The State of the Parties

This week the Free Press looks at the state of the parties. By the end of the year, we’ll have a new Parliament that will choose our policy direction for three years, so the starting point for the parties really matters.

A Sell Out

We have been turning people away from our Waitangi Day State of the Nation Address. If we knew the media were going to go berserk publicising the event’s name (Make Aotearoa Great Again), we would’ve found a bigger venue. Regardless, it will be the first serious policy speech of election year.

A Leadership Test

We at Free Press are not virus experts. But we do know a couple of things about managing difficult situations. One, ask what information you need and, if you don’t have it, when it will become available. Two, take a conservative approach until information becomes available. It’s easier to open the gate when things become clearer than to close it when the horse has bolted. Closing the borders to travellers ex-China two weeks into a situation is the worst of all worlds.

The Black Swan?

Since the GFC, governments around the world have tensioned up the economic shock absorbers. Monetary policy and fiscal policy are both bottomed out, but things have gone along merrily beside this house of cards. Free Press doesn’t think the coronavirus will precipitate a major economic event. Signs are that its transmissibility and lethality are at the low end of the scale. But it now has its own momentum and that makes it economically dangerous.


Two years ago, there were going to be all sorts of new coalition partners on the right. What happened? Politicians have to make politics look easy. Smiling while they’re going to hell and back is part of the job description. Because of this, every election produces a crop of wannabes who think it really is easy. They don’t do the work and get nowhere, as various start-up parties are currently finding. Free Press predicts only ACT, the Greens, Labour and National will make it back.

From Kirihimetes Past…

Pundits think the Māori Party will be back. If there was any justice in the world, they should be. Labour’s Māori caucus of 13 is a record. What have they been doing? We hear fewer parliamentary speeches in Māori than in the last Parliament. Charter schools are gone. Kōhanga Reo languishes. Whanau Ora is a mess. Oranga Tamariki is being lambasted by senior Māori figures. Labour’s Māori MPs are in great danger but there is little time until the election and organisation has never been the Māori Party’s strong suit.

Green Dilemma

Contraception is the best technology for fighting climate change. We read that not having a kid reduces carbon emissions as much as 720 kids going vegetarian once they’re born. Here is the Green Party’s eternal problem in a nutshell. The Marama Davidson social justice faction wants to pay you to have kids, the James Shaw environmentalists should want you to have none.

Green Saviour

It’s difficult for any minor party to survive a stint in government. Signing up to billions of dollars of roadbuilding should make Green voters wonder why they bother. Thankfully for the party, their supporters are not logical. Free Press predicts they will just hold on to clear five per cent and remain in Parliament.

NZ First Won’t Last

NZ First will collapse under the weight of its contradictions. They promise a down to earth New Zealand and send a pompous buffoon. He funds questionable projects wherever the locals doff their caps. Who really believes in New Zealand as a supplicant society? The anti-establishment rascal turns gamekeeper, and people forget why they put him there.

NZ First Shouldn’t Last

Here’s a guy who can’t fill out his superannuation form correctly. Whose party inexplicably has funds funnelled into a trust that is being analysed by the Electoral Commission. Whose flagship policy is handing out taxpayer money with no obvious public policy purpose. The more you think about it, this party should not be in any Parliament, let alone New Zealand’s.

The Nats

The Nats still have the highest polling and the best funded political organisation. Simon Bridges’ ruling out of Winston Peters has shown courage and principle, not qualities routinely displayed by Nat leaders. We are impressed. One term governments are rare. There have only been two in over 100 years. However, we believe a unique constellation of events could make for the third one term government.


In ACT, the Nats have a partner to form a government. There is no law saying you need a certain number of parties, just 61 seats between you. What they lack is ideas. The good news is they are open to ACT’s ideas (they are still claiming charter schools), and ACT has a lot. An ACT-National government has the potential to be the most reforming government in 20 years.


ACT is a constructive player, working with all four other parties to deliver the End of Life Choice Act. ACT is a principled player, standing alone against all four other parties on points of principle. We have a story to tell about working hard for a better New Zealand that no other party can match. The good news is that we are only just starting to tell the story. ACT can do very well this year.

The Good News

It is no secret Free Press favours ACT, and we start 2020 with reasons to be cheerful. The polling is up. We understand ACT was at 3.5 per cent – enough for four MPs – in Labour’s final UMR poll of 2019. Every poll we are aware of for the last three months has had ACT returning at least two MPs. This is only the beginning.

People are Noticing

Talkback is abuzz with people saying they intend to vote ACT. Our online donations have averaged $1,000 per day for the past 100 days. We have great candidates lining up. Our events are selling out two weeks ahead of time. As we enter 2020, we can say things have never been better for ACT.

How You Can Help

We are asking for candidates to join our School of Practical Politics. If you do not want to stand, we are still looking for volunteers. Not everyone can be active, but we’d still welcome you as a member. Of course, elections cost money, and donating to a low tax party could be the best investment you ever make.