Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is ACT prepared to support a Labour government?

"Rodney Hide: Does the Minister feel so strongly against giving parents a choice of school, including independent schools, that he would resign as Minister of Education if that were a condition of support from MMP parties for a future Government?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I think the likelihood of Labour going into coalition with ACT is nil, especially with the addition of Roger Douglas to its party list."
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According to this, Rodney Hide is teasing Labour into considering whether it engages in, at least, a confidence and supply agreement with ACT if it needed to do so to remain in power after the 2008 election. Tactically of course, given National's unwillingness to consider Sir Roger Douglas for Cabinet, this might make a little sense for ACT, so that there is some leverage over the Nats after the election. However, if you voted National in 2005 and now are contemplating ACT, because the Nats are a shoo in, Rodney Hide seems safe in Epsom and you want a CHANGE in government to implement more free market policies, you might hesitate if Rodney Hide actually keeps Helen Clark in power.
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Now if you think this is unlikely, consider this. It has seemed both in 2002 and 2005 that Labour's natural partner would be the Greens, but it has avoided confidence and supply and coalition agreements with it after both elections. The Greens were hardly going to support National were they? By contrast, did the average Labour voter expect United Future to keep the government in power for two terms and NZ First for one? Is it inconceivable that a Phil Goff lead Labour Party (let's say Clark is rolled before the election, highly unlikely unless Labour's polling drops below 30%) would seek confidence and supply from ACT, if Labour did implement some modest tax cuts and uh.. did something else? (help me here). After all, it is far from inconceivable that National will partner up with the Maori Party, and the feelers have been out between the Nats and the Greens (although that does seem like hard work).
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So what would be ACT's bottom line for a confidence and supply agreement with Labour OR National? Not the details, it's clear that would be worked through. However, I'd hope it included the following:
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- A tax free income threshold, abolition of the 39% top tax rate and lowering of company tax;
- Education vouchers for primary and secondary education;
- Including private property rights in the RMA if not replacing it;
- End to the growth of the state sector and identification of opportunities to privatise by sale AND issuing shares directly to the public.

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