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Gordon Campbell on the Act Party’s latest policy contortions

Gordon Campbell on the Act Party’s latest policy contortions

By bringing together every dope smoking university student who owns a copy of Bob Marley’s Legend with every rural Rasta, the Act Party has triangulated a whole new vector of voter support with its cannabis decriminalisation policy, providing that anyone can remember …uh... what day is the election again? November 26, right, right. And what’s going to happen then? The election. RIGHT, gotcha. Mind you, the way that Act has treated Heather Roy and Hilary Calvert, its pretty clear that “No Woman, No Cry” has been the party’s unofficial anthem for quite some time.

One can have sympathy for John Boscawen. Even waiting until December to escape from his current duties as the party’s Parliamentary leader must seem like a very long time. Act, like the Greens, is supposed to be a party of principle. That’s meant to be the fount of its electoral appeal, and libertarian principle is certainly the basis of its new stance on cannabis use, which it defines as a “no victim” situation where the use of punitive state power for cannabis law enforcement is (presumably) just as wrong in principle as when the state uses its coercive power to collect taxes.

Unfortunately though, you would need to be stoned to see any principled continuity between the party’s support last week for the government’s rushed policy on Police covert surveillance on private property, and the sanctity of private property that Act then sought to enshrine in the right-to-self-defence measures that it unveiled on the weekend. Running the video surveillance legislation through a quick 36 hour dry-cleaning job before a select committee – which was the feeble condition that Act attached to its support for the government’s interim legislation – just didn’t cut it.

Last week, Act seemed quite willing to flag its principles when it came to endorsing police coercive powers to carry out covert surveillance of the public in their own homes, and then – only 48 hours later – it chose to adopt a policy stance on principle against any intruder violation of private property rights, and against Police coercive power when it comes to cannabis law enforcement. A stoned “Huh?” is the only proper response to this kind of flip flopping.

One can only wonder what contortions the Act Party would have to go through if the Police secret surveillance cameras were being installed to turn up evidence of cannabis use and supply. Oh right. Act would presumably draw a line between private use and trafficking. So the party of economic freedom would want to forbid anyone making money out of an activity that, in its view, is quite legitimate? Being Act, wouldn’t it have to condone cannabis trafficking and oppose any attempt by the Police to inhibit that particular form of free trade? One can only look forward to Don “Dread At the Controls” Brash trying to defend this position on the campaign trail.


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