Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Free Press, 6 March 2019

Successful Campaign I

People keep signing up and donating to ACT’s envy tax campaign. We are pleased for the support even if not for the circumstances. If you haven’t added your name to receive updates on this topic, please do. The latest? Yesterday, when questioned by ACT, Jacinda Ardern confirmed a revenue-neutral capital gains tax is a more complicated way of raising the same revenue. How does this make the Good Ship Aotearoa go faster?

Successful Campaign II

The Tomorrow’s Schools reforms are arguably even bigger than the capital gains tax. Overnight, new regional education bureaucracies or ‘hubs’ would become the most powerful organisations in New Zealand. It would be the largest centralisation of power since the Muldoon era. ACT is running a campaign on this too. If you are in Auckland tomorrow, we will be hosting the first public meeting with the proposers and their critics in an open forum. It is at 7pm, Thursday 7 March, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell.

Banana Republic Stuff

The Green Party has seriously proposed changing the election rules to suit their own electoral chances by simple majority in Parliament. We wish we were making this up. The proposal would also remove the ‘coat-tail’ rule where parties such as ACT that win a seat can get extra list seats even if they don’t make the five per cent threshold.

The Justice of the Coattail Rule

Parties can be admitted to Parliament by either winning an electorate or gaining five per cent of the total vote. Both thresholds are designed to make sure parties elected to Parliament are not too kooky. Parties that get five per cent needn’t win a seat, and parties that win a seat needn’t win five per cent. Removing the coattail rule would mean people who vote for a party that wins a seat have their representation denied even though it has passed one of the non-kooky tests.

166 Years

Our Parliament first sat in 1853. We are one of only seven countries that maintained parliamentary democracy throughout the twentieth century. In one sense, we are the longest-running true democracy - the first to let all adults vote. Changes to electoral law have been infrequent and made only with broad consensus. The change from FPP to MMP was confirmed at a referendum. We accept results we don’t like because it’s better to live in a stable democracy than win every election, and we get another chance in three years anyway.

An Illegitimate Government

Labour 40, Greens 4, NZF 4. Under current rules, the Greens and New Zealand First would be gone unless they won a seat, so the Left would have only 40 per cent. However, 48 per cent is usually enough to carry an election because some votes are wasted. Under the proposed rules, they would be able to form a government. For the first time, New Zealand would have a government elected under rules it made for its own benefit.

What Happens Next?

What support would there be for the rule of law when nearly half of the population felt the government had cheated? At best it would erode the underlying cultural mores that make New Zealand successful. At worst it would lead to a political culture where fair means and foul are equally tolerated, with the ultimate risk being political violence.

Not Enough Time

The relief is it can’t actually happen. Even if all three governing parties were reckless enough to vote for the bill at first, second, and third reading it won’t pass in time for the 2020 election. Even if Golriz Ghahraman got extremely lucky and her bill was drawn at the first opportunity, it would not get through all three readings by the time the Electoral Commission to draw up an election under the new rules.

Would Probably Backfire

If the Greens are struggling to clear the five per cent threshold now, would it be easier to make the new four per cent threshold if they were seen as the anti-democracy party? It’s likely that even Green voters would punish the party.

Take Outs

This episode tells us a lot about the Greens. 1) It is nothing to do with the environment. 2) It is profoundly anti-democratic. 3) The plan is poorly executed and impractical. 4) They don’t believe they can make the five per cent threshold.

Happier News

Freedom works. Sometimes it’s worth remembering that, when all the evidence is in, free markets make us happier, healthier and wealthier. You are eight times better off being poor in a free market country than in an unfree country. Here’s David Seymour’s latest Magic Talk blog post.

Mergers and Acquisitions

One way to think of ACT’s mission is in terms of M&A activity. Here’s the company we’re trying to take over. It has $100 billion in revenue, employees a quarter million people, and owns a quarter trillion in assets. ACT is attempting a hostile takeover of this out-of-control and underperforming enterprise called the Government of New Zealand, as we feel the Board are underqualified. Anyone undertaking such an M&A would need a budget of millions straight off the bat. ACT, of course, receives no taxpayer funding and relies entirely on donations from people like you.