Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Free Press, 27 May 2020


Serious Talent

ACT has released its first wave of candidates. With more to come, 49 of 65 electorates are covered. They're all campaigning for the Party Vote except David Seymour in Epsom who is asking for the Electorate Vote. Among the group are eleven SME owners, eight licenced firearms owners, three farmers (and several former), two lawyers, four engineers and End of Life Choice Act campaigners, among many other attributes.

Check Them Out

The full list of candidates is on ACT’s website here. If there is not a candidate in your area, there may be one soon. However, it’s critical to emphasise that, outside the Epsom Electorate, the Party Vote is the way to get more ACT MPs. Recent polling suggests at least three will make it to Parliament, but the campaign has not started yet. We can do even better.

A Left Footer And A Left Winger

Simon Bridges may have been many things, but he was certainly to the right-ish side of the Nats. We don’t know how Muller will go, but we wish him all the best. What we do know is that his leadership means the Nats are moving left. He is even flirting with the Greens and New Zealand First. Before Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central was Labour for nearly a century except for three years voting Alliance (when the Labour candidate was thought too right-wing). Nikki winning the seat of Labour and keeping it off Jacinda Ardern tells us of her tenacity, but also that she is no Attila the Hun.

Complementary

If anything, the Nats’ tack left makes ACT and National complementary. We are already hearing from Nat supporters saying they need ACT to put the right in centre-right. Even National’s MPs are rumbling. We note Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor rebelling against Muller already saying: ‘there are already two left wing parties and we don’t need a third.’ We knew O’Connor couldn’t count, but not that he was right-wing. Regardless, there is now a complementary pair of parties.

Stop Petrol Tax And RUC Increases

Road user charges are scheduled to increase by over 5 per cent on 1 July. It will affect truckies, tradies, couriers – hell, anyone who has a diesel vehicle and anyone who buys from them. In other words, it will affect every household. The Government is preparing for a $140 billion borrowing spree to ‘get people working’ and then putting more costs on people who work. We are not making this up.

User Pays, Right?

Yes. Normally Free Press favours letting the price system do its thing. Road use (and water use, Auckland) should be priced to reflect the cost of the service. That way supply meets demand (Watercare). The problem is the Government is desperate to stimulate the economy, hosing money at anything that might yield a vote. It would be simpler and more honest to delay the RUC and petrol excise tax increases than taking more money and giving it out to voters in election year.

Start The Royal Commission

It is time we had a Royal Commission on the Government’s response to COVID-19. Why? Because it may come back and we can’t afford to shut down the economy again. Because crisis thinking is different from honest reflection on how we could have done better. Because we’ve accepted a lot without much scrutiny lately. Being unprepared for the first major epidemic in 100 years may be understandable. Being underprepared if it comes back next year is unacceptable.

Who Would Run It?

The Royal Commission would need international guidance. New Zealand is too small and too many of the players are too invested in the Government’s response to date. Ayesha Verrall, who has been an expert advisor to the Government, is rumoured to be standing for Labour at the election. Certain other prominent ‘experts’ might as well be. The country needs to put politics aside and ask objectively how we could have done better, because we might have to sooner than we think.

What Would It Address?

So many questions. Were we really prepared? What of testing, tracing and isolating? How ‘early’ was New Zealand’s response? Did the rules of the game set by the Government balance COVID-19 elimination with other goals properly? Were the rules legal and enforced legally? How do we compare with the world’s best responses, such as Taiwan?

How You Can Help

Today, we are 115 days from the election and only 101 days out from the first advanced votes being cast. There are over 1,000 days in an electoral cycle. The next 100 are the ones that matter most to your future in New Zealand. If you haven’t already, please sign up to volunteer, donate to our campaign, or join ACT.