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Newman Online Weekly


Newman Online Weekly commentary by Dr Muriel Newman MP

Newman Online

Hi there,

I'm writing this message to thank all of my column subscribers for your support over the years and also for the kind wishes that many of you have expressed over the loss of my parliamentary seat.

I feel a bit like a marathon runner who has been prevented from finishing his race: since entering parliament in 1996 my objective has been to reform the welfare system and while I have contributed to the debate, I am leaving the job unfinished. I also remain extremely concerned about whether anyone will continue to advocate for family law reform, to stand up against the rising tide of political correctness, to protect private property investors from government attack, and so on.

Sadly, this election has exposed the complete failure of the National Party to attract support from the center ground of politics where elections are historically won and lost. Instead of developing an election strategy that would persuade those hard working families - who are not really wedded to any particular political ideology but supported Labour in the mistaken belief that they will provide a better future for themselves and their children - to change their vote, they cannibalized ACT's ideas and promoted them.

The problem is that ACT's ideas were never going to win the support of middle New Zealand. While our ideas resonate with people who think deeply about politics and political issues, they often appear harsh to others. National Party strategists should have known that cannibalizing ACT would not only destroy ACT, but it would ensure that they stayed in opposition. It is therefore a great credit to Rodney - and the whole ACT team - that he won Epsom and prevented the total obliteration of the party.

It is extremely worrying that National now appears to have become too arrogant to recognize that MMP is not about single parties but coalitions. It is the major party that can draw together support from the smaller parties that will win the privilege to govern. But by deliberately decimating its smaller allies, National has failed all of those voters who desperately wanted to see a change in direction for New Zealand.

As I look forward, I'm not sure what the future holds. I certainly remain ready to serve again for ACT, but in the meantime, if you know of any opportunities for a former Member of Parliament with 9 years experience - and before that 9 years working with Michael Hill as his New Zealand Assistant General Manager - please let me know!

I love politics and am committed to making a difference, and so in the first instance I intend to take the advice of Richard Prebble - and my husband Frank - that I should finish my book on welfare reform.

I am also exploring the possibility of gathering together some financial support for the setting up of a 'think tank' that would have as a key objective pushing out the frontiers of the political debate into the middle ground of politics to expose the damage that can be created by poor incentives in bad policy.

In particular, while packing up my office, I uncovered some papers written by Sir Roger Douglas back in the early nineties that outlined his belief that if we put in place policies to help families that are poor and disadvantaged to achieve a better life for themselves and their children - by ensuring that they become independent of the state - then we will lift the future for every New Zealander. The papers reminded me not only of why I joined ACT, but also of how important those ideas are … if we are ever to achieve our goal of building a strong and prosperous nation where every child has the opportunity to succeed.

I would like to continue to write my weekly column (and develop the ideas outlined by Roger, who incidentally has never lost his passion for what he considers to be his unfinished business) which I will post on my website www.MurielNewman.co.nz on a Monday morning. I also hope to be able to devise a way for subscribers to post their contribution to the debate, so that others can be invited to actively join in and engage.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, expertise, or offers of any sort at all that could be of help, please contact me on muriel@newman.co.nz

Again, thanks so much for your support and I hope that we can stay in touch.

With my sincere thanks and very best wishes, Muriel

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