Politics

ACT vertebrae visible in agreement

spineACT promised to give the Nats a spine. And they’ve made a great start.

At least eleven ACT ‘vertebrae’ are visible in the agreement reached with John Key. 

To cynics like John Armstrong who say Rodney won no firm concessions, consider this…

National has signed up to some or all of these eleven points of ACT’s 20 Point Plan for New Zealand:

1.  ACT’s main goal: Close the $500-a- week income gap with Australia by 2025. Now the government’s goal.

2.  Point 1: Cut government waste. Rodney has a hand on the scythe.

3.  Point 2: Cut tax. All centre-right parties endorse United’s 30% rate for both personal and company tax. A good start.

4.  Point 3: Limit local government and cap rates. Rodney in charge.

5.  Point 4: Reduce bureaucracy. Well, not growing it is a start.

6.  Point 5: Cut red tape. With Rodney on scissors, the cuts should be deep and meaningful.

7.  Point 6: Reform the RMA. 

8.  Point 7: More choice in health. Heather to help make more use of private hospitals.

9.  Point 17: Get tough on violent crims. ACT’s 3 Strikes Bill to go forward.

10. Point 18: Review the ETS. ACT wins a stay, and time to convince the public of the high costs and zero environmental benefits.

11. Point 19: Strengthen the constitutional framework.  Rodney’s  Taxpayer Bill of Rights goes forward.

The cynics may say that Key is just stringing its feisty junior partner along.

But John will know the cost of enraging the likes of Rodney Hide, Roger Douglas and John Boscawen.

He knows ACT aren’t poodles seeking baubles. They’re pitbulls with principles. Best keep them well-fed or government could get ugly.

The agreement is a credit to the negotiating skills of both John and Rodney.

The National caucus may have agreed quickly. But not, I suspect, lightly.

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17 thoughts on “ACT vertebrae visible in agreement

  1. Disagree John. Nick Smith is back. That negates every “win” on the ETS. We only get a review after all, something that John Key promised anyway.

    Heather gets consumer affairs: what the heck is that for a government department?? There is no reason for its existence, except wasting taxpayers money. So Heather is eliminated, tied up in a complete waste of time.

    Rodney gets local government so Aucklanders can blame him. We here in Manukau don’t want a single big city as Rodney has advocated in the past. Rodney has an Auckland City perspective, so he runs a huge chance to simply get killed in the process.

    I’m prepared to wait, but so far ACT voters haven’t got a single concrete thing. It’s not that there isn’t hope, so let’s see how the future unfolds.

  2. Berend de Boer said: “I’m prepared to wait, but so far ACT voters haven’t got a single concrete thing.”

    Berend, it’s funny you should use the word concrete.

    The National-ACT Confidence and Supply Agreement states that the two parties “have agreed on the concrete goal of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025. This will require a sustained lift in New Zealand’s productivity growth to 3% a year or more.”

    This is a SMART goal in every sense (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Right for New Zealand, and Time-bound).

    It’s Roger’s goal, endorsed by Rodney, and campaigned on by ACT.

    National may not know it yet, but they’re now duty-bound to implement policies that will result in Kiwi workers earning $500 more a week on average.

    (The gap in after-tax wages being $450 a week and growing.)

    ACT have already worked out what they need to do to achieve that.

    Their 20 Point Plan has a few original ideas, like Rodney’s Regulatory Responsibility Bill and Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

    But mainly, the policies are those that have helped other countries do better than New Zealand.

    If National chooses a less ambitious approach and fails to average 3% productivity growth by the next election, their failure will be there for all to see – and for others to point out.

    Hopefully the wisdom of Roger Douglas will soon be more widely appreciated.

    I know National would not have signed up to this goal without pressure from ACT.

    How do I know?

    Because I suggested a SMART goal to both parties at different times.

    National didn’t want a bar of it, because they’d have had to be accountable for it.

    ACT, though, thought it was a great idea. Then they promptly came up with the above great goal.

    It’s ironic that John Key has signed up to a goal set by the man he regards as too hard right for his Cabinet. But in doing so, he has shown, wittingly or otherwise, that he truly is ambitious for New Zealand.

  3. After initial disappointment with the Act-National agreement, I have come around to the view that it is probably quite good. Clearly in negotiations, both sides have to be willing to make concessions. I believe Rodney will give this government some spine and that with his team they will survive scrutiny by voters in 2011.

  4. Owen McShane in his latest newsletter says:

    ‘Rodney Hide, who is Minister of Local Government, Minister of Regulatory Reform, and Associate Minister of Commerce, is now “Minister for Ending the Depression” (MED) because the LGA, the RMA, and the Commerce Act are the key to enabling NZ to build its way out of the depression.’

    I’ll blog separately on this.

    Berend de Boer: I don’t think Heather came down in the last shower.

    She’ll be more focused on her associateships in education and health than consumer affairs.

    She’ll see it as her job to make sure Tony Ryall is well versed in the merits of a competitive health system with universal insurance, and Anne Tolley is briefed on Sweden’s success with scholarships for every child.

  5. peteremcc: Sorry, I got that wrong. (Must stop relying on memory.)

    Tony Ryall will be relieved. And the Army will be pleased too.

    A soldier helping to run the Army, a Maori former beneficiary in charge of welfare, a lawyer as Attorney-General (and a treaty lawyer in charge of Treaty negotiations).

    Shame Chester Borrows didn’t get police – though if I were Howard Broad, I’d be polishing up my CV with Judith Collins in charge.

    She’ll be made aware that the best man for his job was sent to (I think) the Solomons, and should now be brought back.

  6. John, I love the line: Pitbulls with principles. A great post. I know you are right, this is a fabulous agreement for New Zealand and ACT.

  7. John, any idea why ACT’s draft 3-strikes law – to be supported to select committee at least – considers smacking sufficiently serious enough to constitute a strike?

  8. Graeme, I’ve left a message with David Garrett MP, as this doesn’t sound right to me.

    I know they were very keen to avoid the perception that they were copying the American law of the same name, which is why all three strikes had to be for serious violent offences.

    I’d have thought a corrective smack would not come into this category, though a childbashing, of course, would.

  9. Graeme, the very forthright Mr Garrett responds as follows:

    Hi John,

    I have no idea where Graeme gets this idea.

    I have specifically drafted the law so that “strike” offences are defined, and listed in a schedule to the Act – if they are not there, they are not strike offences. From the outset, it was my firm desire to avoid some of the undoubted injustices which have arisen from poorly drafted three strikes laws in other countries.

    At the lowest end of the scale, a strike offence is wounding with intent, i.e with a weapon, and then escalates up through aggravated robbery (robbery committed with a weapon), grievous bodily harm, attempted murder, manslaughter and murder.

    Smacking (or even common assault, i.e a punch or a kick) is NOT repeat NOT a strike offence!

    I trust that answers your question.

    By the way, that “three strikes” ad you did featuring the unlovely trio of Bell, Baker and Dixon was brilliant.

    Best Regards,

    David Garrett

  10. David/John – common assault (section 196 of the Crimes Act) is not one of the “qualifying offences” in the draft bill (as it appears on the Sensible Sentencing Trust website), but assault on a child is one (section 194).

    Assault on a child IS the offence people charged with smacking their children would be charged under.

    There are also a number of other offences less serious than “wounding with intent” that are currently listed as qualifying offences – such as injuring with intent, injuring by unlawful act, and assault with intent to injure.

    If the draft bill as it appears on the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s website (with your name prominently attached to it) isn’t the current form of your bill, then I may well have to attract my assertion, but at present it certainly appears that you intend that three convictions for (simple) assault on a child should be punished by a minimum of life with 25 years’ non-parole.

  11. Hi Graeme,

    The law of unintended consequences rearing its head…it was certainly not the intention to make smacking a child a “strike” offence (whether a light smack should be common assault at all is a whole different debate)

    I have now removed common assault from the Schedule.

    I imagine the major debate in Select Committee will be around what should and should not be included as a strike offence. Please do make a submission yourself!

    And thanks again for pointing out this anomaly…the reason we have Select Committee scrutiny of course…

    Regards,

    David Garrett

  12. Thanks Graeme and David. Problem averted.

    I think to qualify for 3 Strikes, crimes should be of the type where one offence is shocking, two is outrageous, and three is the last straw.

    This would include callous, premeditated assaults that seriously injure the victims.

    But it would also include robberies where staff and customers are terrorised, but not injured.

  13. This would include callous, premeditated assaults that seriously injure the victims.

    But it would also include robberies where staff and customers are terrorised, but not injured.

    Possibly a good idea to add aggravated robbery (and robbery?) to the list, then? They’re conspicuous in there current absence 🙂

    And if you’re looking to exclude assaults that aren’t callous, premeditated, or that result in less than serious injuries (or no injuries at all), you’ll probably want to get rid of assault with intent to injure, and you’ll certainly want to get rid of injuring by unlawful act (which can cover things like completely accidental hunting accidents, which, for that matter, can also be covered by manslaughter).

    Material for my submission, perhaps?

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