Speech: David Seymour's Address to the 2022 ACT Annual Conference - Sunday, 10 July 2022


Thank you very much, Leah.

Thank you everyone who’s come out today. This is the first time in a decade that ACT has held its annual rally outside Auckland. Actually, we’re holding it there, too, and Christchurch, but this is the first of three events, another sign that ACT’s campaign for real change is growing.

It’s happening up and down the country. ACT has just had another year of new highs. Our polling is higher than ever. Our membership is larger than ever. Our crowds are bigger than ever. Our fundraising is so successful that Labour and the Greens are trying to ban it. I’ve got news for them, you cannot ban a trend.

It’s a good time to remember that democracy is voluntary. Almost by definition, it’s a free choice. Nobody’s forced to vote. Nobody’s forced to come to this conference (but thank you). Nobody’s forced to volunteer, to deliver letters or host a party meeting at their home.

Nobody’s forced to serve on our Board, but we have the best. We’re very lucky to have President Tim who works so hard travelling the country and building the organisation. Special mention must go to our outgoing Vice President, Isaac Henderson, who has done God’s work helping create the Party’s new constitution over the past several years. Congratulations to those newly elected to the Board and Council.

Nobody’s forced to donate to ACT, although that is an excellent idea. Some people think it’s somehow wrong that many of New Zealand’s greatest business people got together and donated over a million dollars to ACT in March alone. I’m very proud that such people are backing us.

Nobody’s forced to stand for Parliament. And yet, when we opened our School of Practical Politics, initially for a class of 30, we had to put on three classes. Eighteen months out from the election, we had far more people signing up to stand than there are electorates.

Our Caucus came through that process, and they have been extraordinary. People say anyone desperate to go to Parliament should be disqualified immediately. Well, in a round about kind of way, we hit the jackpot. Our MPs weren’t desperate to be MPs. They are just salt of the earth New Zealanders who signed up to help ACT and support its values.

Of course, you made the MPs anyway. And what’s more important is the way they’ve responded to being elected against even their own expectations. With the help of our able Deputy and Whip, Brooke van Velden, they have formed into an extraordinary team. Together, we have started something.

When I look at many of the more prominent MPs in other parties today, I remember I was in Parliament when they started. Our MPs are far ahead of where those guys were in their second year. Next year, we will present a very able team to the electorate, one that is ready to play crucial roles in Government.

Finally, thank you to everyone who’s come out today. You are visible proof that our movement for real change is growing. The question is why?

The absolute state of things

Why are people giving so much more time and money to politics, and to ACT specifically, at this point?

Part of the reason is the absolute state of things in New Zealand right now. It’s really quite difficult to imagine how our Government could screw up more things worse than they already are.

Every day people see prices go up, but the cost of living crisis is not just about prices, it’s a state of anxiety. Will this blow over, or will it get even worse? How should I make decisions, how much further will mortgage rates rise before I’m due to fix again?

Signs point to even worse. Last November the Treasury Secretary told Parliament that inflation would peak in March. As Brooke pointed out, Adrian Orr and Grant Robertson weren’t alone. Nearly the whole world bought into the fantasy that Governments could print money to solve their problems, and there would be no consequences.

If that sounds nuts, it’s because it is. Over the COVID period, the Reserve Bank printed $55 billion and the Government increased its debt by $76 billion. If that’s not inflationary, nothing is.

Labour closed the border for two years and aren’t making much of an effort to reopen it. They never had the courage to ‘reset’ immigration down to 10,000 net arrivals that they campaigned on, until COVID did it for them. The impact on hospitals, building sites, agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, tourism… show me an industry and they will show you a labour crisis.

Of course when firms can’t produce because they don’t have enough people, there’s a shortage of goods. New Zealand’s economy isn’t just short of workers, though.

We live in a country that has a chronic shortage of plasterboard. You cannot make this up. It is a sandwich of cardboard and plaster. The only thing more low-tech is a piece of wood. And yet, somehow, successive Governments made it so complicated to import and install that only one brand gets through the regulatory labyrinth. Now that the nation’s one plasterboard supplier is at capacity, we have the world’s only black market in plasterboard.

In short, the Prime Minister’s abundance of caution has become an abundance of cost.

Only in New Zealand.

As Nicole described, we are now reaping the consequences of having no consequences for crime. Just this week a man who punched a pregnant woman unconscious was let out on home detention. Why? because a cultural assessment found he hadn’t been properly introduced to his whakapapa. He didn’t know his mother, and that must have been hard. The judge told him to hold his fist up and see how big it was. He promised he would.

No, you haven’t gone insane. This is happening, and it is wrong.

Thing is, the woman he punched was pregnant with his own seventeenth child. I wonder how many of them will be connected with their whakapapa by knowing their father, and whether that would be a good thing?

Only in New Zealand. We have a Government that thinks reducing the prison population is more important than keeping people safe. They’re removing three strikes, to give the worst of the worst a clean slate.

Labour just spent $200m on developing a firearm register. What is the purpose of this? Well, when gangsters shoot people, we’ll know which law abiding person they robbed to get the weapon.

That’s the same gangs Labour gave money to, the same gangs they hope will be nice back if we’re just a little bit nicer to them.

The good news is, we’re a modern, multi-ethnic liberal democracy. We have good institutions that can grasp problems and generate solutions that most, if not all, of us will eventually accept.

Well, we were a liberal democracy. As the Minister of Broadcasting, Willie Jackson, recently wrote about the new RNZ-TVNZ merged entity “The face of New Zealand and democracy has changed dramatically in the past few years and we need to reflect New Zealand's new identity and democracy in our main media entities.” One sentence later he reassures us “The entity will be editorially independent.”

The thing about Willie Jackson is he’s easy to laugh at, and it feels like a grow-up will take the keys away before he does any real damage.

Here’s something more difficult to accept, from his old radio co-host John Tamihere, saying on Māori TV this week “We are sick and tired of the white settler party, the ACT party, and, if they don’t like it here, they should buy a one-way ticket to Australia.”

Well, I just want to tell John Tamihere something. We all breathe the same air. We all drink the same water. We who are born here or who legally immigrated are all New Zealanders. You have no right to say otherwise, and how dare you?

But, let’s break this down. You’ve got someone who is a public figure, a senior figure in a political party, someone who has been a Minster of the Crown, and here’s what he’s saying. He’s singling out a group of people by their race, saying they have less rights than others, they don’t belong, and they should leave the country.

Has anyone heard the howls of outrage from the media? Has anyone heard Meng Foon, the Race Relations Commissioner, or anyone from the Human Rights Commission, come out and denounce this hate speech? Where is the manufactured outrage from the Green Party?

Of course they’re all silent. They’d be happy to pile on to anyone who, for example, said that science belongs to all humanity, and there is no special Māori version of science. How good was Elizabeth Rata.

But do you think they’d lift a finger when someone is actually trying to say a group of people don’t belong, based on race? Are they not worried that a younger generation might be listening to this man who’s a leader in his community? That some of them might take him seriously? Act on his words?

Maybe the usual suspects of do-goodery don’t care. Perhaps it’s our fault for having the wrong opinions and we deserve persecution? Usually that would be called victim blaming. As an aside, it’s a very good example of why hate speech laws will always be selective. Who would trust the authorities to prosecute fairly a crime that is politically charged?

And this happened on Māori TV, a Government broadcaster. If that’s the standard now, imagine Willie Jackson’s new entity will behave in the ‘new democracy.’

Leaving aside the fact that the comment is inaccurate, ACT’s supporters are Māori, Indian, Chinese, our immediate past president is Sri Lankan, and so it goes on, we’re seeing the result of nearly four decades of the Treaty as a Partnership.

When the Government tells people to regard each other as members of a group first, and thinking and valuing individuals second, don’t be surprised if people start to believe them.

In nearly every area of policy, we have moved away from universal humanity. Every person should be born alike in dignity, the belief of the liberal left for generations. Now it’s been replaced with a sinister form of politics that New Zealand has literally fought before. In this world, the group you’re part of is more important than your inherent dignity as a thinking and valuing being.

Labour are trying to make discrimination great again, and we know how that ends. That’s why this Government’s obsession with the co-Governance of everything is not just one of Labour’s bad ideas, it’s positively dangerous.

As a country, we are in an absolute state. No wonder the Prime Minister has become a tourist. She gets a far better reception overseas, from people who don’t have to live under her policies.

It’s also not surprising that people who do have to watch the country they were building be swamped by crises in the cost of living, crime and co-Governance are turning up in big numbers to change the Government.

The bigger problem

Some say that if we just change the faces in the Beehive, all will be better.

It’s partly true. Some basic competence would probably get rid of headlines such as “Wood ‘open’ to immigration changes if new system fails.” That’s an actual headline from this week, and there’s two problems with it.

One is that Newshub thought it worth reporting that a Minister in this Government is, hypothetically, opening to admitting he got something wrong in the future. Two is that it’s failing already because the system in question gives nurses a worse deal than Australia does, and a worse deal than we do for video game designers.

Day-to-day, this Government is spectacularly incompetent. They can screw up anything.

There’s KiwiBuild that didn’t build. There’s the nuclear free moment powered by Indonesian coal. There’s the Wellbeing approach that went out the window in COVID panic. There’s the whole saga of PPE, testing, tracing, vaccine ordering, vaccine distributing, and rule making that make up our woeful COVID response.

But we know it’s not enough just to get some half competent managers, because we’ve tried this before. It doesn’t help to be a great manager if you’re managing a great decline, and that’s where we are.

We are in a very real danger of losing first world status.

Just ask anyone needing modern medicines. Over the past decade first world countries have registered three times as many new medicines as New Zealand. Doctors return from overseas fellowships embarrassed by the options their foreign counterparts have for treating patients that we don’t.

In two generations, in my Dad’s lifetime, we’ve gone from the third wealthiest country on earth in 1952 to 31st today. In the past few years, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania have overtaken us for wealth produced per hour worked, in other words, productivity.

In 2017, the median Australian wage was $17,400 greater than here. Now the gap is $24,000. The wage gap across the ditch has grown by $6,600 in the past five years.

Little wonder we have one of the biggest diasporas in the developed world. Twenty-three per cent of those born in New Zealand live overseas.

The problem is not just that people don’t want to live here, it’s that the New Zealand taxpayer is training people for export. That’s very expensive, and it contributes to a spiral.

One of the key drivers is education. In the tragically named sign-of-the-times report ‘Now I don’t know my ABC,’ researchers at the Education Hub recently reported that ‘35.4% – over a third of 15-year-olds – struggle to read and write.’ What on earth did the education system do with them for 12 years, or what state were they in when they arrived at the gate?

All the while we just can’t build enough homes. In perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, a country that’s practically uninhabited doesn’t have enough spaces for people to live. We have managed land use planning, infrastructure funding, and building processes so crazy that we’ve managed some of the most expensive housing and the lowest population density in the same country. Only in New Zealand.

The thing about all of these deep, long term problems, is that they are not the fault of the current Government. I have no doubt Jacinda Ardern’s special mix of obliviousness, incompetence, and condescension is accelerating the trends, but the trend of decline has been with us for at least 70-years.

This is why I don’t vote National. They’ve been in power for 47 of the last 72 years. If the National Party were the solution to any problem, we wouldn’t have that problem now.

Island destination?

ACT has always been the thinking person’s party. We publish books and policy papers. We’d never try to make ourselves a ‘small target,’ just to get into office. And we are not just a voice for independence, fresh thinking and common sense. We are the only voice for those things in our politics today.

We believe there’s no point in getting into office unless you’re going to leave public policy in New Zealand better than you found it. There’s no point in getting into office for the sake of it. Anyone who thinks being a New Zealand politician is an achievement -is an idiot.

Nonetheless, ACT is the only Party with a track record of giving up the baubles on principle. We just think that policies for people matter more than positions for politicians.

One of our party’s favourite phrases is ‘I’ve been thinking.’ Well, I’ve been thinking about the true nature of our country, and the trends beneath the surface that drive its policy and politics.

A poll I saw in February captured one of the central tensions in our country. The question was "would you support a lockdown if there is an Omicron outbreak?” The answer was that 48 per cent of New Zealanders would support another bout of near pointless house arrest.

Think about that for a moment. By February we were one of the most vaccinated populations on the planet. Auckland, at least, had been one of the most locked down. We’d been shut off from the world for two years. Students going into their third year of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary education had never known an uninterrupted year at their school or university. There were widespread reports of dire mental health problems.

We knew that Omicron was milder than all previous variants.

And yet a majority of your fellow New Zealanders wanted the government to lock them up again. Who are these people?

I have a theory that our destiny is to be a nice island nation. Most places that are picturesque and isolated are nice places to visit, less so to stay. Think Greece, Cuba, Fiji. There’s something about an ocean border and a nice climate that just makes it easier to kick back.

But there’s a tension at the heart of our nation and it’s this. Not everyone wants New Zealand to replace Fiji as the largest group of Pacific Islands. Some of us want it all, a Singapore in the South Pacific. Nice beaches, and first world cancer treatment. We want a country where the next generation can join world beating firms with high paying jobs connected to global opportunity, here in New Zealand.

That poll nicely captured the two tribes. If you want New Zealand to be an Island paradise, being locked down makes little difference. You weren’t going out anyway.

On the other hand, if you want to build homes, families, and businesses, and make tomorrow better than today, then the Government putting you under house arrest again could be what tips you over the edge, destroying 20-years of work as it did for many small business owners.

We have a cycle in our country where every 50-years or so, we need to decide which vision we really want. Poor island paradise, or Switzerland South?

We faced the dilemma in 1840, and the solution was a Treaty that protected our property rights and gave the ‘same rights and duties’ to all.

We faced it again in the 1890s, where the revolution came in three forms. The political revolution was the formation of Seddon’s Liberals. The Economic revolution was the beginnings of the welfare state. The social revolution was votes for all.

We faced it in the 1930s, where the depression led to the full welfare state, and a decade of political turmoil led to the formation of the two party system.

The last big upheaval is the most familiar. There are people in this room who were there. In 1980, 2.5 per cent of New Zealanders left the country. That’s one-in-forty. Think about that, if you were in a class of forty at school, then by the time you reached middle age, you’d be the last person left.

Of course if something cannot continue, it wont. That’s why we face another revolution, and it’s been almost fifty years since the last.

The economic revolution concerns our abysmal productivity. The Government has to stop doing stupid things that make us poor. The fact New Zealand now has a Grocery Commissioner should be satire, but 1News ran a lead story on what a great advance it is!

The social revolution concerns our Kiwi identity. Are we a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy, or a stranger new experiment in ethno-nationalism, that’s not really new at all?

The political revolution is different again. Oliver Hartwich of the New Zealand Initiative says New Zealand speaks MMP with a First Past the Post accent. The truth is that we’ve never really accepted the full implications of our electoral system, that all parties have to share power. And that, is our opportunity.

A different kind of government

That takes us to a different kind of Government. ACT has never been closer to achieving its goals. That doesn’t mean we’re there, just that we’re closer than we’ve been before. Not only do we have a strong chance of the Government changing, we have every chance of being an indispensable part of the new one.

Every previous MMP Government has had at least three partners. The exception is the current one party Government. I predict that, with everything we are being put through right now, the New Zealand people won’t trust one party with Government for a generation, at least.

We are campaigning to be the first true two party Government. That means we have to be bigger than the Greens. We need to make it mathematically impossible for National to have a safety-valve agreement with them.

That two party Government would be different in another way. For the first time we would have a reforming Government on the right.

For a hundred years, all policy reform has been done by Labour. National’s idea of reform is changing the flag! We have had Governments on the left that have reformed, and Governments on the right that have consolidated those reforms.

With the exception of Sir Roger’s crew, we’ve never had a reforming Government that wanted to shrink the size of Government, make it easier to do business, and defend people’s personal rights and freedoms. We’re now closer than ever to having such a Government.

The corollary of ACT being closer than ever to achieving its goals, is that a Party Vote for ACT has never been more powerful.

100 days of real change

There’s now two ways to lose an election. The first is the tried and true way, getting less votes than the other lot. Many elections are lost that way, but there is a worse way, and it feels like it’s becoming more common.

Getting the most votes but having not a clue what to do. That’s true of the first term of the Ardern Government, where the main output was working groups. It’s true of the Key-English Government, where the main policy innovations came from ACT.

Today is likely only 15-months from the election. We must not only campaign like we have to win, but prepare like we’re going to win.

That means having a plan, because hard-working Kiwi taxpayers deserve better than platitudes and "small target" promises, I want to spell out exactly what a vote for ACT means, for you and your family. Today I lay out what ACT would be fighting to achieve in the first 100 days of any coalition Government.

The first thing we need to draw a line under is the Government’s COVID response. Jacinda’s abundance of costs are still not properly understood. We know it’s driving inflation and many kids aren’t alright. Neither are many small business owners, but we need a full picture.

That’s why we need glasnost. That’s why ACT will kick-off full investigation into Labour’s COVID response in first 100 days of new Government.

Kiwis deserve better than another $80 billion debt from an experimental response the next time a pandemic arises. ACT would commission an independent investigation with local and foreign investigators into the Government’s COVID response and its effects on mental health, learning, crime, social cohesion and the economy.

Yes, we have called for a Royal Commission into the Government’s COVID response, but all we learned is that Jacinda Ardern is pathologically unable to admit fault.

Just ask Charlotte Bellis. You need to take the Government to court to get an apology for malice and incompetence, and even then it’s no certainty.

The current Labour Government doesn’t want to be held accountable for their actions, or even know whether it could have done things better. It has treated Kiwis with disdain, and they deserve better from the next government.

Under Labour, the only illumination we get is from gaslighting. They pretend against all rational evidence that actions aren’t the reason our health system is crumbling, our businesses are closing, and our COVID cases are still rising.

ACT’s investigation will find the facts and fix the faults. Producing a plan that will protect New Zealanders across all aspects of a pandemic.

This investigation will not be an in house affair carried out by a small coterie of anointed experts. New Zealand is too small for an objective investigation. ACT’s investigation would lean on experts from a range of countries that did things well, and not so well, to give an honest review. We would ask Taiwanese, Swedish, and Australian experts, for example, to be part of the investigation.

Its terms of reference will include, but not be limited to:

- The effects of the Government’s response on mental health, children’s learning, and crime
- The effects of the Government’s response on social cohesion and trust in institutions
- The fiscal and economic costs of the Government’s response, including the use of unconventional monetary policy
- The cost of Quality Adjusted Life Years saved from COVID in comparison with other challenges
- Compliance with the Bill of Rights, and whether restrictions were always justifiable in a free and democratic society
- Absorption of technologies such as for testing and tracing, into the response
- Relationships with private sector partners including technology suppliers, GPs, and community vaccination centres
- The quality of advice and the Government’s attention to advice from a range of departments other than Health, such as the Ministry of Education and Treasury
- The timing of vaccine ordering and distribution

The investigation would be expected to complete within one year, and become an asset that could save New Zealand tens of billions of dollars in the future. It would also go some way to restoring New Zealand’s international reputation from being a backwards hermit kingdom.

The investigation is not simply about learning what Labour did wrong. It is about working out what we need to do right. There will be another pandemic. Probably not this year, hopefully not in the next decade, but almost certainly in our lifetime. In the future, it could save New Zealand billions of dollars in costly mistakes. We literally cannot afford to repeat Labour’s handling of this Pandemic. While other parties are focused on the next election, ACT is focused on the next generation.

But, the truth is we need to move on from COVID. We need to draw a line under it and deal with Labour’s other damages.

The question people often ask us is, can you actually reverse these laws? Can we break the cycle? The simple answer is you can do anything if you have 61 votes in Parliament, but that will require two parties with political courage.

ACT often talks about the kind of ideas we need to make New Zealand hum. We can choose to be a low-tax, high-growth liberal democracy, but we’re headed somewhere different: A high-tax, low-growth ethno-state. We could be a kind of Nuclear-Free North Korea. That won’t help productivity or the diaspora.

Let’s imagine the first 100 days of a new Government that believes Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First’s policies are wrong, and wants to reverse them.

First we need to draw a line under rushed, poor quality law making. We need to commit to sober, careful regulating with New Zealanders’ long-term prosperity put ahead of short term political expedients.

That means making a bold brave decision that looks beyond the next election, to the next generation -turning the Select Committees over to the opposition. This is the idea in my Member’s Bill, that Select Committee membership is proportional to the Non-executive membership of Parliament, favouring the opposition.

Some people will question why you’d win power only to give it back. Actually that sums up ACT’s whole purpose. We are the only party not in business to make ourselves more powerful. We are here to promote a freer, fairer New Zealand society.

Turning the Select Committees over would change the culture of our Parliament. Instead of Ministers using Parliament as a rubber stamp, it would turn Parliament into a gauntlet destroying bad laws.

With that basic infrastructure in place, we should pass the first readings of a series of bills, and send them to Select Committee in the first 100 days.

Three Waters. Putting council assets into new entities doesn’t solve any problem. You still have the same pipes, the same ratepayers, and the same problems (likely more). It should simply be repealed, returning ownership to councils. We would fight to pass a Water Services Entities Repeal Bill in the first 100 days.

The Māori Health Authority. We need more effective and efficient services, but creating two parallel healthcare systems means the exact opposite. The Māori Health Authority should simply be removed with legislation introduced and passed first reading in the first 100 days.

Reserve Bank Act changes. Giving the Reserve Bank two targets (price stability and employment) with one tool (the Official Cash Rate), was illogical madness. Blurring the line between Government and the Bank by putting Treasury officials on the board was borderline treasonous. These changes have let inflation back, and should be reversed with legislation introduced in the first 100 days.

The Public Interest Journalism Fund, at $55 million over two years, is not large enough to help or hinder the media as much as many suspect. However, it is pernicious enough to destroy faith and trust in our institutions. No wonder the Government now has a ‘misinformation project,’ which should also go.

The Grocery Commissioner, say no more, along with legislation to repeal the pointless Market Studies done by the Commerce Commission. How did the Market Study into the grocery sector honestly conclude that more bureaucracy was the answer? This needs to go with repeal legislation passed first reading in the first 100 days.

The Zero Carbon Act, legislated insanity. It’s a gift to bureaucrats and busybodies while letting emissions targets, literally, burn, without reducing emissions by one gram. ACT alone has opposed it consistently. It should go. Along with it goes the associated lunacy of the ute tax and the Tesla subsidies.

Mortgage interest deductibility, the bright-line test, and Residential Tenancies Act changes. These need to go, it is time to end the war on landlords. Who knows, if we stop punishing landlords we might even get a more competitive market for tenants to rent off?

In some cases we need to reverse the reversals. 90-day trials, three strikes, and charter schools were all ACT policies that Labour, New Zealand First, and the Greens reversed. They should all be reinstated with bills passed in the first 100 days.

The ban on oil and gas exploration may be the silliest policy we have. By banning people from looking for the cleanest ‘transition fuel,’ Jacinda Ardern ensured that her generations ‘nuclear free moment’ was powered by Indonesian coal. The challenge will be getting the international business community to trust New Zealand again.

Fair Pay Agreements and hate speech laws (if introduced before the election). Enough said. If introduced, they’ll be gone before the feet touch the ground.

In the rural space, well me say something about farmers, some of the greatest New Zealanders, treated with that unique mixture of ignorance and self-righteousness by a government wilfully blind to the struggles they face.besides the Zero Carbon Act, there are the freshwater laws, live animal export bans, and the anti-property right Crown Pastoral Lease reforms. All need nullifying with legislation off to Select Committee in the first 100 days.

Oranga Tamariki is one of the worst performing agencies. That’s a shame because it’s one of the most vital. For example, Police say there is nowhere to take ram raiders. Section 7AA, which says it’s more important a child is placed with its iwi than anything else, should go.

That is a start. We have not mentioned the Plant Variety Rights Bill that establishes a Māori Plant Varieties Committee. We assume the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act will lapse before the election. Small business cannot take an additional holiday on its cost structure. Not everything that must go is on this list, but everything on this list must go.

Then there’s the big stuff.

The top tax rate of 39c is simply tall poppy syndrome in the tax code. Like last time it was introduced, by Michael Cullen in 2000, it has led to a spate of new trusts and avoidance vehicles. Tit-for-tat, Labour now want more invasive measures to stop avoidance (recently abandoned, for now). The rate should go, with a mini-budget implementing ACT’s alternative budget in the first 100 days.

That means the South Pacific’s lowest, flattest, fairest tax system with only two rates, 17.5 and 28. It means applying the highly successful Mixed Ownership Model to SOEs including TVNZ. Having to answer to shareholders other than the Government might be good for them.

It means opening up to foreign investment from friendly, democratic, OECD member countries who share our values.

It means zero-basing the public service. As a rule of thumb, if nobody would notice them gone, they’re gone. We need to get the size of the Public Service down to 47,000, the number Labour inherited. At least. Of course we’d start with the Grocery Commissioner!

Finally, there is the Treaty Principles Act, or a referendum on co-governance. Labour and National Governments have threaded the ‘principles of the Treaty of Waitangi through every aspect of life and legislation.

Well, this could be simpler than we think. The Principles of the Treaty are the Court’s response to an Act of Parliament. If Parliament thinks they got it wrong, then Parliament has the right to legislate again, and set the record straight.

The Treaty says the Queen is Sovereign, your taonga or property rights are secure, and every single New Zealander - are you listening, John Tamihere? - has nga tikanga katoa rite tahi. The same rights and duties.

That way, when someone says they’re following the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, we can say great!

But there’s an extra element to the Treaty Principles Act. We need it to be ratified by referendum. I know people are skeptical about that word. Referendums have been abused and ignored by politicians, at great expense to the taxpayer.

What we’re proposing is that Parliament passes the law, with a clause saying the people get to confirm it. That way politicians can’t back out of the result. That way the law becomes supreme law. More importantly, having the vote makes it ok to talk about. Too many people feel they are shut out of discussing our future, well they do have a right to debate a referendum.

All of this is possible with enough political will, but history tells us none of it will unless ACT is a large and essential part of the next Government.

Some might say even then that this legislation is too ambitious for 100 days. Actually, taking on this agenda is the litmus test of a Government of Real Change.


None of us are forced to be here today. We’re here because we understand that politics and policy shape our future, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but no country can outperform its policy settings forever.

Right now we are subject to public policy mediocrity. Not only are poor regulations, poor services, and high taxes making us poorer, a culture of division is not just one of Labour’s bad ideas, it is a dangerous one.

The path we’re on means our first world status is in danger. Our status as a modern, multi-ethnic liberal democracy is endangered. We have to protect and promote the values that will give future generations peace and prosperity on these islands. And yet, our political system offers too little choice. Two timid, tepid and tired organisations, committed to their own special interests ahead of hard-pressed Kiwi taxpayers.

That’s why it is time for one of New Zealand’s periodic economic, social, and political revolutions.

It is time for a new kind of Government. The first truly MMP Government that shares power, and the first reforming Government that believes in the power of consumers and taxpayers – not hoarding it for themselves.

We are closer than ever but have just as far to go. For the next fifteen months, we must campaign like we have to win and prepare like we’re going to win.

At the heart of this mission is hope. Hope that we can reclaim New Zealand from the dizzying dream of the past five years, and do more than simply freeze Labour’s legacy in time for a few frames before the decline resumes.

Thing is, you can make a difference in our voluntary democracy. In fact only you can. Tell a friend about us. Tell ten friends. Don't be afraid to be a nuisance. Bring some people to a meeting. Dig a little deeper in your pockets, because from this point on, we are in a countdown to the most decisive election in a generation. Every cent and every day counts'.

We can change bad laws back, and start making progress. If that’s the kind of Government you hope for, please join us in our campaign for real change.