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Turning Over the ACT Party Credentials


Turning Over the ACT Party Credentials

"A tongue with two forks," is how Libertarianz leader Rusell Watkins descibe’s Richard Prebble, following The Preb’s weekend speech to the ACT conference in Wellington.

"I think the ACT party faithful should grab one of those forks," says Watkins, "and then stick it in his arse and turn him over – ‘cos he’s done!" "In fact," continues Watkins, "it’s time the ACT party faithful realise that that the party itself is ‘done’ – done in by the weight of hypocrisy! Once again they have heard that the front-page rhetoric that the party is ‘four square for freedom,’ and once again they must reflect that the party’s policies stand for precisely the opposite – compulsion!"

"Once again they saw Roger Douglas’ carry in his battered charts and whiteboards to argue for compulsory superannuation. Once again they heard Stephen Franks discuss how ‘classical liberals’ must wrestle with the ‘difficult issue’ of personal freedom. And once again any thinking supporters must have wondered why the rhetoric of freedom and the reality of compulsion failed to resemble each other. Watkins offers two litmus-test examples in Leader Prebble’s speech: One is the subject of the Resource Management Act (RMA). Richard Prebble correctly told the conference ‘It is no accident that National and Labour introduced the Resource Management Act, the biggest ever attack on property rights,’.

"But what he didn’t tell them," points out Watkins, "was that both he and his ACT deputy Ken Shirley voted for that attack – nor that Ken Shirley was a positive enthusiast for the introduction of the RMA!"

The conference heard that ‘National lacks understanding of the greatest and most successful conservationist force - private property. Private property owners have and always will protect and conserve their property far better than the poverty and desecration of the commons. The most devastating criticism of the two old parties' Resource Management Act is that for all its compliance cost, regulations and army of bureaucrats the Act has failed to conserve the environment.’

"This is all true!" says Watkins," So imagine the surprise of ACT supporters when they find that the ACT party policy is not to drive a stake through the heart of the RMA, not to abolish it, not to expunge the memory of it from the law books, but instead to … ‘review the Resource Management Act on a first principles basis’ – whatever that means! One has to wonder why after nearly a decade of property rights’ destruction ACT has yet to hold such a ‘review’ themselves, or to advocate the Act’s abolition? I suggest," says Watkins, "that abolition of the RMA AS A STATED POLICY is a litmus test for ACT’s claim to be a party of freedom." The second is Richard Prebble’s astonishing claim that ‘while many in ACT have strong religious views we do not believe we have the right to impose our views on others.’

"If only that were true!" says Watkins, who recalls in recent months ACT MP Deborah Coddington arguing for a ban on smacking children, on smoking marijuana and on the legalisation of prostitution; Donna Awatere Huata arguing that parents should be jailed if their children don’t attend government-approved places of education; and Heather Roy arguing that ‘Ecstacy-like’ substances sold by The Hemp Store should be banned.

"And that’s just the ACT women!" notes Watkins, who says with a wink that we can be grateful that ACT MPs don’t think they have the right to impose their view on others – "just think what they might come out with if they didn’t!" Watkins observes that Richard Prebble tested out a new slogan for the next election - "ACT – We’re Not National!" – but says that "in the end even the party faithful could surely see that the only major difference between ACT and National is, well, um …" at which point he was lost for words. He eventually concluded with some advice for those commentators who Richard Prebble struggled to know how to label the ACT Party: "Compulsion Touters," he says. "That's the label that has fit them since their inception, and unfortunately is still true today."

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