Having returned to NZ, I'm amused by the list of registered political parties. So for the hell of it, I thought I'd say some words about the party vote choices in alphabetical order:
ACT: Mild mannered free market liberalism and now socially liberal as well (in some cases too liberal for me). Has sought to win some of the gun-owners' vote, and diluted economic policies given Covid19. Supports a smarter, high-tech approach to Covid19. Social liberalism has burnt off some socially conservative support. Big question is whether some of the team will match the capability and competence of David Seymour. I'd give 8 out of 10 for ACT, points off for not being more courageous on education, for being a little too bureaucratic on some issues, and David Seymour's position on abortion (I'm halfway between the two extremes). ACT will likely be a vibrant part of the opposition, so watch the maiden speeches of its new MPs.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party: Hopefully the ALCP will disband if the referendum goes the way they will support. It has been consistent, and although it is largely full of dopeheads who just want to be left alone, there is nothing wrong with that from my point of view. They aren't going to hurt me. Sure, regular cannabis use is harmful and it is particularly destructive for young people to smoke cannabis, but the answer isn't the status quo. ALCP gets 10 out of 10 because there is one issue it campaigns on, but there is little point voting for the party this year, because the referendum on cannabis is your chance to have your say.
Heartland New Zealand Party: Who? Nothing wrong with a rural party, and this is basically campaigning for more taxpayer funded services in rural areas, although some of its principles I could sign up to (it sounds a lot like the National Party back in its founding years). Backed by Harry Mowbray, I can't help but think he'd be better off donating and influencing the National Party or ACT instead. There is a little bit of economic nationalism, a climate change policy that looks like ACT. The review of Auckland Council ought to be welcomed, but let's be realistic, Heartland New Zealand has little influence and even less chance of getting elected. Heartland New Zealand can get 5 out of 10 for freedom.
Mana Movement: What was once the radical breakaway from the Maori Party is now endorsing the Maori Party and isn't competing in the 2020 election. That should give reason to be fearful of the Maori Party now that it has absorbed the ultra-nationalist Mana Movement.
Maori Party: John Tamihere's latest endeavour for power having failed to be elected Mayor of Auckland (on an incoherent centre-right platform) is the Maori Party, which has gone toward the left and advancing an explicit agenda of racial separatism, including a highly corporatist agenda of compulsory quota of Maori businesses having to win government procurement contracts. For example, it means 25% of road maintenance contracts would have to go to Maori businesses (are they 51% Maori owned?), even though no such businesses exist (and what if there were only one, this monopoly could encourage rent seeking and poor performance). I'm all for devolution of power to lower levels and encouraging individual self-determination, and Maori finding their own solutions for social problems, but the Maori Party now touts the highly debatable notion that Maori social problems are all about racism, and institutions that are structured against Maori. It wants a Maori Parliament, which implies separate laws for Maori. It wants to segregate fully Maori representation in Parliament and local government in Maori seats. No one who believes in limited government and equality before the law would tolerate this ethno-nationalist seek to "nationalise" Maori into an almost parallel state (and you can be sure they aren't to be paid for by only Maori taxes). Tamihere is an opportunist, and will change his stripes as he sees fit. Hopefully the Maori Party wont make it (it needs to win an electorate), but on a freedom rating it gets 1 out of 10. Maori are better off sticking with Labour in electorates.
New Conservatives: This is finally a good serious attempt at setting up a socially conservative and free market oriented government to the right of National. It's good because it's not an explicitly Christian party, like previous attempts (although spot the non-Christian in the candidate list, this shouldn't matter). Sure it plays hard on drugs and abortion (only the latter I have a bit of sympathy for). It's opposition to excessive action on climate change is positive, although I don't like its policy on binding referenda (I'm not keen on rights being up to a vote). It's puritanical on alcohol, but surprisingly relatively liberal on prostitution (yes, really). It's approach to porn online is to block it unless it is requested, which I get (to minimise access to children), but this failed in the UK because it's impractical (pretty much impossible to filter out adult content from social media). The health policy is actually one of the better ones (barring euthanasia, but that's a different issue), and on education, the policy on school choice and funding is good (although I am sympathetic around concerns about gender dysphoria, as I'd leave this up to individual schools to address as a matter of philosophical choice). Overall (and unsurprisingly) the New Conservatives have some policies that shrink the state, and others that grow the state. It gets 6 out of 10, if only because it has some philosophical underpinning that respects individual liberty, and some good policies. It's a shame it wont reach 5% because there is a place for this party and for its views to be debated, but it wont be in Parliament this time. It's a bigger shame that 2-3 other smaller parties are probably taking away support that should go to this party.
NZ First: I'll give Winston Peters credit for holding up restrictions on freedom of speech, and being a bit of a brake on Labour and the Greens, but then he wouldn't have had to be had he not selected them to be leading the government in the first place. NZ First is generally benign, in that it doesn't do much to undermine freedoms, and generally just wants money thrown at pork barrel sectors like racing and the railways. I have a bit of time for Winston's fiscal conservatism and his correct fears of PRC investment and influence, and also more recently hesitancy around levels of immigration (if only because of the inability of politicians to ensure infrastructure is adequate and concerns about PRC influence). NZ First gets 5 out of 10, because it doesn't tend to do any harm, and occasionally some good.
Labour: The best that can be said is that it is a party of incrementalism. For a party doing so well in the polls, it is promising to do very little other than spend up the next generation's money and continuing to accrete the welfare state in scale. The more government it provides, the more it finds it needs yet more again. It's the party of ever more state, but you could do worse. The main problem is that the worse option would pull Labour further over (because fundamentally they DO want to spend a lot more and regulate more). 3 out of 10.
NZ Tea Party: Like a breakaway from ACT, the Tea Party is much more pro-immigration, and has an odd mix of policies that don't form a coherent whole. Education policy is all about foreign students and export of education. There isn't really much going on here, and the patronage of Sir Roger Douglas whilst nice, isn't apparent in policies (I mean you'd expect Unfinished Business to be seen here). Why would you bother when ACT exists? 6 out of 10.
NZ Outdoors Party: Its website operates as a speed that indicates it has a 28k dialup modem connecting it to the internet. It has aspirations of everyone having a home, something called holistic education and sustainable agriculture. Sure it wants a different approach to Covid19, and I have a little time for thinking more broadly about it, but then it turns against 5G which is simply conspiratorial anti-scientific bullshit. Zero waste policy is nice in theory, but it wants a "plastic free New Zealand", a policy that will kill people (by banning medical equipment) and has vast unintended consequences. This party, once a proud party for hunters and shooters is now polluted with a mix of anti-scientific hysteria and "in the clouds" vagueness. 4 out of 10.
ONE Party: A party with theocratic origins which does talk about freedom, and which is sceptical about foreign investment. Not sure quite what the point is, other than those who think the New Conservatives are too liberal. It's a Christian party, and although it has some policies that would advance freedom it has plenty that don't. 4 out of 10.
Sustainable New Zealand Party: Like the Greens, but don't them being so left wing, then this is the party wanting your vote. However, it seems an awful lot like a wishlist of the Greens. I note the desire to spend what would be tens of billions of dollars on railways, and a vast range of pricey tech-led projects from recycling to building corporatist environmentalist businesses. Where's the money coming from? What about health? What about education? 2 out of 10.
Advance New Zealand Party: Sure it talks about freedom, and how can I not like a few policies (like income tax free threshold) but it's just anti-reason and anti-science. The finance policy is lunacy. You're not insane, just avoid. 1 out of 10.
Greens: More tax, more regulation, more government, more borrowing, New Zealand can save the world if only it taxes and regulates businesses and individuals more because of climate change, and if it doesn't, the world will come to an end. More welfare, more "free" stuff and collectivisation (pigeon holing everyone into identity categories). Mining should only be for materials that serve a "socially useful purpose" (seriously?). This is the party that's against capitalism, against private property rights and wants to regulate speech. Children should both be mollycoddled and not be accountable for what they do, but ought to be able to vote. Beyond euthanasia and cannabis, the Greens offer nothing for individual freedom. 1 out of 10.
Democratic Party for Social Credit: Funny money is mainstream, but this is still even funnier money. Just print more for current spending. This movement was an embarrassment of New Zealand politics for years, now it is just an embarrassment for those who advance this nonsense. 1 out of 10.
National Party: Slightly lower taxes, but more spending and less appetite for the identity politics advanced by Labour. Nationals's record, except 1990-1996 (and to a limited extent 1996-1999) is to reverse hardly anything Labour does. Judith Collins is more conservative and probably better than many recent leaders on some freedom points (excluding cannabis of course). National has principles that it could do well to return to, but Labour has successfully fueled a culture of spending and regulation as the answers to any problems, through its utter dominance of the education system and the culture of much of the media. National gets 6 out of 10, because it at least points in the right direction and has the power to effect change.
The Opportunities Party: The centre-left policy wonks' party. For clever people that would usually vote Labour, and think they can solve many solutions if only the tax system were tinkered with. There are a couple of clever people here, but it just the intellectual wing of the Labour-Green parties, and takes its support from there. Long may it do that. 4 out of 10.
Vision New Zealand: More Christian theocratic than the ONE Party, it's Destiny NZ Party revived (now with Hannah Tamaki being a more friendly face than Brian). Peppered with nationalism, this is a detailed vision, and one that has little room for individual freedom. 2 out of 10.