? Abrupt charter school closures, oil and gas exploration ban, firearm laws, plastic bag ban, Zero Carbon Act, freshwater regulations, and market studies on whole sectors have chilled the New Zealand economy. When your rights can be struck out by a pen stroke (or an announcement in the case of oil and gas), why plan for and invest in the future? ACT’s Regulatory Constitution would deliver something New Zealanders have never had: rights they can uphold against Parliament.
The National-Labour consensus: wave hands wildly but carefully do nothing effective is the single biggest policy failing of the past 30 years. Free Press spoke to American truckies who earned $70,000 and were mortified by $180,000 houses. “Our market is going crazy”, they cried… Now they’re just grateful they don’t live in New Zealand. Working people must be able to afford their own future in our country. Industry insiders quietly tell ACT that only our policy would work: Replace the RMA. Share GST on new builds with the consenting council. Replace council building consents with private insurance.
Will New Zealand have a firearms register? The Government will find it technically impossible to implement it before the election, so the winner can cancel it before the Police lose everyone’s details. The gun buyback was a disaster. The most honest handed in the least dangerous guns and bought new ones. Meanwhile the firearm community’s faith in the Police is at an all-time low. A perfect environment for the next terrorist. ACT’s policy is no register, a restored E-Category, and to get the woeful Police out of administering firearm laws.
Will free speech remain a cornerstone of our liberal democracy? Free Press suspects that Government will be too chicken to introduce hate speech laws before the election. If we’re wrong, the result is the same, the criminalisation of unpopular speech from 2021. The freedom to think and express ourselves freely is reason enough all by itself to win this election.
New Zealand students continue to slide down the international rankings, even as domestic test scores have risen. The Government’s cancellation of charter schools has not helped. At least the Nats now claim the schools were the best idea they never had. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you don’t care who takes the credit. Now we have a bigger idea. Put every parent in charge of their kids’ share of the education budget and let them take it to a public or private school of their choice. Student Education Accounts could transform New Zealand.
We’ll be back with the State of the Political Parties. If you like Free Press, please forward it on. If you are not a member of ACT, please consider joining. You can also donate whether you are a party member or not here. We can win, but we need your help.