Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roger Douglas and ACT?

Well if Sir Roger Douglas wants to return to politics and appear on the ACT list, good luck to him. However, it will raise the issue as to whether ACT IS the liberal party that Rodney Hide has been inching it towards. It could be an interesting challenge, after all ACT's original platform had a number of characteristics, that varied from the tempting to the confusing to the disturbing.
The tempting included:
  • Zero income tax. That's right, the only tax ACT was pushing back in the early days was GST, with income and company tax gone.
  • Privatisation of all government businesses and some activities such as ACC.
  • Opening up social services such as health and education to a wide range of choice and competition. People would not have to put up with compulsory die while your wait health care or paying twice for their kids education if they wanted to use independent schools.

The confusing was:

  • Absolutely no policy on anything that wasn't economic. For example, justice, law and order, defence, foreign policy, constitutional matters.

The disturbing was:

  • Replacing income tax with compulsory private superannuation, compulsory health insurance and education cover. In other words, instead of the state forcing you to pay it to provide services, the state forced you to pay the private sector (although it wasn't always clear if schools would be privatised or not) for the services. Yes it might have been more efficient and more competitive, but it was still compulsion - and absolutely no indication that this was a transitional step which, on balance, I could support.

So let ACT go forward and be rescued by Sir Roger Douglas, but I doubt very much if it will be the liberal party it has aspired to be. Having said that, for some National supporters he might just give them a reason to tick ACT. Given National is largely devoid of policy, ACT can fill part of the vacuum, if only it would fill the vacuum it always has within itself. It is the vacuum that meant ACT had no policy on civil unions, no policy on legalising prostitution and doesn't lead campaigns to get rid of crimes such as blasphemy and sedition.

That, of course, requires a commitment to individual freedom, and only the Libertarianz have that in New Zealand at the moment.

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