10 November 2008

Dear Rodney Hide

Well done Rodney, you're now the best hope (with your team) to be the conscience of the incoming government. You did better because National did "me too" far too much, and now you've brought Sir Roger Douglas back to Parliament. John Key needs you, and you want him to need you instead of the Maori Party. So, the next three years are a chance to do what Helen Clark fears, and to lead John Key down a path of reform that is meaningful.

Firstly make it clear that you will only accept a coalition agreement if you get one Cabinet and one outside Cabinet position. Sir Roger Douglas needs to have a special role, because he is too valuable to not use. Your vote partly came from people wanting him to form a part of this government, he has more experience with economic crises than the rest of you combined, him having a role should be a bottomline.

Secondly, make it clear you will support Peter Dunne as Speaker, but not in Cabinet. If a party that gets 0.9% can get a Cabinet position then all your MPs deserve one. Remember Dunne brought us the Families Commission, and that should go.

Here are some ideas when you see John later today:

1. Education. Your policy on scholarships is radical for National, but it was the policy for National back in 1987. Grab this with both hands and make it a bottom line to change education. It means taking on the unions, who are blatantly self interested and will blackmail you all with doomsday scenarios and industrial action, so it needs to be done with extraordinary planning. Go with John Key to Stockholm, sell it to him and talk about what can be done. This will have a far more profound long term impact than almost any other policy.
2. RMA. Yes your policy isn't about getting rid of it, but you understand the problems more than Key. Insist that Nick Smith doesn't get his dripping wet hands on this. He is a Green Party member in drag. The RMA needs a bottom up review as to why such legislation is even needed, and how private property rights should be at the centre of planning policy (if it must exist).
3. Local government. Yes you could have this portfolio, National hasn't a clue on this, you do. It's time to put caps on rates, to repeal the power of general competence and to require water and roads to be in arms length entities. The left's second front is in local government, you can already see the ARC holding National to ransom about electrifying Auckland's rail network.
4. Law and Order. You see eye to eye on this, and three strikes and you're out is a great policy in principle. However, you do need to do a couple of things to stop it all getting worse:
i. Refuse to support a DNA database of all those arrested for imprisonable offences. Restrict it to those convicted of violent and sexual offences. The innocent should not be under surveillance.
ii. Refuse to support "three strikes and you're out" for drug offences and other victimless crimes. Make the "liberal party" slogan mean something, and ask for a review of criminal law with the point of identifying victimless crimes.
5. One law for all. Now you wont get rid of the Maori seats, National just wont do it, but you can address funding and government that is racially based. You could suggest a threeway dialogue between National, ACT and the Maori party to handle this issue, both in terms of reality and perception.
6. Getting rid of useless bureaucracies. Produce a list of departments and agencies that could go. The Families Commission would be a good start, but the Office of the Commissioner for Children should follow. Get Sir Roger to help out, and invite John Key to nominate a couple of Nat MPs to do the job.
7. Tax cuts. Support John Key's tax cuts with one addition, farewell to the 39% top tax rate. It is Labour's envy tax, a tax on the successful, a tax on New Zealanders who would return from overseas, and it has to go at the same time as the other cuts. Yes the left will whinge and say tax cuts for the rich, but remember what "rich" means now.
8. Welfare. National said it would do a little to reform this, it's time to do a little more. Talk to Lindsay Mitchell about the DPB and steps to take to drastically curtail the criteria for claiming it, for starters no more money for additional children whilst on it.
9. Trade. As I said to John Key, he, Tim Groser and perhaps Sir Roger should all go to Washington after Barack Obama's inauguration (and then London and Brussels) to demand a rethink of global trade. That means taking on Obama's protectionist instincts and pushing for a revitalised WTO round. This is critical, make the case before the portcullis of Democratic Party protectionism shuts down hope of an open trading market for agriculture.
10. ETS. You know you need to demand a rethink here. Yes New Zealand is in Kyoto, but it need not lead the way, it's time to renegotiate and consider how best to meet NZ's national interests. A carbon tax is NOT the way, but strangling this close to bottom of the OECD economy will not see you thanked by voters.

Good luck, it's the best chance New Zealand has in the next three years to move forward.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lib Scott
U highlight the obvious fact - ACT and National are miles apart in policy. ACT miles to the right of National - so with Maori Party miles to the left, what a witches brew.

Please don't talk about Education Scholarships - we are all more familiar with the concept of Education Vouchers - useless things to have in the real world as I am sure Deborah Coddington would now realise. Remember Deborah - and Roger Kerr the chaser?

As for 3-way discussion Maori ACT and National - three ways, nothing in common.

Too many egos and talkers, not enough listeners and thinkers. They are about to screw up just watch!

Read Jane Clifton in the Listener tell Rodney Hide not to overplay his hand too.