Well as many think the election is interesting, I find it mind numbing. It has become the Bill vs. Jacinta show. Bill, who is not media savvy, not very good at tough decisions (especially around cutting loose liabilities in his party, who keep stacking up in every growing numbers) vs. the shallow, empty headed Jacinta, who has ridden on the back of the same vacuous enthusiasm that brought Macron and Trudeau to power (and is partially responsible for both Obama and Trump).
The bigger picture is there is a fairly simple choice between two governments. A National-led one almost certainly needing support from NZ First, and as usual ACT, possibly the Maori Party (although that looks difficult). A Labour-led one with the Greens hand in fist, possibly with the Maori Party, and maybe even needing NZ First.
Frankly, either look grim. National is looking tired, and the McCully nonsense smells, Steven Joyce is fast and loose with figures and Simon O'Connor is appalling. After three terms, most governments run out of ideas, and the Nats are overrun with kneejerk, reactive politics. It is difficult to know what it stands for, except staying in power and keeping Labour out. Reminiscent of how the National Party has governed almost always, and even campaigned, except perhaps from 1987-1993 when it believed in the government doing less, or 2005 when it stood for tackling the growth of identity politics in New Zealand. Now it is a party of "we wont tax you as much as Labour". It is a party of corporatism, the status quo and of being in government. It has had nine years to fix the housing bubble and is only now starting to appreciate that the fundamental problem is in the planning system, that it defended, and the obsession of local authorities to restrict the supply of land for housing. Does it tackle the narrative about child poverty by noting that absolute poverty is low, that the solutions of the left of more welfare wont work, that the fundamental problems of poverty are poverty of aspiration and attention from parents, insufficient use of birth control and the shocking incidence of intergenerational welfarism? No, it wont point out the size of the welfare state, the urgent need for education, stable and safe family structures, and to address cost of living issues that are due to state intervention (e.g. housing, cost of local government). It embraced the middle class welfare Labour put in place. It only looks good for one reason.
Look at Labour. It has a manifesto filled to the brim of ideas that are as if nobody learned from the 1980s, with the law of unintended consequences devoid from its policy. Its policies on housing are xenophobic and based on hundreds of thousands living in state owned ghettos, but at least it would abolish Auckland's urban growth boundaries. It will constrain the rental homes market, presumably so the state can be landlord, with all of the success that has brought in recent decades. It will tax water (but daren't think of commercialising and privatising water or rivers). It wants everyone to pay for tertiary education and is committed to not raising the age of National Superannuation. Nothing like bribing both ends of the age spectrum with borrowed money is it? It wants more welfare. Yet it's what else Labour embraces that concerns me. It wants net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, regardless of cost (and certainly regardless of benefit, which is zero). It's the warm embrace of identity politics, there needing to be special programmes for every group, and topped off with the application of the Human Rights Commission against discrimination based on gender identity - which raises the prospects of trans-women having access to women's facilities (and even questioning this is treated as an act of "hate", rather than establishing boundaries between the objective and the subjective). It is the Labour Party that continues to see nuclear weapons as bad generally, putting our allies in the same camp as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. It wants to grow media by making you pay for media that will suit its perspectives on the world. State media rarely provides an outlet for the views of those who want less government, in part because its very existence depends on left wing politics.
So I'd prefer National over Labour, simply because the changes Labour wants to bring all involve more spending, more taxation, more regualtion, more government and less treatment of people as individuals before the law, and more as "categories". There would be less economic freedom, less prosperity, less individual freedom and more rent-seeking from the public sector, Labour's preferred groups (media, unions, local government) and less accountability to consumers and taxpayers.
The Greens are beyond the pale, demanding vast amounts be spent (or taxed) to pursue high cost virtue signalling around climate change, despite it having no net impact on climate change. The Greens resist treating people as individuals, as they promote structuralist identity politics on a grand scale. Everyone is judged on sex, race and other victim/oppressor identity classifications. Labour in power has a high chance of bringing the Greens on board. The Greens want to gut the private rental market by making it almost unviable for small scale landlords to operate. The only element of Green Policy that is worth supporting is on drugs, but that is small in the scheme of things. This is the party that wants to wage war on gambling, It has policies on umpteen minor matters, it wants people to be able to get leave from work as victims of domestic violence, but proven by whom? It perpetuates the radical feminist myth that raw stats on pay mean women are being actively discriminated against in pay. It wants Treaty of Waitangi claims to be perpetual and maintains the Maori nationalist myth that Maori and non-Maori are two nations who are working separately, with the Maori nation in a form of separate development, with race based democracy entrenched and expanded. It doesn't think of Maori participation as Maori people participating, but in Maori organisations being treated as having a special interest on all public policy matters. The Greens would impoverish New Zealand, reward poor behaviour and parenting, tax success and restrict who you can trade with, what you can do with the money you have left, and treat everyone as belonging to an identity group.
The Maori Party, of course, is primarily about identity.
So what's left? Legalise Cannabis? Well yes, but it has no chance of any influence and it wont confront any other issues. TOP? Well the party led by the man who wanted to sue me because I confronted him on his idiocy on North Korea could be dismissed by me on that alone, but on policy as well it is dire. It wants to tax wealth, so that anyone who has saved gets their savings taxed, as well as the income on it. There is no fairness in widening the tax base, and it is claimed to be a way of addressing issues that are largely unrelated to tax (such as housing supply). Beyond legalisation of cannabis, TOP would take a decidedly nannying view on healthcare with new taxes on food that it doesn't like to subsidise food that it does like.
So what about NZ First? NZ First I have always written off, because the economic nationalism and populism is largely nonsensical. However, there is one element of NZ First worth supporting, which is the rejection of Maori nationalism and identity politics. No other party is prepared to argue for all New Zealanders being treated equal under the law and abolishing separate political representation for Maori. This is toxic in itself, and is one reason I am less concerned about NZ First than I used to be, but beyond that it is a party of economic lunacy and more state control.
So I am left with ACT. ACT is weak on dealing with identity politics, but strong on reducing the size of the state on economic issues, and in reducing the state's power on education (which is very important). ACT largely gets what is needed on housing as well. It takes a more pragmatic evidence based view on environmental policy (unlike almost all of the others). On immigration it strongly supports migrants embracing liberal democracy. I'm not keen on David Seymour's views on abortion, and ACT is silent on drugs (except for reducing police efforts on personal consumption) but that isn't enough to dissuade me. It is the only party seeking to constrain the welfare state, lower tax and has a strong tendency to support less rather than more solutions from government. It is welfarism, mediocre education, the sclerotic planning system and the culture of dependency and identity politics that is holding New Zealand back. It is a shame ACT wont confront the latter as strongly as it once did.
So I party voted ACT and electorate voted National (my candidate in Wellington Central seemed ok, although her chances are poor). I'm hoping that it will mean National needs ACT to govern and so will be positively influence further in education and hopefully in other ways. However, I'm far from enthused, I'm more motivated by avoiding the Jacinda and James show.