I’ll make a few assumptions:
1. You want a change, not an Obama like bland “change” without saying to what, but you want rid of the Labour led government, you want a change in direction, you want...
2. Less government. Government that doesn't assume that government should regulate, compel, tax or subsidise – and that is in business and personal life.
So as a result you have to rule out Labour and all parties that would grant Labour confidence and supply. The Greens, Maori Party, Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party, United Future and NZ First are all in this vein. If you like the views I express here, but intend to vote for one of those parties then I can’t help you anymore.
National has swung to the left since 2005. It has policies that in principle and substance are no different from Labour – they are different forms of the same thing. National would cut taxes more than Labour, but its interest in controlling the size of the state is about efficiency, not abolishing departments, and not reducing the amount of legislation. National promises to spend a fortune of your money on infrastructure whether or not you use it, and to subsidise the telecommunications sector. It wont make a fundamental difference to health, education or the welfare state, in fact it will increase the welfare state. It promises to keep a DNA database for every person arrested of an imprisonable offence, whether guilty or not. National and freedom do not go together, it will trade off having “one law for all” and “colourblind state spending” for a coalition with the Maori Party.
What will it do?
- National will continue to make you pay for the state controlled queue rationed health system. You wont be able to opt out, or get your taxes back for using private healthcare.
- National will continue to make you pay for the centrally funded and controlled state education system, whether it suits you or your childrens' needs or not.
- National will maintain and grow the welfare state, and retain all of Labour's increases in it (Working for Families, income related state housing rentals).
- National will maintain and grow the state's role in the economy, including Kiwibank, Kiwirail, Air NZ and subsidise a state controlled broadband telecommunications network.
- National will amend the RMA to
- National will maintain the Maori seats and maintain state broadcasting in all its forms, Maori, Pacific Island, TVNZ and Radio NZ.
- National will, somehow, ban gangs, whilst building a DNA database for everyone arrested of a serious crime, whether found guilty or not.
- National will continue and strengthen the war on drugs.
- National will keep local government's powers of general competence and grow its role, by involving it in 20 year plans. It wont cap local government rates or spending.
- National will not abolish a single government agency, including the Families Commission.
- National will continue to force you to pay into the worst pension scheme in the country, with no guaranteed returns, whilst forcing that scheme to invest 40% in New Zealand.
A vote for National is a vote to change heads, a vote for people who – in a quiet discreet moment – might agree with much of what I believe in, but haven’t the courage, skill or conviction to argue for it, or implement it. In which case, why be in politics if all you want is a different version of the status quo?
By ticking National you are saying that even going back to National's policies in 1999 is too radical, you're endorsing most of what Labour has done since 1999 since National will repeal so little. The best you can hope for is:
- Slightly bigger tax cuts than Labour.
- Less enthusiasm for more government than Labour.
- Repeal of the Electoral Finance Act.
- Tougher approach to law and order where it matters (but also victimless crimes too).
No. If you believe in less government, you can't tick National for your party vote. You will change the government by name and by people, but not in substance. Instead of moving left at pace, New Zealand will move left at a snail's pace. It's hardly surprising. Every National government, except 1990-1993, and even then it included the RMA, has at best just adopted Labour's past policies and changed little, at worst it went far far further into Nanny State (Rob Muldoon).
You can't expect the National Party to change anything - it exists for power, that is, to stop Labour having it.
So what about ACT then?