Friday, 20 December 2019

Politics in Full Sentences: 12 Months of Freedom Fighting

Your property is safe

On Wednesday, Parliament voted to shut itself down until 11 February next year. New Zealanders are temporarily safe from MPs’ ‘solutions’ to our problems. Politics in Full Sentences is also taking a break, but not before we look back on 12 months of freedom fighting. Writing this, we found ourselves asking ‘did all that happen in one year?’

January – Ideas for a prosperous New Zealand

ACT has always been comfortable supplying enough ideas for itself and other parties. The National Party, for example, started the year by adopting three ACT policies in one month: charter schools, RMA reform (again) and indexing tax brackets to inflation. They also seem to like “no jab, no pay”, student education accounts, cashless welfare for beneficiaries and congestion charging. It shows how much of ACT’s agenda can be achieved in government.

February – A nation of pioneers

Every New Zealander, or their ancestors, came here for better opportunities. We are all pioneers, or children of them. That’s why we went all in to protect the Shchetkova family from Immigration New Zealand attempting to deport them. These Ukrainian businesspeople turned a failing Auckland restaurant into a thriving business. They raised money for charity and their kids joined the school rowing team. What else must immigrants do? Our petition attracted over 15,000 signatures and our rally over 500. Result? The Immigration Minister let them stay.

March – Exposing bad behaviour

ACT shone a light on the increasing politicisation of Shane Jones’ opaque $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund. We broke the story that Jones had encouraged the Finance Minister to agree to give $4.6 million to Manea, an organisation Jones once chaired. Incredibly, the Prime Minister let Jones keep his job. We remain the only party consistently opposed to corporate welfare. Taxing profitable businesses and granting their money to unprofitable ones to get a photo op is nuts, but every other party supports it.

April – Lone voice of opposition, CGT victory

ACT opposed the Government’s rushed gun law changes alone. David Seymour’s principled stand has been vindicated as the gun ‘buy-back’ has unravelled. Less than a third of firearms have been handed in and, with tens of thousands of firearms going underground, we are less safe. The Government’s rush caused a serious privacy breach with the personal details of 37,000 firearms owners being exposed on the Police website.

There was also a major victory for the campaign against Labour’s envy tax, as the Government dropped its proposed capital gains tax. ACT argued that double taxing saving and investment wasn’t befitting of an aspirational country. Thanks to all those who signed up to our campaign.

May – Zero Carbon Bill, Budget 2019

ACT stood alone again opposing flawed Government legislation, this time the Zero Carbon Act. The law gives the Climate Change Minister Muldoon-like power over the economy and prevents domestic emitters from accessing cheaper carbon credits overseas. It has been called the most expensive legislation in New Zealand history.

David Seymour led the charge against the Government’s 2019 Budget. The Nats were busy parading some documents the Treasury put on its website too early, but ACT already knew the Treasury was incompetent. We argued instead that the Government’s ‘Wellbeing’ approach was a distraction from improving the quality of its own services. What would help is lower taxes, less regulation, and choice in education.

June – A turning point

ACT relaunched with new livery, a new strapline, a new podcast and four new policies: a flat tax of 17.5 per cent; a red tape constitution requiring politicians to make laws properly; Student Education Accounts which would give parents control over their child’s share of the education budget; and, a bill that would protect free speech from subjective restrictions. In hindsight, this was the turning point of our year with massive injections of money and membership every month since.

July – Chinese interference on campus

July revealed that Chinese government officials had, on multiple occasions, sought to shut down speech and debate in our universities which was critical of the government in Beijing. For instance, it successfully prevented an event commemorating the anniversary of Tiananmen Square from going ahead at AUT. David Seymour was again the only politician standing up for freedom of expression and wrote to the Chinese Consulate General demanding that they stop interfering on university campuses.

August – A fair go for Kiwis

ACT launched its Fair Firearm Laws campaign and did what the Government should have done: consulted with the firearms community and experts and developed sensible firearms policy. Thank you to the thousands who have signed up to ACT’s Fair Firearms Law campaign. The campaign will continue until the election, so it is not too late to sign up here.

The Government adopted David Seymour’s legislation allowing bars to open beyond normal licencing hours to show Rugby World Cup games. A win for common sense.

September – Second tranche of firearms legislation

The second tranche is nuts. In short, it fails to address the problems that led to Christchurch, namely poor vetting of licence applicants. Instead, it places enormous aggravating, insulting, but ineffective, requirements on licenced firearm owners. David Seymour’s speech to Parliament on the bill is here. With over 44,000 views, it is one of the most watched parliamentary speeches of the year.

October – Vaping freedom, Feminism 2020

People are addicted to nicotine, but it’s the tar in tobacco that kills them. Vaping is the free market at its finest. Businesses profiting and saving lives by selling tar-free nicotine that people enjoy. What do Labour and National want to do? Ban it, of course. ACT launched its campaign for sensible vaping legislation. Ban sales to kids, otherwise let ‘er rip. You can still sign up to our campaign here.

Massey University cancelled Speak Up For Women’s Feminism 2020 event because it might cause ‘mental harm’ to some students. We stepped in and offered sanctuary, leading to the headline “David Seymour to host radical feminist conference at Parliament.” We are actually taking votes off the Greens for our principled stand.

November – End of Life Choice

Parliament passed David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill which would provide choice and compassion for terminally ill New Zealanders. Now it’s up to voters to give the legislation the final tick of approval at next year’s referendum.

There was another victory for ACT’s Keep Our Schools Local campaign as the Government backed down on its plan to take powers away from community-run schools and give them to bureaucratic “Education Hubs”.

Only ACT opposed the Zero Carbon Bill when it returned to the House.

ACT launched new legislation that would cut funding to universities that fail to protect speech, for example by cancelling speakers who might cause ‘mental harm’ to students.

December – Merry Christmas

We ended the year with several pundits, including Mike Hosking and Kiwiblog, naming David Seymour MP of the Year. If you would like to support our efforts to grow the number of ACT MPs in Parliament, you can do so here.

If you read this newsletter, there is a good chance you are one of ACT’s ‘winter soldiers,’ who’ve stuck by us through thick and thin. 2020 is a new dawn for Parliament’s third longest-serving party. We cannot wait. Merry Christmas.