National almost certainly will lead the next change in Government, so it matters.
So what could I hope for from Luxon, Willis and the others?
Here's some ideas...
- A declaration of principles that form the basis for making decisions on policies. I don't remotely expect it to be anything as radical as where I would go, but I'd expect some recognition that individual freedom matters alongside personal responsibility for your life, that a property-owning market-oriented liberal democracy is worth promoting and protecting, that people should be treated on their merits and their deeds, not their background, their family, race, sex or other irrelevant factors. I'd like to hope that there is a strong belief in robust debate and freedom of speech, that seeks not to frighten people into silence, but also a belief in playing the ball not the person.
- Differentiation from Labour based on principles. This means defaulting not to spending more taxpayers' money but getting out of the way of individuals, businesses, community groups, Iwi and others in addressing social issues. That the answer to problems isn't necessarily more state, a new Ministry of X, a new law, a new tax or a new benefit or subsidy. A belief that making a profit isn't a bad thing, but defrauding people is. A belief that there should be consequences for harming others, such as not being allowed to remain in a taxpayer owned house if you abuse, threaten or become a nuisance to your neighbours.
- Policy that is thoughtful not knee-jerk opposition. Take Three Waters. The status quo is a disgrace, and National implemented Watercare for Auckland some years ago, albeit it is far from perfect. So just make local government do the same for their water assets, give them the powers of SOEs to borrow and spend, and enforce rates being cut if people are to be billed for water. It's easy to lazily object, it's much harder to present a solution that achieves change that is sustainable. Which leads right onto....
- Don't leave reform to Labour. Labour ALWAYS reforms sectors when in power. It's about to seriously unionise industrial relationships with Australian-style monopoly union agreements, it will merge RNZ and TVNZ, there is Three Waters, it is funding Kiwirail directly from the National Land Transport Fund, it is merging and abolishing DHBs. Stop being a party of next to no change, and present a vision of structural reform that fits with your principles, to serve the interests of taxpayers, of consumers and to enable competition and choice for the public.
- Consider your vision of the Constitutional relationship between the Crown and Maori (if you have one). You can do nothing and concede you believe in nothing and let Labour constantly define it, you can bluntly oppose the Labour vision of unilaterally redefining the relationship between Maori and the state, and accept the Critical Race Theory view that is so prevalent, or you can proclaim a different, optimistic vision, of Maori self-determination that doesn't follow the "Us, Allies and Racists" vision Te Pati Maori has of the people of this country. Don't get too tied up in the use of the word Aotearoa, it's important people can choose freely what language they use, but do note the importance of the growth of Maori power, influence and language use as being in a way that wont threaten the rights of others. You have to do it.
- Reform education on a model of devolving power. It's free schools, but it is also devolving as much power as possible to schools, stringing them together with a light-handed view of common curriculum and testing standards. Allow new schools to be set up and for school funding to be transparent, regardless of school ownership. Devolve teacher pay and conditions to schools. Abolish zoning, give schools free reign to expand and contract. If you don't think or know why education reform matters then ACT deserves to beat you.
- Climate change should be about moving with the world, not ideological sacrifice to virtue signal. Abolish the Climate Change Commission, review use of the ETS and focus your policies on the ETS and consider the net impacts of policies on climate change. Don't worry about Greenpeace and the other enviro-anti-capitalists, because they'll hate you anyway, and they are just adjuncts of the Green Party and claim what you do is causing wildfires and hurricanes, but don't put up with that. Make it clear what you are doing, and why, and if people want to walk, bike, put up solar panels and take steps to reduce their own emissions, then good for them, they'll pay less under the Emissions Trading Scheme (which most people don't understand).
- Reform the public service. It has grown exponentially under Labour, in part due to Covid, but it has tacked on so much that is unnecessary and a drag on taxpayers. Consider that the Office of Classification (the censor) tweets film reviews, and the Human Rights Commission comments on housing policy. It's bloated, and the coming need to balance the budget must come from that not from tax rises which leads to...
- No tax rises. Given the state of public finances, you can't afford to promise any significant tax cuts, unless you look to completely reform Working for Families etc, which you aren't likely to do. So be the party that promises to keep a lid on taxes, and you should legislate for inflation adjusted tax bands at the very least. Once the budget is in surplus, you can then start lowering taxes.
10. Covid rules are truly temporary. Whatever system of rules are in place at the time of the next General Election, they need to be proportionate and fit for purpose. The easing of the pandemic should be clearly followed by moving not just to "Green" status, but to a future where MIQ has limited if any role, where vaccine mandates are unnecessary. It's not ignoring Covid and taking no steps, but recognising that a pandemic justifies a temporary response and when that is no longer needed, then the laws supporting it are no longer needed either.