It wont be surprise to many, but I'm be voting ACT for my party vote. I've been critical of ACT for many years, and until lately, David Seymour was struggling to get recognition and attention. So why ACT?
1. Freedom of Speech: David Seymour has been forthright in defending freedom of speech from proposals to expand laws on hate speech. Sure he has had a few unsavoury supporters from that, but my view is that embodied in the US Constitution First Amendment. The law prohibits threatening speech now, and there is no evidence that restricting what angry violent people say will protect anyone, but there is a risk that criminalising speech against people because of their religion will be a new blasphemy law by default. Free speech is under sustained attack from structuralist theory touters on the hard left (who seek to not only police language but police speakers because of their race, sex and political views) and from theocrats (particularly Salafist and Wahhabists). With the exception of the New Conservatives (who get wobbly on free speech involving sex and drugs), no other significant party is strong on free speech. National passed the Harmful Digital Communications Act, although I suspect Judith Collins is better on free speech than some of her predecessors. ACT's view on academic freedom, specifically requiring taxpayer owned and funded institutions to ensure freedom of debate is maintained is also important. Sure, it will mean some vileness will be permitted on campus, but this already happens, from activists on the hard-left, whether it is for the destruction of Israel, or for Islamism, or for radical Marxist perspectives, including structuralist views around Maori ethno-nationalism.
2. Property rights: Libertarians have been arguing to abolish the RMA for many years (2004!) but it has taken David Seymour to bring ACT on board with this properly. Sure EVERYONE is talking about replacing the RMA, but be VERY clear, the Labour/Green version of this is a tinkering, mainly to let government build what it wants and to sustain the central planning approach that the RMA has facilitated since 1991 (note that the RMA has origins with Geoffrey Palmer under the Lange Government and then gleefully pushed forward by National under Simon Upton (so-called Hayekian). The RMA needs to go, and be replaced with a planning system centred NOT on central or local government planning, but private property rights. ACT's plan is much weaker than I'd like, but a strong ACT vote means the party has a chance to significantly influence replacement of the RMA, and this is one of the key steps needed to address the housing shortage.
3. Role of the state: ACT has a plan to get back to balancing the books by cutting clearly wasteful spending, whilst simplifying and lowering taxes. It could do a lot more, but it's a start when both major parties are promising more borrowed money spent. ACT is also likely to be much more critical on regulation and interventionist approaches to addressing economic and social issues.
4. Climate change: The Zero Carbon Act is an absurd waste of the legislative process. It is a law to bind governments with their policies, rather than a law that binds individuals or citizens, but is a exercise in virtue signalling (as was the one in the UK). ACT will replace the ETS with a transparent price of CO2 that is linked to that of NZ's major trading partners, so that it doesn't undermine NZ's competitiveness internationally. NZ can make its contribution, without it kneecapping its economy, and by having a single price it avoids the need for a panoply of interventionist policies on fossil fuels, transport or farming, among others.
5. Smarter on Covid19: Taiwan is the great international success story on Covid19 by using technology and ACT advances this. New Zealand will suffer if it goes through another lockdown and New Zealand needs to progressively open its borders to other countries for safe travel. National wouldn't have done much different from Labour and the NZ economy is running on a sugar hit of borrowing and printed money. This has to come to an end, by having an open economy and a long term sustainable policy to be open, but protecting the most vulnerable and taking simple steps around sanitising and use of masks where appropriate, whilst staying open.
6. Foreign Affairs: ACT is campaigning on strengthening foreign affairs and defence ties with New Zealand's traditional allies, which is important as China continues to pursue a more aggressive approach to foreign policy in the region.
Sure there is a lot else I am less enthused about. I'd like ACT to be much more pro-active on education choice, with charter schools, funding following students and funding all schools equally per pupil, and to decentralise teacher pay. I'm more conservative on abortion than David Seymour (but not as conservative as many in the New Conservatives). I'm non-plussed about firearms personally, and I'd love local government to get less power. I LIKE the proposal for an independent infrastructure corporation, as a step away from politicisation.
Will ACT bring people into Parliament who I am little uncertain about? Possibly, but it is the same for all parties and I trust Seymour to keep them in line. What about the alternatives? Well more on them later.