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State Of It: No Crystal Ball Needed To Define Ideology Plan

State Of It: No Crystal Ball Needed To Define National/ACT's New Ideology Plan

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Analysis - By Selwyn Manning.
Video - By Selwyn Manning & Glenn Williams

The National Party now has a satellite party ACT within which to inject its more extreme policies – policies that would possibly cause concern and division within the more centrist factions inside its party and caucus.

From this vantage point, there is no need to look into a crystal-ball to define the 2011-2014 political term.

It will be defined as a reformist political term, reformist on ideological grounds.

And as we have witnessed this week, the Prime Minister John Key will appoint ACT leader John Banks as the minister responsible for this government's reform - the man who made those abhorrent statements on 3News' The Nation programme less than a month ago (see video above).

What we are seeing is a new style of neoliberal ideology in evidence, where the National/ACT Government will establish policies that will privatise essential social services. It will be the services that will be outsourced from the public service fold to the commercial sector.

We will see publicly owned facilities offered as the location where private profiteering enterprise will set up shop to manage and govern specific social services.

In education, charter schools will trial and cement in this extreme version of a Public Private Partnership. Charter schools is a model for a broader legislative shift.

This public facility/private enterprise service model demonstrates and underscores the underlying ideological principle behind National's plan from 2011 to 2014. [1]

It is likely we will see similar models established to service the health needs of the population.

It is now well clear why the National Party leader and Prime Minister John Key was so determined to get ACT, and specifically its Epsom candidate John Banks, into Parliament.

Despite the Prime Minister stating in the wake of the General Election that his new government would be a centrist and moderate government, clearly that label is subjective when compared to one's position along the left/right economic axis.

John Banks is to be appointed as Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Education, and Associate Minister of Commerce. He will be a Minister outside Cabinet.

John Banks will be a member of the following Cabinet committees: Expenditure Control, Economic Growth and Infrastructure... and Appointments and Honours. [2]

To summarise my prediction: in 2011 to 2014, we will witness this ideological plan rolling out in key social services, in: education; health, welfare services, housing, policing and corrections.

Look out for franchise contracts with private providers where legal agreements lock in the ideology for decades. That has been the ACT plan at local government level. Now it has National in its spell, it is its time to institute the plan from a central government base.

What concerns me is - irrespective of a once-bitten twice-shy cautionary response when confronted with extreme expressions of neoliberalism – is the fact that ideology (whether right or left) is centrally driven. It establishes a one-size fits all plan to the social challenges confronting a government.

The right-wing ideology also devolves the important aspects of centralised government, that through establishing an extra layer of governance between it and New Zealanders, it outsources a responsibility that elected governments must honour – a responsibility to ensure essential social services are effective in meeting the real needs of New Zealanders who seek assistance and service. And it severs that essential conduit between the cities, towns and country and the centrally positioned government. That conduit is reconnected between the local private company providing the service and New Zealanders. When things go wrong, or the service provider company fails to meet New Zealanders' needs, the National-ACT Government will be at arms' length, distant, without responsibility and ignorant of the changing needs of its population.

This social responsibility, under the National-ACT Government's plan, is to outsource to private profiteering companies whose governing directors firstly (will naturally) commit to ensure their company creates wealth, and, distributes dividends to shareholders.

New Zealanders who seek assistance or service become consumers, clients in a business contractual arrangement. In a sense as consumers of the business resource they run the risk of exclusion provisions that may not be in their holistic interests. In addition, should that service not deliver, the only recourse a New Zealander will have to correct a grievance, or dissatisfaction, is by taking the matter to the courts. And who can afford to take on a corporate entity these days. New Zealanders can forget seeking assistance from their local Member of Parliament, or elected representative, as under this model they will have no ability to responsibly act in their constituent's interests.

The other odd thing about this plan is that while the profiteering enterprise sets up shop to operate in a publicly owned facility, in the charter schools plan, that business still receives taxpayer funds from the government. Is this a fair and prudent use of tax funds?

    Lets go to 3News' Rachel Smalley's interview with Prime Minister John Key where she asked was the charter schools policy specifically an ACT plan or a joint one between it and National.

Isn't it ironic that ACT once stood for Association of Taxpayers and Consumers – a group of individuals who were concerned that tax payers' money was not been wisely used. Under the broader ideological plan, ACT is party to a taxpayer funded rort that once established and set in contract will be very very difficult to eradicate.

Another irony is that as this PPP model has shown when implemented to service New Zealand's state owned prisons, the corporate providers are overseas owned. In short, New Zealanders tax money provides a guaranteed lift to the service provider company's profits, and that hard earned cash is shipped offshore to the benefit of foreign shareholders. That, in turn, accentuates New Zealand's current account deficit.

Forget pragmatic solutions to real and current problems. There isn't a shaving of pragmatism in this plan. It is pure ideology designed to take the last drop of taxpayer wealth and transfer it into the hands of shareholders, irrespective of where in the world they may live.

© Scoop Media

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