Free Press – 5/12/2016

Congratulations to John Key
For eight years, John Key has successfully guided us through a financial crisis, the Rena disaster, and major seismic upheaval. All the while businesses have enjoyed the confidence to grow under a stable, orthodox economic programme. In resigning, John Key has pulled off the rare trick of recognising his own political mortality before having to experience it first-hand. More importantly however is the chance this gives him to reclaim a normal life with his family. He’s certainly earned it.

Looking Ahead
This is a chance for New Zealand to revisit some of the long-term issues that have been left unaddressed over the last eight years. For all of John Key’s skill as a day-to-day manager, this Government is allowing superannuation costs and housing prices to escalate unacceptably over the long term. Bill English is best-equipped, intellectually and temperamentally, to bring these problems under control, which is why he is ACT’s preference for next Prime Minister.

Last Chance This Year
Parliament is sitting for an additional members’ day this Wednesday, with five bills likely to be drawn from the Private Members’ ballot on Thursday.  It is the last opportunity this year for David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill to be drawn and the chance is about one-in-fifteen. We have our fingers crossed that this important change – that 75 per cent of New Zealanders support – will get its day in Parliament. (For more on the bill see

More on Tax
On Thursday the Treasury will release its Half Year Fiscal and Economic Update.  We expect it will show, to quote the US President-Elect, ‘yuge’ surpluses coming down the line. We also predict that ACT will stand alone in pointing out it was never the Government’s money to start with and the people who earned it should be able to keep more of it (National will dissemble around a ‘family’ package).

Winston’s Dilemma
Free Press hears that two Chinese donors are going big on New Zealand First – what will Winston do? If the donations really are substantial then the law will require them to be declared. But how can you rail against immigrants and big money in politics while taking big money from immigrants? On the other hand, New Zealand First were drummed out of Parliament after the dodgy affair with Owen Glenn.  We’ll be watching.

Surprisingly Unsurprising
We are aware of candidates receiving offers of large donations from recent immigrants in return for reducing immigration.  Why would immigrants give to an anti-immigrant party?  Recent immigrants are more aware of any loopholes that might exist in immigration law.  Much more importantly they compete directly with new arrivals.  If your family has been in New Zealand for five generations you are connected and established.  If you’re still getting connected and established then you’re competing with every extra person who arrives.

Not so Fast
Commentators will be enraptured with Michael Wood’s Mt Roskill by-election win because a resurgent Labour would give them something to write about.  The difficulty is that despite a Mt Roskill win being absolutely critical to Labour, nearly half of Phil Goff’s 18,000 voters stayed home.  They got out more than enough votes to beat Parmjeet Parmar (who, as a sitting list MP, had nothing to lose) but not nearly enough to demonstrate a revival.

Politics in Full Sentences
One sign that ACT will do well next year is the response to David Seymour’s piece on fiscal sustainability and superannuation. The Spinoff is becoming the organ of young New Zealanders and its publishers tell us the response to this piece was phenomenal.  We certainly saw it on social media.  ACT has always been the party of ideas, and that younger voters are looking for politics in full sentences is extremely encouraging.

Register for ACT’s Conference: February 25th
The party of ideas has a first class conference line up.  Mike Williams from the Howard League on being smart on crime.  Leonie Freeman of Goodman Property on how to build more homes. Francis Valentine of Mindlab on education. Eric Crampton of the New Zealand Initiative on tax and inequality.  Election year conferences are the biggest, we hope to see you there.